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 the world of Sports.
Back in the mid and late 1980s, the Edmonton Oilers were an awesome, dominant, Stanley Cup winning team. But things have changed since then, and they seem to be perpetually rebuilding, hoping to contend “next year”.
That was the case in 1997, when they squeaked into the playoffs at the end of the season and drew the Dallas Stars in the first round. Dallas had a great team that year. They were second in the overall standings, and entered the playoffs on a serious hot streak. And since they had swept the season series with the Oilers, they were heavy favourites as the playoff series began.
In the series opener in Dallas, it was all Stars. The final score, 5-3 Dallas, sounded like a closer game than what the fans and TV viewers saw. But Edmonton earned a split of the first two games in Dallas, when their defence clamped down and gave them a 4-0 shutout win in game 2.
The series moved to Edmonton for game 3. And again, it was all Dallas. At least, for most of the game. As time ticked down in the 3rd period, Dallas had a comfortable 3-goal lead. But with the game seemingly well in hand, Dallas fell asleep on defence. Bang! Bang! Bang! Edmonton scored 3 times in the final 4 minutes of the 3rd period, to tie the game, sending the home crowd into a frenzy and the game to overtime.
Then, 9 minutes into overtime, Edmonton beat goalie Andy Moog, a former Oiler no less, for the game-winner. Now, with back-to-back wins, especially, the thrilling come-from-behind victory in game 3, Edmonton played the rest of the series with new confidence. And when the series went to game 7 in Dallas, the Oilers did not break under the pressure. They forced game 7 to go to extra time, and won that one, too, taking the series 4 games to 3. If anyone broke under the pressure, it was Dallas.
Despite their awesome regular season, Dallas seemed unprepared for the defensive effort and tenacity of the Oilers. They seemed to lose their focus at times in the series, especially in that crucial game 3, and the loss of focus led to a loss in the series and a surprisingly early exit from the playoffs.
I see a parallel with our lives. It would be an interesting exercise to make a list of our activities and priorities and commitments, and see where God ranks on the list. Because it is so easy to become distracted by things like health worries, or family squabbles or making ends meet, or paying for that new toy. And before we know it, our lives have lost their focus.
In Luke 12, Jesus tells a parable about a rich fool, a man who was so focused on building bigger and better barns and increasing his personal wealth, that he stopped paying attention to the things of God and put his focus on the wrong things. But like game 7 in Dallas, when the time of the rich man's death came, it was too late to put his focus back on God where it belonged.
My prayer is that, as you face life's complications and responsibilities and commitments, you will involve God in your life at every opportunity. It's the best way to stay focused on God, and will prepare you for what really matters.
For St Patrick's Church, I'm Steve Page.