September 19, 2020

Holy Week 2011

By Chaplain Mike

Note: certain words have been rendered in Swahili to pass the censors’ muster.

Last year, we here in Indianapolis celebrated Holy Week with renewed faith and hope. All week long we prayed and focused our attention on the Great Day to come, when victory would be revealed.

Each day, we had fellowship with our brothers and sisters, aware of the building excitement. Events and gatherings throughout the week prepared our hearts and minds for the great celebration to come on the weekend. We studied and listened as our teachers and mentors gave their perspectives and helped us enter into the spirit of what has always been the highpoint of the liturgical year, the Sunday of Sundays, the day of triumph.

We picked out our finest clothes, planned a special menu for our festive Sunday gatherings, invited family and friends to join us, and prepared to spend the day together.

When the great Day arrived, we rejoiced!

We celebrated!

We enjoyed fellowship that was a foretaste of heaven!

And then the New Orleans Saints beat our Colts, 31-17, and won the super bakuli.

Once more, it’s our sports “holy week” in America—super bakuli Sunday is this Sunday, Feb. 6. Kickoff is at 6:28 ET.

In this year’s game, the Pittsburgh Steelers will face the Green Bay Packers in Dallas, Texas for the right to raise the Vince Lombardi trophy, awarded to the champion of American professional football.

For “old-school” football fans like me, it’s a great match-up, promising hard-nosed, back to basics toughness and defense, while also featuring a couple of offenses that can light up the scoreboard. The Packers are, at this point, favored by 3 points.

(As a Chicago Bears’ fan, I am contractually obligated to say that I can in no way root for the Packers. I do like cheese, however, and plan to eat plenty of it during the game.)

It’s the holiest day of the year, and what a service we’re expecting! Our sanctuary will be the most impressive cathedral in contemporary American sports stadiums: Cowboys Stadium. This venue is perfect for today’s worship, as it features the world’s largest HD video screen—more than 25,000 square feet in size. The massive display weighs 600 tons, is 180 feet long and 72 feet tall. It’s made of 10.5 million LEDs. Let’s hope the PowerPoint team doesn’t screw things up.

Leading the service will be our priests, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman of FOX. With authority and relevance, they will enlighten us on the details and mysteries of the game. Inspiring and enthusiastic praise and worship music will be provided by Christina Aguilera (national anthem), Lea Michele of Glee (“America the Beautiful”), and the Black-Eyed Peas (halftime show). Break-out discussion sessions will be facilitated by such qualified teachers as Terry Bradshaw, Michael Strahan, Howie Long, and Jimmy Johnson.

Of course, the highlight of the day will be provided by our multimedia ministry, featuring the always creative and inspiring super bakuli commercials. These ground-breaking ads will not only bring an immediate blessing, but will also no doubt have a transformative impact on our culture for years to come.

No matter which team wins the game, everyone who participates in the festivities will end up a winner. A champion, in fact.

Let us pray for a memorable day of celebration, fellowship, instruction, and encouragement. Invite your non-football friends to join you. Even if they don’t normally like watching games, there will be plenty for them to enjoy, and you never know, they just might open their hearts and receive a great blessing from the experience.

Let us pray:

Our Father, who art in the skybox,
May your name be cheered enthusiastically.
May the championship be won.
May touchdowns be run
In Dallas as they were in New Orleans.
Give us this day our daily wings (and nachos).
And forgive us our bad sportsmanship
As we forgive those who exercise bad sportsmanship against us.
And lead us not into indigestion,
But deliver us from bad bean dip.
For thine is the super bakuli, the Lombardi trophy,
And the best commercials forever and ever.


  1. Wait. Are you telling me my Bengals aren’t in the Big Game? Really?

    Oh–and don’t get us in trouble by saying those two words: bowl and super, but in the reverse order and capitalized. It could get us in deep doo with the No Fun League. But we can say Superb Owl. Adam Palmer came up with that as a way around the copyright laws…

    Here’s to a rousing Superb Owl this Sunday!

  2. In Pittsburgh I believe we Catholics receive a Pleniary Indulgence for watching the game, and two if we win

  3. Well, here in Maine the Superb Owl (is there REALLY a copyright issue with writing out the actual name of the thing??) lost a bit of its excitement when the Patriots lost their chance to play in the big game. HOW could they have done so badly against the Jets when they whooped them so badly the previous time they went up against them? Tom thinks they must have been recovering from celebrating too much the night before.

