God, Faith and Baseball

I believe in the Church of Baseball . . . For instance, there are 108 beads in a Catholic rosary, and there are 108 stitches in a baseball.

Bull Durham, Susan Sarandon

The Church of Baseball

Somewhere buried in a file of “important” papers, there is a certificate with my name on it signifying that I was baptized at a small Catholic Church in Artesia, New Mexico. To be honest, not only do I not remember that day (I was less than 2 weeks old), it took me years to understand the significance of the moment when the priest placed water on my head. You see, on that day, I wasn’t just baptized into the family of God; God claimed me as one of His children. 

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Recommitment of Baptism Vows


A few weeks ago, I was surfing the web and reading some sermons posted by various well-known preachers. I figure if I read some of their sermons, maybe I would become a better preacher. One preacher shared a story, that he implied was true, so I thought I would share it with you.

According to the preacher, a mother was at home with her two young daughters one afternoon. Everything seemed to be just fine until the mother realized that the house was too quiet. And as every parent knows, a quiet house in the daytime can only mean one thing: the kids are up to no good.

Quietly walking into each of the girls’ rooms and not finding them there, she began to get worried. Then she heard it: the sound of whispering followed by the flushing of a toilet. Following the sound, she soon realized where it was coming from. It was coming from her bathroom. Whispers, flush. Whispers, flush. Poking her head into the room, she was able to see both of her daughters standing over the commode. Whispers, flush. One of them was holding a dripping Barbie doll by the ankles and the other one had her finger on the handle. Whispers, flush. Wanting to hear what her daughter was saying, she slipped quietly into the room. Whispers, flush. And this is what she heard: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and in the hole, you go.” Flush.

Since the story was on the internet AND in a sermon, it has to be true right? Okay maybe not… either way, I know there have been times in my life when I have felt like that soaking wet Barbie doll. There are those times when my life is filled with chaos and unrest; I feel as if someone has me by the ankles ready to flush me. That is when I try to remember the story of Jesus’ baptism that Matthew records.

I remind myself that God tore open the heavens and claimed me as one of His own. And that is really good news, but it gets better. You see, not only does God claim me, Matthew reminds me that God declares to the world that I belong to Him. That isn’t just good news, but that’s GREAT NEWS!

Are You A Swan?


A few years ago I saw a movie with a powerful message that truly resonated with me. The core message in “Up in the Air” is centered around the idea of humanity’s need to be in community.

Ryan Bingham (played by George Clooney) is a businessman who travels some 332 days a year. In fact, his goal in life is to accumulate 10 million frequent flyer miles. Bingham travels for work as a “career transition” counselor, meaning he goes from city to city to fire people whose bosses don’t want to do it themselves.

Not only does he fire people, but he also gives motivational talks. His favorite theme for his talks is to teach people how to travel lightly through life. The point of every talk he gives is consistent. Relationships and community slow us down in life. He encourages the people hearing his talk to be sharks, not swans. What does that mean? Well, swans are often seen as creatures that build and maintain relationships for a lifetime, but sharks, are solitary hunters. “We are not swans,” he says, “we are sharks.”

I wonder if the Grinch ever heard one of Bingham’s talks because he lived his life as a shark. In fact, thanks to Lucy Tonnesen (an incredibly cute and smart 8-year-old), I learned that being a shark just might be the reason why the Grinch’s heart was two sizes too small. After all, God created all of us (including the Grinch) to be swans, to be in community. You and I are created to not be alone.

If we lived in an ideal world, everyone would truly celebrate Christmas with the love and joy that are meant to accompany it. But, the reality is people are lonely at Christmas. In fact, this time of the year can make our loneliness seem even more pronounced. And if loneliness can cause the heart of the Grinch to shrink two sizes too small…

Well, let’s make sure that the Grinch of loneliness doesn’t steal our hearts or the hearts of people we love. We are created to be swans, not sharks…

Breathe Peace,

Marty Signature BROWN

Missing Pieces


Years ago, an older gentleman who was chatting with me said something I will never forget. With a tinge of sadness, he said, “I feel like there are parts of myself that have been lost along the way, and I don’t know if I can go back and find them again.” Even way back then, I knew exactly what he was talking about. And lately, it seems to be even more true as I think about the parts of my life that have been lost along the way. Some of the losses are fairly recent, while others are from long ago, but never forgotten.

I imagine that the words of this man resonate with many of you as well. I imagine that you can probably name parts of yourself that have been lost along the way. Like my lost parts, some of them may be from recent wounds, while others are scarred memories. And while I cannot speak for you, there are those haunting questions that echo in my heart: Can I find the lost parts of myself? Can I become whole again?

Sometimes we lose parts of ourselves to grief and sorrow when life becomes overwhelming and confusing, to the pain and wounds of life, to circumstances that are nobody’s fault, and sometimes to the choices we’ve made. Sometimes we lose ourselves to fear, anger, and jealousy, while wanting to be right more than doing right, We make judgement of others, refusing to forgive. Sometimes the lost part of ourselves is faith, hope, a dream. It is so easy to lose a piece of ourselves and it can happen in a thousand different ways.

Being lost, then being found. This is the very core of the Gospel. You see, the Gospel of Jesus is not about making bad people good. It is about bringing people back to life. It is about you and me, finding those parts of our lives that might have been lost so that we might be whole. It is about tasting the abundant life that is promised by Jesus.

I want to thank the Bishop, my DS, the staff, and you for allowing me time off to have the opportunity to find some of my missing pieces. I hope you will pray for me as I walk this path to wholeness.

Breathe Peace,

Marty Signature BROWN

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