As you may already know, there are several kinds of batons for example: a musical director’s baton, a policeman’s baton (night stick) and the one I want to talk about here, the sports baton carriers in a relay race pass from one relay runner to the next. (A sports baton is a 1″ tube about 12-inches long).
You may have heard of The Penn Relays (first held in spring of 1895). It is a major track and field event held in Philadelphia for the last 113 years. Currently there are more than 15,000 competitors and each annual event draws more than 100,000 enthusiastic spectators.
When I was in high school near Philadelphia, (between 1942 and 1945) there was great emphasis on track and field sports and everyone in my school wanted to be on at least one of the track teams. I went out for track but, because I was only a little over four feet tall at the time, I did not make any of the teams. Instead, the coach of the relay team said I could be a water-boy. My job was to carry a bucket of water to the always-thirsty relay runners around the track. As water-boy I know I did more running than any of the guys who were running on the track team! But, in this way I got to know all the guys on the team and we had lots of fun while practicing and later during the actual competitive races against other local high schools.
Of course, the biggest event of the year was the annual Penn Relay Race. The competitors at the Relays included teams from many high school and college teams from around the nation. We worked hard to be invited to the Penn Relays each year.
In a relay race one team runner carries a baton that he holds in his hand and sprints – as fast as he can – to a waiting teammate and then very carefully, while still running at top speed, as he comes along side of his waiting teammate he carefully passes the baton to him. Passing the baton without dropping it (and losing the race) is what the relay race is all about. The winner of the race is the team runner who gets to the finish line with a baton in his hand faster than all of the other runners in the race.
It seems to me Jesus has come alongside of us and passed his baton to us because we are members of his relay team of Christians. He expects us to grab onto that baton, guard it, treasure it, and then with the greatest of care – pass the baton of Christianity to other people as we come alongside and enthusiastically invite them to join the race with us.
Then together, we reach out as members of the team and pass our Jesus baton to others as we come alongside of them during this – our relay race through life.
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