Greetings one and all,
Play Ball! The two words spoken just before a baseball game. It is a call to begin the game; to throw the first pitch; to get the action started. By now you know that I am a baseball fan and October baseball is the culmination of the year and leads to the World Series. Fans get excited. Players play harder (and get paid more). And often people come out of the “woodwork” if their local team goes deep in the playoffs.
Can church be much different? We have our time leading up to the World Series that we call Lent and Easter for Christians is the World Series. Easter is victory and this pastor gets very excited at Easter. A disturbing part of this analogy is that sometimes the fans stay away because of indifference.
So this month in honor of baseball, I have chosen to go a different direction comparing baseball to faith:
1. Walt Whitman referred to baseball as “glorious.” God is truly glorious and worthy of praise.
2. Baseball is about coming home. The whole point of the game is to finish where you begin – home plate – and once you are home you are finally safe. In the beginning, God created, He made the heavens the earth, and the seas, and everything in it including me (one of our children’s songs that we sing). God made us and always provides a safe home for us.
3. Forgive me for this one. Believers feed on God’s Word and the sacrament of Holy Communion. Believers rise to sing the hymns and present our offerings. The game involves the rules, the concessions, and we rise for excitement created within the game.
4. The church honors the great saints who have led the faith, such as John Wesley and Billy Graham. The game honors the saints such as Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson etc. The game has even had its sinners: Pete Rose, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and all those who have taken performance enhancing drugs.
5. The church has denominations we align ourselves with, and we divide ourselves as Catholic or Protestant. Baseball has teams we align ourselves with and the teams are divided as National or American League.
6. Baseball has its cathedrals – ballparks, awesome, hallowed grounds, the immediate playing area the “diamond” – and its Temple in Jerusalem, the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York – with all its relics!
7. Until 2016, baseball had its Suffering Servant, the Chicago Cubs, the “Cubbies,” a team annually “like a sheep led to the slaughter” (and crucial to the game is the play called the “sacrifice”). But “Cub fans love the Cubs, with the years of struggle, the wait (ask John Weaver), no questions asked. This quality is called faith.”
8. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive this game as a little child will never enter it (Mark 10:15). Baseball always brings out the child in you, and draws you back to your childhood. And it is a tie that binds the generations – introduce a child to the game – introduce a child to Jesus.
9. Almost done, but want to have 10, so this is just added so that there are 10.
10. Finally, baseball abounds in hope (Romans 15:13): If your team loses this year, you shout “Next year!” Hope springs eternal for the true fan. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.