Hope’s Opening Day

Welcome friends to the first discussion topic in our Faith on the Field Lenten Virtual Community.  As we enter this season of Lent, we invite you all to join us to “live slow and notice” God’s action in our lives.  We will be talking about baseball, and about God, and hopefully the correlations we find between the affect they each have on us.  As we open the season of Lent, Opening day of the baseball season comes to mind.

A couple years ago, E.J. Dionne Jr., an opinion writer for the Washington Post wrote an article titled “Hope’s Opening Day” which captures that essence with the opening:

The obligations of religious toleration and pluralism require all who care not a bit about baseball to accept that opening day is more than the beginning of a sports season. It is a great religious festival.

It can’t be an accident that baseball always starts around the time of both Easter and Passover and, thus, “elicits a sense of renewal.” For the faithful, it means that “the long dark nights of winter are over” and “the slate is clean.” All teams, the exalted and lowly alike, “are tied at zero wins and zero losses.” This, in turn, means that the fervent cry “Wait’ll next year” becomes “prologue, replaced by hope.”

The faithful fan, who usually ends the season with defeat, (unless you are a Yankee or Cardinal fan), epitomizes the hope of rebirth with the dawn of a new season.  I’m reminded of Corinthians 15: 54-58:

When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”  The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

162 games in the season, and every year, every team starts with a perfect record.  What are your thoughts about Hope’s Opening Day as we open lent?  To leave a comment, click the link at the TOP of the post.

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6 thoughts on “Hope’s Opening Day

  1. Spring, rebirth, opening day. I am reminded of how Nancy begins every Sunday … “the week behind is over, we can not go back.” (And unspoken: the past is past, it is irrelevant, whether you’re a Yankee or a Cardinal, or a Mariners fan. Everyone is tied.). “The week begins right now.”

    And just as Nancy says that, each of us — as inspired as we are by this new beginning — knows we will not make it through the week without sin. We won’t make it through the day. Just as we as fans and the players know perfection in baseball is impossible. The best hitters fail 70% of the time. The best teams lose over 30% of the time. The best team in the last 100 years still lost 43 games that season.

    Tommy Lasorda once said I know on opening day I’m going to win 50 and I’m going to lose 50 — it’s the other 62 that matter.

    But we still have hope that we can be as good as we can be, sin and failure and all, today, or this week. We have hope that we can be better than last season. Just as an fan knows this MIGHT be the year.

    And as we’re promised salvation … there is always next year.

    The big advantage to Christianity over baseball is we don’t even have to wait until next April, we don’t even have to wait for Nancy’s promise next Sunday. We can repent and begin right now.

    PS: Nice Cards mention there. It’s still 27-11 Yankees. Just saying.

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    • 1. Love the Lasorda comment about knowing the 50-50 distribution on Opening Day and noting it’s the other 62 games that matter. As you suggest, that seems an apt image for us sinners — an invitation not to be trapped by past mistakes (or successes) but to keep striving/opening our lives to God.

      2. Great reminder that as Christ-followers we don’t have to wait for Opening Day or a Sunday reminder … that we can turn and begin again right now.

      3. And I also noticed the Cardinals plug hidden in the post. 😀 Haha!

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  2. Love the comparison between Opening Day and the chance to start fresh …. the “hope of rebirth” that Dionne mentions. As some of us also engage a Lenten praying of the hours,I was also drawn to this line from Dionne: “Baseball’s central calling to us, he concludes, is ‘to live slow and notice.’ Opening day encourages us every year to seek a path to serenity and transcendence.” Perhaps a time of intentional prayer — even the Night Watch — is a way to live slow, to notice, and to seek a path to serenity and transcendence.”

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  3. Opening day is always a fresh new start. I can not help but wonder what they were doing in the off-season to prepare for opening day. Often the success of a new season depends on the quiet, hard work during the off season. As Christians we need to pray fervently, prepare ourselves through study and then get off of our knees and go forth.

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  4. Love the point Larry. I saw a quote from a young wrestler in the local paper this week. To paraphrase, he said the first period is won by the best technical skills, the second period won by the best physical fitness, and the third period is won by the biggest heart. It is the time preparing in the off season that makes the difference in the 62 undecided games. Having woken up 5 nights in a row to follow the Night Watch, it’s clear that while it’s not easy, it can become a habit. Being a dedicated Christian is like being a dedicated baseball player. We practice and prepare for that time when our faith is tested. Luckily for most, it’s not 162 times in 9 months.
    And yes, I had to get my Cardinals plug in 😉 Jason, I didn’t realize you had abandoned the Braves to be a Yankee fan. Even the Marlins proved the Yankee model, you can BUY a world series…

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