Much grieving has taken place this week as the collective of world golfers* say goodbye to Peter Alliss, the voice of golf. Peter Alliss lived quite close to my parents house, in fact, he had an office along the road in Farnham. It was not uncommon to see his Rolls Royce trundle along the road with his unmistakable registration plate – 3putt! My growing-up years were governed by either watching sport or playing sport. School work was not allowed to get in the way of any sporting pursuit. The soundtrack to my young life was composed mainly of the great sports commentators. In fact, I remember Henry Longhurst being labelled as the voice of golf, long before his younger counterpart Peter Alliss replaced his clubs for a microphone.
So, let’s play the soundtrack. We will hear from John Arlott – remember his husky Hampshire lilt? Richie Benaud then became the accepted voice of leather on willow. From Wimbledon, we will hear from the remarkably phlegmatic Dan Maskell. And from the Scottish borders we will listen to the passion that is Bill McLaren. This elite group of observers and narrators would have been described at one point or another as the voice of their sport.
“Whatever else is going on in heaven, the sports coverage must be magnificent.”The Telegraph, 8th December 2020
In Advent, we also hear some some commentary from the prophets of God such as Isaiah, as well as the fore-runner to Jesus, John the baptiser. The crowds asked, “Who are you?” and he replied, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness.” Our favoured commentators had a large and interested audience, perhaps even fanatical. But John’s voice was not amplified. It was a lone voice, speaking not to hoards of supporters but to a cynical crowd who distrusted him and distorted his claims.
Ultimately, John’s voice will endure beyond any of this age, this age of communication. What is it about this particular prophetic voice which speaks through the generations? In John, we have a man’s testimony which is so authentic and of God, that he is heard across wilderness lands and across times and seasons. When God speaks through his people, we cannot help but listen. This voice is God’s communication – using people to share the divine plan through vulnerability, awkwardness and faith.
God has given us a voice; it is a gift of communication. How will we use it? To taunt, to entertain, to teach, to curse, to encourage, to testify? Maybe we will use our voice to share something of the awakening of faith which Advent brings. Could we offer a word to share which makes possible the love of Christ in the world, even if it feels like we are speaking into a wilderness – what good might we occasion?
* I wonder what the collective noun for many golfers could be? Answers on a postcard!
Food bank generosity
Thank you to all who shared their supplies with the Community Emergency Foodbank and the Cutteslowe Larder last week. Another wonderful display of compassion. Thank you!
The daily windows are providing a great deal of interest, I’m so glad that it has struck a chord. You can find the calendar on the St Michael’s website homepage. I couldn’t resist taking this: