When Holy Week and Opening Day Baseball Collide

Today is Opening Day of Tiger baseball at CoMerica Park in Detroit at 1:10PM. It is also Maundy Thursday and Central Church’s Service at 6:30PM. I plan on being at both. 

I don’t know why the powers-that-be put Opening Day on Maundy Thursday. Doesn’t Chris Ilitch (the owner of the Detroit Tigers) know I need to be at church for the 6:30 service? He didn’t call to ask (he doesn’t call me on other baseball matters either, believe me, I could tell him a thing or two). How rude!

It’s happened before—Holy Week and Opening Day baseball. 2018. Opening Day. Tie game. Tigers might win. Might lose. Ninth inning and…. fiddle-sticks (does anyone under 70 besides me say, “fiddle-sticks”?), we have to leave the game to get back to the church (that was a Good Friday Opening Day because the scheduled Maundy Thursday game had been rained out). We left the game, but followed on the radio on the drive back to the church. The Tigers should have won in the tenth inning. Everyone thought they won. The team came on to the field to celebrate, but upon further review the umpires robbed the victory. The game went into the 13th inning, when a Pittsburgh batter hit a homer and the Tigers lost. Yes, I’m still bitter.). All that to say, Opening Day and Holy Week have collided once again, and for this baseball-fan-preacher, it’s a scheduling quagmire.

There’s quite a contrast between Maundy Thursday and Opening Day.

Opening Day at CoMerica has hope and anticipation. The Tigers might stink in the end, but on Opening Day there is hope. Maybe the team will shock the world. Maybe their young players will figure out how to hit and pitch. Maybe, just maybe, in my wildest dreams, there will be a parade in Detroit in October celebrating an unbelievable Tigers’ World Series win.

Maundy Thursday commemorates that night that Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, instituted the Lord’s supper, told us to love one another, was betrayed and then arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. The night ends with hopelessness in many ways. The disciples scattered. Jesus alone facing the crucifixion.

Comparing a baseball game with Holy Week happenings is pure foolishness. Of course, baseball really means nothing in the grand scheme of things. Jesus means everything. What happens on a ballfield in Detroit in 2023 will not matter at the end of time. What happened on Golgotha outside of Jerusalem means everything. The baseball championship celebration parade on Woodward Avenue in October would not come close to the celebration of an empty tomb on that first Easter morning. That’s a celebration which has happened every Sunday since the resurrection and even more so on Easter Sundays like this week. 

You might miss the Opening Day gala at CoMerica Park today, but don’t miss Holy Week’s services. Starting with tonight’s remembrance and communion service, tomorrow’s Good Friday Tenebrae Service and, of course, Easter Sunday’s powerful celebration service. All are meaningful. All are good.

Say “Go Tigers” this afternoon if you want, but more importantly, say, “Go Jesus!” and invite your friends to join you in great remembrances and celebrations this week!