(Note: I published a slightly different version of this for my church last week.)
If you hang around churches long enough, chances are you’ll hear Easter referred to as “The Super Bowl.” It’s the time when everyone rolls out the “red carpet” for people who may only come to church once or twice a year. Along with Christmas, it’s a Sunday when you’re as likely to find some kind of livestock in a worship space as a preacher.
People book convention centers, outdoor amphitheaters and all manner of large venues in order to make a big splash and “do it up right” for Jesus’ resurrection.
As best as I can tell, the goal is two-fold:
1. Show visitors that we can put a great celebration, and
2. Celebrate the earth-shaking, cosmic-changing event that is the resurrection.
Best bands. Skinniest jeans. Brightest colors. Most vivid tech. Most flowers. (Cue allergies.)
The superlatives go on and on, and in a way there’s nothing wrong with any of it. We are called to proclaim this message to the world (whether they want to hear it or not), and we are called to celebrate our risen Lord.
But I’d like to challenge you to think about a couple other aspects of this week:
- Sometimes, we get so focused on the “Super Bowl” that we undermine our communities’ abilities to be present for it. Instead, we find exhausted volunteers, hyper-focused musicians and technical artists who are playing the heck out of a song but are spiritually worn out from the hours and hours of rehearsals.
Relatedly, we also find communities that load down Easter with the entire Holy Week journey, so that people are talking about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and the atonement as well as the significance of resurrection life all on the same morning. Now, those things are intrinsically related, but they are so cataclysmically huge that the journey becomes to large to take, and most preachers just lean on “the Blood,” which in and of itself isn’t too bad, but it also isn’t really Easter.
Year ago, I started looking for ways to both slow down during Holy Week as well as lean in to the journey towards the Cross. What I found is that Easter needs the context of Holy Week in order to find its true significance as well as to give volunteers the necessary break during a busy season. Simply put, when you journey into mourning and sorrow, joy and celebration becomes much easier.
- Even if your community still chooses to celebrate the “Super Bowl”, it’s up to you to tend to your own soul. Out of all the weeks of the year, this is the week when you should be most connected to God’s presence in your life. So take the time this week to pray, to meditate even in the midst of rehearsals and soundchecks and call times.
Realize that you actually aren’t playing in the Super Bowl. God did that (and won). You’re just telling people the story of the Super Bowl, and guess what: you’re a part of that story. So don’t zone out during it.