Sweetwater Presbyterian

Small in size, Big in Faith and Love

Devotion for August 17, 2016


When my husband and I were first married we lived in an apartment on the East End of the city about a block up from the river.  On the other side of the river from our house was the local baseball park.  During the summer when it was baseball season, my husband and i would get off work, come home long enough to change clothes and then we would walk down our street, walk across the bridge (this was more of a journey than it sounds like - it was a pretty long bridge!), and then navigate the couple of blocks over to the park where for $3.00 each we would spend a great evening watching the ‘Charleston Charlie’s - a Triple A team for the Cincinnati Reds.  We went for years and over the time period we were able to see some great players who eventually made their way up to the major league and became pretty notable players.  
After the game, we would reverse the trip, and would walk the couple blocks to the long spanning bridge, which was very well lighted since it was way after dark when the games were over, and back to our apartment we would go.
Time passed, and we moved several times to different places and eventually made our way back to our baseball town.  By now we had kids but we again, took up the routine evening visits to the ball park.  It was a great time!  The park was small enough that all the kids who were there ran free, watching very little of the baseball game but having a fun filled evening running and laughing and just being a kid!  And my husband and I had a great evening of actually watching the players play baseball!
You know how traditions start at young ages and this ball game habit filtered down to our children.  Our children moved out on their own and my one daughter ended up in a town with, you guessed it, a local baseball team!  When my son moved to the town where he eventually graduated from college and then seminary, one of his priorities was season tickets to the baseball team - but he had made it to the big time because his baseball team was a winning major league team!  
I have three children so it would only make sense that the youngest daughter also followed in the family baseball footsteps.  The town to which she moved had, of course, a local ball team as well - she however even had a famous ball team since it was the subject of a very well know movie!! 
So what do you think our family did when it came time to have a family gathering to celebrate two of our granddaughter’s birthdays - I know of course you could answer this question since all I have talked about was going to baseball games…… 
It was a really great evening.  The family gathered, all 13 of us, at the ball park.  We had special tickets and because we had birthday girls with us the ballpark staff did some really fun things with the kids - they threw out the first pitch and yelled, “Play Ball!” and even had the opportunity to sit in the press box and announce the players for an inning.  
We actually did watch most of the baseball game and of course rooted for our team - we oohed and aaahed as there were good and bad plays; we stood up and sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Park” and danced to the YMCA song…. 
This baseball game custom of our family has been a great source of bonding and a great springboard for conversation whenever we get together….  And perhaps it is a little less controversial than the other family convention which is the church… a family of pastors and believers; of committed church attenders, steadfast in our faith -  but not always in agreement on the what and what-fors of what we believe - and while there have been evenings that have lasted into the wee hours as we tried to hash out our varied ideas about the practices of our wide-ranging ideas…. We have learned over the years that baseball is a much safer tradition to dwell on!
Most families have their own family traditions - those practices that happen every time the family gets together; common interests that have grown through time that have been a source of intergenerational bonding and always an easy conversation starter whenever the family came together.
So as we read holy scripture and come to ready the stories of the ‘family’ of God it stands to reason why God used the idea of family to tach us about relationships and of course traditions.  From the beginning most of the stories have to do with passing down the traditions of God from one generation to another - in fact for centuries that is how the understandings of God remained on the forefront of God’s people - knowing and following God was what the family of God did; the things of God were the family discussions from morning until evening; the stories of God were the subject of family talk….  
As surely as baseball in our family, God was the focus of these families throughout the stories we have been given in God’s Word…. 
And this tradition is what we should be doing as families today…. the things of God and the things of the church and the things of our faith should be the subject of our family talk.  Traditions of the church; traditions of our ‘other’ family - the family of God - the more important it is to us, the more important it will be to our children and their children and so on….  
And while baseball talk, or whatever is important to your family, is a lot of fun and should be a part of our family gatherings, the things of God should be just as important and just as popular in our gathering talk - for that is the talk of eternity…….