“Hello Canada and Hockey fans in the United States and Newfoundland.”
I am not anywhere close to old enough to have heard Forster Hewitt utter that iconic phrase live, but I have heard the recordings. As many of us turn our attention to the NHL playoffs this week, (to watch the Jets, Oilers and Maple Leafs), it is easy to think back and remember stories of hockey games past and the Canadian cultural ritual that is watching hockey together on Hockey Night in Canada (HNIC).
I remember the old HNIC Theme Song – the one written by Delores Claman that ran from 1968 to 2008. (TSN owns it now, maybe you still hear it if you watch the Jets regularly). Click here to listen: Hockey Night In Canada Theme Song Original – YouTube. Those first few notes of the low brass fanfare that swells into the full band always remind me of watching Oilers’ playoff games in the 90s. (I am a little too young to remember the Gretzky dynasty years very well.)
When I was going to the University of Alberta, I played in the Cosmopolitan Community Band. One year for a Christmas concert we played the HNIC Theme Song. It was so cool to play that iconic song and for it to sound almost exactly like it did on TV.
Whenever I hear that song, it immediately stops me from whatever I am doing. I am transported back to Saturday nights watching hockey with family and friends. It feels like Canada’s second national anthem, or at least it did. It has the power of connecting you to all the other people humming along from wherever they are watching the game.
For a whole host of reasons, that song will always hold a special place in my heart and mind. And whenever I hear it, it will immediately bring back cherished memories and feelings. Maybe you aren’t a big hockey fan, but we all have songs or sounds, foods or smells, books or movies that, whenever we see them or hear them or taste them or smell them, transport us back to another place and another time. Memories that hold on to us as much as we hold onto them.
This week, we hear one of my favourite stories from all Scripture, The Road to Emmaus story. The climactic moment of the story is kind of like my HNIC Theme Song moment. The disciples are pre-occupied with all that has gone on, trying to understand their new world. And then Jesus takes some bread and begins to bless it.
For the disciples, it was as if the HNIC Theme Song started playing. A memory that held them as much as they held it. A memory that woke them up from all their preoccupations. And they were transported back to that moment when their teacher and friend was sitting with them, reminding them of who they were – who God had declared them to be.
For us as people of faith, each time we gather for worship, we are surrounded by the sights and sounds, smells and tastes, words, songs and actions that break us free from all those pre-occupations that take up our focus. Memories, symbols and images that hold us. And in those things, God reminds us who we are and who God has declared us to be.
So as we sit down to watch hockey this week or hear the story of the Road to Emmaus, remember that God is there, finding ways to cut through the noise of our lives and break through into our hearts and minds. Breaking through and transforming us into Easter people.
Christ is Risen Indeed! Alleluia!