Stand Up for the Risen Lord

99cupIt is very disappointing, to say the least, that the European Rugby decision-makers have decided that Ulster’s quarter-final match against Munster will be played at 1.45pm on Easter Sunday. Given the Christian commitment of so many Ulster supporters, as well as the players, it is worse than unfortunate that the ERC authorities have in effect denied Christian supporters of Ulster the opportunity of supporting their team in this important match.

I love Ulster Rugby and for the past number of years I have been a season ticket holder at Ravenhill. Friday nights at Ravenhill are great events, and have been enjoyed by many Christian youth groups as a good social outing. But my commitment to Jesus Christ takes precedence over anything else, and on the most important day in the Christian calendar I plan to be with my fellow Christians worshipping and praising my Risen Saviour. I am grieved that I cannot travel to Thomond Park to stand up for the Ulstermen. I imagine that a significant number of my fellow supporters will also be very disappointed and will feel that their “right” to support their team has been taken away from them.

It’s not that I want everyone to conform to a strict sabbatarian position with regard to sport, and I recognise that there is tradition among many people on this island of participating in and supporting sport on Sunday. But for those of us who are committed to our local church each Sunday, and especially on Easter Sunday, this decision means that we are unable to follow our team to Limerick.

Some years ago there was a controversy over Ulster being required to play their home matches on Sundays and that decision was quickly reversed following representations from the Ulster supporter lobby. I hope that the reaction of Ulster supporters puts some pressure on the ERC to re-think this bad decision.

9 Replies to “Stand Up for the Risen Lord”

  1. Truly annoyed yes Stafford, but not surprised. I don’t think either Sky / ERC / Munster branch (or whatever combination scheduled it) sat down with a calender and worked out how to isolate evangelicals who support Ulster. But I like you am, deprived the opportunity of travelling to the game – which, without question, I would have done.

    As you say in the past, the Ulster Branch have proven sensitive to the position of Christians when it comes to match timing. It would be great to see if they would change it. I dare say that would depend on the willingness of Christians either in the team / Branch to stand up on that issue. Given that they have to fairly regularly play on a Sunday anyway, that is not likely.

    Two things are important in this, regardless of where Christians stand on the issue of Sabbath observance. 1. That Ulster win and that the boys know, though we cannot share in person, we are supportive of them all the way. 2. That on Easter Sunday, Christians do not get distracted by the fact sport is just sport. Like you, I can’t wait to be in Church with my family on Easter and rejoice in eternal hope.

  2. ‘ It’s OK, it’s on TV, ‘ is a rather trite comment. This is not just any Sabbath, it’s the Resurrection Sabbath. So, can one possibly watch TV on such a day? I would be fairly confident that Stafford would confine himself to the the highlights. With a name like Peter I’m less sure !

  3. Edwin, hi,

    It wasn’t intended as a trite comment; there are two ways I could respond, but in view of your finishing with an exclamation mark, I’ll run with the more light-hearted. 🙂

    I could almost stretch (although it would be quite some stretch) to think in terms of one Sabbath being holier than another (assuming we’re obliged to keep a weekly Sabbath at all), but I’m quite certain that Stafford isn’t a biblical name!

    BTW, Stafford, I see you only get a ‘fairly’!

  4. I think that a joke between friends is fine and healthy…

    A wee note of caution. I know that we see this as the secular world encroaching on the Christian world. But, in living memory, Ulster could be divided into Sabbatarian (Protestant) and non-Sabbatarian (Catholic) areas.

    So when we leap to defend Sabbatarianism, we might want to be clear that we are doing this for Christian reasons, and not cultural reasons. Now I’m not criticising Stafford’s post here at all. Stafford is very clear about his reasons; but sometimes I’ve heard other people arguing for Sabbatarianism as if they want a return to the “good old days”.

    The Protestant state for the Protestant people is dead, and praise God for that. But we do have a right to have our religious convictions heard with sympathy; a sympathy that the secular world seems incapable of. If the date was rearranged to suit Christians, then those who do not share Christian convictions would cry “foul”.
    And that seems to be a sad state of affairs.


  5. Absolutely Mark. The more I think about it the more ridiculous it is. Would we play on Christmas Day? I’m sure all the Gardai or transport workers will hardly be thankful to be out of their homes on Easter Sunday.

    Still, in 1993 (or was it ’95?) Bernard Langer won the US Open on Easter Sunday and gave all the Glory to the Risen Lord. I’m sure, as they have done in the past, the believing Ulster men will do the same. Especially after a convincing victory. Stand up!

  6. l’m glad to see Stafford’s stand on this issue,l was pleased at the way it was put accross in such a non-aggressive maner as too often our Christian freternity can get peoples back up.But l do think this issue needs to be tackled by supporters accross the country on a large scale directed at ERC.l

    l have emailed them and pleaded our case but we need a lot more to do so.

    The players are such ambassadors for Jesus,just last weekend l travelled to Clermont with them and they were a super bunch of guys – lets take the pressure of the players who do not want to play by putting some pressure on ERC.

    Thanks again Stafford

  7. I would have no problem with Ulster playing on christmas day. It seems we are missing the point that every Sunday is the weekly celebration of the resurrection not a day for the celebration of organised sport.
    If the Lord graciously caused them to be thrashed every time they played on a Sunday would the players who are professed Christian maybe get the point.

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