In our Nation's Capital we now have a baseball team. The Nationals moved to D.C. from Montreal at the beginning of this season. They have made quite a splash in D.C. and have been in contention for most of the season. But as the playoff race heats up baseball is not the story coming from the Nationals lockeroom. Instead, the offense of the Gospel is what is making news. Let me explain.
The AP reported early this week that the chapel leader of the Washington Nationals was suspended Tuesday for what ESPN.com is calling "a flap over a response to a question about Jews." For those of you who are not familar with baseball, each team has a chaplin of sorts. He leads prayer services along wth a variety of other tasks.
John Moeller is the suspended chapel leader for the Nationals. Moeller will not be allowed access to the team's clubhouse while the incident is being investigated. In Moeller's absence the Nationals have sent a request to the "Christian ministry Baseball Chapel", which is the organization in charge of appointing and overseeing the chapel volunteers, for a replacement.
Apparently this all began when Ryan Church, an outfielder for the Nationals, asked Moeller if Jews are "doomed" because they do not believe in Jesus. Church said that Moeller nodded. With that one nod Moeller let the dogs loose. As if they were already waiting to pounch the team immediately denounced the "nod." Meanwhile, in a short search, the Washington Post found an Orthodox Rabbi willing to give them a quote. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld said: "the Nationals did a good job about bringing hate into the locker room." (That's right Rabbi, we can't have Christians nodding.) In an effort to prevent future nodding Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, said that it would be more appropriate if non-denominational prayers were offered so players of all backgrounds could participate (it should probably read "so players of all backgrounds could not care").
This is the power of the Gospel. Men do not want to hear the man convicting God forgiving news of Christ. Men do not want to hear that they are doomed; they don't want some "ignorant (1 Cor. 1)" chapel guy affirming what they have spent their whole lives denying. The Gospel cannot be true because they do not believe it. This is why something as benign as a nod could set off a chain of events like these.
I think that I have a few suggestions for the Nationals in their search for a new chapel leader:
1) You better hurry the Braves are just about to end your season.
2) See if Joel Olsteen is available. I hear that he is very good at avoiding these questions (see Larry King interview). If he cannot spend the whole season with the team maybe he can lead the effort in Moeller's rehab.
3) Thank God, or some other non-denominational object of worship, that you don't play during Christmas. Who knows they would put on top of the Christmas tree instead of a star.
4) Instead of suspending Moeller put him at first base. Does anyone know if he is a lefty? Can he pitch?
5) Eliminate the chapel all together and replace it with a sensitivity training room.
6) If you really want to get you players fired up for a possible playoff push then maybe they should think about lighting a fire under their players feet. And who better to start a fire than the Pyromaniac. Actually I think that he would be perfect. They said they were looking for someone non-denominational. Does being a Cub's fan count as denominational?