…I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me. Matthew 25. 35, 36
Dear Friends in Christ,
I grew up on Long Island, New York in the days when the Yankees ruled the baseball world before the New York Mets existed. Though we had the choice of rooting for the Giants or Dodgers ours was a Yankees family. I can still remember what it was like to attend my first major league baseball game at Yankee Stadium having only watched ballgames on a black and white television; the grass was greener than any other grass I had ever seen in my life.
Though I remember little about my childhood I can still remember the “dream team” of my youth: Whitey Ford, Yogi Berra, Bill “Moose” Skowron , Bobby Richardson, Tony Kubeck, Clete Boyer, Roger Marris, Mickey Mantle and Elston Howard. It was the end of an era for me, therefore, when I heard that Yogi Berra died this week at the age of 90.
We are all familiar with the legendary turns of phrase for which Yogi Berra will forever be known, things like “it’s like déjà vu all over again” and “when you come to a fork in the road take it” and “a nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore!”
What I was not familiar with, however, was his love for his teammates, especially for “the Scooter” Phil Rizzuto who played shortstop for the Yankees for the entirety of his 13 year career in baseball. Evidently, during the closing years of Rizzuto’s life he was a resident in a New York personal care home. Every day for a number of years Yogi Berra drove the 30 miles from his home to the place where Rizzuto lived to visit his former teammate. The two would talk together and play cards until the Scooter got tired and began to nod off at which time Yogi would sit and hold his hand until he went off to sleep. Then he would leave, only to return again the following day, and the next day and the next.
I don’t know if Yogi Berra was a man of faith; of all the anecdotes about his life those about his walk with God (if he had one) are not discussed. But what strikes me is the example and challenge his love and care for Rizzuto is for those of us who do have a walk of faith in God through Jesus Christ. I have spoken on many occasions in this eCare about the significance of “just showing up:” showing up at the home of someone who is sick, showing up at a co-worker’s cubicle, showing up at a hospital room or an athletic event or a coffee shop. So often we don’t show up because we are afraid of what we’ll face when we do show up; anger, grief, physical or emotional or spiritual malaise. We’re afraid that we’ll not know how to act, what to say, what to do.
But Yogi Berra teaches us that most times all you have to do is play some cards, sit and make small talk and hold someone’s hand. It’s not what you do or what you say or how you react that counts; it’s that you came in the first place – you showed up! That Yogi (who may not have been a man of faith) showed up at the Scooter’s door is a testimony, not to his being “a good man” as the testimonials are giving witness to this week; that he showed up is testimony to God’s common grace at work in and through his life as a vehicle of God’s goodness and care for Phil Rizzuto.
What about, I wonder, those of us who have the Spirit of the eternal God living in us and remaking the image of Jesus in us, moving us and motivating us to live like Jesus; are we driving the 30 miles, or walking the 30 steps or dropping in on someone or playing some cards with someone who needs to be touched with the love and concern and care that Jesus wants them to have?
WWYS: What Would Yogi Say? Probably something like “Living the love of Jesus is 99% showing up and the other half is doing something that nobody will remember anyway!”
Faithfully in Him,
Posted on Fri, September 25, 2015
by Rev. Dr. Richard Wolling filed under