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Opening ceremony reflections


BEIJING (BP)–As I watched the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympics, I sat in wonder. The performance was by far the most incredible production I’ve ever seen.

The costumes were exotic and colorful. The choreography was precise. The lights and the fireworks were breathtaking. The sheer number of those who participated was overwhelming.

I’ve yet to talk to anyone who has seen other opening ceremonies in person, but I’d be shocked if anyone said this one wasn’t the best ever.

As I looked on in astonishment, a few thoughts came to me.

First, I thought about my family. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to be at the Olympics. It’s an honor -– one of the biggest honors of my life.

But as I was watching the majesty of the opening ceremony unfold, I considered how I wasn’t able to share it with the people who mean the most to me. My family wasn’t able to come with me to Beijing and, oh, how I wish they could have seen what I saw tonight. My kids would have been mesmerized. My wife and I would have loved watching the kids love it. As exhilarating as the production was, and as thankful as I am to have seen it, there was still a hollowness to it because my family wasn’t with me.

Second, I thought about the giftedness of the Chinese artists who designed and executed the ceremony, and the richness of the culture it celebrated. Zhang Yimou was the artistic director for the performance. He is truly a master.

I can’t even begin to think how he got the ideas for some of the artistry the show included. I am not at all wired that way. Those people like Yimou who can create such brilliant spectacles have my deepest respect. God has gifted them in amazing ways. And even if they don’t intend for their handiwork to exalt the Lord, their ability can’t help but point to the supreme Master Creator, who made heaven and earth and all therein.

Finally, I thought about that great day that’s coming for those of us who are in Christ. The opening ceremony featured athletes from around the world, parading around the Bird’s Nest under the flags of their native lands. I couldn’t help but think how the Lord has redeemed those from every tongue, tribe, people and nation.

One day, He is going to gather those people home. The saints from all the ages will meet in a grand and glorious celebration -– one that will make the opening ceremony seem utterly insignificant in comparison.

The production I watched was dedicated to the glorification of the human spirit and the Chinese culture. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, and while the Chinese culture is certainly worth celebrating, the coming heavenly celebration will be so much more splendid -– because it will praise the mighty and merciful Jesus, the King of kings who created everyone, including the Chinese.

As enthralled as I was tonight, I realized that the beauty and pageantry before me was but a small taste of what’s to come. And it made me yearn for that day in a powerful way.
–30–
Tim Ellsworth, director of news and media relations at Union University, is covering the 2008 Olympics in Beijing for Baptist Press.

    About the Author

  • Tim Ellsworth
    Tim Ellsworth is associate vice president for university communications at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists’ concerns nationally and globally.Read All by Tim Ellsworth ›