A Letter from the Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery
Faith by Day & by Night
August 2, 2018
It was October 17, 1979. I was going home from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary by bus, a streetcar (aka the trolley), and a bus. Waiting for the streetcar on Fifth Avenue, I watched in a store window as the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series over the Baltimore Orioles. Kent Tekulve was pitching relief. It was a moment!
Nineteen years earlier, I was sitting in my fifth-grade classroom on October 13, 1960, when the Pirates won the World Series against the New York Yankees with Bill Mazeroski’s bottom of the ninth home run. The boys were allowed to listen to the game on the radio while we “girls” quietly read. (We’ve come a long way, ladies!) The boys exploded with cheers and a lot of jumping around! It was a moment!
For the record, the Pirates also won the World Series against the Baltimore Orioles in 1971, but I wasn’t watching at that moment. I remain, many years later, a faithful Bucs fan. Hope for a World Series win springs eternal, or at the least annually, with spring training. I refuse to be a fair-weather fan.
So I was a very happy fan on Friday, July 27, 2018, when David Freese knocked a walk-off winning hit against the New York Mets. Final score: 5 to 4. It was a moment!
Of course, it was not the same kind of moment as a World Series win in the seventh game. But the 26,000 plus fans at PNC Park and the Pirates team enjoyed it thoroughly. The game lasted three hours and seventeen minutes. However, the night was not over. It was Faith Night at the ballpark.
As the grounds crew cleaned up and prepared the field for the next day’s game, several hundred fans found their way into the seats on the first base line to hear members of the Pirates’ organization bear witness to their Christian faith. There were many memorable moments as men and women spoke deeply sincere words about their faith in God and Jesus Christ.
No player or coach was in uniform. No hats or mitts or bats were visible. But these are a few of the messages, or moments, that I will remember:
We want the Pirates to win games and we get frustrated when they make errors or play poorly. We should remember that these players are just human, even when they have moments that make them seem larger than life, even if they end up in an earthly Hall of Fame.
I was reminded on Faith Night that faith is not a fair-weather activity. We are called to have faith, by day, and by night, day after day, night after night, moment by moment -- for as many seasons as God gives us.
And around us, everywhere, even on a Friday night at the ballpark, there are members of the household of God, and brothers and sisters who live by faith, just as we do.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1
Thanks be to God!
The Rev. Dr. Beverly W. James, Associate Minister to Pittsburgh Presbytery
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