Since this is All-Star Weekend for the NHL, here's a bonus Sports-and-Faith devotional message, one that did not air on the radio in Hudson Bay.
If past practice holds, when the hockey players take to the ice for this weekend's NHL All-Star Game, each team will dress head-to-toe in matching uniforms. Team Alfredsson will be decked out in white with red trim, to take on Team Chara in their navy with blue and white trimmed jerseys.
Hockey's all-star game, with its draft to choose the sides and its matching team looks, is unique in the world of pro sports all-star games.
In the NBA, the basketball all-stars play for their conference, East vs West. Each team wears a matching uniform, designed especially for the single game. They come together as a team, and they look like a team.
In Baseball, the all-stars represent their league, American or National, but wear the regular uniform of their own team. So this year, Jose Bautista made his spectacular sliding catch at the all star game while wearing his Toronto Blue Jays togs. They may play together, but they don't look the part. One side will be in predominantly white, the other in grey. But on each side will be red, blue, green, black hats and trim, depending on the unique elements of the uniforms of their "real" teams.
Football is even worse. For the NFL all-star game, the Pro Bowl (co-incidentally also being played this weekend), the players wear matching jerseys and pants. But they bring their own helmets, the ones that match the uniforms of their "real" teams. These helmets often clash terribly with the rest of the Pro Bowl outfit. Imagine someone with the orange helmet of a Cincinnati Bengals player topping a bright red jersey, catching a pass in front of a defender whose yellow-and-green Green Bay Packers helmet clashes with his blue jersey. Hard to watch!
The baseball and football all-star games raise the question: to whom are the players ultimately loyal? Are they really part of the team of all-stars? Or are their hearts and minds really, first and foremost, with another team? The team who pays their rich salaries?
Here's another way to ask that question: whose team, whose side, are they on?
In our Christian faith journey, we face that same question: whose side are you on?
Is your ultimate loyalty with God? Or are you still wearing the helmet of another team, maybe your work, or your desire to be richer. Or maybe your family commands your ultimate loyalty, and when push comes to shove, God takes a back-seat. Or your activites, things that should be in your "spare time" but that wind up chewing up your God-time.
"No one can serve two masters," Jesus warns in Matthew 6:24. "Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money."
It's a stark call to choose your side: where is your ultimate loyalty?
Fence-sitting can also be inappropriate, when God calls for a side to be chosen. In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus says, "I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
Hot water would be useful. As I write this, I have a mug of hot coffee. Cold water would be useful, too, a source of refreshment. But some indecisive, lukewarm in-between is not.
In the choice between God and the other options (money, job, activities, family, addictions, etc) whose side are you on?
For St Patrick's Church, I'm Steve Page.