Has there ever been a championship that carried as much inter-generational weight as this 2016 World Series? As I reflect on the Chicago Cubs victory, after a 108 year championship drought, and as we all observe the stories coming out of this series, I think it’s safe to say that no team, no sport, no game has ever had as much paternal impact as this one. From the guy who drove 600+ miles to listen to the game at his dad’s gravesite, to the makeshift memorial at Wrigley Field, everyone seems to be thinking about the lives that have come and gone without ever seeing the Cubs win. My wife’s grandmother passed away last year at 91 years of age, and the win made us think about her. Grandma Reva wasn’t even a Cubs fan, I’m not even sure if she really liked baseball at all, but even still she came to mind!
It’s interesting how something so apparently meaningless could evoke such deep emotion and contemplation. When I say “apparently meaningless,” I’m referring to the societal contribution of any sport. We’ve all pondered the validity of spending money to see grown men run around with a ball, doing what we all did as kids, and celebrating them as heroes for doing pretty much nothing that contributes to the advancement of society. Yet, with this Chicago Cubs championship we have all been reminded of family, and reminded of our own mortality. So if professional sports seem meaningless to you, I would like to highlight the profound spiritual impact of this 2016 World Series.
Now I really don’t like over spiritualizing things, and in fact, I believe that over spiritualizing can be dangerous, but under spiritualizing can cause us to miss what’s really happening. In an election year where a fatherless generation of 20 somethings almost nominated a socialist, Bernie Sanders, all because he was filling their paternal void, we’re all asking what’s next for America. Now isn’t it ironic that the same year a Chicago politician, Barack Obama, is leaving the White House happens to be the same year the Chicago Cubs break the curse? Isn’t it ironic that the same year a president, whose paternal roots have been so heavily scrutinized, is leaving office is the year the Cubs win causing millions to remember their own ancestry.
This week, the Cubs winning caused millions in America to think about their fathers, and that in turn caused many to think about their father wounds, or even the lack of a father figure in their lives. For every post on social media about “the Cubs and my father/grandfather,” someone was reminded of the bad relationship with their father. With so many father wounds out there, what causes practically everyone outside of Cleveland to congratulate the Cubs fans? I believe it’s because there’s a longing to see these inter-generational wounds healed, and I believe that healing is coming!
The Lord’s Prayer, the most famous prayer, begins with the words “Our Father,” because that’s how the Creator and Master of the universe relates to us. Yes He is God, but He’s also Dad. The last verse in the Old Testament (Malachi 4:6) reveals the father heart of God in that He really wants to see earthly fathers’ hearts turn to their children, knowing that it creates the context for the children to turn their hearts toward their fathers, and in turn, toward God. For many, the emotion of the Cubs win stems from the memories of fathers turning their hearts toward their children. Dad might not have been perfect, but we have good memories of enjoying baseball together. Really, you could replace the word “baseball” in that sentiment with pretty much anything you enjoyed with your father – fishing, motorcycles, cards, etc. Malachi 4:6 emphasizes God’s desire for inter-generational connection with a warning: If the generations do not turn their hearts toward each other, God Himself would curse the land. Take that, dumb billy goat! But now the Billy Goat Curse is lifted and we are blessed with this paternal contemplation and emotion. Isn’t that how all curses end? With a blessing?
Now for the hardcore skeptic who has a really hard time believing God can speak through sports (often times that’s me) consider this series of events. The Cubs were down in the series 3-1. Very few teams in any sport have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the whole thing. Then the Cubs win game 5 on Sunday night in Chicago, sending the series back to Cleveland forcing the Cubs to have to win two away games to take it all. On Monday Night, the last place Chicago Bears upset the first place Vikings on National television. Then the Cubs played on Tuesday and Wednesday night pulling off wins in both away games to win it all. I mean c’mon! BEARS! CUBS! It doesn’t get anymore inter-generational than that!
Ultimately the Cubs winning reminded us of the blessing of the fathers’ hearts’ turned toward their children and it caused our hearts to turn toward our fathers. People joke about the Cubs being a sign of the times, but I really believe it is. We have a loving, extremely involved, Father who can use a baseball game to communicate something to whoever has ears to hear. I believe our Heavenly Father is revealing to us our need for paternal love and He is signaling that He can and will help us turn our hearts to the next generation so that we can avoid the curse that comes with inter-generational strife, and begin to experience the blessing of inter-generational wholeness.