“Play Ball” rang out from Major League baseball stadiums around the country this weekend. But like the old philosophical question about a falling tree in the woods, if no fans are around to hear the umpire yell, “Play Ball,” did he really say it?
As you might have heard, I’m a bit of a baseball fan. Karla will freely tell you the best part of the pandemic has been no sports. (She is a communist and I apologize for my comrade). Today is the Tigers’ home opener, with no fans in the stands, I will miss it. It’s going to be a different season.
Opening day is in July, not April. There will be…
• No fans at the games
• No venders shouting, “Who wanna hot dog?” and, for the non-Nazarene’s in the non-existent crowd no, “Cold Beer.”
• No seventh inning stretch.
• No Friday night fireworks after games.
Teams are piping in crowd noise into the empty stadiums. Attempting to give that game time experience for those watching at home, but it’s not the same.
Seeing all of those empty seats. No one jostling for a home run ball. No one yelling from the stands that the umpire needs glasses. It’s not the same.
I’m glad that there will be highlights on Sports Center, articles on games won and lost and pennant races to follow. Let the record show, that my beloved Tigers are in first place with only 57 games left in the season! Even with that unforeseen turn of events, it’s not the same.
I feel the same way about the church I pastor. We are holding services. Livestreaming them. Maybe we should consider having piped in “Amens,” “Preach it, Brother!” and slight laughter at my corny jokes. But like in baseball, I don’t think it will be the same.
With only 40% of the crowd joining in-person on a Sunday morning. It’s not the same.
I’m not much of a hugger but I am a hand-shaker, pat-on-the-backer and walking-through-the-crowds-greeting-everybody-I-canner. It’s not the same.
With no Sunday School classes meeting, it’s not the same.
With no nurseries or children’s church operating, it’s not the same.
Wednesday Nights aren’t the same. Neither is Celebrate Recovery. It’s just not the same.
The game has changed. Period. It may never be the same. So what do we do?
Here is the Pandemic Good News of the Day– Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
The formula for success during a pandemic is the same as it is in all storms. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Trust God. Stay positive. Rejoice and worship wherever, however and whenever we can. The old philosophical question about a tree falling in the woods, doesn’t need pondering with prayer and faith.
Does a prayer uttered in a mostly empty sanctuary or in a lonely living room get heard by God Almighty? Yes! It does! Every time!!
Is God honored in our worship in a sparse crowd or at home? Yes. Yes. Yes!!! God is honored with our praise!
Keep looking to Jesus! Keep praising him in the storm. Join with the old hymn writer and sing (or say if you sing like me):
Praise Him! Praise Him! Jesus our blessed Redeemer
Sing, O earth, His wonderful, love proclaim
Hail Him! Hail Him! Highest archangels in glory
Strength and honor give to His holy name
It’s not the same, but Jesus is still on the throne. So “Play ball,” get back in the game and trust that Jesus will see us through! The Tigers might not win the pennant but the Church of Jesus Christ may look back on these strange and curious days and rejoice how God worked in the midst of these times if we keep our eyes on Jesus!