On this National Day of Prayer I reprise our Opening Day Invocation by the Rev. Dr. Luke A. Powery, Dean of Duke University Chapel. It's a memorable prayer, and I won't soon forget the circumstances. As Rev. Powery stepped onto the field it began to rain. We couldn't pause because the Invocation and the National Anthem were precisely timed with a vintage aircraft flyover. Standing in a downpour w/no baseball cap, the ink smearing on his paper, Rev. Powery offered this prayer to begin the Durham Bulls 2016 season:
Gracious God, fount of every blessing, as we stand under the canopy of your creation, we bask in the beauty of spring and newness of life. Our hearts are filled with joy as flowers bloom, leaves bud, grass grows green, and bright colors overflow the North Carolina land. The aroma of your presence fills this stadium tonight and what a joy it is to be alive and to be together in a spirit of community.
What a joy it is to experience another baseball season with the Durham Bulls. We thank you for the way this team draws people from all walks of life, from the east and west, north and south, Duke fans and Carolina fans, all in the same stadium cheering on their team. We thank you for those who make every season possible - the administration, staff, players, coaches, umpires, sponsors, volunteers, fans, and everyone who works tirelessly to make each game so special.
Let the play and delight of tonight brighten the world just a little bit, that we may not be so burdened down by sounds of the world’s sorrowful lamentations but rather filled with the echoes of eternal celebration, alongside our family, friends, and even strangers who are gathered here. As we cheer, clap, sing, dance, laugh, and eat, may we never forget those for whom no one is cheering. May we remember the least, the lost, and the left out and acknowledge that to whom much is given much is required. Just as these teams give their all with bats, baseballs, and gloves, help us to give our all to love of neighbor.
We receive this Opening Night as a gift from your gracious hand, knowing that sometimes we strike out in life, but one day we will round the bases of life’s journey and make it home safe at last as the great company of saints wave their hands in everlasting joy and praise. Amen.