Doritos and Pepsi communion

There’s a bit of a controversy, again, about a commercial submitted for the Super Bowl. Well, submitted as part of a competition, the winner of which will be aired during the Super Bowl. Last year, the controversy was the Tim Tebow, Evangelicalish ad about abortion.

In 2011, the hot spot is an entry in the annual Pepsi-owned Doritos Crash the Super Bowl ad contest that will never air for being over-the-top offensive to people who take Communion seriously. It plays the bread and wine for snack food.

People who like to be offended are offended, and people who like to show how easy going we contemporary Christians are, have been laughing along with the commercial, not taking it seriously.

I’ll mix things up a bit.

I’d argue this is not only not irredeemably offensive, but probably even more accurately interprets the original intent of communion more than many, if not most, ritualistic, over-theologized, interpretations of the Lord’s Supper.

The main passage we have for interpreting this activity is found in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. Like most of Paul’s letters, he is responding to a crisis in a particular church. The crisis here is not how to interpret what the bread is or what drink to use, but how the rich people are alienating the poor people. Paul insists on unity, and for this celebration of unity to be meaningful. They have to understand the “body of Christ” right, which as connected passages suggests is not simply the wafer or bread, but relates to the gathered people of God.

So, by mixing up the usual expectations, the ministers here have de-ritualized the event, bringing in again a wide mix of people who may not otherwise gather together. This allows for a celebration in unity, even as particular tastes and expressions are still celebrated. The Lord’s supper once again is honored as a way of pointing to the unity and diversity that Christ calls us to in the church.

Better to gather and celebrate the people using Doritos and Pepsi, than to alienate and objectify the particular people using artificially inflated bits of bread and wine. Neither way really hits the mark, but the commercial at least reflects a bit more of what has been missing in so many church gatherings. Jesus gathered the people, and in the gathering he provides a meal which celebrates his work and his continued work in the lives of those who gather. He did not get out bread and wine, then make strict demands on how to interpret these, causing divisions among his people depending on what they thought of the particular meaning of the bread and wine. People are priorities for Christ and Spirit, the elements are tools to enable and celebrate this diversity and unity. Far too much interpretations of communion gets this exactly backwards.

By emphasizing the particular elements and what they are and should be, the church misses the priority that Christ gives to the people who gather, and brings judgment on itself for doing so. A judgment that is reflected in the sadly fragmented history of the church.

I wrote more on this approach about ten years ago.

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