Friday, February 02, 2007

Nice Guys Finish First

The city of Indianapolis and its environs are deep in the grip of icy cold weather and Colts fever. Blue and white (some provided by Mother Nature) is in evidence everywhere. Colts flags whip in the wind as cars sprout them from clip on flagholders. Downtown buildings leave specific office lights on so giant horseshoes appear in the night. One of my rural neighbors has festooned his front yard trees and house with blue and white lights. And even conservative dressing me has dumped my button-down and tie for long-sleeved white Colts t-shirt -- at the office even. The game is taking on almost mythic status for our little town.

Much has been made, regarding this Superbowl, that the two head coaches are African-American. And rightly so. This is an historic moment and it's wonderful that Dungy and Smith are the ones to crack that racial barrier. But what pleases me even more is that these are two men of faith. They speak of their faith openly. More than that they live their faith -- it's more than words. They let their lives speak, as we Quakers say, putting their faith into practice in daily life. They don't confuse their belief in God with being some kind of mandate from God -- to either win the Superbowl or, like some politicians, start a war in a far off country.

So, it appears that no matter which team winds up victorious , contrary to Leo Duroucher's famous dictum, a nice guy will finish first. Which is great. But, truth be told, I hope it's our nice guy -- Tony Dungy of the Colts.

So to that end, I share with you this prayer, offered by my little Jewish brother, Rabbi Aaron Spiegel, which was given on-air this morning on a local station --

"Our God and God of our ancestors – we give thanks to You for all miracles in our lives. While we are not so presumptuous to think you were on OUR side in the AFC Championship, the Colts’ defeat of the Patriots was a miracle, and we’ll take the win!

Dear God, we come to you again to ask your favors for our Indianapolis Colts. God, this is the Superbowl. This is it – the show – all the marbles – Peyton’s chance at redemption. For us humble, mortal citizens of Indianapolis – this is a big deal!

Dear God, my last appeal included requests for wisdom for Coach Dungy and his staff, fleetness of foot and sureness of hand for Marvin, Reggie, Ben and Dallas, superhuman strength for Tarik, Raheem, Antoine, Bugar, and Dwight, and the depths of passionate play for Nick and Bob. God, forgive me for repeating myself – but we need all these again, and more! And I know I said Manning only needed to get Viniteiri in field goal range – but they both need Your favors to beat the Bears.

Lord – this is the Superbowl (did I say that already?). Chicago is a wonderful city and their fans deserve our admiration and praise. But this is the Superbowl – and they are now our enemy (at least until Sunday). Frustrate the hopes and designs of those who plot against us. Be merciful to the righteous people of Indianapolis – and let our Colts pound those Bears.

Let all the players stay safe and healthy. Let all those who travel to the game do so safely and return home in peace. May it be Your will our God and God of our ancestors to bring our Colts home victorious. Amen, Go Colts!"


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