The Rev. Jackie Cameron, a priest of the Diocese of Chicago, preached this sermon at the dedication service of the London Marathon on Saturday night at All Hallows by the Tower. The next morning, she ran the marathon, her fourteenth.
Updated: the BBC interviewed Jackie and her colleague the Rev Bertrand Olivier.
An excerpt follows from the full sermon, which can be found on the blog she keeps for CREDO:
Our reading from Ephesians today speaks of donning armor. (helmet, breastplate, shoes, shield and sword) And there is great wisdom in seeking as much safety as can be gleaned in dangerous times and places.
But we are not here to play it safe.
We are not here to enclose ourselves in a portable metal bunker.
We are not here to wield weapons that maim and destroy.
We are here to take risks. We are here to take risks for the sake of life, for the sake of hope, for the sake of healing.
Every runner knows that the long months of marathon training can evolve (or devolve) into what one of my friends calls “injury management.” And even if we’re not injured, most of us obsess about the possibility of not being fit and ready once race day finally arrives.
As we now know too well, there are potential risks for spectators, support staff, volunteers, first responders and for the entire city as well.
But all of these risks are dwarfed—or at least made more than worthwhile—by the mind-boggling magnitude of good, of generosity, of courage and inspiration generated by events such as the London Marathon.
Because this is more than a marathon of running. It’s a marathon of raising awareness of the needs of our neighbors. It is a marathon of fundraising but it’s also a marathon of engagement—of building relationships with individuals and groups and communities whose lives may be very different than our own.