Most of you reading this article are aware that this Sunday is “Super Bowl Sunday.” Even if you’re not a football fan, chances are that you’ll be like the vast majority of Americans, glued to the tube, or at least doing something with the game on in the background. Estimates are that around 115 million of us will be tuned in to the game, which represents almost 36% of the population – a staggering percentage when you stop and think about it.
The two teams vying for the championship trophy are the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco Forty-Niners. Truth be told, I’m not a fan of either team, so my “extended self” is not riding on the outcome. If anything, I’ll be more interested in the commercials than the action.
I dare say that I’m not alone in my lack of interest in who wins. So then, what compels so many folk to turn their heads in a direction in which they have little if anything at stake? My opinion is that the Super Bowl is an experience more than an event, and there is a difference between the two. Events mark time on the calendar. Experiences dictate meaning. Think for a moment about how many gatherings will take place on Super Bowl Sunday where people will come together just to share in the social hype surrounding the big game. Think also about the many others who will be watching by themselves. In both cases, people yearn to be a part of something that has broad appeal, something in which everyone else seems to be engaged in some way. The Super Bowl offers folk an opportunity to connect their little lives with a much larger narrative, a “super” one, which in some way validates their very existence.
As someone who is constantly watching the prevailing culture to see what “Itch” is in need of a gospel “scratch,” I’m taken with how Christian faith needs to aim toward the same objective. The temptation we face is to offer “events” that people can put on their calendars. But when they fail to show up for these activities, we moan and groan about how the culture has forgotten the importance of being faithful in its participation at these gatherings. We’ve obviously misread the deeper need. What if instead we focused on offering “experiences” that connected with the far more profound yearnings everyone possesses so that what we do touches upon the fears, anxieties, needs, and concerns that make up our human existence? What if we provided opportunities for people to be lifted above the mundane to know something transcendent? I think that would be a super thing to do.
You can rest assured that everything we’re about at MBBC strives to accomplish that goal. Even though we don’t have the luxury of a massive advertising budget or the support of other corporations and businesses who see the value of piggybacking on what we offer, I am confident that the simple word of witness from those from our number who have experienced small transformations is more than enough to attract others to join us in participating in something that is far larger and more important than any of us can possibly comprehend.
I’ll be watching the game this Sunday. But I’ve seen enough Super Bowls to know that the game rarely lives up to the hype. On the other hand, I’ll continue to live in hope that when the big game has seen the final whistle blow, our church will continue to move forward in a work that never disappoints and meets all God’s expectations for our church. Now, that is an experience that truly never gets old.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:1-2).