Mo Johnston and Shocking Transfers

I was ten years old and participating in a Norman Whiteside School of Soccer at Beltoy Playing Fields (in Carrickfergus) when the news broke.  Former Celtic player Mo Johnston had signed for Glasgow Rangers from French side Nantes.  It was huge news, Mo Johnston became only the second player since World War Two to play for both sides of the Old Firm.  Rangers fans burned their shirts and some returned their season tickets.  The kitman at Ibrox refused to sort Johnston’s kit and he was subjected to all sorts of offensive chanting from sections of both Rangers and Celtic support.  It’s the first shocking transfer I can remember being aware of.

Since then there have been others.  Figo moved from Catalan giants Barcelona to Real Madrid in 2000 and was greeted by a pig’s head being thrown onto the pitch at the Nou Camp when he returned.  In the summer of 2001 Tottenham Hotspur captain Sol Campbell made the transfer across north London and signed for arch rivals Arsenal.  More recently Carlos Tevez moved from the red half of Manchester (United) across to the blue (City) in 2009.  Closer to home Chris Morgan moved between Belfast’s Big Two (Linfield to Glentoran) in July 2004. In his first season with the Glens he proved to be a great signing by scoring goals against his former club (enabling the cock n’ hens to win both the CIS Cup and the League.)

January is when the transfer window is open and players can move between clubs.  I love this time of year and am addicted to the football gossip columns which speculate about who is moving where.  At BB recently I was telling the boys about the most shocking transfer of all.

..God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, [5] even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— (Ephesians 2:4-5 ESV)

Because of the cross, we have transferred from death to life; from darkness to light; from despair to hope; from punishment to pardon.  This is the most shocking transfer of all.  Paul the apostle tells the Corinthian church that it’s not just that we jump sides and pull on a nice clean kit.  The amazing truth of the gospel is that Jesus removes from us the old kit, the stained one and puts it on Himself.  He exchanges the purity and perfection of His life for our muddied and messed up one.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. – (2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV)

The transfer window is still open and there’s been a request put in for you.  The fee has been agreed and paid but you’ve got to accept the offer and make the switch.  It’s the most shocking transfer of all – because of Jesus you can be clean, holy, righteous and pure.

But you are … a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. [10] Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 ESV)


So This Is Christmas?

So this is Christmas and what have you done, another year over and a new one just begun…

These lyrics were belting out in a Belfast store last night as I frantically rummaged around looking for the last few items of Christmas shopping. “What have you done?” That line has haunted me today as I’ve thought a bit about the past year. Sure, I could list a whole pile of stuff that I’ve done in 2007 and maybe even persuade myself that it wasn’t too bad. Paul says in Corinthians that ‘each one should be careful how he builds’ because ‘the fire will test the quality of each man’s work.’ (1 Cor 3:10-15) Not encouraging comments, not public opinion, not numbers on seats, not my own thoughts but ‘the fire’ will be the true quality test. So this is Christmas and what have I done? Well I guess I’ll find out eventually and give an account for it. My suspicion is that there’s too much wood, hay and straw. My hope is that in 2008 I’ll build with more gold, silver and costly stones…