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Celebrate the richness of Canada!

March 1, 2010 No Comment

by Stephen Chambers

Celebrating Canada and the Olympics in Vancouver

What a party! Obviously the world celebrated with us too, but most of all it was us Canadians who had a huge, world-class blast during the Vancouver Olympics. Never mind that most of us could only watch the Games on TV. The excitement drew us in anyway, and made us proud to be Canadian.

I don’t think that’s a bad thing, from a Christian perspective. If patriotism crosses the line and becomes extreme nationalism, I get uncomfortable. Putting others down to feel better about ourselves would be just as sinful on the international level as it is on the interpersonal level. But celebrating our country and its accomplishments isn’t sinful. It’s a healthy and God-pleasing way to give thanks for the blessings He’s given to us, here and now in this time and place.

The closing ceremonies got me thinking about some of those special gifts. The athletes were front and centre, of course. Not just their physical abilities, but their discipline and self-control are a wonder. Sidney Crosby didn’t even seem to know for sure, right after the gold-medal hockey game, how he managed to score the winning goal. But somehow he just found a way to do it. It’s incredible what God enables the human mind and body to do!

But there were so many other things for Canadians to give thanks for at those closing ceremonies. Security must have been tight, yet it was pretty much invisible (on TV at least). What a gift to live in this peaceful land. And to afford such a spectacle! God has blessed us with incredible wealth. The talent was top-notch as well: inspiring music, dance, and spectacle. And maybe best of all, Canadian humour was in fine form, with such over-the-top caricatures of our national symbols that our whole family was literally laughing out loud. Can you believe how free we Canadians are to laugh at ourselves? Now that’s a rare national characteristic!

The 2014 Games in Russia will probably be very different. And that’s more than just OK, it’s a good part of the way God orders the world. Just as He creates humanity in two genders and a multiplicity of ethnicities, so He also gives us the freedom to organize ourselves into distinct national communities. We speak a range of languages, cultivate unique cultures, order common life in divergent political systems, and differ from each other in many other ways.

None of this has much to do with salvation, of course. It’s all “kingdom of the left hand” stuff, where the issue is simply whether a given nation gives God’s Word a ready chance to do its work (1 Tim 2:1-4). As long as it does, you can celebrate the richness of your nationality with all the joyous patriotism you can muster.

As a Canadian, I rejoice with the Psalmist that “the boundary-lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance!” (Psalm 16:6) 

Rev. Dr. Stephen Chambers is a sports fan, athlete and professor at Concordia Lutheran Seminary, Edmonton, Alberta (www.learngrowserve.ca)

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