Christian Lopez, a 23 year old phone salesman, paying off six figures of debt, held it firmly, admiring the baseball. Christian was in the left field bleachers of Yankees Stadium on the night that Derek Jeter accomplished one of the rare feats in professional baseball as he hit safely for the 3000th time. The baseball on the receiving end of the bat was an instant collectors items worth perhaps as much as one million dollars.
As Mr. Jeter took his historic swing Christian was holding his camera in hand snapping a picture. He got more than the picture: he saw the ball coming directly toward him. As Christian puts it in one story covering this event, the ball just rolled in front of him and he dived on it.
Instant millionaire, right? Nope. Christian gave the ball back to Mr. Jeter. When people started asking Christian how he could give away something worth so much money he said simply that the milestone baseball belonged to the man who made the milestone. Some compared it to giving away a winning lottery ticket. It didn't matter to Christian. He held it, but it wasn't his to keep.
The prophet Malachi passed along God’s simple request: "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse...Test me in this...and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." (Malachi 3:10)
Giving back to God some portion of what we have is just ‘giving back the baseball’ to the one to whom it really belongs.
I am blessed to be the pastor of a church filled with generous souls who are just like Christian. Their gifts each week, even though we were ‘closed’ to public worship, have been one of the many wonderful benefits of leading a church through the pandemic. Our story is not unique.
I know that some say the Church is dying. While some churches will die, I believe the ‘Church’ is alive and well. The people of God, like those I am blessed to be in community with, will not let the Church be another victim of the virus.
Thank you, dear friends, for keeping Hope alive.