The Rev. Laura A. Csellak, Chaplain
As I write this piece for the Gazette we don’t yet know what two teams will be playing in the Super Bowl this year. Of course, most of the Gazette readership hoped that it would be the Buffalo Bills on the field at the State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona on February 12th. You recall the Buffalo Bills’ tragic past of losing the Super Bowl from 1991-94. The Bills are blessed to have one of the most rabid fan bases in football—if not all sports. I personally saw this played out at Lutheran during football season this year as even the most faith-filled residents often choose to watch the Bills game instead of participate in afternoon worship. And you should have heard the cry of disdain from my husband the Sunday the Bills played the Dolphins and I informed him I was rooting for Miami (my home town is West Palm Beach, Florida).
Three decades ago another event was established to take place on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s called the Souper Bowl of Caring with the purpose “to tackler hunger together”. This is a national movement working to fight hunger and poverty at the time of the Super Bowl football game. The funds raised are given directly to the hunger-relief charity of the contributor’s choice.
In congregations I’ve served we had a contest to see which team receives the most contributions of money and non-perishable food items. It’s both fun and inspiring to see the offering containers fill up for each team, with canned goods stacked high for each side. Then at worship on Super/Souper Bowl Sunday we announce which team “won”.
Why care so much for those who are hungry? Because God calls us to care. The Bible is filled with texts imploring us to make the care of those in need a top priority in our lives. One of my favorite verses is from 2 Corinthians 9:7: Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And from Deuteronomy 15:10-11: Give liberally and be ungrudging… Since there will never cease to be some in need on the earth, ‘Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbor in your land’”. Finally, from Luke 6:30-31: Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
…. allow me to repeat what Jesus said about loving of enemies: If anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. We often put words in Jesus mouth that he never said. Jesus never said help only those who are deserving, or are your friends, or think like you. No, Jesus said to give to everyone who begs from you.
My prayer is that there will be many winners in the Souper Bowl as you and I give liberally and ungrudgingly to our neighbors in need.