Much has been made in the last couple of days about the Passion Vancouver event that took place at Rogers Arena last Friday evening and in particular the prayer for concussed-Canuck Daniel Sedin led by the founder of the Passion Movement, Louie Giglio.
And while a couple of blogs have done a decent job of presenting and analyzing what happened, I can offer you a perspective that they can’t: a first-hand account as I was present at the event. Not only was I in attendance at the Passion event, I also attended a pre-event dinner hosted by Louie. But more on that later.
As part of my job as the Director of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministry of the Catholic Archdiocese of Vancouver, I sat on the Advisory Team for Passion Vancouver. Per the official website, “Passion exists to glorify God by uniting students in worship, prayer and justice for spiritual awakening in this generation.”
We had been meeting and praying for the success of the event for months prior to last Friday and as a gracious gesture of appreciation I was invited to the pre-event dinner held in the Rogers Arena Captain’s Room. I met a lot of great people including Miss Canada 2011 Tara Teng.
One of us seems a tad happier than the other. But I digress.
During the dinner, Louie Giglio went out of his way to thank all of us for our work and service in helping bring Passion to Vancouver. He mentioned that Vancouver is the only city outside of the United States where Passion has held events three times – largely in part to the willingness of the Aquilini family to host the event in Rogers Arena. Louie thanked Paolo Aquilini (who was in attendance at both the dinner and the concert) and then segued into talking about the Vancouver Canucks and their massive popularity here. He then reflected on how his hometown of Atlanta was particularly good at grooming NHL teams to move to Canada (the Flames and more recently the Jets). I chuckled as Louie said “So once we get another team we’ll get them ready and ship them back up to you.”
As dinner completed we hastily made our way to our seats in the Arena…but not before I snapped my picture with Tara. Okay…I’ll stop mentioning that now.
After worship leader Chris Tomlin opened the event, Louie made his way onto the stage with a couple of items in his hands. One, we quickly learned, was a Canucks jersey signed by the entire team – a gift to Louie from Paolo and the Vancouver Canucks.
The other was the helmet of injured forward Daniel Sedin. Louie didn’t announce how he obtained the helmet; needless to say it was likely with the permission of Paolo Aquilini after the Passion organizers held their pre-event prayer time in the Canucks’ dressing room.
After publicly thanking the Aquilini family in front of the 12,000 people in attendance, Louie shared a few words about the Canucks and Atlanta’s knack for losing their hockey teams to Canada (similar to what he shared with us at dinner). Then, he suggested that we pray for Daniel’s recovery from his concussion.
After allowing for 35 seconds of spontaneous prayer, Louie led the attendees in a prayer of thanksgiving for the Aquilini family and for the arena, the city and team. He ended off by praying for Daniel’s recovery. At the time, I felt that it was a very powerful and genuine gesture. It didn’t feel out of place for the main reason that this was a gathering of Christians praying for a Canuck player AND NOT a gathering of Canucks fans with some Christian prayer in it. There is a HUGE difference. If people were not interested in praying for Daniel’s recovery then it was their prerogative not to join in…much like any other element of the night.
Also, Louie didn’t pray for the Canucks to win their next game, to win a playoff series or two, or to win the Stanley Cup. He didn’t pray for Daniel the hockey player; he prayed for Daniel the human being. For full healing and recovery. For goodness and fullness of life. For his heart, and everything going on his life.
You’ll hear from the video Louie saying “And we pray God that You just him know…there are people praying for him tonight – not for what he can do, not for how he can score, not for how many assists he has, but we just love him tonight God because he is Yours.”
Immediately after the prayer concluded, I was happily surprised at what had just transpired. It was quite moving to be among 12,000 people praying together. I went to both Twitter and Facebook with a simple post:
12,000 people at Rogers Arena praying for the health of Daniel Sedin…powerful stuff.
Unbeknownst to me, my buddy Joseph posted the video up in the Canucks.com message boards and in 24 hours it had accumulated over 13,000 views and 300 replies. Everyone seemed to have an opinion as to its appropriateness, its effectiveness, or its relevance. It’s come to be expected when talking sports and faith.
Was the prayer genuine? Absolutely. Was it a way to show Vancouver that Passion was in tune with the city and culturally relevant? Without a doubt. Was it a strategic and smart way to engage the crowd? Certainly.
And I loved every minute of it.