The Giant’s midget crowd

List of Australian rules football clubs in Aus...
The GWS Giants’ Jumper (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Saturday 26 May, the Greater Western Sydney Giants played their first match at their home ground, Skoda Stadium. A small boutique stadium, it’s capacity is 25,000. Estimates for the first game crowd ranged from 15,000 to 18,000. Instead, the first match was witnessed by a midget 11,887 people. The poor attendance drew criticism as to whether the expansion to Western Sydney was the right move for the AFL. I however say that only time will tell, as history will show us.

One of the first expansion clubs, the West Coast Eagles, on its first home game, attracted a crowd of 23,897 at Subiaco Oval, a ground that holds 43,000. This is from a state where football was strong and established – the stadium record attendance for Subiaco Oval is from 1979 when 52,781 people watched the WAFL grand final. Capacity wise, the Brisbane Bears did better with 17,795 fans witnessing their first match at Carrara Oval, which held 22,000, however their average attendance for the season was 8,965. The Eagle’s average attendance for home games in their first season was 24,434.

From 1987 to 2011, the West Coast Eagles, in an AFL friendly state, averaged growth of just over 2%/year in Home game attendance average. Brisbane, in a non-AFL friendly state, averaged growth of over 6%/year. Likewise, Fremantle has experienced almost 3% growth in average home game attendance since 1995, Sydney, over 3% growth in a non-AFL friendly state. In fact, the only two non-Victorian clubs to experience negative growth since entry into the AFL are the two South Australian sides, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide Power. It should be noted that South Australia and Western Australia are considered AFL-friendly states, while New South Wales and Queensland are considered non-Friendly due to the dominance of Rugby League. Yet, the average growth in these states exceeds that of the AFL friendly states.

In contrast, home game attendances since 1987 for Victorian clubs have all risen, by an average across the clubs of 4.5%.

As you can see, where attendance has been low in a club’s first match, it is not cause for alarm. Almost every club in the league has experienced growth since 1987, and the clubs in the non-AFL Friendly states have done better than those in the AFL-Friendly states. GWS and Gold Coast will both experience club growth with time. To take the words from a famous ad, It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen.

Who is my neighbour?

The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijna...
The Parable of the Good Samaritan by Jan Wijnants (1670) shows the Good Samaritan tending the injured man. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In Luke 10, we find the “Parable of the Good Samaritan”, where an expert in the law comes to Jesus and asks, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus responds by asking him what is written in the law, to which the expert answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” These two laws are also found in Matthew 22 and Mark 12 in the context of the Two Great Commandments. There’s a general rule in biblical literature. If it’s said once, it’s important. If it’s said twice, it’s really important. If it’s said three times, you better listen, because this is so very important. EG: Holy is the Lord – important. Holy of Holies – really important. Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty – so very important. We’ve got these two great commandments repeated in three of the Gospels – there’s something rather important about what is said here.

The expert goes on to ask a really good question: “Who is my neighbour?” which Jesus then launches into this parable.

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

Luke 10:30-35 (NIV – Bible Gateway)

As with many bible stories, the modern listener loses a lot of the intricacies that are involved here. It seems like a rather nice story, but instead, it would have provoked his audience, it would have shocked them. Continue reading “Who is my neighbour?”

A Salvationist Perspective on the Sacraments

Seven Sacraments Altarpiece
Seven Sacraments Altarpiece by Rogier van der Weyden (c.1445-1450). You can see around the edges the seven sacraments. From left to right, Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Reconciliation (at rear of centre panel), Holy Orders, Marriage, Last Rites. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Everyone knows that the Salvation Army doesn’t celebrate (perform) the sacraments, right? The fact of the matter is that while yes, the Salvation Army does not celebrate Holy Communion (or whatever term you prefer to use in its place – Mass, Eucharist, The Lord’s Supper), and we don’t perform “water” baptisms, the Salvation Army is indeed a very sacramental church, and celebrates its sacraments on a daily basis. I hope to show to you today that the Salvation Army does indeed embrace the sacraments, and that they are in fact a wonderful thing.

What is a sacrament?

On a very basic level, a sacrament is a means of grace. By that, I mean that a sacrament is an outward sign of the grace of God that resides within us. The best way that I heard that related into everyday language was relating it to the love that I have for my wife. There are various ways that I could show my love for my wife. I could get her flowers, or jewellery, or give her a kiss, or a hug, or even tell her that I love her. None of these things are what love actually consists of, they are just outward signs that show that love. However, if I don’t do at least some of these, my wife would get rather upset – she may not know that I still love her. The sacraments are the same. They aren’t what the grace of God actually consists of. They are just outward signs that we reside in God’s grace. Through doing the sacraments, they are an outward sign that we reside in the grace of God. If we don’t do them, even though we still remain in the grace of God – how would anyone know? Continue reading “A Salvationist Perspective on the Sacraments”