The Super Bowl is almost here! Usually, this is not something that excites me a whole lot. This year, however, I have a couple of reasons to look at the Super Bowl with new perspective.
First of all, I set out one day to find a Super Bowl devotion for our Sunday School Class. I didn't have much luck. I did find a few who tried to put the game into a faith perspective. I found some who discussed the horrendous amount of money involved in the Super Bowl and our call to resist such materialism. I found sugary analogies likening the excitement of the event to the excitement of seeing the second coming of Christ. These did not appeal to me.
I certainly acknowledge the horrendous amount of money that is invested in the Super Bowl. This is a factor not to be ignored. It opens up opportunities to talk to our children about advertising, materialism and making sure our lives are instructed by the affect our actions have upon our neighbors. Surely, we adults also need to reflect upon how we spend our money. Perhaps we should consider fair trade beer and locally grown buffalo wings. Don't go looking for your local herd of buffalo, though, they are made out of chicken. (Sorry, couldn't resist.)
There are downsides to the Super Bowl for sure. While I acknowledge these things, and the violent nature of the sport, I also believe the day can be a celebration of time together with family and friends. Anyone who has ever had a sibling and any member of the testosterone endowed gender knows that pummeling someone and loving fun can go hand in hand. A little good natured roughhousing can be good for family togetherness. But it is safer if we leave it to the professionals. I think watching these professionals scuffle with each other can be good for us. Here is a form of entertainment that crosses generational boundaries. All ages can enjoy the game, and the food, and... some of the beverages.
There is immense value in spending time with those we love. It is in such relationships that we come closest to understanding the unity to which scriptures speak (see 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12). When we care deeply for each other our dreams, our futures, our happiness become clearly interdependent. I cannot dream dreams for myself without also imagining how those happenings would affect my husband and my children. It is difficult to imagine success or joy without imagining sharing that joy with friends and family. All that we do and all that we dream is intertwined. In reality this unity is woven throughout all of God's creation. But it is most obvious to us within our loving relationships. What better way to spend some time together and grow this sense of unity then by watching players work together toward a common goal. Admittedly this idealistic picture is a bit tainted by the fact that the common goal is to trounce the other team.
Which brings me to the second reason I am seeing the Super Bowl in a new light this year: I actually know someone who will be participating. Therefore, I am acutely aware this year that each of those players is someone's husband, brother, father, friend, son, or grandson. While I definitely have a team I am rooting for this year, I have deeper concerns. I pray that while the players may of necessity be forced to lambaste each other, they will do so while respecting their opponents and desiring only to stop the ball not to harm. I pray for the safety of all involved in the game as well as the spectators and fans. May this game also show a new level of sportsmanship in which players do not call attention to themselves following their successes but with all humility simply return to their team for celebration, acknowledging that no one can accomplish anything of value alone. May we all enjoy some good family fun without indulging in any extreme gluttony, remembering that we are all part of one unity. What we do, even how we play a game or watch a game, affects the world around us in ways we cannot begin to understand. Let us celebrate that unity even while we earnestly hope that our team will reign triumphant over that other team. Isn't irony fun? Go Packers!