Friday, October 21, 2005

"Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will..."

Superstitions. Most people have held on to one or more of them at some time in their lives.

After playing organized baseball for over 20 years, I've seen more than my fair share of superstitions. One guy in high school wore the same t-shirt under his uniform for every game. Oh, that's no big deal, you say... lots of people do that. Well, except this guy thought it was bad luck to actually wash the t-shirt. I played on his team for two years. Nasty.

In college, there was a guy who had to eat chicken before every game. Another who had to do 100 push-ups every day during the season. You have guys who will never step on the foul line, for any reason. Others who step on it every inning on purpose. And guys like me, who don't really bother to look where they're stepping. But my bat had to be just right, my batting gloves had to be black and made by Franklin Co., and the undervisor of my hat usually had initials or a word to keep me pumped up (for an in-depth look at undervisors, see this link).

You can be sure you will see lots of superstitions in full effect during the World Series between the Astros and White Sox this weekend. The Astros have never been to the World Series -- the White Sox haven't been there since 1917. You'd better believe that whatever those guys have been doing over the past few weeks, they'll keep doing it, no matter what. If it means no shaving (true for Jeff Bagwell and Roger Clemens, among others), then we'll see a team full of lumberjack look-a-likes on the field. If it means beans for breakfast, then load 'em up and pass the air freshener, because these guys won't risk their good fortunes. I remember that KU basketball player Keith Langford brought two pairs of shoes to every game. If he played a good first half, his shoes stayed on. But if he played lousy, then adios to the Adidas, and out came the new pair for the second half of the game.

Surely this is just a crazy athlete thing, right? Surely I can't stretch far enough to apply any of this to spirituality, right? Well, you know what my dad would say to that: "I'm sure you can apply it to all kinds of things. And don't call me Shirley."

Don't worry; I won't make this too personal. Maybe you've just seen somebody who needs to sit in the same place at church every week. Or maybe you just happen to know a guy who insists on three songs, a prayer, two songs, communion, a sermon, then two songs and a prayer. And me, I've got this friend, see, and he only feels like he really "did" church if the communion servers all wear suits and ties.

Of course, nasty t-shirts, beans for breakfast or the right brand of batting gloves have never won a baseball game. Likewise, true worship is not about the number of songs, the placement of prayers or the attire of the members. We may take comfort from these things, but there's no substance there. God keeps it simple, but his demands are not easy. He just wants a heartfelt sacrifice of self. David makes it clear in Psalm 51:16-17 (see here).

Oh, I almost forgot, let me finish with the quote that was started in the title of today's blg entry:

"Depend on the rabbit's foot if you will, but remember it didn't work for the rabbit." -- R.E. Shay

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