Last night, Kingston hosted what was likely the largest concert in the city’s history. The K-Rock Centre was filled to capacity, with some big names in attendance, including Prime Minister Trudeau. An estimated 25,000+ also spilled out into the streets surrounding the Springer Market Square. The event was live streamed to about 400 venues nationwide; arenas, theme parks, movie theatres, parking lots, restaurants, etc.. In fact, the event could be seen in any house in Canada with a TV or computer, as it was on CBC TV and cbc.ca.
Unless you were camped out under a rock somewhere, you know what the event was. The Tragically Hip, a Canadian rock band from the Kingston area just played their last concert. Whether you like the band or not, the circumstances are sad. Lead singer, Gord Downie, had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor. It’s nice the band has been able to play a farewell tour, both for themselves and their fans; but as I heard the concert tonight, a real tragedy came to mind (NOTE, I wasn’t at the concert; the sound of it carried 5 km up the Cataraqui River to my backyard).
The real tragedy is that on a Saturday night, millions upon millions of people are celebrating Downie’s life and career, but on Sunday morning, the number of people who will gather to celebrate the life and person of Jesus Christ will be far fewer.
The real tragedy is that some people traveled hundreds of miles to be at last night’s concert, but most people are not willing to travel more than a few blocks to go to a worship assembly.
The real tragedy is people are intimately familiar with a musician’s lyrics (not just the Hip, any entertainer), but few are even loosely familiar with the words of life.
The real tragedy is people wearing T-shirts that read In Gord We Trust, which is not just support for a dying man, but idolatry (an intentional change to In God We Trust). In fact, a major Canadian paper ran the following headline Saturday morning: One Nation Under Gord.1 It’s idolatry, plain and simple.
I have nothing against the Tragically Hip. They are simply musicians making a living and celebrating their career. It is sad that Gord Downie is terminally ill. It is sad when anyone has an illness that threatens to cut this life short.
But more tragic than the impending loss of a man whom many deem to be a national treasure, is the loss that so many will experience by entering into eternity without knowing and serving Jesus Christ. That’s a tragedy that is not hip at all!