Saturday, April 2, 2011

God's Super Bowl

Another Super Bowl has come and gone, with millions of people watching the contest. Those outside the stadium endured four hours in the cold, watching large TV screens; those inside spent that time sitting on hard bleacher seats, craning unsuccessfully to see the participants on the field below them, their ears straining to catch the garbled words coming from the loudspeakers. Those at home or at parties spent the time in front of their TV sets, watching the game and attempting to discover which where the most creative ads. We make sure that our schedules don’t conflict with the game.

Monsignor Charles Pope in a blog entry traces an interesting disconnection between attendance at the super bowl and attendance at church, noting how dissimilar they are. Super Bowl attendees prepare well in advance for the game, often wear special clothing for the occasion, (or in some cold weather stadiums go bare-chested during sub freezing temperatures), arrive early, cheer loudly and get wrapped up in the game. Especially during collegiate game, they will joyfully and robustly sing their favorite team’s fight song. They love the game and enthusiastically participate in the festivities. If at all possible they will find a tailgate party to attend several hours before the game starts. If watching it at home, they will usually turn on the pre-game show to help them prepare for the fray. They know their favorite team and player’s statistics. There is no problem if the game goes into overtime, a fact seen in the Buffalo Wild Wings commercials. Overtime gives them more time to enjoy the game. They easily spend considerable sums of money on tickets or party supplies, and think nothing of it. Once the game starts they focus on every play, often talking about certain plays for the next several days, rehearsing them in their minds. One thing is certain: they are passionate about the game. They never find it boring.

It is fortunate that we have a similar view of church. We prepare for Sunday mornings by reading the Scriptures for the day and praying for the service. As Sunday arrives, we put on our Sunday best, make certain that we arrive well in advance of the service, expectant of being in church for several hours. We joyfully greet each other, and anticipate worshiping our Lord together. We earnestly desire that there be a pre-service event that we can attend. We are oblivious to the fact that the sanctuary may be too hot or cold or the pews uncomfortable. We are just as happy whether the sound system is working or not. We hope that the preacher is long winded so we can spend more time worshiping God with our fellow worshipers. We never find the service boring. We don’t think twice about placing an extra amount of money in the offering plate as it passes by. We fully participate in the service, singing joyfully, following every aspect of the service. As the service continues, spontaneous praise issues forth from our lips as we observe what God is doing in the world. Sunday afternoons are likely to find us in discussion of the sermon we heard earlier in the day. We eagerly look forward to the next Sunday’s service. We have the same excitement towards God as we do towards the game. If Sunday scheduling conflicts arise, we make sure that church has the top priority for we certainly don’t want to miss it.

How fortunate we are that our attitude towards the Super Bowl and church are so similar. Or are they?

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