Maybe you’ve heard that this Sunday a football game is going to be played. The Super Bowl was so named by the late owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, Lamar Hunt, after his daughter’s toy “super ball.” I guess the world can be thankful she liked hard, rubber bouncy balls instead of some other toy or the big game might have been called the “Easy Bake Oven” Bowl. That title does not have the same pizzazz as the “Super Bowl.”
I like the name “Super Bowl” and I like the roman numerals that are used to describe them. This year’s game is XLIX. I say let’s use roman numerals more often. I was born in MCMLXIII, which makes me LI years old. I have II children and Karla and I have been married for XXVI years. In case you were wondering, last Sunday’s worship attendance at Central church was MDV. Using roman numerals is a little confusing but we’d get used to it.
IX years ago, Super Bowl XL was played in that extra large winter destination wonderland known as Detroit, this year’s game is being played in Glendale, Arizona. Apparently fans would rather attend the Super Bowl in a warm city like Glendale where the average temperature is LXXII as opposed to Detroit where the average February temperature is XXXV? Weird.
This year most of us will not be sitting in warm and cozy University of Phoenix Stadium (By the way, did anyone notice that the University of Phoenix doesn’t have a football team, but does have a football stadium? No jokes about the similarities between the University of Phoenix and recent history of the University of Michigan, please). Most of us will be watching from the warm and cozy comforts of our home. Sadly this reminds me of an old joke. Question: What do you call 47 millionaires watching the Super Bowl? Answer: The Detroit Lions. My response every year of my life to that joke: Maybe next year!
Not everyone will be turning in for the football game on Sunday. Some folks will watch the Pre-game festivities. Others will view the game for the commercials. (30 seconds of airtime during the game is 4 million bucks. In case you are not doing the math at home, if my sermons generated the same revenue this Sunday’s message would be worth 240 million dollars. Even my mama wouldn’t think my sermons are worth that much). Still others will tune into the big half-time show. A few years back the artist formerly known as “The artist formerly known as Prince” was singing at half time. Let the record show that while we share a name (quite honestly I’m not sure if “Prince” is his first, last or middle name), we are not related. Truth be told, unlike Prince I have never partied like its 1999. My boys tell me that most of my partying is more like its 1937. In any event, neither Prince will be singing at this year’s game.
All this to say, ready or not our yearly cultural phenomenon is about to happen.
Long before a properly inflated football is teed up this Sunday something far more important will happen: We will gather for worship. More than praising big, burley football players, we will be praising the Lord. More than sharing chips, dips and party favorites, we will be sharing in the Lord’s Supper. More than a simple gathering of friends, we will be meeting with the Holy One. And if someone who doesn’t know Christ decides to follow Jesus this Sunday (in church or somewhere else), that decision will be the greatest moment of the day. The Bible doesn’t mention anyone in heaven cheering when a touchdown is scored, but does say “there will be more rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents” (Luke 15:7). I’m praying that that this Sunday there will be raucous applauds in heaven long before Tom Brady and Russell Wilson take the field.