E-pistle September 18

 Foul Balls and Common Grace
Have you seen the replay of the little girl whose daddy caught the foul ball at Tuesday’s Phillies game?  Take a look.  Before Major League Baseball Inc. took them all down, there were scores of You Tube postings of the scene.  It plays better with the sound off. 
catchSo the daddy, a season ticket holder, catches his first ever foul ball and high fives his friends.

Then he gives the ball to his three-year old daughter who promptly throws it over the railing onto the fans below. 

hugWith no hesitation, no scowl on his face, the daddy embraces his little girl showing her and the whole world that a father’s love is better than a lost souvenir. 

The commentators have been quick to note that the sell-out crowd of hard-edged, known-to-be-mean, Philadelphia fans breaks into loud applause.  As you may know, the family has been interviewed by all the local media and appeared on the Today Show, receiving a set of Phillies jerseys and a Jason Werth-signed replacement for the thrown-back ball. 
What’s this all about?  MLB’s PR people are playing it up for all it’s worth, but it is worth something because it appeals to a sense of the way things are supposed to be.  We live a world where too many things are not the way they are supposed to be (in Cornelius Platinga’s provocative definition of sin – click here).
Deeply, intuitively, we know that there is a “supposed to be” reality in the world. In fact, the Apostle Paul argues that the whole creation waits in joyful anticipation for the restoration of this “way it is supposed to be” world.  This longing for something right is part of what the theologians call common grace.  The 44,521 Phillies fans at Citizen Bank Park on Tuesday evening and the millions of people who have seen the video and read the story know there is something about a daddy’s hug that is the way it’s supposed to be.  God has graced us with eyes to see and hearts to feel what is right.
As an outpost of the Kingdom, God’s people, Christians, Langhorne Presbyterians, proclaim – demonstrate – to a waiting, sometimes discouraged world, that soon things are going to be the way they are supposed to be.  The church is to be a place where the transformation has begun – the old gone and the new is here. 
I don’t much like to speculate on what heaven is going to be like.  The opening verses of Revelation 21 and 22 paint a picture that is more than enough to satisfy our longings.  But in the meantime, I’m pretty sure that the “on earth as it is in heaven” Kingdom Christ is building here and now is a place where daddies hug their little girls who toss their precious souvenir balls back over the railing at Citizen’s Bank Park.