At the beginning of every New Year, I try to assemble a preaching plan for the foreseeable future. Eighteen years ago it took the form of a annual preaching calendar; complete with texts, sermon titles, and even appropriate notes as I anticipated special emphases for the services. That pattern has evolved somewhat over the past nearly two decades, but I still develop some kind of preaching plan for the church. I like to think of it as a “spiritual meal plan” for our church family. I want the body to be well-fed and spiritually nourished throughout the year.
Since we genuinely enjoy and are committed to our Sunday evening services, I decided to begin 2012 with a focus on the Lord’s Prayer during that time. The first installment was postponed until last week as the first Sunday evening of the year was filled up with the overflow from the morning sermon. That meant I had to push things back a week or so and that I wasn’t able to begin “The Lord’s Prayer” series until last week.
The reason for the seemingly unnecessary detail is that this “set back” means that the text for the February 5 sermon is “Your kingdom come”. And of course, February 5 is an important date in the Christian calendar–there will be much celebration on that day as we prepare for the Super Bowl! Today, I read a blog post from Michael Horton that gave rise to my thoughts here. In that post Horton wrote,
However, the doors are wide open in many churches for the upcoming Super Bowl Sunday. Only it’s not going to be a regular service of “the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the prayers” (Acts 2:42), but big-screen gridiron action. Undaunted by NFL suits for violating copyright laws by charging admission fees to watch the show on giant screens, many churches are giddy over Super Bowl-themed parties that will replace worship. Or, perhaps, will offer a different object of worship.
I know, I know. Low blow, as if that benevolent and benign past time of sports—especially football—could be compared with Baal. In fact, God and football (baseball has fallen a bit) block and tackle for each other in American civil religion these days. Typically, in the reports I scanned, pastors were justifying their decision by appealing to the mission opportunity. Somehow, having the building full with people who want to be there for a game, but not for God’s saving service to sinners, is “missional.” In any case, the evening service has fallen by the wayside in many churches anyway—no conflict there.
It occurred to me that it’s rather ironic to be preaching on the program of God’s kingdom on the very day that many who claim to love God’s kingdom will be neglecting the Kingdom gathering.
I’m not trying to be a spiritual fuddy-duddy. And in case you’re having ill thoughts toward me, please know that I will certainly turn the game on after the evening service. My son and I really look forward to enjoying the second half of the game together while we feast on a mixture of hot wings and whatever else happens to be in the cabinet. But I did think it was worth asking whether or not there is a Clash of the Kingdoms?