Major League pitcher, Scott Linebrink, was the speaker at this morning's annual seminary prayer breakfast. After 3 days with temperatures in the 80's, we walked over to Koburg Hall in the dark through temperatures in the 40's. But the weather did not stop anyone from attending and thankfully so, for Scott's talk was a fascinating look at the intersection of faith and sport.
During the breakfast time, everyone received on of his baseball cards (White Sox!) and he gladly signed one for Dale who as we all know is a lifelong White Sox fan.
While LInebrink did play for the Sox, he ended his career with St. Louis although a shoulder injury during spring training has pretty much retired his career although not officially. His best years as a right handed pitcher were with the San Diego Padres.
To Missouri Synod Lutherans Scott Linebrink is much more than a professional baseball player, he is the great great grandson of one of the historic pillars of the denomination, Franz Pieper. Pieper, often refered to as the 20th Century Martin Luther, was a theologian who was the second president of Concordia Seminary, the 5th president of the LCMS and the author of Christian Dogmatics, a doctrinal textbook basic to all seminary students' studies.
When the corner stone of the current campus of Concordia Seminary was laid in 1926 with 85,000 people in attendance, Pieper was the speaker. During his talk a bi-plane flew over the campus and since flying and planes were so new and exciting, everyone stopped to look. It was at that point that everyone became aware that we were passing from one era to another and so was Concordia Seminary. This was such a memorable event that a stone frieze was added to the outside of Koburg Hall depicting the Piper speech and bi-plane. There is the modern era of flight and a trowel and cornerstone. This is such a famous event in our history that when I hosted the 2009 Taste of St. Louis for the women, I asked Kruta Bakery in Collinsville if they could make a cake with this design. And they did!
Back to today and the great great grandson of Pieper, ball player, faithful layperson, assured in his faith. He described how important he believed it to be to be prepared to give an answer to the joy and faith that was in him. He said he never knew when someone would ask, but was ready when they did because, " There's a God shaped hole in every human heart."
Then he said something which will stay with me for a long time. "The Bible is like an ocean. Shallow enough for someone with no acquaintance with it to step into the shallow end and not drown. But deep enough that the feet of even the most learned of Biblical scholars will not touch the bottom."