Lost in the crowds at yesterday’s London Marathon was one Kathrine Switzer. Unnoticed today that wasn’t the case when she ran the Boston Marathon in 1967. At the time it was assumed that women were physically incapable of running such a distance. But Kathrine changed all that. Realising that the rules of the race didn’t actually prohibit women from running, she entered using only her initials and surname, and despite the race director’s attempt to stop her, completed the course in 4 hours and 20 minutes. She had succeeded in doing what was thought impossible and by 1984 women were running marathons at the Los Angeles Olympics.
Two thousand years ago it was assumed, in a similar way, that it was impossible for any human to easily enter the presence of God. Religious systems required all sorts of rules to be obeyed and sacrifices to be made if one was even to approach the divine. But then Jesus came and turned everything on its head upsetting all the accepted conventions of the day and declaring that the divine could be accessed simply by trusting in Him.
While we take these things for granted now – women running marathons and free access to the love of God – let us not forget the pioneers who went before us and opened the way.