Millions of sport fans have already made plans for watching Super Bowl XLVII. As the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers square off against each other this Sunday, parties will be going on literally all over the world.
Certainly the Super Bowl, America's most watched program of the year, is something to be reckoned with for football fans everywhere. Even avid Downton Abby fans may find themselves taping this Sunday's episode in order to be ready for the Super Bowl kick off scheduled for 6:25 pm on the East Coast; 5:25 pm Central; 4:25 pm Mountain; and 3:25 pm Pacific.
Not only is the Super Bowl popular in the U.S., people all over the world are interested in American football on Super Bowl Sunday. One doesn’t have to search long or hard to find large cities in other countries, such as Dublin or London, advertising pubs with large beer selections and big screen TV's for those who might want to drop by to watch the greatest of American football...the Super Bowl.
What about the Super Bowl though as it pertains to Christian churches in the U.S.? It is, after all, held on Sunday evening, and Sunday night services are a regular part of weekly worship for many Christian churches of most denominations throughout the country. The number of regular Sunday night church goers who break from their church routine in order to be in front of a television for the Super Bowl each year is tremendous.
It is a wise pastor who plans ahead, coming up with a compromise to an otherwise conflict in schedule that might even cause unnecessary guilt on more than a few members of their congregation. Indeed, a good many church leaders themselves are understandably intent on watching this major sporting event in real time on TV. But...is this spiritual?
The jury may be out on this issue for a long time, but regardless of where you stand, here in Nashville where there is a church on almost every corner, there are numerous "church sanctioned" opportunities for gathering with others to watch the Super Bowl. Not only are they sanctioned by the church, but they are planned by church leaders as well. In large or small groups, plenty of opportunities are available for Christians to meet with other Christian sports fans for the Super Bowl.
Meeting together for fellowship is one of the most important aspects of community life for Christians. Gathering as a large community for worship in song and preaching may be the main reason a person attends church in the beginning, but when church is working at its best, it is in the smaller groups (Sunday School, Life Groups, Home Groups, etc.) that the hopes and disappointments of real life situations and experiences are openly discussed, individual concerns are comfortably expressed and immediately prayed over, and supportive friendships are be developed.
When combining this important aspect of Christian life known as “fellowship,” and the human understanding of some pretty strong leanings toward watching the Super Bowl instead of attending a Sunday night church service, Super Bowl Church Parties have become exceedingly popular.
Churches all over America are likely to darken their lights on February 3 and encourage everyone to attend a Super Bowl Party in a designated church member’s private home. Others might turn their church lights on even brighter to accommodate as many as will come, rent a large TV screen, and ask everyone to bring munchies for an exciting night of watching the Super Bowl together at the church itself.
In Nashville, Tennessee, it doesn't matter if you are a “believer” or not, you will be welcomed with open arms by any number of churches or small groups hosting a party for this year's Super Bowl. If you find yourself with no place to go to watch this year's Super Bowl and are not crazy about hitting the local Sports Bars, you might consider calling a local church to see if what they have planned.
Here are three churches that have announced their offering of something special for Super Bowl Sunday. If you are in the Nashville area and looking for a place to watch the Super Bowl Sunday evening, this short list should help get you started in your search.
Brentwood United Methodist Church, Brentwood, TN: (Hosting a Super Bowl party for singles. The church is supplying Tacos and shells. Everyone is asked to bring along some taco “fixin’s.” There will be games alongside for those not into football. Everyone welcome; hours 5:00-9:00.)
The Donelson Fellowship in Donelson, TN: (One person from each Life Group is hosting a Super Bowl gathering. These groups will be happy to have others join them.)
Hermitage United Methodist Church in Hermitage, TN (Their youth are holding a Super Bowl party as part of their usual Sunday night youth activities)
Discussion Questions for Super Bowl Half Time: 1) Is it possible to sense the sacred in any moment of the day and in any situation you may find yourself in? 2) Could a church sponsored Super Bowl party be as spiritual as an official church service? If so...how?
In 1 Timothy 6: 17 we are told to, "put your hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."
Go ahead...enjoy Super Bowl Sunday!
Did you know? According to a survey taken this year by the The Public Religion Research Institute, 27 percent of Americans said they believe God plays a role in determining which teams wins sports events. What do you think? (http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/sports/01/30/13/superbowl-gods-hands-some-think-so)