Baseball and the Church have so many characteristics in common, do they not? Every game, like every church service is predictable. Most of us who come to worship, come to receive relief from their lives, to share in the companionship of others and to seek hope and joy. A few come kicking and screaming.
The amazing truth, over the past century, there is always a seat waiting for you (expect, perhaps the BIG, high services or October games). We will get to that later.
Think about it. 162 games a year. Most of us mortals are lucky to attend 2 games, let alone 10 games at Fenway in a year. There are many churches what would jump for joy if their faithful would attend more than 10 times in six months (think Christmas and Easter), let alone once a month over the year. Two times, usually translates to Christmas and Easter.
At Fenway Park, even if you show up once, you are welcomed with open arms. Modern rituals and the age-old traditions tug at your heart, mind and soul. It is an awe inspiring experience to approach Yawkey Way with a ticket in your hand, to walk through the turnstiles, to approach the ramp, to see the light grow, the sounds grow, and the landscape of the park open before your eyes as you step out of the tunnel into the room full of 39,000 people and grand field before you. All of this before taking a seat in Fenway Park. You take a deep breath and an usher helps you find your seat. The usher becomes you best friend. If these are familiar seats to you, you may get a hand shake or hug from a familiar face. A few people may greet you, but for the most part, all eyes are forward.
At your local church, you walk towards it, across the grass or through the driveway. The doors to the church stand before (closed or open). Like Fenway, the building grows, drawing your eyes to the sky. As you enter the church, you are greeted. The smell, the sounds, the sanctuary grow before you, as you enter. The usher is your friend, if this is you first time or your 1,000 time. As you find your seat, some people may welcome you with a smile, close friends will give you a hug, others are deep in prayer and still others are shy, they don’t know you. All eyes are forward.
At Fenway or in the pew, as you sit down, you can’t help but consider the how many people have sat in your seat? Try to imagine the lives that have crossed over this very seat and worn it down, smooth with prayers, hopes, fears, tears, joys and life changing moments … in the very seat you now place yourself.
For easy math, let us assume the Red Sox play 162 games a year, ½ are home games. (Though we all know that have added more games over the years to the regular reason) and let us use 100 years. Well, then in your seat, upper grandstand, section 26, row MM, seat 10: 100 x 81 games = 8,100 people have sat in that seat in the past century. If you are lucky enough, you have sat in the same seat for a few years, maybe even a decade; perhaps you have sat there for a 100 games or perhaps this is your first time in this seat.
For the sake of simplicity, let us consider Saint Mary’s Episcopal Church, Newton-Lower Falls. They just celebrated 200 years as a congregation. We will assume they have worship 52 Sundays a year, for 200 years = 10,400 Sundays. And so, 10,400 people have sat in that very seat over the past two centuries. If you have been a member of the church for twenty years, then you have may have sat in the same seat for 500 services.
Even before the national anthem or the gathering hymn start, you find yourself immersed in history; surround be angels of the past, all living vicariously through you today. Imagine how you add to bless those who will come after you.
You are experiencing the past, present and future all at once.
I am simply a Red Sox fan with four decades in my blood. I am simply a child of God with more four decades Christ within me.
The Reverend Mark C. McKone-Sweet
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