By Bob Hiller –
One of the first blogs I wrote for The Jagged Word was a little piece on how the Chicago Cubs were cursed and would thus never win the World Series. Well, today I am happy to say that I am no prophet! The 108-year curse has ended! Baseball’s “Loveable Losers” will no longer bear that name! GM Theo Epstein, also famous for breaking the curse of the Boston Red Sox, has once again worked his magic and redeemed the Cubbies from being bound to post-season sorrow! The long night is over! A new day has dawned in the Windy City!
I grew up in Denver, but we had no Major-League team to root for. We did, however, get WGN, a Chicago station that airs nationally. So, I grew up listening to Harry Caray narrate the likes of Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace, and Andre Dawson. Though I have never been a real hardcore Cubs fan, I have found my sentiments towards them to be right in line with most baseball fans. To me they have always been the “Loveable Losers.” But no more! Wednesday night, after one of the greatest Baseball games you will ever see (actually, it was one of the greatest games you’ll ever see in any sport), the narrative of the Cubs changed. They fly the W now as World Series Champions. No more can they be called losers. As Cubs catcher David Ross said of his team after the game, “What a group of winners, what a resilient group of winners.”
Wednesday night, the entire narrative changed for the Cubs. They now have a new identity. They’ve gone from losers to champions. Anyone who has ever followed baseball with any sort of interest must admit that this transformation has been a delight to watch.
However, not everyone is on board with this new narrative for the Cubbies. Many radio hosts and baseball commentators have suggested that this new identity for the Cubs isn’t good for baseball. Something is lost when you lose that character for whom you always want to sympathize. The constant phrase “there’s always next year,” along with the 108-year string of terribly depressing and comically heart wrenching seasons, creates a sympathy in one’s heart for the Cubs. We love to feel sorry for them and root out of sympathy. Baseball needs these Loveable Losers. This World Series victory changes the narrative in way that may not be all that great for the game. Or so it is said.
To such arguments, I say: “Phooey!” This new narrative of the Cubs being “a great group of winners” is pure joy to the Cub’s fans who have suffered so long and hard with their Losers. They have painfully endured all kinds of flukes and failures (by the way, you can forgive Bartman now). But now their day has finally arrived. Who cares if this new reality doesn’t fit Baseball’s “narrative.” It is a new life for Chicago fans—one of joy!
It kind of makes me think about my Wednesday Bible study where we have been working through the Gospel of Mark. I am more and more fascinated by this Gospel. One particularly captivating feature is how Jesus is in the habit of changing the narrative in the lives of the people he encounters. Just take a look at the three people Jesus encounters in Mark 5. First, He there is the Gentile demoniac who cuts himself and sleeps amongst the tombs. He is all kinds of unclean, according to the Law. Then, He is touched by a woman who suffered from an issue of blood for twelve years which had rendered her unclean according to the Law. Finally, He comes into the presence of the dead girl who is, well, dead according to the Law (and everyone there who sees her!).
Now, notice this: Apart from Christ, according to the narrative of the Law, these people are all unclean or outside of God’s purposes. But then Jesus shows up! And the demoniac is set free and the entire Gentile region is purified (even the unclean pigs are cast into the sea). The woman’s issue of blood is healed immediately when she touches Jesus, Jesus smiles upon her and tells her that her faith has saved her, and the dead girl is touched by Jesus and brought to life! Jesus comes and gives each of them a new story! The story the Law told about them said they were bound to the devil, separated from God, and dead. But Jesus shows up and sets them free, restores them to God, and raises them to a new life. These who are losers according to the Law’s narrative become a great group of winners by virtue of the gracious activity of Jesus Christ!
Amazingly, not everyone is a fan of what Jesus is doing. Read in light of the parable of the sower and the seeds in Mark 4, these who are Losers in the Law’s story are in fact the good soil that produces fruit. But those who prefer the narrative of the Law won’t have Jesus change the story. They prefer these losers to stay that way so that they can continue to tell the story that upholds their own righteousness by demeaning others. They are the path that has the seed taken immediately by Satan. They get so fed up that they try to force Jesus under the condemning story of the Law and put Him to death. (It is worth noting that, according to the Law, when Jesus is touched by the woman and touches the dead girl, He takes their uncleanliness upon Himself while giving them His cleanliness). Jesus willingly places himself in that story, but won’t let it have the last word. He’ll bring the narrative of the Law’s condemnation to an end as He rises from the dead to change the story altogether. No longer do we end dead and condemned by the Law; Jesus was raised for your justification!
That is your narrative. That is Jesus’ story for you. The Law’s narrative of your life is one of death and condemnation. Spiritually speaking, we’re losers, and not particularly loveable ones at that. There may even be people who tell of this in painful ways. But Jesus ignores all that. He sought you and found you and told you a new story about yourself, one of love and pure, unadulterated joy! True, you were dead. Then God crucified you with Christ in your Baptism and raised you to a new life! You are in Christ! You are a new creation! His story is the only one that matters for you. Your narrative has changed from death to life. Jesus speaks His narrative of love and life over you! Fly the W you beloved group of winners!