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 from happenings in the world of Sports.
In January, the sports pages are dominated by hockey and football. For a change of pace, let's talk basketball today. Specifically, a 1962 game between the New York Knicks and the Philadelphia Warriors, the team we now know as the Golden State Warriors. In fact, they moved from Philadelphia to the San Francisco bay area not long after this game.
This game in March 1962 was not the most meaningful regular-season game. The Knicks were well off the pace for the playoffs, and the Warriors had little hope of catching the powerful and eventual champion Boston Celtics. The game counted as a Philadelphia home game, although it was played, not in Philadelphia but in tiny Hershey, Pennsylvania, a town of just a few thousand people located almost 100 miles west of Philly.
Hershey is a charming town, famous as the home of the Hershey chocolate company. I have personally visited Hershey several times, and it smells pleasantly of chocolate almost everywhere!
Well, because of the small town size and the distance to Philadelphia, only 4,000 people took in the game. But what a game they saw!
The Warriors' centre was 7-ft-1-inch Wilt Chamberlain, and he put on one of the greatest single-game performances in NBA history. Chamberlain scored 23 points in the first quarter, and another 18 in the second. Then he got hot. He pumped in another 28 points in the third quarter, and topped it all off with 31 more points in the 4th. Wilt Chamberlain wound up with an incredible 100 points, all by himself, a league record that still stands today.
How does it compare? Michael Jordan's best game was 69 points, what Chamberlain had after 3 quarters. Kobe Bryant has the 2nd-best single-game total; he once scored 81. But that's still 19 fewer points than what Wilt Chamberlain did that night in 1962 in Hershey.
But here's the real kicker: there were only 4,000 people on hand. None of them had cell phones or camcorders. No TV station covered the game, so you couldn't watch it on TV. Good thing some newspaper beat writers were on hand to write about it afterward, because so few people saw it!
What a contrast to today! It seems that celebrities, and especially famous athletes are always in the public eye. Now that they have Facebook and Twitter updates, the whole world can know what they're up to, down to the detail of what they thought of their salad at lunch.
Us normal people, we're not watched in nearly the same way. Or so you might think. Yet people are watching us. They will notice when we slip up, do something that contradicts the faith that we profess to live by. All the more reason to “be very careful how you live” as Ephesians says, and as we spoke about yesterday.
And there's one more person who also sees us when we're sleeping and knows when we're awake, and knows if we're being bad or good. And no, I don't mean that jolly fellow who reportedly lives a few hundred miles north of us. I mean God.
God knows when we do something good, something self-sacrificial, something brave and courageous and just right. Even if no one notices and we get no reward, God knows. And God remembers. And the flip-side is that when we cut a corner or cheat or do something we shouldn't, even if no one notices and we think we've gotten away with it, again: God sees. God knows. And God remembers. The beautiful Psalm 121 ends with the reminder, and it is meant as a word of encouragement, not a threat, that “the Lord will watch over your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.”
Oh and by the way, if you know someone who does good and few seem to notice, give them a word of thanks and encouragement today.
For St Patrick's Church, I'm Steve Page.