Every year around this time, my emotional state is exactly the same—unyielding, unabashed HOPE. Every year when the calendar ticks over to April, my heart begins to wonder, to hope, to believe that this could be the year. This could be the year when the baseball season doesn’t leave me a complete and total wreck of disappointment and frustration. This could be the year when my Tigers turn it around and avoid a complete collapse into irrelevance. This could be the year that it all just works. I know that I’m not alone in this sentiment; I’m sure there are many of you with the same hopes for the Phils, or the Pirates, or the Os. We hope and you pray that the next six months of your life aren’t devoted to something that’s going to just end in heartbreak, but even if you feel certain that it will, you’re right there Opening Day, ready and willing to see what happens. It’s a strange feeling: that tug between complete hope and uncertain fear that maybe it’s not worth it. Yet, every year, without fail, I choose to believe that hope will win out. That’s why when I flip my calendar over to April, my eyes will immediately fall to the square I have marked of for Opening Day, adorned with a picture of my nephew wearing my Tigers hat, while his Os hat is squished onto my head. I will look at the picture and hope, because maybe, just maybe, this year, this clean slate of games, this fresh start of the standings reading 0-0, will be the year.
In so many ways, the Easter season brings with it this same sense of light-hearted, certain hope. We’ve just journeyed through 40 long days of Lent. Days filled with refection and repentance and sacrifice, new habits picked up, old habits laid down, and maybe you feel a bit tired, a bit weary, but boy oh boy does the Easter season come in and offer a jolt of joy and hope and light to our Lent-weary hearts. Easter, Jesus’ resurrection, the empty tomb: they are an awful lot like Opening Day, the day when anything can happen and anything can change and every team has the chance to turn it around. The promise that we are given in the resurrection, in the gift of eternal life, is the promise that we can always turn it around. Every day is opening day when it comes to the resurrection, because every day lived in the sure and certain hope of the resurrection is a day to live out our faith and our call to mission, service, and love. Living with the certainty that Christ is with us, that Christ has accomplished everything for us, that Christ has died and risen again for us, is a gift. It’s a gift because Christ did all those things so that we might live, and not just live in the “there is air coming into my lungs and blood pumping in my veins” sense of the word. Rather, Christ died so that we might live, in the fullest, realest sense of the word. When we say that we live because Christ died for us, it is a recognition that we are free to embrace every single moment of this life. We are free to love and serve and worship and dance and sing and run and watch baseball and hug and hold and BE. Christ died so that we might live this gift of life to its absolute fullest.
For each of us though, isn’t there always that one thing that isn’t there? That one thing that holds us back from living. That one thing that weighs on our hearts and makes things feel impossible. They follow behind us like the memories of that blown ninth-inning save, that bobbled ground ball, that strike-out, that thing that lost our team the season. But like I said, Easter is an awful lot like Opening Day. Those things from before? They don’t mater. You don’t have to be beholden to them. You can live. You can start fresh. You can start with a clean slate. The tomb is empty for you. Resurrection and real life are for you. So let the things of the past stay in the past, and step into Opening Day with a renewed, refreshed, free heart, ready to live. Ready to embrace this gift that Christ has given us. It’s a new season. A new day. A new dawn. Batter up.
Peace it Together,