One of the greatest sermons Susan Leo ever preached at Bridgeport was about baseball. She went to seminary in San Francisco, so there is no one more beloved to her on earth than her Giants. You would think that baseball and theology would be mutually exclusive. Not so much.
The sermon itself was about building a church one base hit at a time…. that nothing comes together with one big home run.
As I sit here in the quiet, writing, I’m thinking about small ball.
I have been so locked up inside that I’ve realized I’m trying to make every pitch into a game-winning homer, when in reality I am not going to come back from 5-0, even with the bases loaded. I have to change my strategy, because the home run is the unachievable dream while a base hit combined with three or four more and suddenly, the score doesn’t look so bad.
A home run is getting rich. Small ball is saving five dollars a week. I can spend my life hoping for the homer to end all homers, when in reality, I would be much better off by reorienting my expectations of success.
For instance, I am already successful, but not in ways that you can measure with money. There’s not much in my bank account, but I am the only one of my friends who can say that people from France to Bangladesh KNOW WHO I AM. They know my flaws, they know my charms, they know MY STORY. I could never put a price on that, because it saved the direction of my life from going into deeper disaster. I have a dream for a church that is viable and profitable…. but profitability is relative in ministry. By profitable, I mean that any money left over in our regular budget becomes savings for a disaster so that there is a rolling stability instead of a church dependent on its members in a week-to-week kind of way. There are always going to be economic disasters, and when that happens, you have to have a place to go. For me, church is that place.
It’s how Epiphany is rescuing me right now.
Next Sunday I am being received into the Episcopal church for the first time. I have attended since I was 17 in some capacity, but I have never officially put my name on the books as a very member incorporate.
Christine asked me if my plans for St. James meant that I didn’t want to join anymore. I held back tears and said, “I don’t have a home church. I want this to be home.” St. James will never be that for me. St. James is my creation. I am birthing it. While that is happening, I need to be Epiphany’s creation. Epiphany is a rebirth into light and life, which lifts me out of the darkness I often perpetuate because I don’t have the emotional tools to keep calm all the time. If I want to be a leader, I must first learn to serve.
It’s the bottom of the ninth and the bases are loaded. Where are you sitting?