Sunday, April 24, 2011

Concerning Baseball

Despite a contentious relationship with sporting events, especially baseball, I find myself a resident of the "Fenway/Kenmore" area, living in the shadows of 'The Green Monstah," and smack in the capital of the Red Sox Nation. So why am I writing about baseball? Because for Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday, baseball was mentioned in both services I attended, by two of my favorite people on the planet (and in the Red Sox nation).

"Preachers often say that resurrection is a metaphor for something like it... hope for the Red Sox." When Dr. Robert Cummings Neville says something like this, blending the profane world of baseball with my sacred world of... his theology- well I have to take it seriously. No, I am not saying I will become an avid sports fan after all of these years (sorry Mom and Dad), but I am saying that if the Red Sox have hope, so do I. Dr. Neville, from where I sit in the pews, is quite a fascinating person. I remember my first Easter Vigil with Dr. Neville three years ago. This was the first time I had heard him preach, and what he said was totally unexpected, and filled me with hope. Imagine if you will, a red bearded, bespectacled man, in white robe and cassock, smiling happily with warm eyes from the pulpit, a seasoned minister, a well-respected theologian. And then he drops the Harry Potter bomb. Yup, he went there, and also went to 'drunken orgy' and 'zombie Jesus' all in one sermon. I was floored. I was overjoyed. For me, that is the way hope works; even if we are looking for it diligently, hope takes us by surprise.

Today Dean Hill's Easter Sermon quoted Mickey Mantle, "Today I learned I do not have to perform in order to be loved." He put this in the context of Prevenient Grace. Oh Prevenient Grace- that idea we Methodists love so much, and we inclusivists cringe at not wanting to impose our Savior on others. I am learning how to unite the two: we are taken on our own terms- even when we fail to meet them. Phew, that's a relief. That gives me hope, unexpectedly.

So here it is, the tie in: The Red Sox have hope, and I have hope, and hope comes from unexpected places like profound theological statements in the guise of 'profanity', and hope comes in the form of Grace, even when we think we are failing.

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