I had some very religious thoughts on Monday afternoon while watching Brazil play soccer against Chile in the World Cup games.
Most of the population of North America have no idea what FIFA stands for, and would probably have trouble spelling it. They think of soccer merely as a sport, and a minor sport at that, not worthy to be compared to hockey, or football.
But not in Brazil. There, soccer is treated as a religion. Here’s why:
Those of my readers who, as I, and all right thinking people in the world, were watching the World Cup soccer game on Monday, no doubt noticed the Brazilians singing their national anthem before the start of the game. Several things must have struck you. One was that it took a long time.
That is because the Brazilian national anthem is long. Really long. “Oh Canada” has only 63 words, the “Star Spangled Banner” has 80 words, but the first stanza of Brazil’s anthem has 123 words. What’s more, the words are not simple, there are at least a dozen four or five-syllable words, and another dozen or more three-syllable words. And the music! It is extremely fast paced and almost unsingably complex.
Brazilians, however, love their country and their anthem, and sing it loud and long, as you saw and heard. The players all sang, at full volume, pronouncing their words clearly and distinctly while moving their lips the way Sunday school teachers do when prompting kindergartners to sing Away in a Manger during the Christmas program.
And did you notice that the rousing martial music accompanying the anthem stopped at the end of the first stanza?
The music stopped but the singing didn’t. All of the Brazilians packed into the 71,000 seat National Stadium in Brasilia kept right on singing the second stanza. So did the coaches and the players, some with tears rolling down their cheeks. Their cheeks were not the only ones wet with tears, mine were too.
No, not because of intensely patriotic feelings for Brazil, at least not totally. My tears flowed because I vividly saw and heard larger, much different crowd in heaven singing a new song as described in Revelation 7.
“I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.
“And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:
“Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!”
Someday, not even the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, which has held nearly a quarter of a million people, will be large enough to hold the uncountable millions of worshipers singing praises, not about their country, but about their God.
That’s a day worth working hard to bring about. People from 7,000 language groups will be singing praises to God on that day. 5,200 groups already have God’s Word in their language. Only 1,800 languages to go.
(By the way, Brazil won 2:1.)