Down the hall from my office singers were auditioning for the Orpheus choir as I left the church late yesterday afternoon. When I asked the manager to say hello to the conductor, she said, "He will be free in a few minutes." "But I am off to the ball game with my son," I replied. No sooner were the words out of my mouth than those waiting to audition rose to their feet as if I were about to begin the game with the national anthem. All these young artists look at me with envy and said they wished they were going.
You couldn't have given these tickets away last year at this time, or maybe even six weeks ago. Yet throughout the day, whenever I mentioned that I was going to the game, people I would never have thought of as sports fans started talking about the previous night's game. Suddenly baseball is on everyone's radar.
As I was travelling down to the game on the subway I began to wonder if church could ever get back on the public radar the way baseball has in this city. Church once owned Sundays in this city. There were lineups outside churches on Sunday evenings similar to the lineups the Jays are now attracting.
Ever since the baseball strike of 1994 the stadium, which dates back to the glory days of the Jays, has seemed like a cavern and from time to time some suggest downsizing, until now. Now it is 1993 all over again and the ticket is the hottest item in town. Could it happen for the church? Few believe it will because the glory days that our buildings reflect were in an era when the church owned Sunday. With legislation that prevented sports and shopping on the Lord's Day, the church was the only game in town.
When it comes to baseball, some like the nail biters, but I prefer the blowouts. Nonetheless, last night's10th inning walk off homer by Ryan Goins was very special. Our Jays had lost the lead twice and we didn't know if they had it in them to come back after letting it slip away in the bottom of the ninth. The Jays are the masters of the ten run victory, but they need to learn to win the close games before they get to the playoffs, because once there, they'll be up against tough pitching night after night.
As we rode home on the crowded subway the world seemed abuzz with Blue Jay talk, but funny enough, from the seat behind I heard a young man wearing a Jay's cap actually talking about the sermon he'd heard last Sunday. Considering what had been on my mind as I rode down to the game it almost seemed like God was winking from above with a smile as if to say his church has a few comebacks in it even yet. Of course it does.
One day when I look back on last night's game it won't be the sell-out crowd I remember, or even the walk off home run by an unlikely hero. It will be the wonderful time I spent with my son a few days before his wedding. I will remember the joy of coming out a winner as a father with three grown children who have surprised me over and over with their love, joy and goodness. They are my heroes. Maybe in the church the score at the end of the day has little to do with attendance or budgets, but simply whether we are awake to the love, grace and beauty all around us and how well we share it with others. God is smiling all around us. Wake up. Game on.
Grace & Peace,
p.s. to watch the wedding live on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. EST go to - http://www.yorkminsterpark.com/gather/webcast/livecast.php