My first memories of the Super Bowl were not from television. They came from a series of small books I checked out from the library as an elementary student at Marvin Pittman school in Statesboro. I read about how the Green Bay Packers won the first two games between the champions of the AFL and NFL, back in 1967 & 1968. Featuring Quarterback Bart Starr and Coach Vince Lombardi, those games set the stage for one of the most-watched traditions in history.
For all of the hype and attention, the Super Bowl has always been about the people. From star athletes competing at their highest levels, to coaches analyzing and inspiring to gain every advantage, to fans who stake their happiness on the outcome of a game, there would be nothing to watch without the people.
After first reading about this game of epic proportions, I soon started watching the Super Bowl as a tradition within the church. It has almost nothing to do with Jesus, but our youth group would often accept my parents’ invitation to our home where watching the game would be coupled with ping-pong tournaments, back-yard football, snacks and, of course, the commercials.
For many viewers at home, it is the commercials, in between the action on the field, that are the main attraction. The cost of 30-second ads during the Super Bowl has risen from $282,857 in 1967 to $4,000,000 in 2013, when the first figure is adjusted for inflation. Yet, for all of the money spent, it is the people we remember. To help jog your memories, what about:
Farrah Fawcett shaving Joe Namath for Noxzema in 1973
The little boy handing Mean Joe Green a Coca-Cola in 1979
Cindy Crawford holding a new Pepsi can in 1992
Michael Jordan and Larry Bird shooting it out for McDonalds in 1993
The Frogs sounding out Budweiser in 1995
Or, the Budweiser Clydsdales bowing to downtown NYC in 2002
A Snicker Bar helping one guy avoid being Betty White in 2010
The Super Bowl is about people. The best commercials ever created are about people. They feature people and they are geared toward people.Jesus’ ministry was for people, too. He attracted crowds because he spoke to and cared for people. The Sermon the Mount, in Matthew 5-7, features probably the most concise gathering of wisdom on how to live the best possible life that any person could read. He healed the sick, and advocating for people on the margins. Along with the ministry of reconciling all of Creation, at the heart of Jesus' ministry was an emphasis on God's desires for people.
Our local church is about people, too. We occupy good buildings, sing great anthems, read from powerful devotionals, and teach from superb curriculum. None of those things define who we are. We are, and have always been, defined by our people. We are loving, we are forgiving, we are generous, and we are growing. We gather on Sundays because of people: ushers, choir members, children and students, teachers, staff, members and visitors. All of these make what we do more than super!
Grace and Peace, Scott