Go for the Gold: Hockey

February 28, 2010

Of all the events of the winter Olympics and there are 15 main events in all, plus their sub events, there is one event that seems to spark our country’s collective psyche like none other and that is the Men’s Hockey. You’ll recall that at the winter Olympics in Salt Lake the Americans chose their 1980 Hockey Team for lighting the flame and actually made a movie about that team winning the Gold at Lake Placid so I think I’d be safe saying that Canadians aren’t the only ones obsessed with hockey. Hockey was first introduced to the Olympics in 1920 and was won by the Canadian Team, of course. Canada continued to win every Gold until 1952 with the exception of 1936 when a British team made up primarily of Canadian residents born in Britain won the Gold. That all changed in 1956 when the Russians entered the games. And we went through a fifty year drought where we were unable to make it to the top of the podium. But of course that changed in 2002 when the Canadian Men and Women both won gold.

 The stereotypical Canadian is a Hockey Fan, we are supposed to eat sleep and drink hockey which isn’t always the case, not everyone north of the 49th is a Hockey fan. But here is a check list to find out if you are, ready you might be a hockey fan if:
You know you’re a hockey fan if…..
15. You punish your kids with “minors,” “majors,” and “misconducts.”
14. When you come to a traffic signal and the light turns red, you get really excited and start cheering.
13. You consider the Forum in Montreal a place of worship.
12. You keep a picture of the Stanley Cup in your wallet in front of the picture of your family.
11. Instead of duct tape, you use hockey tape to fix everything.
10. You call a trip to the Hockey Hall of Fame a “pilgrimage.”
9. You think the Canadian National Anthem is the theme from “Hockey Night in Canada.”
8. You send Wayne Gretzky a birthday card, yet you can’t even remember your own family members’ birthdays.
7. All your kids are either named Gordie, Bobby or Wayne.
6. You went to see “West Side Story” because you thought it was about a game between Winnipeg and San Jose.    
5. When someone refers to “The Classics,” you think they’re talking about the Original Six.
4. Every time you hear a siren you wonder who scored.
3. Every time you see the name “Roy” you automatically pronounce it “Wah.”
2. Everything in your wardrobe is your team’s colors.
1. You think the proper way to spell the plural of “leaf” is “leafs.”
Most of the winter Olympics have at least a partial solo component, whether it be alpine or cross country skiing, speed skating or figure skating, but at its very heart Hockey is a team sport.

 Hockey games will never be won and lost on the strength of a single superstar. Probably the greatest example of that would be the Great One himself, Wayne Gretzky. Undoubtedly the greatest hockey player to ever play he led the Edmonton Oilers to 5 Stanley Cups between 1984 and 1990. However as great as he was he was unable to deliver the cup to either LA or New York in the years to follow. Concerning Basketball Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
made this statement: “One man can be a crucial ingredient on a team, but one man cannot make a team.”

