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The Adventure of a Lifetime

By Canon Deborah Parsons

 It’s 11 days, 21 hours, 15 minutes and 10 seconds until the London Marathon, at the time of writing this article! Having only ever succeeded in running a 10km race, I’m full of admiration for anyone who can make the distance and warmest good wishes to those who are competing and raising money for worthy causes.

For virgers, clergy, choristers, churchwardens, lay people and flower arrangers, the lead up to Holy Week and Easter can seem rather like a marathon too.

Whilst for many people, the Easter celebration ends with the Easter egg hunt and the consumption of chocolate, for Christians, the Easter season continues until Pentecost. But there’s also a sense in which the joy and hope of Easter is something that Christians try to live out every day.

The apostle Paul spoke of the Christian faith as a race and the author of Hebrews (12:1) reaffirms this: “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”

This week, Russ Cook, a 27 year-old endurance athlete from Worthing, West Sussex completed the challenge of running the length of Africa, the equivalent of 376 marathons. He ran more than 9,940 miles, over 352 days, across 16 countries and raised more than £600,000 for charity.

His achievement was all the more extraordinary because of the obstacles he faced along the way, including a robbery at gunpoint in Angola, being held by men with machetes in the Republic of the Congo, health scares and visa struggles.

The Christian journey is also not for the faint-hearted. It requires commitment, dedication, resilience and teamwork, as the disciples and early Christian communities discovered for themselves.

Next month, we have our own challenge as Anne Eyre and others prepare to abseil from the top of the Cathedral’s North Tower to help raise funds for the building of our new Cloister Gallery. At 83 years of age, it’s a reminder that age is no barrier to achievement and a salutary reminder that there’s no retirement in the Christian journey but the simple hope that at our lives’ end, we can say: “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

Even, if you’re not up for the abseil adventure yourself, I hope you’ll support it by sponsoring those who are taking part and by cheering them on, on Saturday 4 May.