Super Bowl Shadows

Dear friends,
As individuals and as a community we think a lot about hospitality. We strive to be ever more gracious and loving hosts- whether in the context of a community house gathering, informal meal, or our dialogue in worship. There is always room for a new friend or fellow traveler. All are welcome to our meaning-making table.
Next month North Texas is hosting the super bowl. I come from a people who enjoy football, as I’m sure do many of you. My dad still drives out to West Texas to watch “six-man” games between the town he grew up in, Newcastle, and other small communities. I imagine many of us will gather around a flat screen on Feb. 6. And really, who is out there who doesn’t enjoy seven layer dip, or Frito pie, or other Super Bowl party fare?
There is a shadow side to the super bowl. I’m not talking about the violence of the game, or the sketchy gender dynamics of celebrating men that pound each other and women who jiggle around the edges. I’m not talking about the high salaries of players or the commercialization of the sport. Honestly, I sort of made peace with these dimensions of football before I decided to move back to Texas. Football gives me a chance to practice non-dual thinking: I can enjoy it with family, appreciate it as a game that can be a lot of fun and an important regional identity at the same time that I don’t enjoy some of the above mentioned dynamics.
However, there is another shadow side to the Super Bowl that none of us should make peace with: the increase in human trafficking and sexploitation in the host city during the big event. The Eucatastrophe, a fellow emerging congregation, has invited Church in the Cliff to participate in a coaster crawl to educate ourselves and others about human trafficking. The coasters are from “What’s Your Response?” – a Texas-based organization that seeks to end human trafficking through education and advocacy. Check out their site for compelling stories and ways to contribute. 
We are getting around 1200 coasters to distribute on Saturday January 29. Other churches will be doing the same thing all over the Metroplex. It is a simple project: you walk into a coffee shop, bar, pub, or restaurant, order a drink and ask to talk to the manager. Most are interested in supporting a good cause (and getting free coasters.) Let me know if you are interested in distributing at a favorite watering hole. It is probably even better if you are friends with the proprietor/manager or work there or have another connection. We can pair up to make it more fun!
This week we are working with a well-known passage, Matthew 4:12-23. In it, Jesus tells two brothers by the Sea of Galilee to “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Often used as a jumping off point for a sermon on evangelism, what other road might we travel down with this text? What could it mean to fish for other people? To fish for our own humanity? To learn how the two are connected? 
Not sure how fish-talk fits in with sex trafficking, other than Jesus points us again and again to one another. Want to love me, follow me, experience the freedom I experience, he asks? Look around you. Stand with the lonely ones and the scared ones and you’ll find me.
None of us control or can totally prevent hard stuff from happening in life: a child getting ill, losing a job or getting into a car accident. Yet we are blessed with buffers that prevent the extreme exploitation endured by women like Maria. She came to Austin for restaurant work to pay for her son’s medical care and ended up trapped for over four months. Read her story
I know this is hard stuff to talk about and to allow ourselves to sit with. But I am thankful for the invitation to respond in a simple and concrete way. Let me know if you want to help with the Coaster Crawl and join us Sunday for another experiential worship service. Yes there will be gummy fish and fishhooks and bowls of water and other ways to get in touch with your inner fisherperson as we talk about Jesus’ invitation. Hope to see you there.

The site pilgrimage on Sat the 15th was a huge success. Thank you to James and all who came out. The Kessler Theater seems to be the consensus, at least for the near term while we have an intentional visioning process and think through other options. Save the date: Sunday Jan 30th after church there will be an all church conversation and vote to finalize plans. March 1 possible move date. 
Church in the Cliff Board   
Ross Prater, Moderator
Damon Petite, Treasurer
Kristin Schutz, Clerk
James Fairchild, Trustee
Stephanie Maxson, Trustee
Please contact Kristin Schutz, clerk at or moderator Ross Prater, at with any questions or feedback.
Inspiration Board/Quick Links
What’s Your Response 33 ways to respond to human trafficking
Church in the Cliff Website
church in the cliff. 214.233.4605. PO Box 5072 Dallas TX 75208 
711 West Canty Street
Dallas, TX 75208-3917
sunday mornings 11:03 am
Worship at Kidd Springs Rec Center

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