Weekly thoughts from the Rector of Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston, Texas, where these words remind us that Jesus’ peace goes with us into the world.
Next month the Super Bowl will take place at NRG Stadium in the City of Houston. Many people watch that event because they love NFL football. Others like the food or the company that comes to their home to enjoy a shared experience. But nearly everyone likes to see the commercials, even though it’s hard to comprehend that a 30-second ad this year during the Super Bowl will cost a minimum of $5 million.
General Mills – whose headquarters I frequently drove past during my years in Minnesota – bought one of those Super Bowl spots for a Cheerios ad in 2013, when cost for doing so was less than $4 million. It included an interracial family and generated so many negative comments and racial slurs that General Mills eventually disabled the comments on YouTube. Several months after that eruption of racist commentary happened, an article published in the New York Times included these remarks by a parishioner in my former congregation:
The ad will “absolutely not” be withdrawn, Meredith Tutterow, associate marketing director for Cheerios and Multigrain Cheerios at General Mills in Golden Valley, Minn., said Friday.
“There are many kinds of families,” Ms. Tutterow said, “and Cheerios just wants to celebrate them all.”
Those actors returned to the small screen to portray the same family during the next Super Bowl in 2014. Those memories of standing firm in the midst of a storm brought to mind these words from the Book of Common Prayer:
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne…
Amen to that. Perhaps others will see a glimpse of that harmony in us on this MLK holiday weekend.
— The Rev. Neil Alan Willard, Rector