There are some moments in life that you never forget. I have experienced several in the past two weeks. I took my first ever trip to New York City, I was commissioned as a provisional Elder in The United Methodist Church and last night the Chicago Blackhawks clenched Lord Stanley’s Cup. The Stanley Cup is often referred to as “the greatest trophy in all of sports” and I know that many people would not agree with this statement, but with the exception of the Texas A&M football team winning a national championship, this is definitely the best trophy in my world of sports.
The Stanley Cup is named after Lord Stanley of Preston, the 1892 Governor General of Canada. He purchased the decorative cup in London for 10 guineas (around $50 at the time). Stanley donated the Cup to award Canada’s top amateur hockey club after he and his family became infatuated with the sport at Montreal’s 1889 Winter Carnival; it was first awarded to the Montreal Amateur Athletic Association (or MAAA) in 1893.1
Ever since, this icon of the hockey world has been passed from champion to champion within the NHL. The trophy stands just over 35 inches tall and weighs about 34 pounds, and last night I had the privilege of watching our Captain, Jonathan Toews, hoist the greatest trophy in sports for the third time in six years. It is the consensus of many people, myself included, that this now constitutes a dynasty, which is something truly incredible to witness.
Last night’s victory was special for many reasons. It was the first time the Hawks won the Stanley Cup on home ice since 1938. We won in 2010 on the road in Philadelphia, and in 2013 we won it in Boston. When the trophy was being presented they played “We Are the Champions” and that was the first time that song had been played in the United Center since Michael Jordan won the NBA championship with the Bulls in 1997.
It was a heart-pounding night. I can’t express the amount of anxiety that I had watching that whole game. It was such a close series, and through the first five games, neither team ever held more than a one goal lead, and all five games were decided by one goal, which made last night’s 2-0 victory even that much sweeter. I will never forget watching the Hawks win the cup in 2013, especially since we were living in Chicago at the time and the whole city went crazy. This win will also never be forgotten.
I was watching an interview with Coach Q before the game yesterday and the interviewer asked him how they were able to play so well in such high stakes games. Coach Q said that they have a great team loaded with experienced leaders, and our guys know what it takes to win these games and they trust each other to get the job done. As he was saying this, I was reminded of the church. We are also a team, doing ministry together, and this includes all of us, not just the staff.
I believe that we have a good team here at FUMCD, but I wonder at times if we are missing something. Every team in sports has a goal. For the Blackhawks, it’s winning the Stanley Cup. As a church we don’t really have one goal toward which we are all striving. We have abstract goals; we want to grow deeper in faith, larger in number and stronger in fellowship as we do more to serve God’s kingdom, but that doesn’t come with a trophy and it’s hard to measure success and failure.
In sports, wins give you the passion and motivation to endure the losses and the losses teach you valuable lessons that help you to win in the future. But in the church it’s not as black and white. I wonder if we might do well to create some tangible goals to accompany our larger, more abstract vision of making disciples for the transformation of the world.
For the past several months, Pastor Frank has encouraged all of us to imagine what might be possible for our church, to “Dream beyond the boundaries.” I don’t know what the ecclesial equivalent of the Stanley Cup is, but I know that having a goal can unite and inspire people in a mighty way.
I hope you have dreams for our church, and I hope that you are open to new ideas about our future. I don’t know what lies in store for our congregation, but I know that God is faithful and that we have a strong team here at FUMCD.
Have a wonderful week my friends, and Go Hawks!
P.S. We got Stanley right after the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup in 2013, so now his namesake has been doubly earned!