Ravens Thanksgiving 2011

The Ravens’ primetime Thanksgiving night home-game victory was pretty special around here. For many, it was the finishing touches on a great holiday.
One thing that made it special was the brothers Harbaugh squaring off against each other as head coaches – a first in NFL history. But the game meant more than familial bragging rights. Younger brother Jim’s 9-1 San Francisco 49ers were slightly favored coming into brother John’s 7-3 Ravens Stadium. A Ravens win was critical for home field advantage in the playoffs.
The game also had special meaning to me. At the same hour they were on the field posing for photographs last night, one year ago Coach John Harbaugh, his daughter Alison and his parents Jack and Jackie were serving dinner to the men of Helping Up Mission in our cafeteria (see my 11/25/10 blog) . It was a Thanksgiving memory I will always cherish.
Yet, there’s more. Ravens Offensive Coach Craig Ver Steeg first visited Helping Up Mission on Thanksgiving Day 2008, the year he came with Harbaugh to Baltimore (see 10/22/10 blog). Yesterday morning Coach Craig called me on his way to the pre-game team meeting and said, “If I can get out of the meeting at a good time, I would like to stop by the campus and see everyone.”
Arguably the biggest game of the year, and a longtime friend and spiritual accountability partner of Coach Harbaugh, Craig still thought about us here. I was humbled and honored – and told everybody I knew!
Of course, I didn’t hear from Craig again until after 4 PM (game started at 8:15 PM) and he said, “Obviously that was a little ambitious on my part, but I should have a little extra time these next few days and would still like to visit.” We’ve traded texts this morning to work out a time.
It is meaningful to me that Craig thought about us on such a special day in his world. BUT I am so happy to report that he wasn’t the only one – dozens of wonderful friends took time out of their busy and important schedules and did make it down here on Thanksgiving Day. For some it is an annual tradition, for others a first visit, but they all made us feel loved, supported and special. Thanksgiving Day 2011 was a great day around here and thanks to all of you who helped make it that way. Go Ravens!
One Victory at a Time,
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director