Indy’s an odd place for a war. After all, it’s kind of a quiet city, a great place to raise a family and the place where Janet and I will celebrate 30 years of living on Labor Day week-end this year – having moved here in 1982. It’s a great place. The kind of place where we have seen our children grow up, where we have been accepted into the community even though we are both from Chicago and where people apologize when they bump into you on the street. It’s a safe city – with good old-fashioned midwestern values – and that just isn’t hype; it’s the truth.
When we moved here in 1982, I went to work for a non-profit that was being funded by the Lilly Endowment; spearheading an effort that was trying to help Indy become the sports capitol of the world. After all, the Indy 500, US Clay Court Tennis Championships, the Natatorium, the NCAA headquarters and numerous sports championships have been held here. But tonight, the realization of the pinnacle of sports recognition – a first in this sleepy place, this calm, down to earth town – Super Bowl XLVI.
By all accounts, the week has been a roaring success. First of all, the weather cooperated and that added quite a bit to the vibe in the city. NBC from New York, Jimmy Fallon and many other celebrities are here talking up the city. Famous restaurants such as St. Elmo’s Steakhouse and new hotels like the JW Marriott are in full glory this week. The host committee has been thrilled with the press and we have been involved in a very small way – heading downtown early this week to see the hoopla firsthand.
Of course, our view of the Super Bowl has been changed forever by this experience. Janet and I have witnessed some of the hype up close and personal and it will be impossible to forget this week. The local press has shared some feature stories of acts of kindness, very representative of the city itself. For example, a campaign was started to knit scarves for all 8000 volunteers who served on committees as well as for visiting dignitaries and both Super Bowl teams, including their coaches and staffs. In fact, the initiative was so successful that more than 11250 scarves were made; all in blue and white, the Colts’ colors, but each design was at the discretion of the person who made it. One woman made more than 250 creations; each one different than the one before it.
Now comes the sad part…. Only one person refused the offer of a scarf… Can you guess who? Well, it was Bill Belichick, Head Coach of the Patriots. That’s right. When he was offered a scarf, handmade for him by somebody in Indianapolis, he refused it and walked away. No wonder this city dislikes him so. Forget that he is Peyton Manning’s nemesis; he just isn’t a nice guy. And he certainly doesn’t care if anyone likes him here – and we don’t. He just doesn’t fit in with our midwestern values. Maybe that’s why the city was so pro-Giants in tonight’s game – and now, as non-partisan as I try to be, I consider the week to be a total success with the defeat of the Patriots in the Super Bowl. The streets are going crazy in celebration. It was almost a case of good versus evil. I know this sounds dramatic, but for those of you who live here, you know what I mean. And for those of you outside the city, please take my word for it….
I was going to write this post as the game was being played, but I decided to wait for the outcome. And it was a war – a great game down to the final play. I am reminded of another war – one in the Bible – when good fought evil. Only in that war, we know the outcome and God’s side won- good over evil – the way God has promised us since the Garden of Eden.
In this particular account, war breaks out in one of the least likely places you can imagine – heaven. And for most of us, that seems impossible. After all, isn’t heaven a safe place where we worship God and are always at peace? And by the way, since when do we even think about the possibility of fighting in heaven – let alone a war? Kind of like Indianapolis, only much, much better…..Well, in this case, Satan and his legions of fallen angels fought Michael and his legions of God’s angels and Satan was finally vanquished from heaven with all his followers. Kind of like the Super Bowl in Indianapolis this evening – only much larger and with eternal implications.
The verse for this evening recounts that war. In Revelation 12:7-9, we are told, “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.”
Thus began the beginning of the end. God wins the opening battle of the final showdown. The rest of the story is in Revelation if you care to read it, but know that eventually Christ comes to rule for all eternity; and there is peace. My encouragement this evening is to let you know that God has already won the battle – kind of like knowing the outcome of the game before it is played. While the battles are interesting to read about, we know that the good guys win in the end. And that gives us comfort. My prayer this evening is that you will thank God for all the things he has done, from the beginning, to create a way for us to be with Him through all eternity. Because it’s a fabulous journey and I, for one, am pleased to be on the winning team. Have a great day in the Lord….