I hated the Toronto Maple Leafs. Back in the fifties and sixties, they were the arch-rivals of the Montreal Canadiens when hockey in Canada only had six teams. My dislike of the Leafs stemmed less from hometown prejudice than their style of play. You see, Toronto was notorious for “sitting on the puck.” In hockey language of the day, this term described a team that would immediately go into a defensive mode upon scoring a goal.
Unlike my beloved Canadiens, who would turn the offense on from start to finish (whether they were ahead by one or ten goals), the hapless Leafs would always try to play it safe the minute they got ahead. Needless to say, this strategy made for boring hockey and often, backfired on them when they would lose their slim lead in the final minutes of play.
I don’t watch hockey anymore, but I’ve kept my distaste for the “sitting on the puck” mentality. Nothing great was ever accomplished with this strategy and nothing great was ever sustained with it as well. Toronto learned that lesson the hard way as they watched the Canadiens rack up 5 straight Stanley Cup victories, a record that stands to this day.
I share my hockey memories with you for the following reason: Congregations don’t succeed in doing great things by “sitting on the puck”. They launch out in faith daring to achieve things that are bigger than they are and doing so by faith. So let’s remember that Christian life is a lot like hockey… you don’t win games by always playing it safe.