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Jan 12, 2012

Jan 12 Devotional: Playing in a fog

Note: January is Steve's turn for the daily devotionals on the local radio station. If you're interested in sports and Christian faith but cannot tune in to CFMQ at 9:30 each morning, we'll post the text and a video version each day.

Good morning, I'm the Rev Steve Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church, and you're listening to the Daily Devotional moment, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial.
This month, I'm drawing our images of Christian faith and spirituality from Sports.
Last time, we heard about Mario Lemieux returning from injury during the 1992 playoffs.
Today, let's go back a little farther, to the 1975 Stanley Cup finals. The teams that year were the Philadelphia Flyers and the Buffalo Sabres. I know, there's no way those team could meet in the finals in the current system, but they did meet in 1975.
Game 3 that year was at Memorial Stadium in Buffalo. But that late-May day in 1975 was a hot and humid one in the city, and the rink did not have air conditioning. So as the game progressed, the ice got slower. Puddles began to appear in places on the ice. By the third period, the ice was hidden under a thick, waist-deep layer of fog.

Fans in the stands couldn't tell what was going on, they could only see a bunch of players from the tummy up. The refs, down on the ice, had trouble seeing the play, too. In fact, nearly a dozen times they stopped play to allow rink operators to try and circulate the air and increase visibility. The players even took to skating laps during the breaks, trying to stir up the air and fog.
After three periods in this very unusual Cup game, the score was tied at 4. That meant overtime, and even more skating in the fog. Nearly to the end of the overtime, Sabres star Gilbert Perreault dumped the puck into the Flyers' zone and went for a line change. The puck took a funny bounce off the boards and came out right to Rene Robert of the Sabres. He fired a shot toward the net.
Poor Bernie Parent. He was in net for the Flyers, and in the fog he could barely see the players, never mind the puck. He's probably still looking for it. Well, the puck wound up in the net, for the winning goal.
While Gilbert Perreault got the assist, the fog should have also had one. The Flyers' goalie never had a chance, because the thick mist, fog and haze obscured the puck.
Do you feel like Bernie Parent when it comes to the Christian faith or the Bible?Do you feel lost in a fog and unable to make head nor tails of what goes on in a church service? When to sit, when to stand, now everyone is singing something by heart, where are we?
Or maybe the very foreign-sounding names of the Bible throw you off. From Nebuchadnezzar to the Moabites, the strange Biblical people and places can be off-putting. Or the language of the Bible, which can be very poetic and beautiful, may remind you more of studying Shakespeare in high school, and fail to sink in and touch your life.
If that's the case for you, I have good news. There are things you can do to cut through the fog. Some might take a little work, like the players skating around and around to stir up the humid fog. If a church service seems baffling and confusing, it will become less so just by repetition. I remember that when I first started attending an Anglican church, about a decade ago, I did not feel comfortable for a few months, until I could figure out what page we were on, until I could learn the sung bits that everyone has memorized so you never get the words for. Asking a friend helps, but it takes some work.
Other fog-clearing steps you could take are easier. If you feel like the Bible is lost in a fog, getting a different translation might help. We English-speakers are blessed to have dozens of translations to choose from. Some, like the Good News Bible, The Message, or the Contemporary English Version might open your eyes in new ways to the surprising things the Bible has to say.
Best of all, pray that God will help you out, too. I think of Ephesians 1 verse 17, where Paul prays “I keep asking that God ... may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.” That's why I want yo help clear your fog, so that you may grow closer to God and stronger in your faith.
For St Patrick's Church, I'm Steve Page.

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