How We Pass the Time

Last Sunday afternoon, a part of my soul retreated into shadow like a sugar maple’s leaf drifts to the ground in autumn. The regular season of baseball came to a close and my team’s season is over. 
And like any good thing that comes to a close, I find myself pondering why I feel forlorn. 
As many of you know, my love for the game of baseball is well documented. For years dating back to my youth, my evenings from April through October are filled with the familiar sights and sounds of baseball. The consistency of the broadcasters’ voices is calming. The beauty of baseball’s architecture and geometry feels transcendent. The story lines of team standings, pennant races and hitting streaks are narratives that tie me to a kind of alternative reality that sets my mind at ease. Baseball and its 162 game regular season is how I pass the time. 
Yes, I am aware that our nation’s infatuation with football has not ebbed over the years. The seemingly ‘made for TV’ sport—with our screens strikingly similar to the dimensions of a football field—has a rabid fan base. I, too, enjoy football but my heart and my time belong to our nation’s pastime. 
Despite being overtaken by the draw of football, baseball remains our nation’s pastime because the arc of baseball’s life cycle encompasses such a significant portion of time. According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, a pastime is, “Something that amuses and serves to make time pass agreeably.”
Why this diatribe on baseball, you may wonder? Aside from the fact that I wax poetic about baseball at least once a year in my ‘Five-Day Forecast,’ why this dribble on pastimes?  
Quite simply, it is this.
Sunday is our church’s homecoming. It is the day that we will celebrate our church’s impact and legacy over its 128-year history. This Sunday, we will pause to consider who we have been together and what we have accomplished as we have sought to be God’s People at 669 West Main Street. We’ll take note of the fact that our church serves as a library of memories, stories and life-changing events. 
Our children have grown up in our church. Our grandchildren have walked our halls and played on our playground. We have been married at First Baptist. We have sat on the front row in our sanctuary, the communion table replaced with a coffin. We have had baby dedications, recognized graduates and have been stirred to action by the stories of missionaries. We have dined together, planned together, argued together, wept together, laughed together and prayed together. We have celebrated holidays together over the years. We have dripped melted candle wax on our pews during Christmas Eve Services, and have tripped on our steps. We have hosted baby showers, picked weeds and served hot cocoa on our church steps. We moved across the street, occupied a new worship space and built a Mission and Fellowship Center together. And throughout our history, the sound of bell chimes have filled our valley and reminded us of our faith family on Main Street. 
First Baptist, church is how we have chosen to pass the time together. Church is our pastime. It is the one consistent, unifying experience by which we distill and measure our lives. Church is how we choose to be with ourselves, with one another and with God. Church is uniquely positioned to interpret both the world and our lives for us. 
And this Sunday, we’ll pay tribute to this most-significant pastime. I hope you’ll join us as we look back, look around and look forward. 
For truly, our future together is as full of promise as Opening Day.