Happy Sunday! It is so gray and gross here – I just kind of want to curl up for the rest of the day with a big heavy blanket and a good book! Where is spring?!
Here is my sermon from this morning … when you finish reading, comment and tell me what your at-bat song is going to be!
Rehoboth Congregational Church
April 27, 2014
1 Peter 1:3-9
What Will Your At-Bat Song Be?
Good news! Spring has finally sprung, which means the days are getting longer, the temperatures are slowly creeping up and baseball season is in full swing (get it? Full swing!).
When Bruce and I lived in Atlanta, we spent a lot of time at Turner Field during the spring and summer. Here is what I loved so much about going to see the Braves; it wasn’t so much a game as it was a cultural experience. Riding MARTA down to Five Points and transferring to the shuttle with thousands of other baseball fans, tailgating, Friday Night Fireworks, getting dressed up (this was the south, after all!), the tomahawk chop – I could go on and on.
If I am being really honest, I guess I should say that I never really went to see the Braves play just for the actual game itself. I was there for the social aspect and all that that encompassed as well.
Needless to say, very rarely did I ever actually know what was going on in the game. I could usually tell you what the score was, but – let’s face it – there a big giant board that tells you that, so I’m not really sure I should get a lot of credit there.
But here is one of the great things about baseball – you do not really have to pay complete attention to the game in order to know what is going on. Not only is there a big board that tells you what the score is, but you also know at any given time where each team is in their lineup and which player is coming up to bat by what song is playing when they walk up to the plate.
So – I may never have actually known if the pitch thrown was a strike or a ball or if the ball flying through the air was a hit or a foul, but the second I heard Ozzy Osbourne scream, “ALL ABOARD!” I knew that Chipper Jones was coming up to bat because his at-bat song was “Crazy Train.”
I love at-bat songs. Truth be told, I kind of wish I was a major league baseball player for the sheer fact that I would get to pick my own at-bat song. Maybe I am overthinking this, but I just think that an at-bat song has the opportunity to say so much about a person. It is what pumps someone up, what inspires them, what prepares them. It not only identifies them to the outside world (or, okay, the crowd in the baseball stadium), but also reflects who they are and what they want to do when they step up to the plate.
My theory on this is partially why I got such a kick out of the fact that Tony Sanchez, who is a catcher for the Pittsburgh Pirates, chose the song, “Let it Go” from Frozen as his at-bat song this year.
I am not really sure what that says about him.
(Actually, the other day Bruce and I were driving home and discussing what our at-bat songs would be if we were baseball players. So if you have ever wondered if the phrase “opposites attract” is truly an accurate understanding of relationships, I should mention that my husband chose the Metallica song, For Whom The Bell Tolls, while I decided my song should be the Overture from Phantom of the Opera.)
I have a point.
This is the week after Easter, referred to often in clergy circles as “Low Sunday,” because attendance in worship drops so significantly from where it was on Easter Sunday. I have to admit that it is a little depressing. The lilies are gone from the sanctuary; the choir is not singing; the special lights that we used to light the altar are gone; and the beautiful flowers that adorned our living cross in front of the church – well – died and the cross had to be taken down. The sacredness and exquisite beauty of that Easter morning is kind of gone.
But if you think about it, for us – individuals, brothers and sisters in Christ – the Sunday after Easter is anything BUT low. In fact, this is where is all begins! Easter is a pivotal moment in our faith and in our ministries. We celebrate something that happened many years ago, but we also celebrate God’s active grace in our lives today. Easter gives us the opportunity to stop and reflect – to really reflect – on Jesus’ resurrection and how his resurrection is affecting us, touching us and teaching us today. It is a time to think about how spectacular the Christian story really is and how lucky we are to be a part of it as it continues to unfold. It is a time for intentional new beginnings in our faith and in our lives and in our ministries and in our community; it is a chance for us to refocus and to look ahead. It is – to keep going with the baseball metaphor – that moment when you step up to the plate and say to yourself, “Okay, it is my turn now.”
It is your turn. It is your turn to live out your faith. It is your turn to proclaim your belief in the resurrection, whatever or however that may look for you. It is your turn to listen to God speaking to you. And it is your turn to be who God is calling you to be.
So here you go – it is the Sunday after Easter; you are back into your day-to-day routine and you are walking up to the plate, ready to take on your faith in a new way.
What song will be playing as you step up to bat?
What song defines your faith? What song defines who you are as a Christian? What song is an expression of your belief (or your disbelief)? What song asks the questions that you ponder of proclaims the joy or sadness that you feel? What song makes you feel connected to God in a way that no other song does?
As Christians, we are all different. There is no mold or formula that we have to fit into in order to be part of this great faith. On Easter morning we remembered the women who found the empty and immediately believed that Christ had risen and that he was alive and in their midst. This morning we remembered Thomas – doubting Thomas as most of us know him as – who said to the disciples, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” The scriptural juxtaposition of these two believers teaches us that we all come to believe in different ways.
And because we all come to believe in different ways, we certainly live out our faith in different ways as well. We each have a different song that plays as we step up to the plate and prepare ourselves to do what God is calling us to do. What did I say in my Easter sermon last week? “The Christian Faith is not about rules and dogmas, it is about a moment in time when God stepped in and revealed his glory to us.”
And I really hate to say it, but being part of a community of faith is not about making sure that there are 12 people on each committee and that those committees give reports at the end of every year; being part of a community of faith is about ensuring that every person is doing what God is uniquely calling them to do. It is about making sure that everyone’s at-bat song gets played. We are all such different reflections of God’s work in the world and I truly believe that being part of the Church in the 21st century means seeing these different reflections; it means thinking outside of the box and acknowledging the many, many different ways to live out our faiths both in our lives and in this community.
So picture me as your coach right now. It is the Sunday after Easter, we are getting ready to “play ball” and step up to the plate in this crazy and bizarre and mysterious and absolutely spectacular Christian faith and let me tell you, this is way better than baseball. This is Gospel. This is the Good News. This is God alive and at work in this world; in our world – right here, right now.
It is spring (finally!). It is a time of new beginnings. Every bud that appears on a tree, every daffodil that opens in a yard and every blade of grass that emerges from the ground in a vibrant shade of green is a tangible reminder that right now we have a chance for our own new beginning. We have the change to step up to the plate and to hear a song that reflects who we are, who we want to be and – perhaps most importantly – who God is calling us to be.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” our reading from 1 Peter reminds us. “By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is unperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you.” This is the great faith that we are a part of and this is the great faith that God is calling us to minister within.
It is your turn. It is your turn to let your song be heard. It is your turn to be unique, to be you and to be who God is calling you to be. It is your turn to be an inimitable disciple of Christ and to proclaim the Gospel within your community and throughout the world.
So – what will your at-bat song be? On this “Low Sunday,” I invite you to step up to the plate and hear that song play.
Thanks be to God!