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The London Institute for Contemporary Christianity

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The Super Bowl meets the Swifties

A record 123 million Americans tuned in for the NFL 2024 grand finale on Sunday, to watch the Kansas City Chiefs snatch victory away from the San Francisco 49ers in an overtime thriller.

To give that figure some context, it was the highest number of people tuning their televisions to the same channel since Neil Armstrong took one small step for man back in 1969.

Why the astronomical ratings? Chiefs star Travis Kelce’s relationship with international pop sensation Taylor Swift drove a whole new kind of NFL fan to their screens and sofas on Sunday.

It was a real cultural crossroads – the traditionally male-dominated, macho pursuit of American Football coming together with the largely female hyper-dedicated ‘Swifties’.

A Super Bowl advertisement from skincare company Cetaphil demonstrated the potential of this celebrity cross-pollination. A father and daughter are shown being brought together by the presence of Taylor Swift at NFL games, and thus develop a shared interest where previously there had been indifference. At the end of the ad, it is revealed that the ‘actors’ are in fact a real-life father and daughter.

When we watch this kind of advert, it pulls at our heartstrings. We feel a warmness inside. The connectedness, the wholeness, the harmony of it contrasts the increasingly prevalent narrative that we’re a fragmented society, fractured across demographical fault lines. Perhaps we want to find common ground with others and cross the divide, after all.

Across the spaces and places we find ourselves during the week – our workplaces, our gyms, even our own kitchen tables – we, as followers of Jesus, have an invitation to heal some of these divisions as agents of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18). Looking past perceived differences and cultivating relationships internationally, and then trying to see the world in the way that others do.

As Christians, we have the chance to practise these skills every week during our church gatherings. Where else do we get a room full of people with nothing in common, except for their faith in Jesus, and their desire to grow more like him? And yet this foreshadows the diverse multitude gathered round the throne of God (Revelation 7:9).

The temptation might be to dismiss the concerns and interests of those who are different to us, but the cultural crossover of the century convicts us to listen, be patient, and love those around us, so that we may be a more complete witness to how God made us to live.

Sam Brown
Church Advocate, LICC

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