I am a sports fan, and at the top of my sporting passion is the love for Cardinal baseball. My earliest memories are of listening to Jack Buck and Mike Shannon announce games on the radio talking about the exploits of Bob Forsch, Ted Simmons, and Lou Brock as I fell asleep as a kid. My teen years were during the age of Whitey Ball, and I even had the privilege of attending game 7 of the 1982 World Series where my team won it all. I have hats, shirts, jerseys, and other paraphernalia demonstrating my loyalty.
Yet, sometimes I do wonder where the line between being a fan and having Cardinal baseball as an idol lies. As humans, we are quick to turn stuff into objects of our worship, when only God is worthy of our worship. I have sat at Redbird games and realized that Busch Stadium can feel very much like a church, a shrine to worship a group of men playing a kids game. Actually, I wonder sometimes if I ever get as excited about issues of my faith as I do if Pujols hits a walk-off homerun, or Yadi stands up to a punk in Cincinnatti.
The thoughts about this were renewed for me when I saw this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on a top-selling item of Cardinals memorabilia… Cardinals caskets and ash urns. Of course, my first thought was that this is what I wanted. But as a I read the article I dawned on me that caskets and funeral services are demonstrations of what a person ultimately worshiped. I am not saying that being buried in a St. Louis Cardinals casket is a sin, but, at least for me, it was a reminder once again that Card’s baseball, or any sport, or for that matter any person or created thing makes a lousy god. I actually was saddened as I read the stories about people whose whole life and identity came from their love of a team on which they never played.
Life is short. We are created for worship, and the truth is that when life is over, the decisions your family makes about your funeral and the conversations over your casket will be a final proof of what you valued most as you lived. As for me, I wouldn’t mind being buried in a Cardinal hat, but I hope that what my family remembers and what people say is, “This guy loved Jesus, and he wanted everyone to know it.”