Advent 4: Hope – Ben Ewert
*Warning: This post may contain an hockey object lesson.*
Hope can be a dangerous thing to a sports fan. It can culminate in glorious elation, allowing you to celebrate the hard fought victories, alongside bitter losses, that have propelled your team to a championship. Or it can leave you (depending on how much you invest!) an emotionally wasted wreck as you ever yearn for that slight bit of improvement, that one miracle (or trade) that might get your team the win despite all evidence to the contrary.
Edmonton Oilers fans know a thing or two about hope. They also know a thing or two about losing. For the past ten years they’ve wallowed in the basement of the National Hockey League, making mistake after mistake, both on the ice and off as an organization. With each new draft pick or trade or coach, they say, “This is the year we turn things around!” And year after year, that new player or coach crumbles under the weight of false expectations.
To understand the pain of the fans you’d have to wade through a decade of anger, hope, disappointment and some pretty hilarious dark humour on social media. With every glimmer of hope, there has been the let down to follow. Until last year. Last year, after cleaning house on several levels and acquiring a somewhat talented fellow by the name of Connor McDavid, the team is finally gaining traction based on a mix of skill and disciplined work. Music to the ears of fans! The hope that they are struggling to allow into their cold and disillusioned hearts finally has its roots in tangible results.
I’ve been fascinated by the Oilers’ fall from stardom to the role of black sheep of the NHL. I know it’s hockey and it may sound trite but I think that it can teach us something about hope, perhaps something that can help illuminate the Hope that presents itself through the King of Glory at Christmas time. Hope gives you a glimpse of the future, however well founded or not it may be (especially when it comes to sports teams!). It helps you to place yourself within an overarching story, a narrative that doesn’t end in despair.
Hope in Christ, in particular, remembers the good that came before (His coming, life, death and resurrection) and looks forward to it again (His coming again to restore the heavens and earth). May we, who have this hope and celebrate it especially at Christmas time, share it with those we encounter from day to day, remembering that, as Paul says:
And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
*Ever since I was a little boy I’ve been a diehard Edmonton Oilers fan. Don’t ask me about the logic, as I didn’t live in Edmonton until a year ago and didn’t live in Canada until I was 7. As a young boy I received an Oilers t-shirt from a friend of the family and from that point on something (call it insanity) lodged in my young mind and heart and still hasn’t loosed itself.