During a recent visit to San Diego I became aware once again of the long reach of Chicago Cubs mythology. I wore my Cubs baseball cap during my daily walks and was often greeted by strangers with a smile and a “Go Cubbies!” New this spring was the comment, “This might be the year!” The mythology is rooted, of course, in the team’s consistently dismal performance.

The last time the Cubs won the National League pennant and played in the World Series was 1945. The last Cubs World Series championship was in 1908—107 years ago. No other major sports franchise comes even close to that kind of futility. The Cubs are called the Lovable Losers—it’s part of the myth. Preachers who know a little about baseball, and who are not averse to lacing sermons with a Cubs reference, are guaranteed to elicit knowing chuckles from congregations as far away as Dallas, New York, and New Orleans.

Everybody knows that the Cubs are a template for failure, mediocrity, and consequent despair. As such, they’re a perfect metaphor for some of Christianity’s most precious and potent theological themes: long suffering, patient waiting during lonely exile, hope in the face of defeat, light in the darkness, and life in the midst of death. I’ve turned to this rich reservoir of homiletical power regularly and shamelessly over the years.