It’s In the Bag
It’s In the Bag
Do you know that feeling where you’re about to enter into an activity and success is already essentially assured? It’s like all that’s required of you is that you show up and complete the task. Maybe it’s a paper that’s practically going to write itself. A game that you’re sure to win. A contest in which you’re virtually unopposed. “It’s in the bag.” Maybe you say that.
The phrase “It’s in the bag” is said to come to us from the world of baseball. It’s a world where statistics are meticulously kept, probabilities analyzed, and the possibility that a game might be over before it’s actually completed is thought to be a real thing. It’s also a game with a long history of superstitions.
One citation of the phrase reportedly occurred in the Ohio newspaper, the Mansfield News, in 1920.
“An old superstition was revived at the Polo grounds, New York, recently when Eddie Sicking was dispatched to the clubhouse with the ball bag at the start of the ninth possession of one run lead. This superstition originated during the run of twenty-six consecutive victories made by the Giants in 1916, the significance of it resting in a belief that if the bag is carried off the field at that stage of the game with the Giants in the lead the game is in the bag and cannot be lost.”
Christian worship provides us with another, more certain, occasion when a victory is “in the bag.” When Christians gather at the table of Holy Communion, the language of the liturgy accompanies and interprets the gathering. Singing over the bread and the wine, the presiding minister makes this (or a very similar) proclamation:
Through [Jesus’] cross and resurrection, he freed us from sin and death and called us to the glory that has made us a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people set apart. Everywhere we proclaim your mighty works for you have called us out of darkness into your own wonderful light. And so with all the choirs of angels in heaven, we proclaim your glory and join their unending hymn of praise*
At which point the whole assembly begins to sing a song that samples from both the song of the angels or seraphim as well as the shouts of the crowd as they welcomed Jesus into Jerusalem with palm branches.
What is being asserted by faith is that in the gathering at the table, Christ is present in a victory that we both anticipate and are fully receiving at the same time. Our future salvation and restoration breaks into our present time-bound reality with the presence of Jesus for us. Where Jesus is, there is life and a new creation. Our hope is in a future restoration, but as we pick up the song of the angels, by faith, we take hold of the fact that it’s already in the bag.
Arthur Just (two-time Valpo dad) in his book Heaven on Earth puts it this way.
We now have the same status in the kingdom of God as both the prophets of old and the saints in glory. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses who have gone before us, and, with Christians everywhere, we rejoice in their presence. They are standing with us and joining their voices with ours in one glorious liturgy.**
For this cloud of witnesses, the ultimate victory is already realized. For us who gather in their company, it’s in the bag.
Much of life is uncertain and some days feel less certain than others. When you’re going through one of those days when you begin to wonder if anything at all is going to work out the way you think it’s supposed to, I encourage you to look forward to the next opportunity that you have here at the Chapel or in all kinds of Christian churches around our campus to take a place at the table with that cloud of witnesses who can help us remember and rejoice in the fact that come what may, our life’s goal is in the bag.
Sept. 4, 2019
*The Mass of Saints and Angels, Steven R. Janco, composer.
**Heaven on Earth, Arthur Just, p. 20
- Archives of Devotional Writings from our Pastoral Staff
- “Some Lent!”
- (Your vocation here) of people
- A Point of Privilege
- A season of anticipation
- Advent = Hope
- All will be well
- Are we willing to cross the road for one another?
- Better Together
- Can we learn to be happy?
- Carrying the COVID Cross
- Come and See
- Did Jesus really suffer?
- Doing without in a life of plenty
- Don’t miss this moment
- Exiles with Vision
- Fear not!
- Feeling at Home
- Finding Purpose in the Journey
- Finding Words for Times Like These
- Forgiving others – and ourselves
- Getting ahead with Jesus
- Getting down on Jesus’ level
- Have yourself a merry little Christmas — somehow
- Holy Week and Taking Out the Trash
- Holy Week: The aid station late in the semester
- Hopes & Dreams vs Life in the Wilderness
- How glad we’ll be if it’s so
- I almost slipped
- In a time of uncertainty, these things are certain
- In praise of plans B … C … D …
- In Praise of Skeptical Disciples
- In the midst of grief, God will bring life
- Is there such a thing as being too forgiving?
- It’s a Three Day Weekend!
- It’s In the Bag
- It’s What’s Happening
- Killing off our future selves
- Lessons in fire building
- Let us work for real wellness in our communities
- Life Is a Highway
- Lilies and leaves and whatever else is beautiful
- Living in the Present
- O Lord, you know I hate buttermilk
- Of Fear and Failure
- On Christian Unity: When we’re not one big happy church
- On the Bucket List
- Pray and Let God Worry
- Preparing for the world to be turned rightside up
- Recovering from an Epic Fail
- Reformation calls for examination
- Remembering among the forgetful
- Seeing beauty in brokenness
- Signs of Love
- Starting Small
- Still in the storm
- Taking a Break from the Relentless
- Talking ourselves into it
- Thankfulness leads to joyfulness
- The Art of Holy Week
- The Funny Business of Forgiveness
- The Greatest of These is Love
- The Magi: Exemplars of Faith and Learning
- The Power of Small Conversations
- The Power of Taking a Sabbath
- The Spiritual Gift of Hindsight
- This can’t be done alone
- To be known
- You will be in our prayers this summer of 2020
- Ventures of which we cannot see the ending
- We had hoped
- What do you do with your anger?
- What is your base reality?
- What to do after you find your voice
- What to do on the day after
- What we know and what we don’t know
- When bad things happen
- When joy and sadness live together
- When the promise of resurrection is hard to believe
- When you offer up your broken cup
- Where God will be found
- Where is the good shepherd carrying you?
- Wilderness Journeys
- Year-end time management: Keeping the main thing the main thing
- Your Valpo roots will help you grow into your future