2021 June 20 “From Now On”

Scripture   II Corinthians 5:14-21  For the love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. 15 And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them. 16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. 17 So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 MESSAGE         ”From Now On …”     Rev. James Renfrew

I’ve never seen it done as an eyewitness, though I have seen it on replay. I’m talking about baseball, and one of the rarest things to see on the field.  The Triple Play – the batter swings at the pitch and within seconds all three outs are made, usually because the second base player catches a line drive, steps on the base before the runner who took a lead can tag up, and then fires the ball to first base, likewise catching the runner off base.  One swing, Two seconds, Three outs, very rare.

Today our church is experiencing a rare Triple Play, three awesome things happening in the same service, Father’s Day, baptism, baccalaureate recognition, I think of it as a Triple Play, a rarity in the world of baseball, but it’s not rare here because we triple the blessings all of the time, every time we gather here.  Maybe you’re not a Dad, maybe you’re not being baptized, maybe you aren’t graduating, but there’s enough blessings for everyone here today!

There’s one big difference in our church’s Triple Play when we compare it to baseball. In baseball three players are “OUT”, but in our church’s Triple Play EVERYONE is “IN”. The inning is not over, the game is just beginning.  This leads me to a few very ill-advised jokes:  does anyone know where baseball is first mentioned in the Bible?  Genesis, chapter one, verse 1, “in the big inning”. Yes, our Triple Play is right there at the start of the Bible. How cool is that?  And when King Saul was having a tough time in the standings, according to I Samuel 16:16, it was commanded that his aides go out and seek a skillful player for the team.  Genesis 6:9 tells us that Moses’ sister Miriam also fielded a team, but according to Numbers 12:15, Miriam was shut out.  Jacob’s wife Rebecca also seems to have sponsored a team, when it says in Genesis 24:45 that Rebekkah came forth with her pitcher.  According to Numbers 15:25 whenever an error was made a sacrifice had to follow.

Hear enough?  Something I enjoyed doing with my Dad was going to baseball games. In fact I still have a baseball cap that I bought when we went to see a game of the Carolina Mudcats in Raleigh, North Carolina. My Dad loved going to games even though he was blind.  My Dad died in 2010, but I still have the hat; my wife is mortified whenever I wear it in public .  I hope you remember lots of favorite moments with your father, and if you are a father I hope you are creating favorite moments for your children.  Happy Father’s Day!

In these three celebrations there is a theme that comes to us from Paul’s Letter to the Corinthians– the love of Christ urges us on. What I found so powerful in this verse is an honest statement that the Christian is never done, there is always more to come!  Baptism is only the start, the love of Christ will always urge her on, and Anneliese can expect many more adventures in all the years to come.  Graduates are never done, either, the love of Christ urges you on!  Always more subjects to explore, new experiences to try, and the learning is never done. And Dads, your work is never done either, each stage that your growing child reaches brings new challenges, and there are few books to guide you.  It’s almost always learning on the fly!

Let me remind you that though the love of Christ urges you on, the reward for the faithful is not at the end of the game, the end of the path, or at the end of life. The love of Christ is right here at the start, before you’ve taken a single swing of the bat.

In my first organized baseball game with a team, I remember striking out.  My parents were there watching.  I felt miserable.  After the game, my Dad came up and made no comment about my striking out. Instead he said I looked sharp at the plate and that I took some good swings with the bat.  And he couldn’t wait to see me in my next game.  That is the love of Christ, right at the start, not somewhere down the road.   On your first day of kindergarten, on the first day of middle school or high school, or your first day of college or grad school.  Christ is there at the start urging us on.   From now on, let us live with this knowledge of Jesus Christ.

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