Yesterday I was treated to Opening Day at Tiger Stadium – Thanks Mark! It was a lot of fun, especially considering the Jays were in town. Unfortunately the Tigers lost – but the good news is the Jays won! I say that because of course like most Canadian kids I grew up watching and loving the Jays – almost as much as loved my beloved and dearly departed Expos. It was a good event yesterday.
I have to admit it got me thinking of a good friend and fine priest – Geoff Dibbs. You see for the past few weeks I have been hearing little bits and pieces of Geoff’s trips to Cactus League games in Arizona where he and Margaret winter. I was feeling a little jealous I must admit; envious may even be a better word. This is not good considering St. John Chrysostom’s words on envy; “As a moth gnaws a garment, so doth envy consume a man.”So I am glad that I can move from that place of envy to one of excitement and anticipation. It was warm in the sun yesterday and being at the ball game just made me very hopeful for the advance of spring and summer. Part of what spring means at St. Mark’s by-the-Lake is that Geoff Dibbs will be able to watch baseball in Detroit in the warm. Coincidentally, it also means we have his participation in our parish again as a wonderful and dedicated Honourary Assistant. I came back from the game excited to think that we are only about 4 weeks away from Geoff being in the lineup here. Now make no mistake – Geoff is not just a pinch hitter, although he fills that role admirably when the rector is on vacation. Geoff will be in the regular lineup as he was last “Season.” We get the return of an experienced veteran from the cactus league in Arizona. This Player has been to the big show many times before; he has a wealth of playoff experience. One thing is for sure – he always comes through in the clutch!
Branch Rickey said “Only in baseball can a team player be a pure individualist first and a team player second, within the rules and spirit of the game.” I must confess that I see that to be true in modern baseball. We see it in high salaries and the great bravado of players like Barry Bonds and Albert Belle (We don’t miss him). I hate to admit this but to continue the above analogy I believe this is true in the church as well. The Church IS community and it IS discipleship for all people. The Church IS a TEAM environment. Unfortunately the institutional church sometimes acts a little more like baseball than it would like to admit. That is to say sometimes ordained leadership can be individualist first and team play second. That is what makes a Geoff Dibbs so wonderful. Geoff is a great witness to servanthood, to being a fellow disciple on the journey. Geoff shows up to play all the time and is always looking to advance the Good News. I have been fortunate to have had good examples in my formation as a priest of humble servants who are team players. I count Geoff Dibbs among them. I feel strongly that we as church need to continue to remind those we raise up as leaders of servanthood. We need to continue to profess the Gospel of Jesus of Nazareth who stooped to wash feet and who served others with great humility. Ministry is selfless. There is no room for abuse of authority and power that is often bestowed with Orders or for that matter Lay Offices in the Church. In fact sometimes as members of communities we get the idea that again there is a special place for certain people in the starting lineup. We often foster that idea when we set people apart with awards and accolades that those who work quietly never get. This Holy week is a great chance to check in and ask where we are with that. We will hear a lot about servanthood this week. We will hear a lot about self sacrifice and about “taking one for the team.” We can all take time to reflect about how we are part of the team in the community of Christ. Are we truly team players? Need an example? Look to Geoff Dibbs – he embodies that well.
Ah, spring is here and the regular season has started. Geoff will be in the starting lineup in the second week of May. Be sure and get your tickets early – I am certain we will have a full house to welcome back a class act.