Yesterday, the new commissioner of baseball, Rob Manfred, was interviewed on "Meet the Press." (Thank you Sunrise Service for getting me home in time to see it.) He was asked about the state of baseball on "opening day," and specifically, he was asked about the dismal TV ratings of the last World Series. How to get baseball back in popularity? The answer wove its way through several points, landing on getting all youth, including minorities, involved in baseball again. "Best of luck," I thought (My apologies to those who enthusiastically give their valuable time and energy and positively impact their own children and others through Little League. I realize it can be a positive experience as was my own son's.).
He may be commissioner of MLB, but MLB has no control over Little League, the dominant ruler of youth baseball. Beginning in 1938, Little League's founder Carl Stotz began to conceptualize a league for baseball for youth that would capture the best about the sport - teamwork, sportsmanship, mentor/tutor relationships, and engaging in being your best through the sport of baseball. Opening it up to all youth, he even built into the rules more players on the field in a youth game than in traditional baseball so "all kids could play." (Garry Wills, "Certain Trumpets: The Call of Leaders." 1994)
I had some gang activity in the neighborhood when I was a principal. "Let's get the kids involved at a younger age, so they have a sense of belonging to a group," I suggested. "Let's get them into Little League." What did I run into (in my own neighborhood I grew up in no less)? Resistance. Costs - equipment to play, uniform costs, league fees. Culture - these children may have gang aspirations? And you want them to be here? It went on. I might have had better luck founding my own league because "all children" could neither afford league costs or overcome some of the stereotypes that existed in a neighborhood that had changed from blue collar middle income to lower income and minority. Some parents tried to make meaningful change to open up the game, but it was difficult.
And so to the Easter message. Christ's resurrection for victory from death. Personal resurrection in our own lives. Second chances. Forgiveness, mercy, grace, love. And we, as a church (church at large corporately and collectively), have created what? Debate within the worlds of politics and society that largely ignore Christ's Great Commission. Unwritten rules. Codes of behavior. Judgmental attitudes and behaviors that have less to do with the issue or sin and more to do with the person.
This Easter, we focus on the true meaning of Christ's death and resurrection for all of us. This Easter, we share that message of forgiveness and grace through faith in Christ, that message of second chances, new beginnings, of being a new creation in Christ (Pastor Eric Hiner, 4/5/15). This Easter, we pray that as a church at large, we bring that simple message of Christ and Him crucified to the world and not strangle it in culture, unwritten rules, attitudes, assumptions, piety that focuses on others sins, not our own.
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)
Hope Men's Ministry