Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Gospel According to Coca Cola

The deafening noise of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians is “who can I eat with”?
Simply stated: can I eat with you if you’re not circumcised? can I invite you into my house and share a table with you if you’re different from me, if you’re not like me? what is the distinguishing marker of a “follower of Jesus”? what/who defines/determines what/who is “in” and what/who is “not”? Emotionally and politically charged issues that differentiated, divided and kept “different” peoples marginalized, powerless and separate.
See how?
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Something new is emerging in the Christian households of Galatia. There is a contrasting and disturbingly fresh practice of “dissimilar” peoples eating at the same table. The former divisions of ethnicity, race, religion, and socio-economic status weren’t working anymore; there is a newer humanity materializing and it started with the sharing of a meal.
See that?
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Today, where the defining/dominating motifs of our own communities/nations seem to be defensiveness, fear, hostility, suspicion, and tribalism, the hopeful and liberating experience of the Galatians is even more important.
See why?
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Eyes on these thoughts from N. T. Wright:
"The world is full of evidence for Paul’s warning: “If you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not destroyed by each other” (5:15). It will not do simply to say that into this world must be spoken the gospel of Jesus Christ, the gospel Paul articulates and defends in Galatians. This is of course true, but what will it say to the Serb and the Croat, to the Tutsi and the Hutu, to the Palestinian and the Israeli? Will it simply say, If only you would all believe in Jesus, none of this would be necessary? (If it did, it might find further problems: the Serb and the Croat, the Catholic and Protestant in Northern Ireland, all in theory believe in Jesus; and to modify the statement to say “if only you would believe in Jesus the same way I do” would stand revealed as a new sort of tribalism.) The most powerful statement it can make must be made symbolically, through the coming together in a single worshiping family, eating at the same table, of all those who belong to Jesus the Messiah, despite their apparently irreconcilable racial, tribal, or other tensions. That is the powerful message of Galatians...”
(N.T. Wright, 2000, The Letter to the Galatians, emphasis mine).

Seeing some connections? Sensing some of the healing power of hospitality? Sensing some of the transformation that happens when we intentionally make space for others?
The global corporation of Coca Cola has certainly caught hold of its potential and in its latest spin, they shamelessly tap into the promise of sharing our tables.
Look at this clip:




There is something of the imagination and inspiration of Galatians in this, isn’t there? Who is coming to your house for dinner this week? Who can you make space for? Who can you share a table with? It could be the start of something new; it could even be the start of a newer humanity in your own neighborhood.

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