A Message From Our Pastor, Rev. James L. Armentrout
I was never very good at baseball. In fact, I was terrible. I couldn’t hit. The one year I wasn’t cut from little league I had a batting average of .000. I couldn’t throw. And when I was on the field I was almost guaranteed to make at least one error. Not surprisingly, I never made the cut after that first season.
While in college I decided to play church-league softball for my home congregation, Muhlenberg. After all, the ball is bigger so it must be easier to hit. The ball moves slower so it must be easier to catch. And I was playing in a church league so the people couldn’t be that good. Yes, this would be my opportunity to shine, redemption for those years of riding the bench.
I was put behind the plate to catch and immediately my inability to throw came shining through. I couldn’t get the ball back to the pitcher without it taking a hop or the pitcher having to leap for the ball like he was trying to catch a plane flying overhead. The umpire said “C’mon catcher, get the ball back him.” It wasn’t long before I was invited to “ride the pine,” take a break, sit a few innings out. I didn’t mind. I’ve been bad at things before. I’ll be bad at things again. But as I sat on the bench looking at these church members I couldn’t help but wonder if life in the church doesn’t involve “riding the pine,” or should I say, “pew-warming.”
When we are baptized into the body of Christ, God is inviting us to a life of activity and action. We’re called into the church in order that we can then be sent out of church with a mission, with a task, as a part of God’s team. (Maybe that’s why Lutherans make people stand up and sit down so much, so we don’t think we’re there to ride the bench.)
In a letter to a church in Rome the Apostle Paul wrote: For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ... and we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. --Romans 4:4-6
Being bad at baseball kept me from playing in the game. But in the church there are no “bad players”. We all have gifts. We all have strengths and by virtue of our baptisms we’re all called to play. If your faith life looks like “riding the pine” I hope you’ll consider how and where you would have fun getting back in the game. Remember, you have the gifts, you’re on the team, you made the cut. Rest assured there is a spot in God’s lineup for you.