As we approach Super Bowl Sunday, I am reminded of an advertisement from a few years ago that was equally applauded as it was derided. Coca-Cola, the ubiquitous soft drink company and global presence, offered an ad featuring the song “America the Beautiful” sung in eight languages by Americans of different ethnicities. You may remember it. Many found the commercial to be beautiful and imaginative. Others were offended at the suggestion that “America the Beautiful” was sung in anything other than English.
My first response was not about the patriotism of the ad or the beauty. My first response was “this looks like Pentecost.” Acts 2 describes Pentecost and the work of the Holy Spirit in the apostles. On that day, the Holy Spirit descended like a tongue of fire and it allowed the crowd to hear the apostles in their own language. The Holy Spirit allowed the gospel message to be taken and heard to the furthest reaches of the globe. The Holy Spirit helped a diverse world truly be one body of Christ. Of the eight languages of the Coca-Cola ad, I speak one, English, and have some passing knowledge of a couple of others, but I knew what they singing. I witnessed a little of Pentecost in this Coca-Cola ad.
The little piece of the Kingdom of God that we witness in Pentecost and the even smaller piece in the Coca-Cola ad points to a larger reality. What God is doing in Jesus Christ and through the church is a ministry of reconciliation, of reuniting. What is divided by ethnicity, language, politics, inequality, and even religion will someday be rejoined into one body. That is our hope and our common mission. Regardless of how divided we are today, we are and will be one in Christ.
Following close after the Super Bowl this year, is the overlapping holidays of Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday. Many ministers have asked themselves, “What can we do to mark this unusual intersection of days?” The popular song goes “They will know we are Christians by our love.” I think this is true and particularly so as these holidays cross paths. To be more exact, though, I think they will know we are Christians by who we love. Maybe that is how we can approach this February 14th: Who do you love and how can you spend Lent learning to love more?