John 21:1-19 WHAT’S TRUE & WHAT’S NOT & DOES JESUS’ RESURRECTION MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Ray is a corn farmer. He and his wife Annie and small daughter Karin live on farm in Iowa. Ray is a good husband and dad perhaps because he made up his mind to be different from his own father John who was seldom around when Ray was a boy. Their relationship was always troubled and then John died.
Year later Ray began to hear a voice telling him to build a baseball diamond and an outfield on his farmland. The voice told him, "If you build it he will come." Ray doesn’t understand the persistent message and unable to ignore it he believes it and he persuades Annie let him build a baseball field with spectator seats. One evening some uniformed players begin to emerge from out of the cornfield and they begin to play ball. They appear so happy to play. The game ends as the sun sets and the players withdraw into the corn. Neighbours hear about it and at first think Ray has lost his mind. A game happens night after night as these ghostly players come from the corn and the neighbours show up to watch one night, and return each following night.
If you haven’t recognized it, Ray is the protagonist in a novel called ‘Shoeless Joe’ written by Canadian author W.P. Kinsella, a novel that was turned into the movie called ‘Field of Dreams.’ In this fantasy drama Ray doesn’t know that the voice belongs to Joe Jackson, nicknamed “Shoeless Joe,” who was an outfielder with the 1919 Chicago White Sox. That team became known as the Black Sox because of a dreadful scandal, when seven players all dead and gone now, were disgraced and banned from baseball because they accepted bribe money for intentionally losing the 1919 World Series to the Cincinnati Reds.
Near the end of the story as the players return into the corn stalks, only the catcher remains on the field. He removes his mask and a handsome face appears that Ray recognizes as his father John when he was a young aspiring ball player. Ray says to Annie, "It's my father... I-I only saw him years later when he was worn down by life. Look at him. He's got his whole life in front of him, and I'm not even a glint in his eye. What do I say to him?" Ray introduces John to Annie and Karin and choking with emotion Ray asks, "Hey Dad? Do you want to have a catch?" The two enjoy a game of catch between father and son one more time as the sun sets. Then dad waves goodbye and moves into the corn stalks.
Kinsella story is an inspired piece of literature about the themes of faith and redemption. He writes fiction. He deals in make believeand it’s entertaining and we are okay with that because we understand the genre.
However, those themes of Faith and redemptionare customary themes in church too. Here in this place we are uninterested in fiction. We want and we expect truth in our conversations and in our teaching. We certainly want the truth about faith and redemption.