Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Weave of Faith and Baseball

I can't separate Joe, the pastor from Joe, the baseball fan.

Happy opening week of baseball.

My twitter community may see me this time of year frequently shift quickly between sermon preparation and questioning roster construction based on OBP. This is how my mind works.

Baseball has as much to do with my pastoral vocation as my church attendance as a kid. I tell people that longtime Mariners broadcasting legend Dave Niehaus taught me how to preach because he told empowering stories of hope in the midst of bleak circumstances. Such is the life of a Mariners fan, such is the life of Christian. Though both baseball fans and Christians come from varying degrees of privilege, each bears a shared language that transcends barriers. Baseball and faith remind me that relationships are the primary gift of life; relationships help us navigate whatever challenges we face in life.

A trip to Chinandega, Nicaragua about 10 years ago reminds me of the links of faith, baseball, and relationships. I was with a delegation baptizing a group of people in a village. We had few interpreters for our large group; sometimes I was left standing next to a Nicaraguan without even the skill to talk about the weather. However, for this outing I had several baseball cards in my pocket. Next thing I know, while I tripped over linguistics, I was connected via baseball with a few boys about power hitters, Nicaraguan baseball stars, and our favorite pitchers. While I had baptized some of these boy's cousins--a source of joy--we also had something else to share beyond our different languages.

I enter each baseball season with memories of baseball and childhood, sharing stories of new beginnings from Dave Niehaus with my Dad, anticipating when we could grab a big bag of Hoody peanuts and walk through the streets of SoDo in Seattle on our way to a game. Some may think that the purity of faith is clouded by earthly things like baseball. I believe baseball and faith can illuminate one another, as with other things of creation.

Local and national hip hop artist Macklemore (a video for the song "My Oh My") tells a great story in tribute to Niehaus. Macklemore gives a voice to me about how faith, baseball, vocation, and relationships all come together. If there was a soundtrack for my life, this song makes the list.

Happy opening week of baseball.

1 comment:

  1. I'm a prime example of one of your Twitter friends who suddenly notices the shift of content in your tweets.

    You're not the only pastor smitten with the game and even though I never acquired the taste for baseball, I am always delighted to see how you and others reveal how baseball and faith really do illuminate one another.