Sunday night really bothered me.
Not the ads. Not the poor performance of what should be an outstanding team. Not the fact that I missed the second half of the game.
The opinions of the people for whom I missed the second half was what bothered me.
I Went to Church
I attend the 6pm service for a great church in downtown Portland just about every Sunday.[ref]If I have other, immovable evening plans I'll instead attend a service earlier in the day. If I'm out of town, I'll find a local congregation to meet with and catch up on our teaching series through the weekly podcast.[/ref] Thankfully, even despite the super bowl, nothing changed about our worship schedule.
I watched the first half of the game, enjoyed some tasty pizza and an unexpected lead by by team, then hopped in the car to make it downtown for church. I kept the game on in the car so I could stay up-to-date with the score until I made it to church.
Then I turned off the potential distraction that is my smartphone and found a seat in the nearly empty auditorium.
Every leader who stood in front of the auditorium this weekend upset me. Every. Single. One.
Not their theology. Not their lessons.
I Can Prioritize
I enjoy sports. I enjoy football; playing it, watching it, talking about it. I will happily spend a hundred dollars on a ticket, drive 2 hours early in the morning, and sit all day in the freezing rain to see my favorite team play.
I will barbecue in the snow if it will get friends to come over and enjoy the game with me.
I own multiple jerseys, car decals, one-a-day calendars, and other football memorabilia for my team.
It's safe to say I'm a football fan. But Sunday, during the biggest football game of the year, I walked away from the TV to go to church instead. I can prioritize - church is more important than football.
The leaders of my church, however, stood in front of a gathered crowd and made fun of football fans. They joked about misplaced priorities. Made generalizations about those in attendance - "well, none of you know anything about that sport anyway, right?"
There I was, sitting in the middle of the congregation sporting a football jersey and grinning like an idiot because of the score. There I was, being told that people like me - football fans - didn't care about the church. There I was, being told that because I was in church instead of watching the game, I didn't understand the game and, obviously, didn't understand sports at all either.
Being Mocked Hurts
No, none of these comments were directed at me personally. These statements were broad generalizations, though, and they were broad enough to apply to me.
Having someone stand on stage, present a stereotype of any kind, then mock it publicly does anyone who even remotely fits that stereotype harm. Imagine if instead of football fans, they were talking about an ethnic group, another religious group, an age group, a political group.
I was shocked to find this kind of behavior in the church.