Good morning, I'm the Rev Steve Page from St Patrick's Anglican Church, and you're listening to the Daily Devotional moment on CFMQ, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial.
This month, I'm drawing images of Christian faith and spirituality from the world of Sports.
Let's go back to the 1985-86 NHL season and playoffs. The Montreal Canadiens team that year was a mix of rookies and veterans. With Bob Gainey as captain, Larry Robinson anchoring the defence, and Mario Tremblay contributing some serious minutes in what would prove to be his final season, they had several players from their dynasty team of the late 70s.
But the team mixed in no less than 8 rookies, including rookie scoring leader Kjell Dahlin, right winger Stephane Richer, and goalie Patrick Roy.
The result was a strong team that finished 2nd in the Adams division to the Quebec Nordiques. They might have finished 1st but had a poor month of March, losing 9 of 11 games in one stretch.
Come the playoffs, the Canadiens swept the Boston Bruins in the first round. The Hartford Whalers pushed Montreal to a 7th and deciding game, but Montreal advanced and then beat up on the New York Rangers in the semis to advance to the Stanley Cup finals. There, they met the Calgary Flames, who had dropped the defending champ Edmonton Oilers in the quarter-finals.
Calgary had home-ice advantage, and they took advantage and won the first game, 5-2. But Montreal took the next one in Calgary, a 3-2 overtime thriller, then took games 3 and 4 back in Montreal. With a 3 games to 1 series lead, the Canadiens headed back to Calgary, where they won a fourth game in a row, and claimed Montreal's league-leading 23rd Stanley Cup. Maybe all those young rookie legs made the difference in the long slog through the playoffs!
That year, the Canadiens found a perfect blend of youth and experience. Their veteran leaders kept things on an even keel, through a long late-season slump, and when they dropped game 1 of the finals. They could draw on their experience and wisdom. And their rookies had key roles to play, too, especially Patrick Roy, who won the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP for his 15 and 5 won/lost record, and his 1.92 goals-against average.
Montreal had a terrific mix of young and old, and of Canadian, American, and European players. Just as they had great diversity on their Cup-winning team, so, likewise does God want the Church to have a wide diversity.
That was the idea for God's people right from the start. Part of God's promise to Abram back in Genesis 12 was: “I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
And this idea continues right to the end of the Bible. The last book, Revelation, in chapter 5, says that Christ brought to God “persons from every tribe and language and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God.”
The Church is to be made up of people young and old, men and women, White and Cree, English and French, and much more. And of course it is, around the world. But this great unity, this gathering of all manner of people should be reflected right here in our local churches. That's one reason it makes me sad to see my generation largely absent from so many churches. They are not only weakening their own spiritual journey, but their absence also hurts those who remain.
When the Church is only a group of grey-haired white people, if I may put it that way, then we fall short of being the amazing force for good that God calls us to be. The Body of Christ is missing a few important parts. We need the mix of wisdom and experience on the one hand, and vigour and daring creativity on the other. We need the perspective of people from all backgrounds. Rich and poor, new immigrant and long-time resident, youth and middle-aged and senior, outgoing and introvert. There is an important place in God's Church for you. See you this weekend?
For St Patrick's Church, I'm Steve Page.