"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

11 February 2011

On losses, implosions, and things that just go "boom" in the night.

Ten years ago today, I was here:

I saw the anniversary video on the local news. Since I'm not one to get too attached to places and things, the Three Rivers Stadium was not exactly a poignant moment for me. It helps too that we'd only lived in the area for four years and only been to one game there (Pirates vs. Reds, Mothers' Day 1998. With some very good friends. Reds won and my then tiny child was on the Jumbotron. Triple oh yeah!)

So we sat from the point of view of our insulated office building, some twenty stories up, and ate bagels while the landscape was forever changed.

After a while, though, even from our insulated office building, you could smell, just faintly the dust that was surely clogging the lungs of every outdoor spectator who had braved the clouds that frigid morning.

Today a friend posted a poignant blog piece about his own reaction to his losses with regard to the implosion of the Episcopal Church here in Pittsburgh. Now that the smoke has cleared a little and he can see the landscape, he expressed no regrets. He did the right thing, but that doesn't mean his landscape doesn't bear its scars. I treasured his words, they could as well been mine.

The smoke has begun to clear here in Pittsburgh and we're beginning to be able to view the destruction. We've come to a place where we can acknowldege that we've lost a lot, that the landscape is forever changed. We can admit that we're hurting; that this wasn't anyone's first choice for an outcome. Some of us saw it coming and signed on anyway. Some are angry because they had no idea that this would be the outcome. Most of us are somewhere in between. And yet I'm not hearing a lot of regrets. Sure we would have liked to have avoided all the anger, division and general mess, but we see it as a small price to pay for faithfulness. We sacrificed, we will continue to sacrifice, because he first sacrificed himself for us.

On the whole, one place where my patience tends to fail is among those who think we are persecuted. My friends, our experience pales next to real persecution. We have not so much as begun to suffer (though suffering will be necessary if we have any hopes of growing to maturity). But as the smoke clears, as we're forced to begin to let go of the old icons of our identity, let's not shy away from sacrifice, even suffering. Material things are just things. Sometimes the landscape just needs to change; you gotta blow up a few buildings to build again.

I guess the moral of the story is that fancy buildings don't matter. Blow them up or build them to the finest splendor; God keeps on winning, year after year. And year after year, the Pirates...

well, we love the Pirates.


  1. Soooo: 1. We sign on for the trip 2. At an unexpected time, the building falls on us 3. We find ourselves in the rubble 4. After we dig ourselves out and assess the situation, it's worse than we like, but not as bad as it could have been. 5. We rebuild. 6. After some time, it is unseemly to keep showing off our scares, so we move them inside. 7. Oh, yeah, the suffering IS good for us.

    I think you've put your finger on the story of the world.

  2. And I wish I could spell "scars."

  3. I watched the implosion too, from high on Mt. Washington. It was way cool. The current implosion not so much. This one hurts.