Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Baseball, Teamwork, and the Thrill of Serving Together as a Church

You gotta love fall. October’s always been my favorite month of the year. From the chill of the morning air to perfectly warm afternoons, and from the picturesque array of changing colors to the bright reflection of the harvest moon, October brings the best of God’s creative handiwork.

And of course there’s college football hitting full stride (despite the ridiculous amount of time they spend on replays), NFL action on the field (which is still fun to watch, although the league is self-destructing), and even NBA and NHL for those interested. It’s a good time to be a sports fan. 

Then there’s the World Series. There are some things a boy never outgrows. The Fall Classic is one of them. In recent years we’ve witnessed some truly remarkable games. What Cardinals fan can forget the 2011 win over the Rangers, especially the Game 6 never-say-die comeback? And how many Cubs fans truly believed they’d live to see the day their team won it all as they did in dramatic fashion in Game 7 last year? 

Personally I enjoyed watching the Kansas City Royals take the trophy in 2015, their first since the days of George Brett and company in 1985. Not that I’ve been a lifelong Royals fan, but after living in KC for three years I began rooting for the home team. And yes, I root for the Chiefs, too. 

Maybe my all-time favorite World Series memory was the Dodgers’ win in 1988. I was, and am still, a huge Orel Hershiser fan. Baseball fans will remember Hershiser threw an incredible six straight shutouts to finish the regular season, then another eight innings in Game 1 of the NLCS, for a total of 67 consecutive scoreless innings. His record still stands. He then pitched another 21 innings of shutout ball through the NLCS and into the World Series, claiming MVP honors in both. 

And who can forget the spectacular walk-off home run by a hobbled Kirk Gibson pinch-hitting in Game 1? Don’t you still get goosebumps watching the replays and hearing Vin Scully’s legendary call? 

Going further back, I was six years old and remember Mr. October, Reggie Jackson, slugging three home runs for the Yankees in Game 6 of 1977 World Series against the Dodgers. I’m still not a Yankees fan. 

How many of you remember who won the World Series champs in 1979? That’s right – the “We Are Family” Pittsburgh Pirates, with their hit theme song by sung by who? Answer: Sister Sledge. Give yourself 100 points if you got that right. Led by superstars Willie Stargell, Dave Parker, Bill Madlock, Phil Garner, Omar Mareno, John Candelaria, and Kent Tekelve, this team worked and played together as a family and fought their way to the title over the Baltimore Orioles. 

Well, that’s a lot of baseball reminiscing for now, but let me just say I love watching great teams work together as a team, as a family. There’s something uniquely compelling and genuinely satisfying about accomplishing extraordinary feats against overwhelming odds together with your team. 

You know, the greatest team I’ve ever been a part of is the team called the church. Serving together in ministry partnership, in fellowship, and in the mission of Christ Jesus – in His name and in His power – to accomplish supernatural, Kingdom-of-Heaven work in this world truly is the greatest thrill I’ve known. 

And, friend, there’s room on the team for you, because there’s room at the cross for you. Join us at Petersburg First Baptist Church where you’ll discover a salvation that offers a far more satisfying journey than any World Series trophy can afford.