ChuckWarnock.com

Confessions of a Small Church Pastor

Is Feb 3 really Super Bowl Sunday?


christ.jpg This or this? super-bowl-logo.jpg

In the Christian Year, Sunday February 3 is Transfiguration Sunday. In popular culture, February 3 is Super Bowl Sunday. On that Sunday, churches have two choices for the heading in their worship bulletins or on their video screens:

  1. Super Bowl Sunday -or-
  2. Transfiguration Sunday

In the past, I have gone with Super Bowl Sunday. This year, I choose Transfiguration Sunday. Why? Because we as followers of Christ need to be shaped by something other than the pop culture calendar. Let me explain:

Here’s what the pop culture calendar looks like:

  • Christmas: shopping starts before Halloween.
  • New Year’s: parades, football, parties.
  • Valentine’s: shopping for your romantic love, and named after a saint.
  • March: basketball.
  • Easter: more shopping for new clothes, school holidays, spring vacation.
  • Mother’s Day: shopping for mom.
  • Father’s Day: shopping for dad.
  • 4th of July: food, flags, and more parades.
  • Fall: Back to school. more shopping for school clothes.
  • Halloween: national day of shopping for candy and costumes.
  • Thanksgiving: food and football.

Notice a pattern? Our culture revolves around sports, shopping, and food. Churches do not need to help culture shape us into hyper-consumers.

Contrast the pop culture calendar with the Christian Year:

  • Advent: waiting for the coming of Christ.
  • Christmastide: the birth of Christ.
  • Epiphany: the revealing of the Christ to the Wisemen.
  • Baptism of Christ: the beginning of Jesus ministry.
  • Transfiguration of Christ: the glory of God in Christ.
  • Lent: 40-days of reflection taken from Christ’s 40-days in the wilderness.
  • Palm Sunday: the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem.
  • Holy Week: the events in the last week of Christ — last supper, arrest, trial, crucifixion, burial.
  • Easter: the resurrection of Christ.
  • Pentecost: the coming of the Holy Spirit and the birthday of the church.
  • Kingdomtide: a time of growth between Pentecost and Advent, when the cycle starts all over again.

But, many object that the Christian year is “too Catholic.” Actually, what could be more Christian than marking time by the events in the life of Christ? Thousands of churches of various denominations worldwide observe time this way. Isn’t it more in keeping with the mission of the church to shape our lives around the life of Christ? Isn’t this a part of our uniqueness as the people of God, that our lives have a unique rhythm?

You don’t have to break out the censers, candles, and paraments to observe the Christian Year. Just identify each Sunday in your bulletin and offer a quick word of explanation. Your church will understand what it means, and many might find a new way to order their lives. You can still have a Super Bowl party for your community that evening. But let’s identify the day we gather for worship by something other than Super Bowl Sunday. Let me know what you think.
If you need resources for the Christian Year, you can find them at Vanderbilt University’s Divinity School website here, or by searching the web.

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Categories: bless the world, church as abbey, Community, Congregation, culture, invite others, Lectionary Yr A, lifestyle, Missional Church, Worship

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7 replies

  1. I agree with you completely, Chuck – maybe even to a fault. We use the Christian Year and the lectionary at our church, and I’ve used it for years. I see it in terms of time stewardship: As the monastic tradition stresses ordering life around God’s schedule rather than vise-versa, I think we make a statement by how we order the life of the church.

    One of my unofficial new year’s resolutions is to let myself stray from the lectionary a bit this year. There are so many things I’m starting to realize need to be said, and it’s MUCH better to let the Spirit guide in that direction than to be bound to a particular text or message.

    Though I have to admit, I’ve never headed our order of worship as “Super Bowl Sunday…”

  2. OK, I might have to reproduce this post with the Lithuanian pop culture twist. I have actually started the “Christian Calendar” widget on my blog (with liturgical colors and all). I hope that also explains what’s happening to at least a few visitors.

  3. Wow. Great food for thought. It is so popular to be trendy and culturally sensitive today. I’m going to explore the Christian Calendar and see how I can integrate these themes into our unique expression. Thanks Chuck for the website info for the Calendar. You have really stirred something in me today.

    Jim

  4. Jon, thanks for your comments. Yes, I depart from the lectionary myself on occasion, especially during Ordinary Time. But, regardless of sermon text, the Christian Year can still shape us and remind our people whose Life guides our lives.

    Simonas, as always my friend you are welcome to translate into Lithuanian. I actually saw the box about Epiphany on your site. Very nice touch. I will see if I can find that in English.

    Jim, I think we can be culturally engaged but not engulfed. The Christian Year reshapes the calendar for God’s people in a wonderful way.

    Thanks to you all for commenting and for the work that each of you is doing. Blessings! — Chuck

  5. Chuck, thanks for the insightful post. I have been gradually moving this way for several years now. Instead of identifying days in the bulletin by the civil or commercial calendar, we now use the church calendar. I love the focus on Christ rather than everything else. I have committed on preaching the lectionary texts from Advent to Pentecost this year. I have been following your blog for about a year now, plus it’s good to have a small church pastor, blogging friend here on the Southside. Keep up the great work.

  6. Dargot, thanks for your comments. I don’t know why I didn’t get this years ago, but better late than never. This whole business of sacred time intrigues me, and I am glad to hear that you find it meaningful also. Where are you in Southside? Email me if you want to. Maybe we could do lunch sometime. – Chuck

  7. Thanks for the thoughts. i blogged a little about the NFL Experience here in Phoenix at http://www.theproblemwithreligion.com. If you have time, check it out. If not, no problem. Peace.

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