The dads who went to watch their sons’ football training were invited to take part in an end of season fathers’ match. The coaches were going to take part as well. All season the dads had faithfully stood there each Saturday watching their sons training, but they had hardly said a word to each other.
Now they began to glance at one another nervously. Weren’t they beyond a football match ‘involving anyone who can run a mile in under a quarter of a day’? Their greatest hopes now were that they would survive without needing an ambulance and that they wouldn’t play so badly that their sons would put themselves up for adoption! But after the match, the dads’ relationships were transformed.
I thought I would read the first chapter in a brief lull between other activities. I couldn’t put it down. I read the whole book in one sitting (apart from a short lunch break). I chuckled my way through it, and several times burst out in laughter. The author writes in a grippingly catchy style, which was certainly to my taste.
Yet the book has a vitally important message. The concern is the relational deprivation of contemporary western culture, even though we are globally wired.
The author highlights many things which tend to undermine genuine relationships. Like everyone having a TV in their bedroom; like the demise of family mealtimes; like the tendency to drink our coffee and have lunch while we work –– eating ‘al desko’. But the tone is not judgemental; it is thoughtful and sad.
The best idea in the world is Jesus’ idea –– put love for God and your neighbour before everything else. That involves real relationships. And our hearts cry out for those.
In presenting a solution to the problem the writer combines a magnificent vision with practical common sense. The people who serve coffee at church do it because people need a drink after an hour or more in a service, but also in order to make possible conversations that will deepen friendships and help the great task of bringing God’s love to the world.
A church can be a place of committed friendship, not just of affable friendliness; and it only takes one person to buy a packet of biscuits to make relationships at work far richer.
The book moved me with its insights into the love of God. It is thought-provoking and personally challenging. What quality is there in my relationships as a husband and father? I recommend this enthusiastically.