Henry Aaron and Other Saints: In life and death, we belong to God

By Pastor Charlie Berthoud


I have been a fan of the Atlanta Braves since the early 1970s. I grew up in Connecticut, but I cheered for Atlanta because they were usually in last place and I seem to have a thing for underdogs. (I’m a New York Jets fan too.)


Plus, I have always been a fan of Henry (Hank) Aaron, partly because my middle name is Henri. I became more of a fan as he neared Babe Ruth’s home run record and faced racist threats from many people.


I still have a book I bought in grade school, along with lots of old baseball cards.


When the Braves won the World Series on Tuesday night for the first time in 26 years, I was very happy. The Braves persevered this season, overcoming many challenges to win it all.


But my happiness is tinged with melancholy.


My dad was a quiet man and one of the few ways we connected was by throwing a baseball, and he was an admirer of Braves pitcher Greg Maddux. My dad died in December 1995, just months after the Braves last won the World Series.


My mom became a Braves fan, always happy for me when they played well. And my brother John was a Yankees fan, who teased me relentlessly about how great his team was and how bad mine was.


My parents and my brother John are physically gone, but they are still with me in spirit, and I take comfort in that sense of presence—even if I can still hear my brother talking about the 1996 World Series, when the Yankees beat the Braves, and how the Yankees have won 27 and the Braves only four.


"In life and in death,

we belong to God."


--from "A Brief Statement of Faith"

inspired by Romans 14.8


This Sunday is our All Saints Sunday, when we remember loved ones who have died—reading names and lighting candles and saying prayers. Our loved ones may be physically gone, but they are still with us.

Henry Aaron lived with kindness, service, and humility. He died earlier this year. He was a saint in the eyes of the world. The good news proclaims that all people are saints in God's eyes.


As Christians, we affirm that death is not the final word, that somehow God’s love continues after our bodies die, keeping us all connected. We are people of resurrection hope.


Thanks be to God for the saints who have gone before us (even the Yankees fans!) and for the hope of the future.


On the journey together,

Charlie

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