There’s a picture circulating on the Internet of Jesus gently displaying a melon before a young girl, wearing a Riders jersey under his white robe. What, Jesus a melon-head? Jesus a Riders fan? Many who are a part of the Rider Nation are absolutely convinced!
As we look forward to Sunday’s epic Grey Cup between the Hamilton Ti-Cats and the Saskatchewan Roughriders at the Riders home stadium, the emotional fervor and passion that is building, surpasses that of the most enthousiastic Pentecostal church! I’m always amazed that those who are a bit reserved about publicly expressing their genuine passion and devotion for God have no such inhibitions when it comes to expressing their passion and devotion for their favourite team, especially among Riders fans.
This Sunday in the church where I serve, you will see a sea of green during the worship service. Hey, this isn’t even Saskatchewan, this is northern Alberta! Okay we’re not far from Saskatchewan, if you like travelling on a winter road! Even on the platform our worship leader Lucas Welsh might just be wearing green. And I guarantee you as much as he will be focused on leading the church family into the presence of God; his mind will occasionally stray to that 4 pm kick-off.
Last Sunday I overhead one Riders fan say that he’d be praying for the team during the week, and that the potential that the Riders could be in the Grey Cup has really given his prayer life a boost. With the Riders winning the Western Division final one guy spoke of the knots that were already in his stomach, in anticipation of Sunday’s game. And yes, one guy from our church had this all figured out a few years ago, when he named his son “Rider.”
So as a pastor do I get worried about the near religious devotion many of us Canadians have for our sports teams? No I’d have to admit that I love the way people come together, enjoy one-another, and express something very primal, namely our passion to cheer on and respect athletic success. I’d have to admit that I did consider taking a Sunday off myself when some Grey Cup tickets were made available to me. The experience of sitting in Mosaic Stadium in the centre of Rider Nation as the Riders battle for the cup would simply be one of those once-in-a-life-time incredible experiences.
But in the end football as great as it is, is only a game. And as I watch all the fervor and passion erupt for what is just a game, I am reminded where my ultimate devotion and passions lie, namely for our God who created us to enjoy life to the full, who made a way for us through Jesus to know him personally, who works through us to make this world a better place.
But hey, I might just offer up a prayer for the Riders. Who knows, maybe Jesus is a Riders fan?