was never very good at baseball. In fact, I was terrible. I couldn’t
hit. The one year I wasn’t cut from little league I had a batting
average of .000. I couldn’t throw. And when I was on the field I
was almost guaranteed to make at least one error. Not
surprisingly, I never made the cut after that first season.
in college I decided to play church-league softball for my home
congregation, Muhlenberg. After all, the ball is bigger so it must be
easier to hit. The ball moves slower so it must be easier to catch. And
I was playing in a church league so the people couldn’t be that good.
Yes, this would be my opportunity to shine, redemption for those years
of riding the bench.
was put behind the plate to catch and immediately my inability to throw
came shining through. I couldn’t get the ball back to the pitcher
without it taking a hop or the pitcher having to leap for the ball like
he was trying to catch a plane flying overhead. The umpire said
“C’mon catcher, get the ball back him.” It wasn’t long before I
was invited to “ride the pine,” take a break, sit a few innings out. I
didn’t mind. I’ve been bad at things before. I’ll be bad at
things again. But as I sat on the bench looking at these church
members I couldn’t help but wonder if life in the church doesn’t
involve “riding the pine,” or should I say, “pew-warming.”
we are baptized into the body of Christ, God is inviting us to a life
of activity and action. We’re called into the church in order that we
can then be sent out of church with a mission, with a task, as a part
of God’s team. (Maybe that’s why Lutherans make people stand up and sit
down so much, so we don’t think we’re there to ride the bench.)
a letter to a church in Rome the Apostle Paul wrote: For as in
one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same
function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ... and we have
gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. --Romans
bad at baseball kept me from playing in the game. But in the
church there are no “bad players”. We all have gifts. We all have
strengths and by virtue of our baptisms we’re all called to play.
If your faith life looks like “riding the pine” I hope you’ll consider
how and where you would have fun getting back in the game.
Remember, you have the gifts, you’re on the team, you made the
cut. Rest assured there is a spot in God’s lineup for