I recently took part in Canada’s favourite cultural pastime by attending a hockey game. Sadly, the division-topping Vancouver Giants were defeated 5-0 by their rival Seattle Thunderbirds.
Before the game, the national anthems of both teams were sung. At O Canada, my two companions and I joined in. I was flanked on the left by my professionally trained tenor pal and on the right, by my tuneful soprano wife. I stood straight, stuck out my chest, and did my best in a bass voice that soars strong and free like a large migratory waterfowl.
Ahead of us, a group of children with their families turned to gawk-as if Dudley Do-Right of the Mounties had just tethered his horse in our row! Looking around, and listening, it was apparent that hardly any of the 6,000 spectators felt inclined to actually sing O Canada. This in a city that boasts its intention to welcome the world to the 2010 Olympic/Paralympic Winter Games in less than two months! Come on, Canada, it’s time for choir practice!
Egad! Could it be that the growing sentiment about spirituality versus religion is beginning to infect things as sacred to Canadians as hockey? Heaven forbid that we should start saying, “Well, I’m athletic but not really into organized sports.” Perhaps anticipating this, one Canadian television network has become downright evangelical in spurring Canadians’ mental preparation for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Toques, scarves, hooded sweatshirts and television commercials ask us, “Do you believe?” Like even the most reluctant visitor at a baptism, how can we help but say yes? This same media outlet has even launched a fervent campaign in which on-air personalities have begun to sound like burning bushes as they proclaim, “I AM CTV!” Evangelical and Yahwist!
Clearly, if we believe strongly in something, we will want to sing about it. If we carry a proud legacy, we will want to tell the world about it. If we have hearts glowing for the future, we will want to invite others to participate in it. And if God gives us strength for living today, we’re right to give hearty thanks.
Needless to say, none of what I have written here is really about hockey, or O Canada, or the Olympics, or even CTV. It’s meant to be a parable about how we do-or don’t-participate in church.
Do you believe?
Rev. Kevin Dixon