About 20 million people watched the Astros win the World Series this week. I am – quite likely – the only one who was thinking about the 12th chapter of Hebrews while watching. Let me explain. [But first, a recap for those of you who haven’t been in Bible class lately. After listing the heroes of faith in chapter 11, the writer of Hebrews says in 12:1, “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,…”] Now, let me explain.
If you watch sports on TV, you know that it is mandatory for the director to spend at least one time-out showing all the “famous” people in the crowd. When the game is in Los Angeles it takes three or four time-outs to show all the Hollywood glitterati in the stands. (Some would say I’m old and out of touch, but I take it as proof of personal holiness that I don’t know who half of them are.) During game 6 I was enduring another “star tour” of the stands when the camera zoomed in on an 81-year-old fellow with a front row seat. Now they had my attention. It was Sandy Koufax. This guy was winning World Series when I was in high school. That’s when I thought of Hebrews 12. There were 50,000 people in the stands and maybe 100 of them were pretty people with an Oscar or a Grammy, but Mr. Koufax is a real world honest-to-goodness legendary Hall-of-Famer WITNESS at a World Series game. This guy threw four no-hitters and a perfect game in his short career – and has four World Series rings by the way. If I’m a player in this game, I couldn’t care less that Beyonce is watching, but I am definitely keeping an eye on Mr. Koufax. Because he went through exactly what I’m going through – and won! He knows what it is like to make an error, give up a home run, lose a game. But there he sits – a member of the Hall of Fame – watching me. I think I’ll do my best and finish strong!
The writer of Hebrews didn’t mention Sandy Koufax, but hopefully you get the idea. Oh, here’s one more related story for you. Koufax was the Dodger’s ace when they got to the 1965 World Series, and obviously should pitch game 1. Game 1, however, fell on Yom Kippur and Koufax, being Jewish, refused to pitch. The Dodgers ended up winning the ’65 Series. Pretty good witness.