Summer days fade toward autumn. Across Canada the little warm weather games are set aside for our national passion. Sticks taped, skates sharpened, ready to skate all day—skate like the wind. I was never a very good player and my long – ago dreams of the NHL were not to be, but still I find myself musing about hockey.
At times hockey is a thrilling and graceful ballet; at other times it is NASCAR and WWE Smackdown. In that way, it reflects life and, like all sports, is the Shakespeare and grand opera of our age, offering in a couple of hours a spectrum of comedy and drama, farce and melodrama without, usually, much spilled blood.
So what, you might very well ask, does this have to do with the Presbyterian Record? Well, as the old joke has it, God is obviously a baseball fan—”In the big inning …”—so perhaps hockey, too, has been around longer than Don Cherry. God was far ahead of Frank Zamboni, for as Job acknowledged: “By the breath of God ice is given, and the broad waters are frozen fast.” In fact, long – suffering Maple Leafs fans might do well to adopt a little of Job’s faith and patience.
It has been almost 20 years since a Canadian team last won a Stanley Cup and it is some consolation to remember that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. I’m not sure that Jacques Martin and Ron Wilson take much solace from the fact that they were also released before reaching the Promised Land.
But now we come to the real challenge. I offer the familiar passage from Mark 24, here in the words of the Good News Translation: “If the owner of a house knew the time when the thief would come, you can be sure that he would stay awake and not let the thief break into his house. So then, you also must always be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you are not expecting him.”
Peter also offered this pep talk: “But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honour him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you” (1 Peter 3:15)
I’m not sure how all that read in Aramaic or ancient Greek, but it’s pretty clear what Mark and Peter had in mind as they exhorted a frightened and fledgling Christian church about to play its first games in the big Roman division. Christians are expected to play hard on every shift. Contemporary assistant coaches of the Good News League over at the local church might well remind us as every coach from Atom to NHL always has: “Keep your stick on the ice.”