On Sunday 5 February 2017 in Houston, Texas, starting at 6:30 ET a major sporting event took place.
Halfway through Superbowl 51 a 30-year-old woman named Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta exploded on to the stage to perform the half-time show. Lady Gaga’s performance was seen by 117.5 million viewers, 4 million more viewers than watched the actual game.
Lady Gaga’s performance was a high-powered, glittering, energetic extravaganza. It was a dazzling showcase of her considerable talent, creativity and, beneath the surface, surprisingly compelling depth.
It is not entirely my accustomed mode of entertainment, but judge for yourself Lady Gaga’s thirteen minute spectacle:
I wonder how you think a superstar Superbowl half-time performer like Lady Gaga might have spent the Sunday morning before mounting her monster performance in the evening.
The day after Superbowl Sunday, I received a photo of Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta taken on a cell phone the morning of her performance.
The photo was accompanied by a personal note explaining the origins of this photo. With the author’s permission, here is the note explaining the Lady Gaga photo:
Attached is photo of Lady Gaga posing with a security guard at St Martin’s Episcopal Church on Super Bowl Sunday (yesterday.) She came to the 8:00 am Eucharist and sat at the rear of the church. I am thrilled that she came to St Martin’s and was left in peace while she was there. Again I am taught that assumptions about people we don’t know are likely incorrect. I thought her Super Bowl halftime show was spectacular. I am now a Lady Gaga fan. The next step is to learn to recognize her music.
Imagine, before flying onto the stage to perform before millions of viewers, Lady Gaga sat quietly in the back pew of an Episcopal/Anglican Church attending an early morning celebration of the Eucharist.
I cannot know for sure, but there is a good chance that, as she sat there in that pew Stefani Germanotta, heard read some words from the First Letter of Paul to the Corinthians in which he wrote,
I came to you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. My speech and my proclamation were not with plausible words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith might rest not on human wisdom but on the power of God. (I Corinthians 2:2-5)
For all the power of her performance and the extraordinary dazzle of the show she mounted on Superbowl Sunday, perhaps, by her presence at the Eucharist in St. Martin’s, Stefani chose to begin her day by acknowledging a presence greater than Lady Gaga power and even mightier than her own high-powered performance.
Is it possible that, in a private moment, a powerful glamorous superstar might have set aside time to quietly affirm that her true identity lies, not with the public event later in the day, but with a mysterious gentle presence she acknowledged in the reverent stillness of a church service? Could it be that, this might in fact be the more powerful act in Stefani’s day than the one that was so publicly viewed around the world?
The power Paul affirmed in his letter to the Corinthians, may not come with all the splash and dazzle of a Superbowl half-time show. But, for Paul, the quiet gentle presence of love celebrated in every Eucharist, transcends any glamour or power the world may offer.