I remember vividly the first time I stepped foot in Wrigley Field to attend my very first Chicago Cubs game. I don’t think it’s too far to say that it was like a religious or spiritual experience. There was (and still is) a sacredness to that place. A sense of tradition. The devotion that I saw etched on the faces of the fans, and embodied in those stands, rivaled the devotion I witnessed in my home church. I used to refer to those Friendly Confines on the corner of Addison and Clark as “heaven on earth.” When I was in college I would (jokingly?) say that I had learned more about faith, hope, and love from being a lifelong and long-suffering Cubs fan than I had from being a part of the church my entire life.
Now I’m guessing some of you will scoff at this idea. Baseball isn’t your thing. It’s just a sport. How can it possibly be compared to religion or faith? And if it is wouldn’t it be sacrilegious? But I’m reminded of what George Will, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, once said, “Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona.”
You see in baseball, like a lot of things in our world, we can catch glimpses of the Divine. In this simple sport there are lessons for us to learn and apply to our lives of faith. I believe this because I believe God created all good things, from the game of baseball to the Grand Canyon to the Church. The Psalmist insists that the “heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.” Jesus said that the stones have the power to cry out the message of our Lord. Throughout the Scriptures we are let in on the secrets of the Kingdom of God with stories about everyday people and things from farmers to widows, and from pearls to clay pots. So why not baseball?
This week we begin a new sermon series entitled Batter Up: Lessons from Baseball for the Life of Faith. Over the course of this fun four-week series we will help you to connect America’s pastime with your spiritual life in ways that you’ve maybe never before considered. To help us connect our faith to baseball we’ll be studying Paul’s letter to the Philippians and hearing messages about living with passion and purpose, the importance of teamwork, having our eyes on the ultimate prize, and embodying joy in the midst of suffering.
Come on out to the ballgame. Step up to the plate. We’ll see you Sunday!
“For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17, NIV)