Rise With Us: A Case Study in Irony

Photo by Glen Alan Woods

Facing the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Oregon there is a banner which hangs proudly. Rise with us. It expresses the vision which the Trail blazers have cast for their team. If you expand the photo you should be able to see the smaller words spread across the banner. The Trail Blazers have done much to bring this vision to reality by procuring high quality young men who have character (albeit, with room for growth in maturity, shades of Oden and the regrettable photograph of himself floating about the internet), modest talent in most respects, and a strong work ethic. Sure they have an all-star in Brandon Roy, but as you will see in a moment, there is a problem. It’s name is irony.

Irony slapped character in the face and kicked it in the knee. Several knees, actually. The injury list grows. Despite a slightly better than .500 win ratio, hope is quickly fading that the Blazers will offer serious playoff contention this year, or possibly even in the years to come. Which bring us back to their motto: Rise With Us.

The Portland fan base is remarkably resilient. Despite the dreadful memories from the jail blazer years, support has grown as the new players have demonstrated strong character, mixed with hard work and an exciting brand of play. But, rise with us? It now reads like something you hope will happen speedily to a knee surgery patient. Several knee surgery patients, to be precise. And an ankle patient. Can’t forget him. The detailed list may be found here.

Ironic, isn’t it? They have many of the character assets that the fan base cried out for during the dark years. It seems unfair that so many of them are getting injured, decimating their talent pool. One commentator indicated they recently couldn’t even put together enough players to practice five-on-five. Kind of a big deal, since that is how an NBA game is played.

What do we make of this? What difference does it make to church leaders? Let me offer a few suggestions, and then I will invite you to chime in with your own.

As a blazer fan, I would say:

  1. Rise with us, even when injuries mount.
  2. Rise with us, even when the naysayers and pundits have a field day about why this happened, or that occurred.
  3. Rise with us because we will fight our hearts out and we need your backing to do so to the best of our ability.
  4. Rise with us, believe in us, because we will never give up.
  5. Rise with us, because the ideals posted on our banner are infused into our DNA, causing us to do our very best on the court, and in the community as we give back.

As someone who led in the church for many years, I would translate it as a form of statesmanship for those I lead this way:

  1. Rise with us, even if and when heartbreaks and dissapointments mount.
  2. Rise with us, especially when the naysayers and pundits have a field day about why this happened, or that occurred.
  3. Rise with us because we will fight our hearts out as servant-leaders and we need your backing, your participation, to do so to the best of our collective ability.
  4. Rise with us, believe in Christ who is our Lord, because we will never give up this cross which he has appointed for us to bear.
  5. Rise with us, because the ideals expressed through the Scriptures are infused into our DNA by virtue of God’s grace, causing us to do our very best in the tasks set before us locally and throughout the world as we give ourselves fully to the work of the gospel.

What would you add? When does statesmanship seem appropriate in your situation?

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4 responses to “Rise With Us: A Case Study in Irony

  1. Rise with us, because with God on His holy throne, there is hope.

    Thanks for this post, Glen, you will never know how much it spoke to me and touched my heart this morning. It was just what I needed.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Nancy. I am thankful the post was a blessing to you, and I appreciate your contribution about hope! Interestingly, the Blazers defeated one of the hottest teams in the NBA last night with a career best 40 pt performance by LaMarcus Aldridge. Hope for the Blazers! More importantly, hope for us all as we look to Jesus Christ!

  3. I think a proper reply would be “When does that banner NOT apply?” :)

    Whether or not one believes in “God” or “Christ” or Christianity, or whatever religion (or spirituality) a person can involve themselves in, This banner is OVERWHELMINGLY positive from any religious, political, social, or philosophical standpoint.

    I don’t disagree with your statesman, but I do sense an acute taste of that typical christian condescension upon non-Christians. My main problem with any religion is how they believe their religion is superior to another; like somehow, in some lottery in the universe, only a select were few chosen, and the rest are damned to hell. Didn’t the same thing that created you, created me? Ancient scriptures speak of god… does it matter whose god? Oh, no, you have to say it’s MY god… like you are the only right, and the only righteous. Throughout time there have been messages from the stars, from the sky, from the sun, from nature, from the earth, from the ocean. These are all god. God is in positivity. God is in the light, God is your better conscience. God is love. The more you try to isolate and relate yourselves with god… the further you draw yourselves away from him, or it, or whatever entity god is. God is in unity. Not unity in ONE SPECIFIC SECT or in a FAMILY OF SECTS orientated around the same thing; the death of his messenger, and though you want to hold that undying carcass upon your altar forevermore… UNITY is when we all come together. When you love thy neighbor, no matter what race, religion or creed. When we come together as HUMAN BEINGS… is when we can overcome all evils. Acceptance in our difference, love for our flaws, but unity in our similarities… and the first similarity we have, Brother… is our humanity.

    Mahal Kita :)

  4. Umm. Why the ad hominem? :) My audience primarily is Christian so I directed that specific post to them as an encouragement. No where am I condescending or intending to be condescending toward others, especially non Christians. Having said that, I am sorry you chose to take offense. Obviously we disagree about many things regarding God and spirituality. However, I always welcome respectful conversation so long as we are willing to listen well and accurately portray the words of those who disagree. Thanks for dropping by.

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