My 7-year-old is obsessed with watching the World Cup. (My husband is too, for that matter.) In my son’s case, he can rattle off all the match statistics, what country is playing what other country today, where they are located, how big they are, and, oh yes, if “we like them.”
Of course, his reasons for liking or disliking a country are based on their soccer, not their politics. Soccer is the world’s sport. In fact, FIFA (International Association of Football Associations) put out this statistic: “The cumulative audience of the 64 matches of the 2010 FIFA World Cup is expected to be in excess of 26 billion from 240 different countries” (www.cbsnews.com). Wow.
My son knows the United States is a tiny part this huge soccer culture, and his immersion in this global sports phenomenon is a great lesson in international relations, even for a 7-year-old. Even he is not so short-sighted to think that the World Cup or even soccer in general is just about the United States. We wouldn’t even be playing soccer in America if it weren’t being played everywhere else on the globe. How exciting that we are a part of it.
We in the church must not be short-sighted either. It’s not just about our congregation–it is about being a part of a larger church that does ministry all over our communities, country and world. This is a rough time for the ELCA. Between the recession and the actions of the 2009 Churchwide Assembly, it’s easy to focus narrowly, just on ourselves. But our faith isn’t just about us. Why wouldn’t we want to be a part of this global movement?
Emily Hansen is director for stewardship and development for Women of the ELCA. She’s been adapting to her family’s World Cup obsession and the racket from all those vuvuzelas that goes with it.