And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
I was a little late to the game of baseball. See, I am a youngest of two boys, and as younger brothers are want to do, I followed my brother’s lead. He played soccer when I was growing up so I did too. I started playing baseball when I was 7. The team I was placed on, the Yankees.
Now this was 1996, and if you know you’re baseball history, the Yankees won the World Series in 1996. It doesn’t take too long to realize where I’m going with this. Yes, in my early years I was a New York Yankees fan. I say that now with all disgust oozing from my voice.
It wasn’t only until I grew up a bit that I slowly and surely came to see the error of my ways (albeit with a good amount of poking and prodding from my mother.) I eventually came to
identify with the loveable (not so much recently) losers, the Chicago Cubs. Even now in my Twitter bio, I place “Cubs fan” second only to my being “Associate Pastor at @burlingtondoc.” I give myself a name other than Will (or Good), and that is Cubs fan. Will Ryan, Cubs fan.
I bring this up because whether it is by accident or by design we often identify ourselves by names like Cubs or Cardinals, Hawkeyes or Cyclones, Bears or Packers, Democrat or Republican or Green or Libertarian, working class or college-educated, black or white, conservative or liberal, LGBTQ or straight, wealthy or poor. I fall into the trap just as easily as anyone, though it seems like we are often pushed into one corner by force.
But this is a false dichotomy. Holding onto these definitions don’t allow for us to see each other as people. We become beholden to our own particular point of view and we refuse to see the other. And as Christians, this is definitely a sin.
Because, like Jesus, we are given a new name in the waters of baptism: Beloved. David Lose tells us “It’s not that all these other names are worthless; some of them may be quite important to us. Rather, it’s that while all these other names, affiliations, and identifications may describe us, they dare not define us, as only the name we receive in Holy Baptism grants us the life we enjoy in Christ.”
So I’m going to still be a Cubs fan, but I’m not going to let it define me. I was called and named when I was baptized 17 years ago. I’m defined as a beloved child of God. And I’m trying to show that in everything I do. Hopefully, you are too.
Thanks be to God.