Over the past weekend winners have been announced for the dancing competition Strictly Come Dancing and the BBC Sports Personality of the Year.
The winners could not have been more different. One is a quiet middle-aged man, another is a mixed-race teenager, the other is a young deaf actress.
The coach of the year was England football coach, Gareth Southgate. 2021 saw Southgate take an England football team to a major cup final for the first time in over 50 years. What I like about Southgate is that he is not a stereotypical football personality. Rather than being ostentatious, he is discreet, self-effacing and understated. I was impressed by how in accepting the award he drew attention to others.
The 2021 BBC Sports Personality of the Year was Emma Raducanu, the 18-year-old tennis player, who charmed Wimbledon in the summer with her spirited performances when she was waiting for her A-level results. Having had to retire due to sickness mid-game at Wimbledon, she took New York by storm later in the year by advancing from being a qualifier to winning the US Open final.
The weekend also marked the final of Strictly Come Dancing. The winning couple, Rose Ayling-Ellis and Giovanni Pernice made a huge impression on the 11 million or so people who tuned in each week.
Rose was the first deaf contestant to take part in the iconic show.
The most talked about moment in the series was when Rose and her partner Giovani danced part of their routine in absolute silence. This surprise was a tribute to the deaf community and an attempt to communicate what it was like to dance without the music.
This moment was one of the TV highlights of 2021. It opened a window of awareness concerning the deaf community and left everybody in tears! This moment and the personality of Rose has had a ripple effect. Judges and contestants on the show began to learn sign language in an attempt to communicate more meaningfully. This has also led to a surge in the desire to learn sign language in the UK.
All this got me thinking about how preachers make an impact in their sermons.
All preachers are different; God can use all sorts:
Perhaps this is something of what Paul had in mind when he said:
“My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.” (1 Corinthians 2:4–5)
Sometimes true greatness arises in unexpected places. This might well be what makes such people so effective.
The silent moment in Giovanni and Rose’s couple’s choice dance helped me to think about how to communicate the Christmas message this year. For a brief moment everybody had a unique insight into what it might be like to be deaf.
Preachers need to learn how to make people see what Christmas really looks like.