Superbowl Sunday, Superstrong Suit! (2/4/18)

Posted by on Feb 17, 2018 in EventReport, Worship & Prayer | 0 comments

Sunday February 4, 2018 was a big day at PUMC.  In late December, our Pastor (Rev. Jim Bolton), underwent surgery and began a one-month leave of absence period of recovery.  Throughout January, services were lead by guest clergy and lay speakers.  Administrative decisions were postponed.  Visitations were made by local clergy and our own Stephen Ministers. 

But February 4 came; our pastor returned!  The surgery was successful.  The ordeal had taken its toll; he had lost some weight, he looked a bit tired, and he used a stool during the sermon.  But our prayers had been answered, and he was well and getting stronger.

Some of our more artistic members created a “welcome back” card for Pastor Jim and placed it in front of the sanctuary before he arrived: Pastor Jim Super Guy!    “It’s been Ruff!”  It illustrated several facets of our relationship with our pastor:

  • The Bolton’s dog, Ripley, is a frequent sermon illustration.  The drawing featured on this display took little Ripley to a menacing level; totally out of character from the cuddly little pup that Ripley really is.

  • Our Lay and guest speakers delivered sermons that were noticeably shorter than Pastor Jim’s typical sermon.  So, the time saved on these Sundays was returned to Pastor Jim in the form of “Bone-Us Minutes.”

  • The display listed the “Top Ten Reasons Why We’re Glad Your Back.”  Here’s a sampling of the top 10:  “Nobody else names their sermons after music and movies“…  “We haven’t repeated parts of closing hymns lately“…   “People around town miss Ripely.”  The #1 reason summed it all up:  “We just miss our bald guy!”

More importantly, the “card” included a collection of notes written by members expressing our love and appreciation for Pastor Jim and the Bolton family.

Welcome Back!!! 


Sunday February 4 will also go down as a big day in our history for another reason;  The Eagles won the superbowl!  For the first time- ever- the local football team (the Philadelphia Eagles) won the championship. (OK- they did win way back in 1960, but that was before the current system of leagues and “superbowl” was formed).

Superbowl Sunday almost never involves the Philadelphia football team.  But, at PUMC we’ve developed a tradition on Superbowl Sunday.  The Superbowl is a big deal across the country, even if its significance is reduced by the absence of our local favorite.  Every year, this spectacle captures the country’s imagination, so why not plug into that energy when we worship God on “Superbowl Morning”?

And so, Superbowl Sunday has become Dress Down Sunday at PUMC.  No “Sunday best” on this particular Sunday.  Instead, we wear sports team jerseys.  We focus on teamwork and learn from all of the football analogies we possibly can:

Songs of Praise and Worship The Warm-Up
Call to Worship The Kick-Off
Opening Prayer Huddle-Up
Offering The Coin Toss
Pastoral Prayer Talking with Our Head Coach
Scripture Reading Reading the Playbook
Sermon Studying the Game Plan

Familiarity sometimes dulls our hearing.  Changing things up, even by giving familiar tools humorous names, helps to reconnect us with opportunities that can make us stronger.  And the next time we watch a football game and see the quarterback look at the play card strapped to his wrist, maybe we’ll think about moving our Bible to a more prominent place.  Before jumping into a decision and “running a play” on our own, maybe we’ll remember to “Huddle Up” and pray.


Dressing in the Spirit of the Service…

The dress code for Superbowl Sunday is a bit less formal than our usual garb:

Several of us put some extra preparation into this Dress Down:


Dressing in the Service of the Spirit…

Pastor Jim’s sermon reminded us that we need the protection of a “Spiritual Dress Code” in order to glorify God in the “real world.”  To continue the analogy, a football field is rough.  Offensive linesmen crush into defensive linemen on every play.  The quarterback hangs on to the safety of the pocket.  Running backs follow the protection of their blockers. 

In the “field of our day to day lives”, the World makes it hard for us to “get downfield.”  Our faith is attacked.  Our God is shoved aside.  The Bible reminds us that the enemy on this field isn’t another football team; it’s Satan!

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

-Eph 6:12

But the good news is that God has provided us with some powerful tools that will allow us to succeed.  Pastor Jim’s sermon, “Being Victorious on Life’s Playing Field”, took us to Ephesians 6:10-18 and reminded us about the “Armor of God.”

Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.  Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,  and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.  Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.

-Eph 6:13-18

Belt of Truth

The belt encircles you and it holds things up.  Your sword and all your tools depend on the belt.  Truth.  Nothing works unless it’s based in God’s truth.  The best source of truth that we have is the Bible (see 2 Tim. 3:16).

Breastplate of Righteousness

Football players wear a harness consisting of pads protecting the shoulders and the upper chest.  We need to guard our hearts.  All  of our thoughts and actions come from the control center of our hearts.  Righteousness comes from Faith, Hope, and Love.  Faith, Hope, and Love must form the foundation of our Heart- all of our thoughts, words, and actions. 


We are called to walk.  To go into the world in love and service.  But we need shoes to protect our feet.  And we do that with the “gospel of peace” that God has given us (see John 14:27).  And these shoes must fit.  When we “walk”… when we act and “do things”, it must be in the shoes that match the purpose that God has given us.

Shield of Faith

The Roman shield was big enough to protect up to 3 men.  The Shield of faith is held in teamwork.  We depend on each other and protect each other.  We find strength and protection when we share our faith (through small groups, Bible Studies and Accountability Groups). 

Just as every player on a football team depends on his teammates, we depend on the faith from each other to allow us to hold the shield of the Lord’s protection (see Psalm 18:2Psalm 28:7,  and Genesis 15:1).

Helmet of Salvation

A Helmet protects our head.  Concussions can rattle our thinking and cause us to stray from God and towards the ways of the world.  But God calls us to think in a new way (see Romans 12:2).  Salvation causes us to think in different ways, to want different things.  We must protect that mindset by being alert to the things around us (see 1 Peter 5:8-9).  What do we fill our minds with?

Sword of the Spirit

The sword is used in hand to hand combat.  We need to fight against evil in our every day lives; down where “the rubber meets the road.”  And so, to be ready for any circumstance, we need to intentionally put on the armor that God has provided for us. 


Wait ‘Till Next Year!

Usually, the playoff season in Philadelphia ends with a sense of “wait until next year.”  The season ends with a loss and we walk off the field.

But when Jesus comes to lead us off the “Field of Life,” our victory is guaranteed.  Instead of the Lombardi trophy, we have the promise of casting down our crowns at the feet of God in heaven.  Our robes will be white and we’ll be in perfect unity with our Creator. 

What greater victory is there than that?


+     +     +     +     +     +     +

To learn more about Worship Opportunities at PUMC, click this button:   Worship  













Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *