Dear St. Luke’s Community,

Most of you will know by now that I am a huge baseball fan. The Grand Old Game has been on stage in a number of my major life events. Some of those stories are unlikely, but true. Some are mundane, yet profound. The love of baseball seems to be something of a family obsession around here too. Mary, Jonathan and I are quite captivated by the game. I think part of what makes baseball so appealing is that it is not bound by time or space. Here’s what I mean.

Baseball games only end (except by weather or other forces) when the prescribed number of innings are completed with one team clearly ahead. A game can be brief or very long and still comprise only the prescribed number of innings. When asked how long a baseball game takes, the right answer is always, “it takes as long as it takes.” There is no time limit.

Baseball diamonds also have only two real boundaries of play, the first and third base foul lines. Some of you may have seen the play made in this year’s Little League World Series when a player jumped over the fence and caught the ball that was apparently headed for a home run. That’s an out. That’s an out in any baseball field. Theoretically, Manny could regularly scale the Green Monster (or even sit there) to rob home run balls. Each field intersects each other field in some way abstractly. Have you ever considered that?

Baseball is also the only game I know of (besides cricket) that the offensive team does not possess the ball in order to score. Baseball, at its most ‘equitable’ is 9 players against 4.

By now, I hope you’re asking yourself, “What does this have to do with Church or the spiritual life?” Well I think there are some things that are worth noting. Like baseball, the spiritual life is one of practice on personal skills that ultimately benefits the team.

No matter how deep our prayer lives are, the Church is never a Church of one. Community and team are both ways of saying that I need the skills and talents of others in order to be successful. None of us, by our lives of personal prayer, devotion, service and worship, is going to point as effectively toward the coming of the Kingdom as will the whole church. On the other side of that coin, no one else can develop our relationship with God in Christ for us. Times of personal prayer, in spite of the personal benefits on our souls, are never a complete response to the action of God’s coming to the world in the person of Jesus. We can only ‘play the game’ meaning be the Church, if we all work together.

One last analogy if you’ll indulge me. By the time you read this, either the Colorado Rockies or New England’s beloved Boston Red Sox will be World Champions. This is a year unique in my experience and I hope that we all can experience something like it one day.

Part of the problem with baseball, despite all its intrinsic symmetry, anomaly and beauty is that we become attached to particular teams in a way that can blind us to the beauty of the game itself. I suspect that, whether in Colorado or New England, there are going to be despondent folks after one of the two teams wins four games in the Series. I however, see this as no lose. I love the Colorado Rockies, I am quite fond of the Boston Red Sox, but most of all I love baseball. Whoever wins, I suspect I’ll be happy to celebrate with either bunch. Not because I don’t care or am wishy washy, but because I love the beauty of the game.

What if we all were so in love with our Triune God that we didn’t worry about whether or not our ‘Team’ wins? What if we all recognized that our spiritual lives, both individual and corporate are no lose situations? I suspect if we were ever to live into that, even a little bit, the skeptical world would find Christianity so appealing that they wouldn’t be able to stay away and the whole world would win! I’m betting on Jesus in seven thrilling games.

—Fr. Warren

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