Dear Friends,

Its not often that language more usually suited to the pulpit finds its way into general use. But this last week we’ve heard a lot about Redemption. All to do with the furore surrounding the discovery that Ollie Robinson, English Test Cricketer, had sent a string of racist and sexist tweets some nine years ago when he was ‘just’ eighteen. He was ‘made’ to apologise and is presently suspended from international matches pending the outcome of an investigation into the matter. Reaction has been mixed. There have been those who regard what he ‘said’ as so revolting that he deserves nothing less than to be banned from cricket for life. While others, pointing to his supposed immaturity at the time, believe he deserves a second chance. It is this latter view that is described in terms of Redemption. The word is not limited to its theological context. It has a technical, legal meaning. Anyone taking out a loan to buy a house, secured against the house, – a mortgage – the process of repaying the loan is described as Mortgage Redemption. Put more straightforwardly, ‘buying back at a price’. There is a price that has to be paid if Redemption is to be granted. Which brings us back to Ollie Robinson. It is his reputation that has been ‘mortgaged’. If he is to Redeem himself, then there is a price that should be paid. He has a price to pay. And that in turn brings us back to Theology. Redemption is only available if there is Atonement. For the likes of Ollie Robinson, it is not unreasonable to expect him to Atone for his ‘mis speaking.’ Denying him the opportunity to play the game he loves, and which he is good at – his performance in the recent Test Match against New Zealand was ample evidence of just how good at cricket he is – would undoubtedly cost him. It would be a huge price to pay. But maybe we need to think more creatively. Rather than impose a penalty on him, why not require him to do something positive in respect of confronting the racism and sexism that continues to pervade society. In that way, no only would he be Atoning for what he ‘wrote’ but it would make a tangible contribution to combatting the attitudes he once himself evidenced. That to me is the more appropriate ‘road to Redemption.’ Of course, only he knows his own heart. Only he knows how genuine his contrition really is. All the more reason to require him to confront what he did by engaging with it. If we were to be honest with ourselves there is always that for which we need to seek Redemption; that for which we need to make Atonement. Or, to put it another way, that for which we need to ask Forgiveness; that for which we need to show Remorse. There will be times when no show of Remorse will prove acceptable; no act of Atonement will be regarded as sufficient. Forgiveness will be denied and Redemption will be beyond our reach. The Christian Gospel tells of a God who has cut though all of this. Redemption is within our grasp precisely because Jesus’ death on the Cross has made Atonement for each and all of us. As such, we can know ourselves to be forgiven, provided that is we are sufficiently remorseful before God. Maybe, Theology does have a contribution to understanding how life should be, after all? Anyone for Cricket?

Anyone for Cricket?