Faith Matters: Riding the Bench

I was never very good at baseball. In fact, I was terrible. I couldn’t hit. I couldn’t throw. I made errors fielding balls and attempting to make outs. I was bad…

While I was serving a church in Beaufort, SC as a part of my seminary education I decided it would be a great opportunity to try my hand at softball. After all, the ball is bigger- so it must be easier to hit. The ball moves slower- so it must be easier to catch. And I was playing in a church league- so the people couldn’t be that good. Yes, this would be my opportunity to shine, redemption for those years of riding the bench.

I played three innings before my coach, a parishioner, pulled me aside and invited me to “ride the pine”, take a break, sit a few innings out. I didn’t mind. I’ve been bad at things before… I’ll be bad at things again. But as I sat on the bench looking at these church members I couldn’t help but wonder if life in the church doesn’t involve “riding the pine”, or should I say, “pew-warming”.

When God calls us to church God is inviting us to a life of activity and action. We’re called into the church in order that we can then be sent out of church… with a mission, with a task, as a part of God’s team. (Maybe that’s why Lutherans make people stand up and sit down so much, so we don’t think we’re there to ride the bench.)

In a letter to a church in Rome the Apostle Paul wrote:

For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ… and we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us. Romans 4:4-6

Being bad at baseball kept me from playing in the game. But in the church there are no “bad players”.

We all have gifts.

We’re all called to play.

If your faith life looks like “riding the pine” I hope you’ll consider how you can get in the game. One thing is sure- you have the gifts. If you’re looking for a temporary break, I understand that too. When you catch your breath, rest assured…

there is a spot in God’s lineup for you.

For more inspiration and insights from Pastor Scott and Pastor Shawn’s past columns, please visit www.jamestowngazette.com and click on the Faith Matters page. The Jamestown Gazette is proud to present our county’s most creative and original writers for your enjoyment and enlightenment.

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Pastor Scott Hannon
Pastor Scott serves the people of St. John by helping the congregation welcome everyone, care for one another, and grow in the joy of God’s love through Jesus Christ. Pastor Scott earned his bachelor’s degree at the University at Buffalo and went to seminary at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, SC. He is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis in preaching from Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. Pastor Scott and his wife, Kate, live in Bowmansville, NY with their children Molly, Delaney, and John Scott. Scott and Kate love Western New York for many reasons, not the least of which are the changing seasons, wonderful people, and of course the Buffalo Bills. Pastor Scott’s ministry priorities are worship, preaching and teaching. Scott’s hobbies are guitar, golf, and reading. To read some of Scott’s musings visit his blog Way-ward at www.psdh.org.