Tomorrow is the big day. The Superbowl. I remember when the Bears won in '85 and G.I. Joe made a Refrigerator Perry action figure that was special order only.
I remember living in San Angelo, TX and watching the Superbowl with my church youth group, cheering for the Cowboys and seeing Leon Lett get stripped of the football inside the 10 yard line after recovering a fumble. It didn't matter because the Cowboys were way ahead anyway, but it was funny to watch.
I remember squeezing a devotional in that evening at halftime between all the snacks and partying.
I remember some really great commercials, like the boy getting sucked in a Pepsi bottle from sucking too hard on a straw.
Especially when living in Texas I got very into football. I watched a lot of games and played it with the youth group almost every Sunday afternoon. In college, I lost most interest in sports and have very slowly started to regain some interest. While the commercials are usually the best part or the Superbowl, these days I don't even want to record it to watch the commercials.
There's a news story going around about how the NFL is cracking down on churches that show the Superbowl in their buildings on screens larger than 42". It's fine to have a big group in your home on whatever size screen you want, but outside of the home there are restrictions.
Now to my point, churches I've gone to have had a variety of reactions to the Superbowl ranging from canceling services, to having special parties, to meeting in homes or other common places to watch the game and fellowship. Whatever the official stance, there are always going to be people who stay home from morning or evening services to watch the big game. They do that during the regular season too.
But what would God have us do? What does he think about us rescheduling our worship and lives around a football game. Not just any game. A game where advertisers pay millions of dollars per minute to sell us stuff. The commercialization of sports is even worse than that of Christmas. And how many of the ads are for things that God would approve of. Many are fine, but the best ads are always the beer commercials. "Stay home from church. Drink more beer." Great message to send to the youngsters that you're trying to raise in the Lord.
Now I'm not perfect in my church attendance nor do I think God demands it and he is merciful as in all things. However if our goal is to please him and live our lives in service to him, are we reaching this goal by rescheduling our worship times.
Possibly a larger issue in my mind is one of conforming to the world. When football and God collide, God has to move out of the way. I'm not saying that we need to totally abstain from sports or television, but when the world sees us engaging in the same fanaticism as them that's not the message of Christ. In the world but not of it. We can participate in worldly activities, but within the boundaries of the law of Christ. When we compromise, we're sending the wrong message to the world and our children.
Too many sports and club activities for young people are taking place on Sundays and Wednesday nights, the traditional times for our meetings. And too many Christian parents are allowing and encouraging their children to participate without regard to the priorities that God would have us set. In a couple weeks on a Sunday morning, our elementary Bible school classes are taking a field trip to support one of their classmates at a sporting event. While I'm all for supporting our children's activities, I just can't support it by allowing my child to attend a sports event instead of Bible class. Sports has great things to teach youngsters, but the church has greater teachings. And I certainly don't want my own child to get the impression that it's okay to choose worldly activities over Godly ones.
So what will I do tomorrow? It's our normal fellowship group nights where we meet in homes anyway and I think we'll be watching the game on one of 3 different TVs. Maybe we'll have our own half time show where we sing or something, but I can't help feeling that we should do something greater to set ourselves apart. So that we can say to our friends and coworker, "No I didn't watch the game. Our church got together to worship God and it was a great time." Maybe I should try to get something like that together.
[Edited to remove too personal remarks]