For folks who are longtime fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins, there are two players with whom such fans have had a hate/love relationship such that the change in attitude might have caused a kind of emotional whiplash. These two players are Ulf Samuelsson and Darius Kasparaitis. Samuelsson had the reputation as one of the dirtiest players in the history of the NHL when he played for the Hartford Whalers and one who excelled at antagonizing opponents, particularly high-priced stars like Pittsburgh’s own Mario Lemieux. People in Pittsburgh hated him! But in 1991, Samuelsson became a Pittsburgh Penguin! He helped the team with its first Stanley Cup that year! He scored the winning goal in the Cup clinching game! And the People of Pittsburgh looooooooved him. Samuelsson was one of “us”. Then there was Kasparaitis. He was known for his aggressive physical playing style and led his teams in hits several times, including his rookie season with the New York Islanders. In the 1993 Stanley Cup playoffs, Kasparaitis was assigned to shadow Lemieux. Kasparaitis beat on Lemieux “like a rented mule” and one headline proclaimed “Kasparaitis owns Lemieux”. The Islanders knocked perhaps the best Penguin team of that era and which had won its last 17 games of the season in a row out of the playoffs. Penguin fans loathed Kasparaitis. But in 1996, your guessed it, Kasparaitis became a Penguin. And that hard-hitting style of play continued. And Penguin fans loooooooved it. And loved him. Kasparaitis was one of “us”. How can such things happen? How can we hate someone one day and love that same person the next day? It happens when that person becomes part of our community. And while it does not happen often with the speed of the Kasparaitis/Samuelsson circumstances, that is usually how it works.
While I do not think that the Ephesians had a hockey team, they did have some problems with hate/love relationships. Jews and gentiles just did not get along … until they became one community. Even then, they had a rough time. So, Paul told them how to do it. It still works today. Come and hear about it on Sunday July 22 at John McMillan Presbyterian Church at 9:30 when Pastor Jeff preaches “Shalom” based on Ephesians 2: 11-22. We will look forward to seeing you.