“I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. . .The hair on his head was white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.” – Revelation 1:12, 14
Our family moved to the Pittsburgh area in 1998. While we loved the city, and looked forward to raising our elementary-aged children here, one thing concerned me. I and my two sons are big baseball fans, and the idea of cheering for the local team was…challenging. The Pirates were well into their streak of 20 consecutive losing seasons, and it was hard to find reasons for optimism. We would often go to the park simply to see a fine player on the opposing team, and the Buccos would frequently lose by a landslide.
Yet the team had a couple of powerful things going for it. PNC park is beautiful, and we could always enjoy a fine view of the city. In addition, the Pirates had a number of arresting images placed around the exterior of the park: Roberto Clemente coiled to hit a fastball. “Pops” Stargell batting by the ticket window. And Bill Mazeroski flying around the basepaths after winning the 1960 World Series with a home run. These images seemed to say, “Things may look bleak now – but that’s not who we really are. These men are the real Pittsburgh Pirates. Hang in there.”
John, the writer of Revelation, was facing a string of challenges from the Roman empire, and so was the young Christian church. Believers were being imprisoned or martyred, false teachings and practices were confusing the faithful, and some were tempted to go along with the more successful, affluent opponents of Christianity and back to their old ways. Elderly and exiled for his faith, John was patiently suffering (1:9) when, during a time of worship, he heard a voice behind him – and saw the true image of his Savior. Dressed as a priest, and filled with holiness, compassion, and power, Jesus flooded his awe-struck disciple with a fresh hope that has encouraged Christians in tough times ever since.
If you wonder what the future may bring, take heart. Jesus Christ is very alive and well, the first and the last, and he will eventually usher in the greatest victory parade the universe has ever seen.
Scott Graham is Pastor at Cup Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chippewa. His wife Kristina is the Orchestra director for the Beaver Area school district. They have three grown children – a Cubs, a Cardinals, and a Pirates fan.
Cup Evangelical Presbyterian is located in front of Blackhawk High School in Chippewa. We offer a blend of traditional and contemporary worship in the Reformed tradition. Our ‘Shine’ program is a mid-week music and drama experience for children. We have opportunities for youth, as well as local and international missions. ‘Join us for a drink of living water!’ Take a look at cupepc.org.