The hype will grow stronger each day. You will see and hear it non-stop with exponential force. The final crescendo will reach its zenith with the end of the game.

The "Souper Bowl" might be the one event of the day that will survive all the hoopla of playing with a piece of inflated "pigskin", which is actually cowhide. It just might bring home the "real bacon" to millions scattered across our football-crazed nation on this one flamboyant day in our national life.

Here is how it works. Every person who goes to church on Super Bowl Sunday will take at least one can of soup, others may take 10 or more. One pastor said those who bring only one can of soup have to sit on the front row. Those who bring 20 cans may rate a seat on the back row.

At one church they had a "Souper Bowl" luncheon immediately following the morning service and asked the members to contribute the price of their normal Sunday meal to help less fortunate people. Other churches will do that in the evening for a light lunch before the game begins and all watch it on a big screen TV.

On a recent Super Bowl Sunday I met with the Oakland Church of God, Smithers, WV, a congregation of friendly and generous people, who brought several hundred cans of soup to help those in need. After the pastor talked about the "game of life" and how to be a winner, the church family had a most enjoyable soup luncheon.

Do not be surprised if the pastor uses some "football lingo" as he leads morning worship. Some pastors have even been known to preach in an official's shirt and call the congregation to worship by blowing his whistle.

The pastor may use football terminology with church related definitions. Examples could include:

Wide Receiver: An overweight usher waddling down the aisle to receive the morning offering.
Quarterback: What people want, who think religion is free, after they have put 50 cents in the offering plate.
End Around Play: Diaper changing time in the nursery.
Punt: What the pastor does when nothing else works.
In The Pocket: Where too many church members keep God's tithe and their offerings.
Fumble: A bad sermon.
Bench Warmer: An inactive church member.
Cornerbacks: Those who occupy the back pews.
Illegal Motion: Leaving the service before the benediction.
Huddle: Weekly meeting of the church gossip team.
End Zone: The church pews.
Interference: Talking, whispering and moving around during the service and sermon.
Nose Guard: A nursery worker during the flu season.
Touchdown: When attendance and giving records are broken.
National Anthem: The choir and congregation doing their best while enthusiastically singing "Amazing Grace."
Fan Response: Saying a hearty "Amen" to the sermon.
Head Coac: Jesus Christ.
Assistant Head Coach: The pastor.
Super Bowl Champion: A church doing the will of God.

Super Bowl Sunday can be an enjoyable day for the entire church. It can provide special things for every age group. It is a good Sunday to recognize athletes of every age level, coaches, cheerleaders and have them participate in the service.

In recent months I was the speaker for a basketball camp, Anderson, Indiana, the Interstate Softball Tournament in Roanoke, VA, and for university football teams in West Virginia and Indiana. Speaking to all kinds of sports groups is as natural for me as it was playing.

St. Paul drew illustrations from the Grecian athletic contests with these words: "Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air" (I Corinthians 9:24-26 NIV).

Super Bowl XXXVII will be played, January 26, in San Diego, CA. One team will win, one will lose. It is not a matter of life and death. It is just a game that will only rate a tiny blip on the radar screen of history. Follow the advice the great sportscaster, Ernie Saunders, used to close every show, "Remember, whether you win or lose, be a good sport!" Just be sure you win in the game of life. It is not for tomorrow's sports page. It is for eternity.

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Copyright © 2002 Bill Ellis. All rights reserved.