I enjoyed the Ohio State – Michigan game this year. I always think it’s fun to watch a close game (particularly in hindsight, after my team has become the victors!) This year, of course, the game was particularly close, and is, in fact still being debated by some.
It was a first down.
Even better than just any close game, is a close rivalry game; and for those of us who bleed scarlet and grey, this is THE rivalry game of the year.
We say some pretty harsh things about that Team Up North in the days leading up to the game. I love Ohio State, and I love the banter this time of year. I love the battle.
It wasn’t all that many hours after The Game concluded that we had much more disturbing news come to us from Columbus; that of violence perpetrated against innocent individuals on the street; and except for the heroic action of a police officer who quickly responded the tragedy could have turned far worse.
An outpouring of support came from people all over the world. Including that State up North. Students from the University of Michigan offered their prayers and well wishes for OSU and the Columbus community. That moment of support from our rivals brought perspective to The Game and indeed to the rivalry in general; yes, Michigan fans will still make jokes about OSU this time next year, and we about them, as well it should be, for in so doing we honor our ancestors who made Michigan jokes before us. However, the rivalry is only surface level when examined in the light of a very real violation of peace.
The images of violence from that day are a stark reminder to us of the fleeting nature of our own peace; how quickly it can evaporate without warning.
Sometimes we talk about peace in terms of the national or international experience; the peace between world powers or within a nation and this is a worthy hope. Yet when we read the prophet Isaiah speaking of a time of supernatural peace “when the lion lies down with the lamb” to come someday, we identify in our hearts a longing for such peace this is very personal. I need peace. I do want nations to not rage against nation, I’m aghast at the violence we see carried out against each other in stories on the nightly news; but still, I need peace in me. I am in turmoil, I fear for the future, and I have broken relationships right here at home. I meet the prophet at a very real, very painful, very personal place and shout a resounding “yes, I want this too!”
While we all wait for the final peace to come we participate actively in that eschatological peace today. Jesus’ birth was not just the way for ultimate peace to come “someday”, though it is that much, rather his birth also opened the door for peace today in the place where we feel it most deeply; the personal peace of being made right with God, which is available to all who would repent and believe the good news, as it says of Jesus in Ephesians 2:14 “he himself is our peace…”
Daniel Fulton is pastor of Riverside Church of the Nazarene in Syracuse, Ohio. He holds a B.A. in Religion from Ohio Christian University in Circleville. Pastor Daniel has served in Meigs County since Christmas 2011.
Riverside Nazarene has Sunday worship service at 10:30 a.m., and conducts Celebrate Recovery at 6:00 PM on Sundays, a ministry open to anyone struggling with any hurt, habit, or hang up. Call the church for more information 740-691-5015
Or reach them at RiversideNazarene@Yahoo.com