    • Sorry, Joanie, I’m not a bit sorry to see the Pats left out in the cold. (Spoken as a disgruntled ‘Phins fan.) 🙂

    • We were very happy in Pittsburgh to see the Pats go down – Brady gets rid of the football faster than our defenders can get to him and he picks apart our secondary – sorry Joanie….

      • Brady IS amazing with that football, Radagast. But my goodness, during the last game with the Jets, there would be a Jet player right there with any Pats player that Brady wanted to throw the pass to. And he got sacked too many times. It just was not a good game for the Pats that day.

        • I watched that game and was amazed how many times they rattled Brady. But its when he starts to raly thet he can be dangerous – they shut down the running game too…

    • I’m with you, JoanieD!

    • The Patriots are actual verifiable cheaters, Joanie.

      • Cunnudda wrote, “The Patriots are actual verifiable cheaters, Joanie.:

        I don’t know anything about that, Cunnudda. (Don’t they have umpires for things like that?)

        Actually, I am not much of a sports fan at all, but I perk up a bit when things get near the Superb Owl because I know it’s such a big deal/fun event for so many people. And I find it funny that many (most?) people cheer on the team that is located nearest to them. The thing is, the players could all be from parts of the country nowhere near where the team has their home field. Same thing with the coach. And the players can totally change from year to year. So I find it hard to feel like a big fan, even of the Patriots. Now, back in the day, you had guys like Carl Yastrzemski who played his entire 23-year baseball career with the Boston Red Sox (got that stat from wikipedia, but I at LEAST knew he was there a long time). And before him, Ted Williams played 21 years for the Red Sox. So when you rooted (sp?) for a team, you kind of knew the guys well who you were rooting for. And they didn’t have to be “good” guys, but it surely helped if they were good players.

        When I have had the time and inclination to look into it, I read a little about the quarterbacks for the Superb Owl teams and the coach and maybe a few of the players and then rooted for the team that seemed to have the “nicest” guys or the ones that had to overcome a lot to get where they are.

        • After I wrote this, I thought, “Oops, I think umpires are for baseball and referees for football. So I went to wikipedia and read:

          “An American football (or Canadian football) referee is responsible for the general supervision of the game and has the final authority on all rulings. He is assisted by up to six other officials on the field. These officials are commonly referred to as “referees” but each has a title based on position and responsibilities during the game: referee, head linesman, line judge, umpire, back judge, side judge, and field judge.”

          So, mainly they are referees in football, but there is an umpire in there too. Who knew? (Probably a lot of you fans knew.)

  4. It’s fun to think that the wardrobe possibilities in less developed countries are resting on the results of the Extraordinary Dish. I guess tee-shirts of the losing team generally get disposed of in a tax-deductible way. When we were in Liberia in the 80s, every other person had a Pittsburgh Steelers tee-shirt on. And what will it be this year?

    (The same principle probably explains why for years all the plastic grocery bags in Kyrgyzstan said “The Pet Shop, Glasgow” on them.)

  5. Wait…are you actually suggesting we take sports too seriously in our country??? BURN THE INFIDEL!

  6. Sports are the perfect new religion for us: entertaining, non-demanding (as long as we just watch), and giving us a sense of identity and importance at the small price of a couple hours a week. Actually, that does sound like…

    • Like what? Huh? Skating pretty close there, Daniel.

    • Daniel, you took off preachin’ and took to meddlin’…

      And you meddled right into the post-evangelical wilderness.


      • thanks. I would say I feel at home, but feeling at home in the wilderness is probrably mixing incompatible metaphors

        • Daniel writes, “feeling at home in the wilderness is probrably mixing incompatible metaphors.” Well, you can feel at home in the wilderness when the wolves are taking care of you. Or would that be lambs, in this case. Oh, never mind.

    • Can you imagine the impact on churches if this game were held at noon?

      • Yes, very vividly, actually . . .

        Well, there are two scenarios I can picture, depending on whether those huge overhead screens in Sunday Morning Worship Centers can pick up television stations or not.

      • Only slightly less devastating than that of the Daytona 500, which is my family’s “holy week.”

        Another great post, Chaplain Mike — hilarious and thought-provoking at the same time.

      • Actually some of us preachers love a challenge. Maybe we could combine our sermons with the game by giving 90 second sermonettes based on sports illustrations during the commercials. Overall theme: Jesus is the Ultimate Champion! We could take the offering at the door, with the ushers manning the ticket counters. Perhaps during the half-time show we can sneak in a few praise choruses (centered on the theme of victory). Bonus: no wardrobe malfunctions (hopefully).

