Saturday, April 22, 2006

Baseball Liturgy

I haven't posted in a LONG time and that reflects a life governed by family and school responsibilities. In an ideal world, I would post 3-4 times per week. I should be posting again now that I am entering finals period because this is a great forum for me to work out ideas and fight off writer's block!

Last night, I had the opportunity to go to Yankees Stadium to watch the Yankees LOSE to the Orioles (note - the picture above is the exact same vantage point of my seat). I am an avid Mets fan (they do exist) and every Yankees loss is a Mets victory. I have to admit that I enjoyed watching Hideki Matsui strike out looking with the bases loaded to end the game. My point in posting, however, has nothing to do with the actual game.

At the game last night, I experienced what I will call the liturgy of baseball. A baseball game at Yankee stadium is a religious event and the worship experience is marked by liturgy. The meaning of liturgy is literally "the work of the people" and the term is most often applied to what occurs in 'high-church' Christian worship gatherings. I experienced Yankee liturgy last night.

Let me explain. The "work of the people" included a wide variety of practices. First, the rituals associated with a baseball game are evident. Everything from how you order peanuts from the person going up and down the stairs to the clapping that occurs when the opposing batter has two strikes in the count. I even witnessed a "worship war" over the use of the wave at Yankee Stadium. The guy in front of me started yelling "Hey, that $%@#" is for Shea Stadium not for this place." It appeared that this guy had a clear sense of what was appropriate for the Yankee "denomination". Second, there is a leader in the liturgy of baseball. The PA announcer, who has been with the Yankees and NY Giants for many years, is revered and he has an expected and characteristic way of moving the game along by announcing hitters and pitchers. Third, the means by which 'saints' are recognized was evident as the crowd automatically gave Bernie Williams a standing ovation. Fourth, the 'sanctuary' is laid out with worship in mind, especially the area dedicated to Yankee greats out beyond the bullpen. Finally, the overall participation marks the liturgy because every person is involved from start to finish with the experience. These marks of baseball liturgy may not apply to every baseball stadium but they definitely apply to Yankee Stadium.

I found myself praying the following "Lord, what would it look like for these Yankee fans to dedicate even 10% of their energy toward worshiping what they ultimately long for - to be known and to know God through Jesus Christ." That prayer will be discussed at another time in another post but I wanted to put that out there for more thoughts.

Have you ever experienced a liturgy (work of the people) like I experienced last night?