When I am not pastoring here in town I dabble a bit at academics. I teach and research social issues facing today's families.
Recently I was involved in a project that was designed to better understand the importance of religion and culture in helping second generation immigrants feel at home in Canada.
Some of the questions I asked children of immigrant parents had to do with family customs, religious practices, friendship networks and experiences with prejudicial treatment.
It was a wonderful eye opening experience for me as I was able to interview individuals of various faith and ethnic traditions. Koreans, Ghanaians, Punjabis and Chinese were just some of the groups I had a chance to talk with.
Even though they all came from very different backgrounds, with different practices, beliefs and experiences, they all had the exact same response for what it means to be Canadian.
Their answer was unanimously - hockey! A sport most of their parents had never heard of before coming to Canada was what united them as Canadians.
It is hard not to see what happens when the Canucks win a playoff game. South Fraser Way is full of people celebrating the victory.
There is not a white side of town, a yellow side of town and brown side of town when it comes to supporting and celebrating the Canucks.
There is only unity in flag waving, horn honking and cheering. There are not Conservative, NDP and Liberal chants or lanes of the road for just the rich to drive on and the poor to stay off of. Old fans don't start cheering early and then go to bed early while the young fans come out later.
Men don't cheer on one side of the road and women on the other. There is just unity. Catholics don't cheer on their knees and Protestants with their hands in the air. There isn't a table and chair sections for some Sikhs while other cheer sitting shoulder to shoulder.
Some don't face east to cheer while other's face west either. Everyone is there celebrating together as Vancouver Canucks fans. After all hockey is what it means to be a Canadian. Yet what does it mean to be a Christian?
I think it is sad to say that even for Christians in this city there is greater unity in seeking Lord Stanley than the Lord Jesus Christ. The run for the cup will come and go (and I hope we win it all!) but then what?
I am not going to push the idea of unity at all costs because that is not the right focus either. As we move into the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in 17 years, I encourage you to use each game as an opportunity to look around and see what is going on, not just with this city, but in most places in British Columbia.
Then remember the words of Paul in Ephesians 4:3-5 (NIV) Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; No it is not unity at all costs, it is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit above all else - even the Vancouver Canucks.
Todd Martin is a pastor with the Harvest Christian Fellowship. Contact him at [email protected]