        • I will pay cash money to hear you preach redemptively on the Hooters commercials… or the Bud Light speedo commercial.. let me know if it’s happenin’

          • ummhh…how much cash, exactly?

          • should’ve know someone named DANIEL would have no fear……

          • Bud Light Speedo Commercial and Your Best Life Now
            Sermon Outline for February 6

            1. We try to cover ourselves with possessions and accomplishments like a nasty speedo

            2. In doing so, we look foolish and miss out on the good things in life, like the hot bartender’s approval

            3. We should instead cover ourselves with the trappings of religion, good intentions, and hard work

            [tongue in cheek for the irony-impaired]: Is that “redemptive” enough for ya?

          • trying the get the mental picture of #1 out of my mind…’s….NOT….WORKING…….
            cant’ complain, I started it; give me a few weeks to raise your “booty”…..


      • Actually in Pittsburgh they would probably just move the time of the service – heck Pittsburgh City Schools have already declared a two hour delay for Monday….

      • Can you imagine the impact if churches wouldn’t get so hung up on doing their thing on Sunday mornings (of course making sure to finish early enough so the “I won’t work on Sunday” crowd can be served lunch at the local Morrison?) and actually established a schedule that worked for others?

        I used to always be jealous of my Catholic friends that could do Mass on Saturday in order to do something else on Sundays.

        • Ed writes, “I used to always be jealous of my Catholic friends that could do Mass on Saturday in order to do something else on Sundays.”

          But, if you live with a non-Christian as I do, even having the Saturday Mass does not work out because Tom doesn’t like me doing anything on the weekend that could interrupt HIS plans, especially church things. So I only get to go to Mass once in a while. I can work some morning weekday Masses in around my work schedule sometimes, but I miss out on the larger gathering with the music, full homily, babies, and the whole shebang. We do what we feel we have to do.

          (Now back to the fun of the Superb Owl (Extraordinary Dish, Super bakuli).

          • JoanieD, my feminist hackles are rising (never mind my Papist ones).

            So baby wants you to fall in with all his plans, huh? Tell him to go take a hike and you’re having a night out with the girls instead.

            Men – keep ’em in their place!

            (You may not want to go to me for relationship advice, unless it’s how to end a relationship).

          • Martha, Tom has some mental health issues that make it very difficult to tell him to “take a hike.” But I appreciate your concern and I, too, wish that things could be different. Pray for Tom that God will heal his body, mind, and spirit.

      • I’ve seen more than one news outlet reporting that churches here in Wisconsin have been cancelling afternoon and evening activities in honor of the holy-day …

    • “Nondemanding”?? For the spectators, maybe. Not for the participants.

  7. Chaplain Mike, you are a very sick man, a deeply disturbed human being!

  8. …and so are all your Superb Owl-saturated friends, except the ones who happen to be women, of course….

    I alone have the truth: Professional sports are of the devil, especially American football. Baseball has received an exemption from the Obama administration.

    • Probably it is the phrase “of the devil” that triggered the moderation. I’ve gotten moderated for the word “heretic” even though I was defending someone by saying he was not one.

      It is good to have those review systems in place, even though it often seems odd what triggers them.

  9. I see I am now on moderation, probably for my first comment. Doesn’t the iMonk censor thingy recognize humor when it sees it???

    • We have no sense of humor here, Bob. We are always serious about every little thing. 🙂

      Your comments got held up because it seemed you might be saying something negative about baseball, and baseball, as you know, is God’s chosen sport.

      Check the first three words of the Bible…

  10. I just had to share this on my Blog!!

  11. I would like to pose a question here that others may answer after Sunday.

    Will there be one single church, anywhere in America, where the Superb Owl ISN’T mentioned in some shallow, pandering non-funny “joke”? I would be delighted to hear of any congregation anywhere that either ignores it during the service or else makes a serious comment about it, for good or ill. The chances of that happening in the wilderness or rural and small-town western Indiana are slight. But maybe somewhere someone will rise to the challenge.

    Can we keep this thread going until after church-time on Sunday and share what was said in each of our several congregations? The prize is a prayer of gratitude to the pastor, preacher or priest who offers something more than flippancy.

    • Andy, I will take you up on the “serious comment” part of it.

      Actually, I make a conscious effort to tone down my humorous side on Sunday mornings. I never tell a joke during the sermon (though a facetious remark creeps in occasionally). I sometimes wonder if i become more boring this way, or make the Christian life appear too somber, but the risk of making light of holy things is too great.

      Opening announcements, however, are a place for a little more levity.

