Bottom of the 9th - Communion
by Keith Wahl
(This week's Bottom of the Ninth is the last in a series walking readers through basics of the Christian faith integrated in the game of baseball through Francis Chan's BASIC video series - CLICK the image above to watch the episode)
There are many rituals in the game of baseball, many of which have no definitive origin story. Like the beginnings of the game itself, most of the rituals we witness and experience have roots long ago with many different potential truths as to the origin. Few of these rituals saw their beginning within our current generation, but there is one that seems to have caught fire within the past 30 years - the rally cap.
While some Detroit Tiger fans recall some inside-out cap wearing in the 1940s, it seems that the Texas Rangers in 1977 and 1978 used the caps to rally their team to come-from-behind victories in those two seasons. But it was the New York Mets of 1985 and 1986 that brought the rally cap to national-level recognition with their world championship over the Boston Red Sox in 1986. It took the national stage and a championship to help this ritual be cemented into baseball lore.
There’s a beauty in what is represented in the rally cap. A player will forgo his personal dignity for the sake of looking silly for the team. It’s a spiritual and then physical recognition of a person being willing to submit himself to something bigger than himself.
The church also has many rituals we observe, and one has a well-known origin story. In Luke 22, Jesus breaks bread and establishes what we know today as Communion:
Luke 22:19, “And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’”
Do this in remembrance of Me.
Many times we get hung up with showing people how holy we are, or how smart we are, or how good we are at baseball to get them to listen to us about Jesus. In all actuality, all we need to do is break bread with them.
Why do we feel like we can only take communion in church? Chan’s message challenges us to consider going to our neighbors and breaking bread with them. Isn’t that just a more simple, more basic, route to faith? Isn’t that was Jesus was desiring in His ministry - a route to God that didn’t require a bunch of man-made systems and protocols?
We tried this on the baseball field a couple of weeks ago. At the end of our Wednesday skill session, we took communion together. We passed the bread and the cup around our “around the mound” circle at the end of practice, and did this in remembrance of Jesus. I share that not to say, “look at us,” but rather to encourage all of you to take part in communion more often. At home. In your neighborhood. On a field. God is going to build His church - let’s be a part of it in every corner of our lives.
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