I heard this morning on a sports radio station that they are selling tickets to a game already played. The game was last Saturday, when pitcher Philadelphia Phillies Roy Holladay (known in some circles as “Doc Holladay”) pitched a perfect game verses the Florida Marlin’s – 27 batters up, 27 batters down. This is just the 20th time in baseball history (but the second this season) that a pitcher has accomplished this amazing feat.
Now left-over tickets are being sold from that game. I suppose some people see these tickets as collector’s items, others may want to have a record of that historic event, and still other people may want to show that ticket years from now and claim they were there to see the feat. I am not sure why people want to buy a ticket to a game already played, but I hear that the ticket sales are brisk.
All of which leads me to wonder … are we in the church merely “selling tickets for a game already played” or are we offering a present-tense, vital experience of faith? Of course we know that Christianity is an historic religion (unlike so many others), based upon real, historical events. We celebrate an event and a victory already won in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, our worship life is not meant to be only past-oriented, it is meant to be a present reality. We are invited to experience first-hand this victory, and to share in the present-tense moments of faith.
Yet, too often we act as though our church life is just about a game already played. One quote I keep in the Memos on my Droid phone is from retired worship professor Dwight Vogel which says: “Our communion services are not meant to be a funeral dinner for a dead Jesus, but you couldn’t tell that in most churches.” I fear that he is right. Too often our worship seems to be about the past, about “selling tickets to a game already played,” rather than a present-tense experience of the living presence of Christ. It is fine to remember and to teach about the historic events of our Christian faith, but we ought to be offering free tickets to a current reality.
Maybe that is what Bishop Schnase means by “Passionate Worship” as one of the Five Practices.