And in Baseball it was Babe Ruth
who said “The way a team plays as a whole determines its success. You may have the greatest bunch of individual stars in the world, but if they don’t play together, the club won’t be worth a dime.” Although the sports are different the sentiment is the same: great individuals don’t win great, teams do. And so this morning we are going to look at the things we need to do together. Let’s start by making sure that we are all playing on the same team.
Three questions: Who’s your owner? Every hockey team has an owner, even in the Olympics where every thing is supposed to be non commercial and amateur there has to be someone who puts up the cash. That’s the sponsoring country. If you are a Christian you have an owner as well and it is God. The scriptures tell us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.
So in order to be on the team God has to be your owner, is He?
Secondly Who’s your General Manager? You ever wonder what a general manager does? Collins English Dictionary defines Manager this way a Person who manages the affairs of a business, client, team etc. So at Cornerstone that would be our administrator Mike Kneebone, but in Hockey the General Manager is the man in charge of the Players. He recruits them and is in charge of their behaviour. Sound a lot like Jesus. 1 John 4:9 God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. In order to be on the team Jesus needs to be the manager of your life, is he in control of your behaviour?
Thirdly Who’s your Coach? If we go back to Collins English Dictionary for a moment we see Coach defined like this: coach, an instructor or trainers of athletes, singers etc.
Now if we go to the Bible Jesus said in John 14:26 But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.
Is the Holy Spirit your coach, is he the one who is guiding you and instructing you?
So are you a part of the team? Ok, then let’s look at what being a part of the team entails.
The Team Has a Purpose The purpose of a Hockey Team is to win. To win the game, to win the series, to win the playoffs, to win the championship. In the case of our Olympic Hockey team the purpose is to win the Gold, not the bronze, not the silver but the Gold. They haven’t gone to Turrin for the trip, they haven’t gone to skate around the rink they’ve gone to win.
“Every time you put on a Canadian uniform and play for Team Canada, anything but gold is not acceptable.” Wayne Gretzky, manager of Team Canada.
The church has a purpose as well; Jesus told the Apostles what it was in Matthew 28:19-20 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
That’s the purpose of the church to bring people into the kingdom and make them disciples. That’s what we are supposed to be doing. As a local church we have a purpose as well, 1 years ago when this church was just a dream we developed a mission statement that says: Our Mission Statement: Cornerstone Wesleyan Church exists to reach pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching, bringing them to a life expanding relationship with the Living God and guiding them into a practical holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit.
That’s why Cornerstone Wesleyan Church was established 15 years ago, it’s why we are here today. That is our goal to reach those who don’t know Jesus Christ, to introduce them to Jesus and to guide them into a holy life style. That’s why we exist that is our purpose and that is our goal. Anything less then that may well be admirable isn’t what we are here to do. Close your eyes for a moment. Work with me on this one ok? Close your eyes and now picture someone you know who doesn’t know Jesus. It might be a family member, or maybe a friend or a neighbour. Can you see them? Ok I’m going to pray and I want you to pray after me, you don’t have to do it out loud but pray. Father I thank you for the salvation your offer through Jesus, and I thank you for the guidance you offer through the Holy Spirit. Lord I bring my friend to you today. Help me to reach them for you. May my light shine bright, and may I have the courage to speak to them about you. In Jesus name amen. That’s why you are here as a Christian and why we exist as a church.
The Team Has a Strategy Hockey teams win by having a strategy as a team, they don’t just go out there and do something. Well some teams do that but the successful teams will have a strategy. When the players get on the ice they know what their coach expects of them and they will either play offensive hockey or they will play defensive hockey. The purpose of the first is to score as many goals as possible and of course the goal of the second is to prevent as many goals as possible. In the NHL this year according to industry sources, that would be my former assistant Greg Hanson, the two best offensive teams in the League this year are the Washington Capitals who lead the league with 243 goals followed by the San Jose Sharks. The best defensive team are the Chicago Black Hawks which has the fewest goals against with 141 the next best are the New Jersey Devils with 142 goals against. It’s interesting to note that all four of these teams are all leading in their respective divisions.