      • Thanks Daniel. I like your comment:

        > I sometimes wonder if I become more boring this way, or make the Christian life appear too somber, but the risk of making light of holy things is too great. <

        I'm glad you hold holiness so high. I'm sorry I don't live near enough to attend your church.

        Joy is appropriate for Christians 24/7. But I get weary of insipid comments at inappropriate moments from pastors, priests or lay leaders who are 'working the crowd' rather than leading church.

        • >I’m glad you hold holiness so high. I’m sorry I don’t live near enough to attend your church<

          Thanks for that.

          When I first starting preaching regularly, I did "work the crowd" a bit, I'm afraid. Got convicted of it while reading Tozer and meditating on God's holiness. Since then I try to be more reverent, in the best sense of the word. Coincidence perhaps, but it seems we have a harder time keeping newcomers than we did then…

    • If the game was mentioned at all in my church’s service, I didn’t hear it. However, at least one person came attired in a team jersey, which definitely engendered some pre-service discussion among the people sitting near her.

    • Well, shame on me for expecting the worst.

      The service I attended this morning was reverent and proper, with not a single impious comment in it.

    • I would like to report that in Bethelview United Methodist Church of Cumming, Georgia, today there was not one single word, hint, allusion, joke, or jersey regarding The Game Whose Name Must Not Be Mentioned For Fear Of Copyright Infringement. It was as though it never existed, or never would exist.

      Thanks be to God.

      Where do I claim the prize on behalf of my pastor?

  12. For those who are not into the Super Bakuli, you can bring in the Lenten season, with March Madness, culminating in the Final Four. (Is it alright to say “Final Four” here, or should I substitute with something else?

    • I think the “Final Four” of the Apocalypse are prophesied in the book of Revelation, so yes, it must be OK.

  13. And all God’s children said….Go Pack Go. Amen.

    And there was much rejoicing…

  14. Living in Steelers country its hard not to avoid the hullabaloo prior to this Sunday, however I did see a very theologically correct church sign the other day:

    God Rules !!
    Steelers Rock !!

  15. The great, unspeakable name. This really is becoming a religion.

  16. I think the Superb Owl Sunday should be moved to Superb Owl Saturday. That will give people a chance to rest up on Sunday before heading back to work on Monday. (But, we would have lots of people likely skipping going to church services or Mass.)

    • Lol, that’s funny. We just had a meeting this morning where our manager told us that the Monday after Superb Owl Sunday has the highest absenteeism of any day of the year.

  17. This is really a brilliant piece of satire, ham-fisted as it is. Pointing out our idolatry is a good thing, but I hope everyone also catches the intentional parallel between modern sports entertainment and modern church entertainment.

  18. My Holy week occurs in October. Can’t wait for opening day. Go Dodgers.

  19. Our church has baptized the Cauldron (that’s a a really big, superlative bowl, after all), with a Sunday PM filled with game-watching, snacks, activities, you name it (in lieu of PM service). My wife and I are taking advantage of this time to drive 400 miles while there will be no other cars on the road. Let me know how the game turns out…

  20. I am an Eagles fan. My wife is a Steelers fan. This month I finally gave in to the fact that I would have to let my children be raised as Steelers fans. Allowing them to be Eagles fans would be the equivilant of child abuse. Ah yes, I can see it now:

    “Daddy, who’s that big man and why does he always look so confused?”

    “That’s Andy Reid son. Now go put on your Steelers jersey and watch the game with mommy.”

  21. I don’t know if our priest will say anything about the Super Bakuli in his homily, but our bylaws state we have to have our annual parish meeting this Sunday. Not being a football fan, that’s ok by me. I’m sure enough people for a quorum will stay, and we’ll be done before the game starts. But I think the coinci-dence will move things along a little bit… 8)

    btw, I reach across the country, from CA to ME, to hug my dear sister, Joanie D.


    • Awww, thanks for the hug, Dana! How did I rate a hug?

      • ‘Cause you have a lot of patience and love, dear. I know what it’s like to have a husband who, though a Christian, is not supportive of my walk with the Lord. I know what it’s like to not be in church as much a I’d prefer, but at least I can go on Sunday. One of our priests told me that not being able to come more often is my “fast”. In a strange way, that gave me consolation…

        So yet another hug to you.


  22. What does it say about me that I was staring at the halos in the icon trying to figure out if they were actually little Green Bay helmets?

    And that’s all I have to say on the matter because I almost called my husband at work this morning while I was at the store to ask him if the Superb Owl was this weekend and if he wanted me to get him something special to eat. So yeah, I’m not really vested in the whole outcome.