Put Me in Coach!

tee ball uniform

With the corona virus putting a halt to almost everything in our normal lives, we are scheduled to get something back that has been missing greatly from our normal summer lives. Baseball will resume on Thursday! So far this week there have been a couple of exhibition games played. The last spring ball was played in early March just prior to the shutdown.

There is a song released in 1985 by John Forgerty called; “Put me in Coach”. This cute little ditty rang loud in our house as our boys became of age and started playing tee-ball. How wonderful and delightful it was to watch tee-ball when those young kids would try and hit that ball off the tee, often missing. They would run the wrong direction if they did hit it. Some would never stop running. They would hear their folks in the stands hollering run and they would take off, never touching a base or following the base paths—just running!

Everyone got a chance to hit the ball off the tee. No one left the plate with tee until they hit the ball, unless they started to cry in fear that they were being watched and having a hard time of it. Then the coach and parents would run out and console them in the middle of the game. Everything came to a stop to help ease the little tyke’s mind. Sometimes they would build their courage back up after being consoled and actually hit the ball and other times they would just give up and give the bat to the next hitter. Either way, it was all okay.

Then there were the outfielders. No one ever hit the ball too far, so they were out there in ‘never-never be involved in a play’ land. They would become distracted by a bird flying over and start watching the sky instead of the ball. They would start playing catch with their glove just for something to do. And almost every game you would have the one that has to use the restroom. They do not want to leave their position, so they stand out there and cross their legs, hold their breath, cover their crotch and often lose control right in front of God and everyone! Oh, that poor child. How embarrassed they were!
There was always a backup on the bench ready to go in for the one that lost control of their emotions or their bodily functions. They would holler; ‘put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today’ and run out to their respective positions to be ready to play!

During this time of the virus and the upheaval in the streets because of discrimination practices in our nation, I see a lot of people wanting to play in the game even if they do not know for sure what they are doing. Parishioners stepping up to assist in creating videos of the service to put (somehow) on Facebook or YouTube. Others joining teams to (somehow) create a safe place for us to reconvene services together following all the synod and state requirements. And others who work hard to maintain the building and grounds of the church while no one is there ensuring the flower beds look great, the alarm systems all function and so on and so on. It is surprising how when things are not used as often as they had been, they start to breakdown.

Then there are the people who stand with the black community trying to influence our culture’s stubborn ways of treating others disrespectfully. They have never been out in the streets protesting before but they know from what has been recorded and played over and over again that blacks and browns are being mistreated by some who do not understand the black and brown history, culture or fears of continued oppression by society. Non-violent protesting has always been and I pray will always be a way to influence others to do justice and eliminate injustice.

So, we ask God to ‘put me in coach, I’m ready to play, today’ as we work through these times of not exactly knowing what we are doing. We try to do the best we can even if we don’t exactly know where the base path is or even where the bases are located. We go out swinging trying to make sure everyone in our community gets a chance to have some sort of worship service that has some sort of meaning for them. We stand in the field showing our support to others who are less fortunate not knowing if we will be arrested for disturbing someone’s peace. We stand together as the body of Christ, although separated, keeping our love distance so we don’t share the wrong thing with each other.

The lyrics of the first verse of the song mentioned earlier are:

Well-a, beat the drum and hold the phone,
The sun came out today.
We’re born again, there’s new grass on the field.
A-roundin’ third, and headed for home,
It’s a brown-eyed handsome man,
Anyone can understand the way I feel.
Ooohh —
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today
Put me in coach, I’m ready to play today
Look at me, I can be, Centerfield

Let us pray...

Great Holy Coach – As we struggle through life’s many challenges, continue to guide us on our paths that we may be on the right base at the right time. Instill in us your patience as we miss the ball at times and encourage us to try again to ensure your will is done. We’re born again each new day. The sun is out and the grass is new. Show us your way with the confidence to show others that same compassion you show (and those coaches in tee-ball show) that even when we fail, you are there to pick us up, brush us off and send us out for your good to all your children and this wonderful world.
Amen

Paul Malek

Paul Malek

ELCA Pastor
St. Paul Lutheran Church
Ontario, Oregon

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Baseball has so many metaphors for life! Thanks for sharing. Prayers that we will not be “cardboard fans” or “piped in crowd noise” in the upcoming baseball games of our spiritual lives, but will be out there, authentically trying (despite our many stumbles).

I loved your analogy of t-ball to what this is now. It is all a bit new to all of us. Your prayer was dead on and appreciated so much.

Go Twins!

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