For about the past five years, I lived by a family whose daughter was very involved in hockey. She practiced hockey as much as she could, and played hockey whenever there was an opportunity to be on a team. She simply loved hockey! (For the rest of this article, she will be "Sarah.")
I had no idea, until they moved in, that there were so many ways to participate in hockey throughout the year. There was summer conditioning, REC hockey, travelling hockey teams and, of course, the high school team. When COVID hit, there was no hockey, and I still remember her dad saying to me, “ Our family just experienced a life without hockey, and it wasn’t fun!”
That quote hit me right between the eyes, because I made the immediate connection to church. What if he had said that about not being able to attend church during COVID? How would I have reacted then?
“Our family just experienced a life without church, and it wasn’t fun!”
Church can also be referred to as a team sport. It takes a lot of people being involved to make a church work effectively. There is a wonderful mantra in my denomination that says we should all be willing to give our “time, talent and treasure” to our congregation, and the correlation to hockey is not lost on me.
Time: Being good at hockey took a lot of time. It also took a great deal of family commitment. Sarah’s parents had to drive her to many evening practices to help her get better at her craft. But, it was something Sarah loved, so it was not a burden.
How committed are we, as a family, to helping our children deepen their faith? Do we take the time to take them to weekly worship to help them get more comfortable with the ritual and to hone their craft?
Talent: Sarah was a very good player. She had natural talent, then built on that skill through her commitment to her sport and her team.
The church needs our talent more than ever. Some of us love to serve others, some sing great, some work well with children. What talent are you willing to share with your congregation and work on for the good of your church team?
Treasure: Sarah treasured the “sense of team” she had with her various teams. She loved the camaraderie and the relationships she fostered, over time, especially with her high school team.
We immediately think a church is only after our money when they say “treasure,” but the church is also after what we “hold dear” in our hearts. Sarah treasured the relationships she fostered through the multiple practices, games and years she spent with her team.
We can all come to treasure our churches more, too, if we come to multiple practices, multiple worship services and consistent years of involvement in our congregation. Churches are not just a place for the pious, but a field hospital for those who recognize they are not perfect and have a desire to get better.
I am not anti-hockey. I am actually pro-church! I also love that this family’s passion for hockey helped me see how much church can learn from hockey, or any team sport, to become more relevant in families' lives … we only need to call ourselves the Saint Columban’s team, and get matching shirts ... Might work?
"From the Pulpit" runs on the Saturday faith pages and features reflections from area religious leaders. To contribute, contact Life Editor Meredith Williams at 701-429-1749 or email@example.com.