This (Holy) Week in BaseballPosted: March 30, 2009
Some Christians are protesting the Detroit Tigers’ decision to start their home Opener during the “holy hours” on Good Friday. The first pitch is 1:05 pm, coinciding with the traditional time of noon to 3:00 pm kept to mark Jesus’ hanging on the cross. All across America Christians will be sitting in church for all or part of the “Three Hours Service” often focusing on “The Seven Last Words of Christ.” And at the same time the Tigers will be taking on the Texas Rangers. In fact all 30 Major League teams see action that day but the Tigers are the only team hosting a game during the holy hours.
It would be easy to just rail against this — call the entire Tigers’ organization a bunch of heathens and condemn the fans who bought tickets. But it’s all part of something much larger: the way the Church interacts with culture is changing dramatically. In the days of the early Church, the great enemy of the Christian faith was persecution. Today, I would contend, it is apathy. And this will continue, I think, until we are left with a smaller, stronger, more faithful Church. A Church that continues to reach out in radical welcome but one that is not propped up by the culture.
I’m used to (though never pleased by) the fact that more and more families blow off church to go to fill-in-the-blank-little-league-sport or those Sunday morning birthday parties. The whole notion of church as “activity” — important unless a better offer arises — is a distasteful reality of modern Church life. A far cry from the discipleship of the cross to which Jesus calls us. I’ve even become resigned to the fact that Holy Week generally overlaps with school breaks. While some walk through and are transformed by the most profound spiritual experiences of the year, their neighbors are sunning themselves in Aruba. The contrast is both stunning and telling.
So I don’t think it’s particularly productive to protest the Tigers’ decision, though I do disagree with it. Rather, it should spur all of us to share the story of the Christian faith with even more fervor. Invite a friend, who doesn’t already have tickets to the Tigers/Rangers game, to a Good Friday service.
You never know the impact it might have. They might even respond, as Mel Allen used to exclaim on This Week in Baseball, “How about that?!”