I recently watched ‘Building Jerusalem’, the film about England’s 2003 Rugby world cup victory, and towards the end of the film, Jonny Wilkinson describes his feelings at the moment the final whistle was blown.
“Mike Catt spirals the ball in to touch……as its in mid air, for me that’s my paradise right there….just to stop life there because we’re still on our way to what we want…..but nothing can stop us……There’s this bit where the referees just about to blow time on my dream, and as he lifts his whistle to his mouth, while it’s on it’s way up….I just want to hold him just there whilst I take it in. It’s the most incredible thing…….but every second moves you further away from being in the now of that moment.”
The gospel reading for this Sunday is Mark 9.2-9, the Transfiguration, and as I was preparing a sermon, the thought crossed my mind that Johnny Wilkinson had a St Peter moment as the final whistle approached. When Peter saw Jesus talking to Elijah and Moses, and when he saw Jesus transfigured, his first reaction was to shoot from the lip (as usual) and suggest that they build a tent and stay there. He wanted to capture the moment, to make it last. Johnny Wilkinson, as he saw the ball spiralling towards touch, wanted that moment to last, to stay in that moment for longer….perhaps forever.