I grew up listening to the Cincinnati Reds on the radio. I remember placing my transistor radio under my pillow and listening to Waite Hoyt call the play by play. Over the years I have listened to Al Michaels, Joe Nuxhall, Marty Brennaman, and “The Cowboy,” Jeff Brantley. Today, I still wait to hear Marty say, “This one belongs to the Reds.”
In recent years, I have had the opportunity to attend several Reds’ Caravans. I have met some of my favorite players, talked with new prospects, gotten autographs, and listened to the hopes and expectations of those in the front office.
Practice the Basics
I start to get really excited in February as the players gather for spring training. Every year, professional baseball players gather to practice before the start of the regular season. They gather to focus on the fundamentals of baseball.
Baseball players who make hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions of dollars, gather to practice the basics of the game.
Let that sink in for a minute.
It is in spring training that they practice throwing, hitting, and running the bases. They work on who covers what base and where to throw the ball in certain situations.
They practice placing their hands on the bat so they can hit the ball to particular areas of the playing field. I am fascinated that these professional players gather each spring to review and practice their skills.
Practice our Faith
In the church, we practice growing in our faith and in putting our faith into action. We started inviting you to practice becoming aware of the presence of God during the seasons of Advent. Through Christmas and Epiphany, we continued to practice.
As we enter a pattern of reading, reflecting, and responding to scriptures, we identify God’s presence and so we can participate in God’s work.
For Lent, we began a new series, Get Real. It was designed with this question in mind, “What might happen in our cities, town, and neighborhoods if we practiced getting real about God’s presence in our lives as individuals and in the ministry of our churches?”
To ask the question another way, “What might happen if we joined God in ministry where we live, work, worship, and play?”
Invitation to Spring Training
I invite you to participate in a spiritual and missional spring training.
This is time for you and your congregation to practice the fundamentals of reading the scripture, praying and reflecting upon the scripture, and responding to the scripture.
In my mind, if those professional baseball players need a spring practice, how much more you and I need to practice growing in and living out our faith.
The Season of Easter we will focus on several parables from Luke’s gospel. We’ll spend one week focused on each parable. Throughout the week, we’ll look at each verse in the parable, asking the question, “How does this reflect our current reality?”
Just as I listen for Marty to say, “This one belongs to the Reds,” I am listening for God to say, “This person, this church, this city, this community, this neighborhood belongs to me.”