Now historically the church has played a defensive game, we try to prevent the devil from scoring goals. In the church in society and in the world as a whole. But I’m here to tell you today that was not the strategy that Christ mapped out for the church, he did not expect us to play a defensive game he expected us to play an offensive game. In Matthew 16:18 Jesus said . . . I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.
Now we all know the scripture, and there are some things that we can learn from it. Jesus builds the Church and it’s his church. That’s elementary but sometimes we forget it. Unfortunately it’s the last part of the scripture that we get wrong, and not just a little wrong but totally wrong. What happens is more often then not we take this as a promise that the church will be able to stand against hell. But that’s not what Jesus was saying. Gates are not offensive weapons, you don’t attack with gates, you defend with gates. You see Jesus is not saying “Hey guys when Hell attacks the church, the church will be able to stand” No, what he’s saying is “Hey guys when the church attacks hell, it won’t be able to stand.”
This is Jesus church do you believe that? And its purpose here is to depopulate hell, and it’s time that we as a church stopped taking the defensive and began to play a more offensive game in order to win. We can’t simply wait for people to come to us; we need to be going to them. How do we do that? It needs to start out personally, it goes back to who did you picture in your mind? Who was it that you prayed for? And now ask yourself, “What can I do to reach that person?”
We all have a job to Do? In hockey you have a goalie, 2 defence men, 2 forwards and a centre. Each player plays a specific position and performs a specific task. For example the goalies job is to keep the puck out of the net, his job isn’t to put the puck in the other net it’s very simply to keep the puck out his net. Very seldom do you find a goalie scoring a hat trick; if you do it might be indicative that the defence on the other team wasn’t doing their job. And being goalie is a very important job, but not everyone can be goalie and not everyone wants to be goalie, listen to what New York Rangers goaltender Gump Worsley
said in comparing the profession of goaltending with other popular jobs: “The only job worse is a javelin catcher at a track-and-field meet.” And Jacques Plante the first NHL Goalie to wear a mask asked “How would you like a job where, every time you make a mistake, a big red light goes on and 18,000 people boo?”

The bible doesn’t use a sports team as an analogy, but Paul tells us the same thing using the body as an illustration Romans 12:4-5 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In Hockey the players know their positions and know that’s what they are supposed to play. In the church we need to learn that. Everyone of us has a position to play on the team. Bob Russell was the Pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Kentucky, a church that he began pastoring right out of College when it had 50 people attending; now it has in excess of 17000 people worshipping on Sunday Mornings. Russell says all he expects out of his people is 3 hours a week. An hour of worship, you’re doing that now. An hour of discipleship, that’s small groups. And an hour of ministry. Sounds pretty simple. Everyone in the church needs a ministry, a job to do. Think about it, if you’re at a hockey game and all you’re doing is watching, you’re not a player you’re a fan. You’re not part of the team you are part of the crowd. So we all need a job, and there are all kinds of jobs to do in the church. On the back table are information sheets, which by the way if you’ve never filled out you probably need to. On the back of those sheets is a listing of most of the ministry opportunities at Cornerstone if you can’t find anything there that fits you there’s a blank spot at the bottom. We need your contribution, and more importantly you need a ministry.
We need to play as a team On a good team if a player makes a mistake usually the other players don’t skate over and say “Way to go bonehead.” At least they shouldn’t, instead they should be there to say, “Hey, next time.” When a team starts fighting and bickering and complaining then it’s just a matter of time before they lose their focus on what they are supposed to be doing. When Patrick Roy was traded to Colorado from Montreal it wasn’t because he was a rotten goalie it was because he kept whining about the management of the Habs and constantly complaining. In the church it’s the same way, when Paul wrote to the Christians who were part of the church in Corinth, he wrote this in 2 Corinthians 13:11 Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.
That’s a promise for every church including Cornerstone; Encourage each other, live in harmony and peace. Then the God of Love and peace will be with you. Do you know what the difference is between the NHL and the WWF? In the NHL the fighting’s real. But at least they fight with those on other teams not with their own players.
We need to build one another up, to encourage and protect one another to live in harmony and peace. When one of the team is hurting then we need to be there to comfort them and protect them. Jean Perron
used to play for Montreal and he once made this statement “This type of injury is very painful. Especially when it hurts.”
Sometimes in hockey people get hurt, honest, really it happens. And when it does the other players try to protect the hurt player and when he gets back to the bench the other players are concerned about his injury and the trainer does what he can to ease the pain. Sometimes in the church people get hurt as well, and when that happens we are supposed to protect them and we are supposed to be concerned and take care of them and do what we can to ease the pain. That’s part of being a team, that’s why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:26 If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad.
Team is often defined as Together Each Accomplishes More What we can’t accomplish as individual Christians we can accomplish as a church, but only when we work as a team.