The game was given national coverage and like many fans across the country, I watched the game, the pre-game show and the moving banner ceremony at the end of the game, as all 29 team members aboard the bus that crashed on April 6th were remembered / honored -- the 16 who perished in the crash -- 10 players, their head coach, assistant coach, team trainer, team statistician, play-by-play radio announcer and bus driver -- and the 13 players who survived the crash; two who played in the game.
There were several images through the broadcast that were moving and inspirational; the broadcast crew at TSN did a wonderful job of maintaining a professionalism and sensitivity that recognized the heaviness of the grief that is still so very raw and yet celebrated the courage and perseverance of the Humboldt community; especially those most closely impacted by the tragedy. The strength we find in community was inspirational. If you missed this tribute you can find it on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QaWxFmfO0pE
In a day and age when our Christian faith is often minimalized or even mocked in the media, there was an undeniable Godly presence in this gathering. The team chaplain, Pastor Sean Brandow, spoke compassionately about the love of Jesus Christ and the strength and hope we find in Him -- this is the message that men like Sean and our friend Don Richmond bring to the rink as they faithfully represent our Lord in arenas across our country.
The moment that was most meaningful to me as I watched was the unfolding of the banners during the post-game ceremony, beginning with the names of the 16 who had perished. What was most striking was the dates of birth at the bottom of the banner; so many that were so young. It was a somber reminder of the frailty of life -- alive with a bright future in one moment and gone the next. Yet on those same banners, at the very top, was a symbol of hope -- the cross.
The takeaway for me in all of this, as we face the challenges and uncertainties of living in a world where tragedies and hardships and injustices abound; the message is very simple and yet incredibly powerful: look to the cross!
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)