The Pastor’s Piece – October 22, 2023

The Pastor’s Piece


October 22, 2023

Most people in the print business enjoy getting feedback from their readers, especially the good kind. I read where a certain publication received the following letter to the editor:  “Dear Editor: When I subscribed a year ago you stated that if I was not satisfied at the end of the year I could have my money back. Well, I would like to have it back. On second thought, to save you the trouble, you can apply it to next year’s subscription.” 

A man takes his place in the theater, but his seat is too far from the stage. He whispers to the usher, “This is a mystery, and I have to watch a mystery close up. Get me a better seat, and I’ll give you a handsome tip.”

The usher moves him into the second row, and the man hands him a quarter. 

The usher looks at the quarter, leans over and whispers, “The wife did it.”

I’m a baseball fan. This time of year, as the nights grow cool and the air gets heavy, and the good teams go deep into the playoffs, it’s always exciting no matter who your team is. My team is the Chicago Cubs – they are not in the playoffs, but that doesn’t matter. As a child they gave my brothers and me many hours of joy as we followed them on WGN. We went to Wrigley Field a few times and experienced the magic in person. On Nov. 2, 2016, the Chicago Cubs broke a 108-year drought by winning the World Series. They defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-7 in the 10th inning at precisely 11:47 p.m. CST. What a great day that was! Today, our children still follow the Cubs. When our daughter was in college, she entered a baseball contest, submitted a video with 30,000 other contestants and won an all expenses paid trip to Spring Training in Mesa, Arizona. 

A few weeks ago, my wife and I were grocery shopping. While in the produce section, I greeted a stranger and we struck up a conversation. He was quite friendly and outgoing. I’m not sure how it happened, but our conversation somehow got around to baseball. I told him I was a Cub fan and had been my whole life. He said he was sorry.

“I’m from Detroit,” he said, “I’m a Tiger fan. Do you know the last year the Cubs were in the World Series before they won it all in 2016?”

Of course I knew, but before I could answer he continued, “It was 1945. They played Detroit. My dad took me to one of the games at Briggs Stadium. I was six years old.” That was 78 years ago.

While our wives continued shopping, we stood in one place and chatted for a long time. I recalled the days of my youth when I could name every starting lineup for every team in the Big Leagues. I was able to remember a few of the Detroit Tiger players (which I could tell greatly impressed him) from the 1968 World Series when they beat the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games – players like Al Kaline, Denny McLain, and Mickey Lolich. After a while my wife came looking for me. 

“We need to check out,” she said, smiling patiently.

After we paid for our groceries and packed them up, I noticed my new friend and his wife were standing in line waiting to pay for their groceries. While my wife headed toward the car, I told her I’d be out in a minute. I circled back around the register to where my new friend was standing in line and continued our baseball chat.  

Finally, his wife said to him, “You need to stop talking so much. I’m sure this man has other things to do.”

“Not really,” I said, “but if you’d like to keep talking, you can stop by Martintown Community Church. I’m the preacher there. Do you know where Martintown is?”

“Yes,” he said, “It’s by Winslow. 

Then I shook his hand and left without even asking who he was. I wish I had gotten his name. I made a new friend that day but only for an instant. The spice of life. 

I tried to entice him a little by mentioning that we have a gentleman in our church that can recite from memory the 1945 starting lineup for the Cubs and the Tigers. 

But more important than the Cubs or the Tigers or anything else this world has to offer, is to know the Truth of the Bible. That is what we talk about Sunday after Sunday – at Martintown Community Church. 

“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free,’” (John 8:31-32). 

 (Kevin Cernek is Lead Pastor of Martintown Community Church in Martintown, Wisconsin).