Good morning, I'm the Rev'd Julie Golding Page for St Patrick's Anglican Church. This month, our radio devotionals, sponsored by the Hudson Bay Ministerial, are from the world of sports. They're available in video form at. Today, we'll talk more about baseball and its parallels to the life of faith.
My favourite pitcher to watch is New York Mets starter RA Dickey. He throws a strange pitch called a knuckleball, and it's so unpredictable that nobody knows exactly how it's going to spin or where it's going to land. Even the catcher is never sure where it's going, and he has to be on his toes to catch it every single time. That very unpredictability makes the knuckleball a very hard pitch to hit, too, so it's a real advantage for the pitcher and his team.
In one game this June, the Mets were playing against the New York Yankees. Despite being from the same city, these teams don't meet very often, since the Mets are in the National League and the Yankees are in the American League. So they don't know each others' techniques very well. That was pretty obvious when Yankees superstar Derek Jeter came to the plate, to face the Mets' pitcher, RA Dickey. Jeter was so surprised by the crazy way the knuckleball pitches flew toward him, that he ended up striking out. Afterwards, he shook his head in disbelief, as if to say, “What on earth was that?”
Now 37, and having perfected his knuckleball, Dickey's become quite a star himself in the Major Leagues. With his total of 44 1/3 innings without an earned run this June, he blew the previous Mets pitching record, of 31 2/3 innings, right out of the water. He also became the first pitcher since The Blue Jays' Dave Stieb, in 1988, to throw two consecutive one-hitters. And he's tied several other records this year, too.
All of this is very impressive for any pitcher, but especially for a knuckleballer. Because if you're a knuckleballer, chances are, you were pretty much a failure with regular pitches – like a fastball. Dickey is no exception to this rule. He was drafted in the first round by the Texas Rangers in 1996 and offered $810,000 as a signing bonus – which got reduced to a paltry $75,000 when it was discovered he was missing a crucial ligament in his elbow. It didn't get much better after that, because Dickey proved to be a pretty ho-hum pitcher for many years, going back and forth between the Majors and the Minors. Until he decided, nearly 9 years later, to work more on a weird pitch he called “The Thing.” That “thing” turned out to be a knuckleball – and this unique gift propelled him to become the excellent pitcher he is today, someone invaluable to his team.
Like RA Dickey, all of us have at least one unique gift , and probably several, to share with the other players on God's team, called the Church. In 1st Corinthians chapter 12, we read “God's various gifts are handed out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit. God's various ministries are carried out everywhere; but they all originate in God's Spirit...Each person is given something to do that shows who God is: Everyone gets in on it, everyone benefits.”
For some, that unique gift is giving an encouraging word at the right time. For others, it's getting up and leading a service. For others, it's artistic talent, making beautiful things with cloth, wood, or photography, that can inspire others to say thank-you to God for the beauty they see. For still others, it's organizing an event to help their church or other people around the world. And for still others, it's simply being present when someone needs a friend. Not even words are always needed.
What might your unique gifts be? Like RA Dickey, you might wonder if you even have one. He found his particular talent by joining a team – in fact, it wouldn't make much sense for him to be a pitcher without a team. Likewise, we find our own gifts and talents from God thrive most when we're part of his team – the Church. Other members help us discover what they are, and encourage us to develop them more. Why not be part of God's team by getting together with one of his franchises – our local churches – this Sunday? For St. Patrick's, I'm Julie Golding Page.