30 May 2007

My first sermon: Baseball

This was one of the first sermons I wrote for the English services at our parish, all the way back in May 2007 for Trinity Sunday. It is, oddly enough, still my favorite. I hope you enjoy it.

Trinity Sunday

This weekend we celebrate Trinity Sunday. Trinity Sunday is the bane of sermon-writers everywhere, because, well, you have to talk about the Holy Trinity. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. A minefield even for experienced theologians. Oddly, the word »Trinity« doesn’t appear in the Bible, though the triune God does make cameo appearances. St. Patrick famously tried to use the shamrock – the cloverleaf you see on the cover of the bulletin – to describe the Trinity, which according to an article by some theologians I found, is actually a fatally flawed model. Wonderful. So what’s a desperate inexperienced sermon-writer to do?

This is the sort of thing where you desperately invite in the bishop for the weekend to give the sermon, then you find out he’s booked solid (because all the other parishes were much more clever than you and booked him years in advance) and you’re left thinking of a way of explaining the Trinity to your parish without causing yourself great embarrassment.

So you just change the subject.

So let’s talk about baseball.

I love baseball. Baseball is the true quintessential American sport, and like many Americans I grew up watching baseball. In the thirteen years I have lived in Germany, when I most feel homesick it is often because I can’t watch a baseball game.

Homesickness is a kind of loneliness, a spiritual feeling of being separated from other people. When you can’t share with them. Being lonely is a terrible feeling. Being unable to share your feelings is a a terrible feeling. Being unable to share them with your own child is a really terrible feeling.

One of the basic essential things about baseball is watching it with your kids. Unlike European football or soccer, baseball has a very wholesome childlike feeling to it, a tradition of fathers taking their sons and daughters to games. Now that I have two small children, the homesickness got worse, because I couldn’t take my kids to a ballgame.

So recently we got digital cable with some English channels. Thus we can now watch baseball on TV. Not quite the same thing as going to a real game, but close enough. And my son Edward clearly understood what it meant, because he was really excited by getting to watch baseball. So we shared it, and it was a great experience watching a game together. Father and son bonded, and my daughter was there too, the three of us bonding together.

We were together. The loneliness was gone. Three in one.

And that, to me, is the beginning of understanding the Trinity. God is three persons, but one being. God is never alone. God is by definition never lonely. God is infinite companionship, love and togertherness.

Thus when we are lonely, the triune God is always there for us when we need Him. The Trinity is just a way to represent His infinite love and companionship for us. But the Trinity also represents the community of God, and the community of Creation itself. God’s church is that community, the place that ends loneliness. The Trinity is thus community, community is church and we are here together, in church, sharing our time together. Nothing to be scared of.

So let’s play ball. Amen.