On Baseball and Easter … and a Few Other Things

RCL – April 22, 2012, Third Sunday of Easter

Acts 3: 12-19
Psalm 4
1 John 3:1-7
Luke 24: 36b-48

As I read Facebook posts from baseball fans across the country this week, it struck me how appropriate that the beginnings of the baseball season coincide with the Easter season. My friends who are baseball fans posted everything from lamentations to hopeful expectations with a whole lot of yearnings thrown in the middle. And for every fan at this early point in the season, the eventual outcome remains unknown…

I suspect the early disciples experienced very similar emotions in the days following the discovery of the empty tomb. They lamented deeply, even after the reports of resurrection reached them. Maybe some of them allowed the first sparks of hope to light within them. I do not doubt that there were yearnings for days gone by, the days when Jesus was with them in person. And for them, the outcome was decidedly uncertain.

Baseball fans and the first disciples might seem an odd pairing until you consider today’s world and our own experiences this Easter season. There is much to lament in our world. Police officers being shot and killed. Syria’s failure to completely adhere to a ceasefire. Economic distress in many countries throughout the world. Disturbing photos in the LA Times. Threats of war in Sudan. On-going unrest in the Middle East. Of course, there is so much more with varying degrees of pain. I’m sure there are many who grieve at the news of Dick Clark’s death and the retirement of Pat Summitt.

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!

If there is lamentation, then there is also hopeful expectation. I heard and saw some stunning things in the news this week. The EPA has announced new rules that will reduce pollution from oil and natural gas drilling. These measures will soon be required everywhere. Surely, this will have a positive impact on the environment. And, maybe, someday, down the road a reduction of cost to the consumer as some of the pollutants collected can actually be sold to cover the cost of any new crews and equipment.

Liberia, of all places, has experienced its largest group of tourists since the 1970s. I realize that this has a lot to do with Somali pirates on the Indian Ocean, but there is something hopeful here. After the devastation of two civil wars, tourism must be a sign of new life, new possibility, a nation rebuilding.

A UK and Canadian study expands knowledge of breast cancer that could have a significant impact on medicine and patients. This could lead to better outcomes for many, many women. If I were going to run off in the direction of hope and expectation, then a cure for breast cancer (even if it is ten different diseases) might become possible.

Just as there are a multitude of stories that bring lamentations, there are many more than just these three that lead to hopeful expectations. Each day, there are acts of heroism reported, or simple acts of kindness. These might reinforce the idea that there is still hope for us today.

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.

I don’t want to spend all that much time on yearning. We all know this feeling. Sometimes it is a yearning for days gone by – the company of a loved one who is no longer with us, younger days with a body that doesn’t creak and groan so much, days when the world seemed a simpler place. Other times it is a yearning for more than what is – a politician that speaks truth, a day when healthcare is available for everyone, a day when violence and drugs don’t steal away our children. We live with yearning on a daily basis (just ask those baseball fans).

You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

Eventual outcome is where it’s at. No one can predict the way things will go in the Middle East, or Sudan, or Africa, or the elections next fall. No one knows how things will go for the people in Liberia and other places that are rebuilding after war or natural disaster. We don’t know if breast cancer or any other cancer will ever be cured. We don’t know when or where the next war will break out, the next police officer shot, the next child to lose his or her life to senseless violence or even more senseless drugs. We don’t know if healthcare that is affordable and adequate will ever come to be. We have no idea what is going to happen on any given day.

But there are things we do know. If we are Christians, we are Christians for a reason. Like those first disciples, we don’t believe just because somebody told us to believe in Jesus. We must have experienced something that makes it all real for us, something that makes us believe that resurrection is possible, that new life, new beginnings, healing is possible. So, if we believe these kinds of things, what are we doing with our beliefs? I know what the folks to the right are saying and doing. But how about those of us who are a bit left of center? We share our lamentations and our yearnings without much hesitation. But what about our hopeful expectations? Isn’t it time we try to make some of them a reality?

 “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”

And, oh yeah, I almost forgot: GO RED SOX!

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