My name is Tom, and I am a long-suffering-no-longer Melbourne Demons supporter
As you would no doubt be aware, the Melbourne Football Club won its first premiership in 57 years back on September 25.
It was a great day for the Dees, as it was for all the supporters who had stuck with the club over many decades in the doldrums.
For me personally, growing up in the ‘90s, and going to the MCG every weekend to see my beloved Dees play – even as they would inevitably get slaughtered – I had always dreamt of the day the club would have the ultimate victory.
I had imagined, though, that if it were to ever happen, that I would be there to witness the captain and coach lifting the premiership cup on the day.
But in 2021, when it did finally happen, we were in our sixth COVID lockdown, and that Grand Final Day was enacted in Western Australia, far from its rightful home on the turf of the MCG! It was great to watch the game on TV, and when the final siren sounded, it was wonderful to sing the team song with the family in our living room.
But it would have been so much better to have been there in-person to see the team crowned the champions.
What supporter wouldn’t want to lean over the fence and high-five the players as they pass by on their victory lap? Who wouldn’t want to get a selfie with Christian Petracca and his Norm Smith Medal?
There is something about being in proximity to greatness. It’s intoxicating.
When our heroes reach a pinnacle and we’re able to be in their presence it’s almost as if a little bit of their glory rubs off onto us.
As good as live TV, video calls, or Zoom meetings are, there’s nothing that can beat being in the presence of someone special – that’s where the magic happens! In the Christian tradition this has long been understood.
Our spiritual practice revolves around our being gathered together in the presence of a victorious God. Our worship services involve, in a mysterious but very real sense, hearing God speak as our scriptures are read and as the preacher expounds the message.
Additionally, when we celebrate Holy Communion, we believe Jesus to be with us in a tangible way.
All of this is only possible because, we believe, Jesus of Nazareth went through the darkest of wilderness periods – far worse than a premiership drought – and finally died on the cross before being raised to life in victory.
The Christian life is one that is centred by our “being in the team rooms”, taking a deep breath and contemplating what it took to achieve the victory, and then singing the team song to the praise to God.
During lockdown six, St Johns Southgate had to resort to online-only worship. While we made the best of it, there’s nothing like being there for real to rejoice in the presence of God.
Not everyone’s a believer (in football or God!) but if you’re curious to see why we’re celebrating Jesus’ victory, come and visit. Our doors are now open again! •