What an awesome convergence of hope – Holy Week and the beginning of Major League Baseball. Please note that I have listed these events in their proper order of importance. (A reminder to myself, perhaps?).
It’s Opening Day! Tonight the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami (formerly Florida) Marlins will play the first Major League Baseball game of the season. Our two local teams, the Orioles and the Nationals, get started tomorrow.
In the past, I’ve packed up the family and journeyed to Camden Yards to cheer on the Orioles as they opened their season. It has always been a festive, exciting occasion with much pomp and ceremony.
Why is Opening Day so special? After all, in baseball each team plays 162 games, so one win or loss is a very small part of the overall picture.
But . . . the infield grass is never as green as it appears on Opening Day, the home uniforms never so dazzlingly white. The first whiff of hot dogs and peanuts, the first sound of a vendor yelling “Programs!” and the first taste of an ice-cold ($5!) ballpark beer summon the senses to the start of another season. The day exudes an aura of anticipation, as all fans can dream that this will be their team’s year. On Opening Day, every team is in first place, tied at a pristine zero wins and, more importantly, zero losses. On Opening Day, even woebegone teams like the Orioles can dream of pennant races and World Series rings.
Opening Day is a celebration of HOPE.
But it’s nowhere near the HOPE we celebrate this Holy Week. On Maundy Thursday, we remember the first taste of the Lord’s Supper as the disciples shared the bread and wine. By the blood of Jesus shed on Good Friday, we are washed clean, infinitely whiter than those Opening Day uniforms. Our “records” before God are unblemished, and will forever be.
Holy Week culminates in the celebration of God’s “Opening Day.” On Easter Sunday the tomb was opened and we were assured of Jesus’ victory over everything that would separate us from intimacy with God.
Easter is the ultimate celebration of HOPE.
Play Ball! (I mean . . . AMEN!)