“Dear Pa-Paw, your Cubs are champs”…An All Saints Day reflection:

Yes, Pa-Paw, they finally did it…World Series champs! Of course, you probably know that, as I suspect God was pretty busy during Game 7 fielding all the prayer requests!

Like many, for us, the Cubs are more than a team from the Midwest, but a memory of Coke floats and summer afternoons watching legends like the Hawk, Ryan Sandberg, and Mark Grace play against the backdrop of the famed ivy. Even after we moved and I became an Astro fan, it was impossible to stop hoping that one day the Southside would reign atop the baseball world.

After the Series, I had to re-write my All Saints message, as 3 spiritual connections from the Cubs 108-year journey raced through my heart and mind in preparing for church yesterday.

You, and they, are part of my Cloud of Witnesses: The famous All Saints text from Hebrews 12:1-3 invites us into an under-appreciated part of the Christian faith, the mystical connections we share with the Lord and with the memories of our loved ones. I can still hear your laugh, remember your life lessons (you’re part of the reason I never touch alcohol), observe your love and kindness, and yes, I can still hear Harry Carey’s “Cubs win” from your TV room.

Shared suffering: The ratings for the World Series were off the charts. What’s fascinating is part of the Cubs appeal is how strongly people connect with the heartaches of the “loveable losers.” As a Veteran who grew up a child of the Depression and knew hard work and poor living, I don’t have to tell you life is hard, unfair, and at times cruel and heartbreaking. Your generation, and the journey of the Cubs, is a great testimony to the power of redemption, and the endurance, perseverance, and resiliency required to survive the ups and downs and life.

Far more significant than a team, however, is these same traits are visible in the Lord Jesus. Our Savior is not a Country Club kind of deity, but a God who enters into the broken narrative of humanity. Most of our lives resemble the history of the Cubs rather than the Yankees, which accounts for the emotional response to their victory. Perhaps we could say in the Incarnation of our Lord, God enters into the losing nature of our lives and absorbs our sweat, toil, heartaches, heartbreaks, and even our death.

“Never Give Up” is life’s only mantra: I hate you never got to see Wrigley Field. However, when you grew that ivy plant, hung it on the walls, and created your own Wrigley Field in the living room…that was epic (granny almost killed you, but what a great story!!). Our culture quits too easy and complains constantly. Yet faith calls us to never give up, keep dreaming, and stay hopeful because the Cubs are World Champs, the grave is empty, and despite remembering the loss of our loved ones, All Saints Day is wonderful celebration!

Cubs win! Christ is Risen! Forecast shows immense collection of clouds! Thanks be to God!

-Rev. John Robert Black

Click below to hear the All Saints Day sermon: