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Doug Smith’s commentary

See ya’ in church, thanks to the Rams

“It’s going to be Super Bowl X, X, I, X, or something like that. Are the Rams going to be playing?” my daughter asked one day last week. “No, chigger bug,” I told her (‘chigger bug’ is one of her nicknames), “the Rams lost in the playoffs. We’ll be going to church that night.”

Go ahead, condemn me if you want, but I know (from past experience) that if the Rams are playing in the Super Bowl then I have trouble concentrating through an evening church service that day. I believe God would almost rather me take an evening off and enjoy the time with my family and “my team”, than to sit there in the pew and be a hypocrite about putting on appearances of being in church while all the while my mind is rehearsing plays and dreaming about extra point opportunities.

This year it won’t matter, though. The Rams played marginal (that’s being generous about some of their games), and quickly found themselves eliminated from their last ditch efforts of eeking their way into the playoff series. Seems like they did much better when they still had Kurt Warner, a noted prayer warrior, on the team – but that’s just my opinion, and it doesn’t count for much when it comes to sports.

Had the Rams made it to the Super Bowl we’d all be praying for snow on Sunday. The first time the team made the trip to Atlanta a few years ago there were murmurings among certain portions of our congregation about how we would handle this awkward situation. If all the football fans missed the service that night there would be no band to accompany the song leader (… and the song leader was considering skipping out, too). Never underestimate the power of prayer. You see, everyone prayed (and I’m sure hundreds of other church goers in the area did too) and it snowed like crazy. Church was dismissed because it was too bad to get out on the roads. Several members of the congregation traveled to the song leader’s house and watched the game on the big screen in his basement. We had munchies (which we prayed over prior to eating), and a great time was had by all. I’m sure a lot of prayers of thankfulness were offered when the final pass was caught right on the end zone line … winning the big game for St. Louis.

Two years later something awkward happened, though. Not enough people prayed for snow and churchgoers were forced with a tough decision. Would we go to evening service and risk not being respectful and attentive? Or would we skip out and possibly be marked as “wishy washy?” We set the VCR’s and devised an impromptu system. Some of us arrived for service on time, but a couple others straggled in late (in some cases missing the song service all together and barely making the preaching). As each person walked in late and the back door of the church would squeak all eyes would cut a quick glance toward the straggler. In some cases he (always a ‘he’ in this case, wouldn’t you know) would give a smile or a frown … some simple indication of how the big game was going. One man went so far as to discreetly signal the score by holding up fingers on each hand. Maybe it shouldn’t be this way, but the fact the Rams were losing made staying focused on the sermon a downright chore.

But not this year, no sir. This year we’ll all be there in the pews. The Rams are long out of the race and there’s two teams from half a continent away playing for the rings and trophy. Only the most die-hard fans will miss this Sunday night to watch the big game.

And no, it’s not that the rest of us don’t want others to think we’re staying home to watch football. It’s just that (after last year) … we don’t want them to think we’re staying home to watch the halftime show.

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