Tag: super bowl sunday

Finding the rhythm of God’s grace

My post, Is Feb 3 Really Super Bowl Sunday?, rhythm-by-mondrian.jpghas been viewed 1,263 times since I posted it on January 22.  We’re obviously interested in the Super Bowl and how our churches can be effective on that day.  My point was that for followers of Christ, Sunday does not belong to the NFL, it belongs to Christ and His church.  On Sunday morning in Chatham, we’re celebrating Transfiguration Sunday, not Super Bowl Sunday. 

Helping others find the rhythm of God’s grace in their lives is the mission of the church, in my opinion.  If we can lead others to pattern their lives with a consciousness of God’s work in God’s world, we go a long way toward helping people grow in their relationship to God.  Several years ago, I heard a preacher say, “You can tell what priorities people have by looking at two things — their calendars and their checkbooks.”  I think he was right, and the way we not only plan our time, but understand the meaning of time is important for followers of Christ.

So, that’s why I like the Christian Year as a framework for church worship and planning.  And, that’s why I preach from the revised common lectionary.  And, that’s why Debbie and I follow the practice of “keeping the hours” by praying the daily office each day.  Those rhythms govern our lives and remind us that we do indeed live in sacred time. 

The Old Testament examples of yearly festivals (Feast of Tabernacles, Passover, Pentecost, etc), and the 3-times daily prayer of people like Daniel are biblical examples of what I’m talking about.  These practices were long ago reinvented for the Christian church in the form of the Christian Year, the daily office, and recommended scripture readings.  Churches of all sizes — ours is small with about 80-100 each Sunday — can do the very things I am suggesting and bring a new awareness to their members.  We’re doing it here in Chatham in a 151-year old congregation that has embraced positively the Christian Year, the lectionary, and my references to the daily office. 

What’s your experience?  How is your church shaping the lives of your members each week, month, and year?  Others are interested in this issue, and I look forward to your comments and stories about how you find the rhythm of God’s grace in your life and your church. 

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.