Praise for Blue Jays: Calgary pastor delivers postseason inspired sermon
Published Sunday, October 4, 2015 6:18PM MDT
Last Updated Sunday, October 4, 2015 6:41PM MDT
As the Toronto Blue Jays prepare to host their first playoff game in nearly 22 years, one Calgary pastor, with a penchant for bringing pop culture references to his preaching, has temporarily replaced his usual Sunday attire with a baseball jersey
On Sunday, John Van Sloten, pastor of preaching at New Hope Hillside Church, pitched the idea that there may be higher powers in play during every baseball game.
“Today’s message is all about a God who cares about baseball and maybe loves baseball as much as we do,” said Von Sloten. “In our church, we believe that God made the human beings that came up with the idea of baseball.”
The long suffering Blue Jays fan has had plenty of years to contemplate the team’s return to the MLB post-season and prepare his sermon. The last time the Blue Jays took to the field in the playoffs was October 23, 1993, when a Joe Carter home run off Phillies closer Mitch Williams at the SkyDome secured the second of the team’s back-to-back World Series titles.
Van Sloten believes baseball appeals to something deeply embedded in the psyche of every man, woman and child.
“I think that part of them that resonates with the game is something that God's implanted in every human being,” explains Van Sloten. “To participate in national joy, to participate in all of us focusing in on one thing, to participate in shared glory together as humanity.”
The benchwarmers, members of the congregation in the pews, at the New Hope Hillside Church, appeared to embrace Van Sloten’s unconventional approach.
“My husband is an avid Blue Jays fan so the game is on at our house,” said Lindy Bowler. “I think some of the thing he talks about today with the geometry of baseball and the timing and the way things come together opened my eyes.”
“I thought it was really interesting and unique how John was able to parallel the rise of the Blue Jays this year versus a lot of things to do with the resurrection of Christ and with God and the bible and how we live our daily lives.”
Sunday’s sermon included replays of Blue Jays highlights set to Johnny Cash songs and the hymns of the parishioners, as well as shoutouts to the performances of Jays’ sluggers Josh Donaldson, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.
Wayne Smith was caught off guard by Sunday’s service.
“At first I thought it was a little unusual choice of topic, how we find God in the Blue Jays, but thinking back on Pastor John, he’s done a lot of enlightening material on where to find God everywhere.”
“He’s certainly enlightened me.”
Van Sloten’s past sermons have tackled unusual relationships between God and the Simpsons and God and Metallica.
While Van Sloten does little to hide his bias towards his favourite team, he concedes that God, more than likely, does not have a rooting interest in this year’s MLB playoffs.
Following Sunday’s final day of the regular season, the Blue Jays are set to square off with the American West Champions, the Texas Rangers, in the American League Divisional Series. The first game of the series is scheduled for Thursday, October 8, 2015.