The Parable of the Basebalterians (Welcome Mat Series 6)
Updated: May 23, 2019
by Tim Haworth
People are leaving the church left, right and sideways. A couple years ago on a Sunday morning I offered up an idea that I thought was a sure winner that would regenerate the church. I proposed that we elevate baseball, our national pastime, to our national religion.
What could be more American? Baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and… oh wait, I don’t want to appear partisan when it comes to respecting people’s choice of car. We’ll just go with the first three..
I proposed that we adapt our structures to reflect our overarching love of baseball. I think, in light of the world today, that my proposal deserves a second look.
I believe we should call ourselves the First Basebalterian Church Springfield and that we affiliate ourselves with the Missouri League. The Missouri League follows the St. Louis Cardinals which they believe is truly God’s team. Over the years they have been blest with numerous championships, God-inspired managers that led them to victory after victory and God-given talent that far exceeds that of other teams’ players. While fans of other teams are welcome, we will look at them as less fortunate and they will not be allowed to be part of any leadership team. Only members (true Cardinal fans) can serve.
Here are a few other proposed changes. The overall leadership of this church will be referred to as “Owners”. Individuals stay in leadership as long as they continue to generously support the ministry monetarily. Pastors will be referred to as “Commissioners” and will basically do whatever the owners want them to do. Members will be referred to as fans. Seating will be based on the wealth and donations of the members. Wealthy members may purchase a box or exclusive padded chairs placed in the best locations of the sanctuary. Other fans will be consigned to sit in the wooden pews that we will refer to as the bleachers.
As a church it is important that we maintain a certain level of holiness. We must demonstrate to others that we are special. That means we have to find a population that we are better than. I suggest the obvious choice of the Chicago Cubs. This is a team that has historically been a loser – 100 plus years without a single championship. We have always believed that the Cubs and their fans are cursed of God ever since they turned away that prophet and his goat. The unfortunate and unholy championship of 2016 has left Cub fans emboldened and feeling as though they are on equal footing with Cardinal fans and demanding a place in our churches.
The Basebalterian Church, Missouri League has taken a strong stand against the damaging influence of Cub fans in our churches. In a statement the church said, “Because God is making us and the secular world is shaming us, we will love and welcome Cub fans into our churches. However, we find that Cub fans’ love for their team is incompatible with our interpretation God’s holy scorecard. Therefore self-avowed and practicing Cub fans will not be allowed to serve as owners, commissioners or players in any position. We show our love by inviting them to sit in our bleachers, participate in (but never lead) our services and have ample opportunities to change teams and become just like us. However, our love only extends to our desire to convert Cub fans to become Cardinal fans. We will continue to fight for our religious liberty and our right to withhold services, sacraments, housing and employment from unrepentant Cub fans.
Ok. End of parable.
Does all of this sound ridiculous to you? I hope so. Does all of this sound familiar to you? I hope so.
We need to stop the ridiculousness that is exclusion. Catholics and Protestants are all guilty of excluding those who believe and see things differently. We exclude the poor, the foreigners and the marginalized. We exclude those we disagree with or make us feel uncomfortable.
Jesus opened the door for all to be welcome, for all to be included in the life of the church. He embraced the marginalized, healed the sick, fed the hungry and set captives free. This is our example. This is what we need to be.