I happened to be watching the baseball game that night in 1998 when Cal Ripkin, Jr. ended his unbelievable record of playing in 2632 consecutive games. When Ripkin passed Lou Gehrig's record of 2130 in 1995, he had broken a record people said would never be broken. But he went way past that - some 500 games past Gehrig's "unbreakable" record. That night in 1998 the whole stadium, all the fans from both teams, erupted in thunderous ovation that lasted, as I recall, around fifteen minutes.
Cal Ripkin, Jr. had defied the spirit of our age. No fake calling in sick. No time off for good behavior. He just did his job, and kept doing his job. Along the way Ripkin had many notable achievements: Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player in the American League, two Gold Glove Awards, inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. But most important - his lasting legacy - he just kept showing up.
Today I want to honor two of our dearest friends who also just kept showing up. David and Jeanene Rogers are celebrating their 50th Wedding Anniversary. They are acclaimed Christian educators. Jeanene is renowned as someone to whom children seem magnetically attracted. David is known for his expertise in church administration and home groups. They have done many notable things. But their lasting legacy is they just kept showing up.
They have been faithful to Jesus, to their calling, and to one another. They both came from homes where their parents could be trusted to keep their word. "I promise" meant exactly that. Just knowing David and Jeanene are your friends brings a deep-seated calm and assurance. These friends are lifers and lifters. Loyalty is second nature to them. They are trustworthy; trust-worthy.
Leviticus 25:10 is inscribed on our Liberty Bell: Proclaim liberty throughout the land to all the inhabitants thereof. It's the Jubilee verse, declaring freedom from debt and freedom from enslavement. But what makes this 50th year proclamation especially meaningful is the admonition at the beginning of the verse: Set apart the fiftieth year as holy.
The Jubilee year marked a literal returning to roots. It was a sacred, joyous year where liberty was experienced and enjoyed. All the good seeds that had been sown for the previous decades then tumbled into a glad reaping, harvesting the fruit of lives well lived. How we need loyal friends in our lives like David and Jeanene Rogers. How our nation and world need such examples of long-term faithfulness.
May their lives do more than merely impress us. May their lives inspire us to just keep showing up.