You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.
I love baseball, as anyone who knows me can attest to.
I’ve loved the game ever since my dad took me to my first baseball game – the Chicago White Sox – in the middle 1970’s.
I played little league until I was in the 8th grade.
I played two seasons of “Fall Ball” while in college and then one full season while at Seminary. At Seminary, I wore number 19.
I passed on my love of the game to my sons. I was their first coach and loved teaching them the game and playing catch with them (still do!).
My oldest son, Eddie, also wore number 19 while in high school. After high school he tried out for the Milwaukee Brewers, played American Legion ball and now plays college ball. He wants to be a coach after he graduates.
My youngest son, Mark, wore number 19 in high school – like his dad and brother – and also played American Legion ball. He will join his older brother in playing college ball this coming year.
My middle son, Kurt, played little league until he was in the fifth grade but had to stop playing when he was diagnosed with epilepsy. But he still loves watching the game and is a die-hard Chicago Cubs fan today!
The love of the game has been consistent in my family for decades!
Baseball has been played at least from 1846. And the game played then is not fundamentally different from the way it is played today.
There is a bat, a ball, and nine players on each team, and they take turns pitching the ball and trying to hit the ball.
If Cap Anson, who played for the Chicago White Stockings/Colts from 1870 to 1897 (they would change their name to the “Cubs” in 1907), were somehow transported to Wrigley Field in 2016, he would fit in quite nicely playing first base.
He would still have to run 90 feet between bases. He would still be using a wooden bat to hit a leather ball thrown by an opposing pitcher.
From high school level to the professional leagues, the infield dimensions do not change, and haven’t changed. There haven’t been too many changes since the beginning of the game (at least dating back to the official establishment of the “Knickerbocker” or “New York Style” rules in 1846).
Throughout its history and throughout geography, the game is essentially the same as it has been for over 170 years.
Still, each ball park also has its unique qualities. The distance from homeplate to the outfield fences is different for each ballpark. The amount of foul ground is different. Seating capacity is also different from ballpark to ballpark.
Baseball and the Christian Church
This got me to thinking about how the Christian Church shares some similar consistency with baseball.
For nearly 2000 years , the message of the Christian Church has been essentially the same: Jesus Christ was born to be our substitute under God’s Holy Law; he lived a perfect life to be our righteousness by faith; Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins; he rose from the dead three days later; and he ascended into heaven 40 days after that, but with the promise that he would return and take all believers to live forever in heaven.
This is (or should be, at least) consistent from one church to the next. But there are also unique differences.
The music used in worship can vary. As can the liturgy or service order.
And because each church is made up of people, they can be as different as the people are.
Beauty in Uniqueness and Comfort in Consistency
Each church – like each ballpark – has a unique beauty all its own. From the stained glass to its architecture to the gifts and talents of their members.
But there is also comfort in the consistency of the Church – the Gospel is still proclaimed, the Word of God is still read and taught.
Jesus is present where his word is taught in its truth and purity and the sacraments are administered according to his institution.
This is what I think about when I watch a baseball game or go to church.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the beautiful uniqueness of each church and the comforting consistency of the Gospel message. Help me to find my place in both. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
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