In 1947 there was a lot to be hopeful about. World War II was over. The world, and the United States as a nation, was settling into a renewed peace. But there were some whose hopes were limited. There were deep racial divides in our country and it seemed like a glass ceiling existed on the hopes and dreams of some simply because of the color of their skin.
A new story of hope began unfolding, however, when on April 15, 1947, Jackie Robinson took the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He was the first African-American baseball player called up into Major League Baseball since the 1880s. For over sixty years, like so many other aspects of our society, baseball endured segregation, encouraging the hopes of some while limiting the hopes of others. During that first game and season, Robinson endured all kinds of verbal – and even physical. It seemed that perhaps the glass ceiling would hold him – and others – down.
But things soon changed. Robinson soon became a figure admired not only by African-Americans, but by many people around the nation. He won Rookie of the Year in 1947. Over ten seasons with the Dodgers, Robinson was selected to six consecutive All Star games, played in six World Series, and contributed to the Dodgers’ 1955 World Championship. In 1997, Major League Baseball universally retired his number, 42, both for his contributions to the game and contributions to our nation. It was the first time such an honor had been conferred upon any major league sports player.
When Jackie Robinson stepped onto Ebbets Field he was living with a hope that a new sort of, as yet unrealized, world would become true. Against the odds, that is just what happened.
Jackie Robinson’s story gives us a picture of hope in the Christian life. We are stepping out into the field of our world living with a hope that a new sort of, as yet unrealized, world will become true. Jesus’ death and resurrection allows us to live with hope that there is meaning in our lives now and there is also meaning beyond the end of our physical days.
[This is a continuation of this week’s theme of “Beginning to Live with Hope.”]