A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
By The Rev. Canon Neal O. Michell
This first appeared earlier this month in Esprit, the newspaper of the Diocese of Dallas.
When Yogi Berra was fired by George Steinbrenner as manager of the New York Yankees, Yogi was resentful because, (a) Mr. Steinbrenner didn’t fire him personally (Yogi said that getting fired happens all the time but that he believed that George Steinbrenner owed him the courtesy of a personal conversation), and (b) Mr. Steinbrenner had promised that Yogi would have the full year to begin rebuilding the New York Yankees.
During the period of Yogi’s estrangement from the New York Yankees, when someone would ask about their relationship, Yogi would simply say, “We agree different.”
For fourteen years, Yogi stayed away from Yankee Stadium. They put up a plaque in his honor, but Yogi stayed away. They invited him to Old-Timers games, but he stayed away. His closest friends on the Yankees would plead with Yogi to come. Succeeding managers did likewise. Out of pride, Yogi stayed away.
Finally, in 1998, a sports broadcaster who was close to George Steinbrenner negotiated for Yogi to be willing to allow George Steinbrenner to fly to visit Yogi at his museum. Yogi agreed.
In January, George and Yogi and Carmen Berra, Yogi’s wife, had a heart-to-heart talk. George apologized. Yogi forgave. He responded, “Fourteen years is long enough. It’s over.” Now, according to Yogi, “things have been terrific with me and George.” He says, “Now there is forgiveness and reconciliation. I really have no regrets.”
At our diocesan convention in October we will have some very intense debates. Emotions will likely run very high. We will debate. We will vote. After that, we need to get on with the mission of the church.
We are sent people. The Gospel that we will proclaim on the Sunday following diocesan convention is not, “My side won” or “My side lost.” That’s like the fourteen years of Yogi’s exile from Yankee stadium.
Following the votes will be a time for reconciliation and getting on with the mission of the Church. That mission is not really about whether we are part of the Anglican Communion Network or not. That mission is that “We believe in the power of Jesus Christ to transform lives. We are resurrection people!”
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