It's been a year since we began meeting at Faith Presbyterian Church in Watkinsville for our worship gathering. It's been an exciting year as we've grown to the point that we're out of space on Sundays, have doubled the number of community groups that we host and are collecting all kinds of stories of God's redeeming grace here in Athens and across the world through us as a church. Today's gathering presents a particular challenge since it's the first time we've met at Faith in the afternoon before the Super Bowl kicks off. There is no bigger cultural phenomenon than the Super Bowl and every year people gather around for the commercials, the halftime show and the actual football game (Packers, 31-30, by the way). In church world, the Super Bowl is an easy way to get people together to connect relationally and most churches who regularly host evening events cancel them on Super Bowl Sunday.
Last fall, our leadership worked on the 2011 calendar and made the decision to meet today for the gathering. This was an easy decision, although in 2010 we chose to not host a worship gathering on two weekends (July 4th and Christmas). While recognizing the cultural hill there is to climb and allowing that some people might not make it because of the opportunities they have to watch the game with friends who don't do church, in the end it came down to the fact that we need Jesus more than football.
There is not a bigger football fan in our church than me. It's easy to become so preoccupied with the game that it becomes more important to me then our life together in gathered worship. And it is this subtle, yet powerful, drawing away from the invitation of God that reminds me how desperately I need today's gathering. Or more accurately, I desperately need Jesus and nowhere in my week will his presence be more near or his power so stunningly obvious then in our gathering at 5:00.
So here are two promises and a prayer. First, God has promised to meet with us - to remind us of who he is and what he's up to in our world. There is nothing we need to hear and see more than the snapshot of God that he will give us today. Second, we promise to wrap everything up tonight by 6:00. We know that many of you will be watching the game with friends whose lives are better off with you in the room, showing them who God is and how he operates in this world.
My prayer - that God make us more desperate for the grace that leads us to him then we are for everything the Super Bowl promises to provide but can never deliver.