That’s how millions of people felt in 1985 when they took their first sip of the new Coke.

Hopefully, your first day back at work following a holiday weekend has gone well!

Or . . . if you have the privilege of being retired, today was full of peace and rest!

Welcome to the first day of Advent devotions . . .

For 15 years, Coca-Cola tried to figure out how to win the cola wars against Pepsi. Their market shares were slipping consistently. Seeing the writing on the wall for their future, they decided that after 99 years of the original formula, the answer would be to change it.

The fabled secret formula for Coca-Cola was changed, adopting a formula preferred in taste tests of nearly 200,000 consumers. Of course, these tests didn’t show the bond consumers felt with their Coca-Cola — something they didn’t want anyone, including The Coca-Cola Company, to tamper with.

After $4 million in market testing, it launched “New Coke,” which was met with public outrage and only lasted a few months. The company re-introduced its original formula, titled “Classic Coca-Cola.”

People spoke up about it, holding anyone who worked for Coke responsible. Before the new release, the Coke customer service line received approximately 400 calls daily. After the launch, they received 1500+.

People began purchasing huge quantities of the original product when the release date was announced, they didn’t want to be without their beloved soda.

What the leaders of the Cola industry discovered is that Coca-Cola was more than “just” a soft drink.

After the failed launch, the market shares for Coca-Cola began rising. People remembered how much they loved Coca-Cola.

More often than not, to remember how much we love/value something, we must experience the original essence of it in its original form.

And this is about much more than “Coke.”

It is also true about our faith. Somehow, over the years, we have understood that the Bible wrote Christianity when it’s quite the opposite.

Christianity shaped, formed, and wrote what we know as The Bible.

Because we misunderstand this, we also misunderstand the message of Jesus.

Thus we lose the original intent and meaning of the message he lived and shared. It causes religion to be harmful instead of helpful. So what if we get back to the original message?

Sunday began the first week of Advent, a time of preparation to celebrate the gift that changes everything. It is a time of waiting and a time of preparation for renewal.

To experience this, in its purest, most transformative nature, we must get back to the original meaning and the original form. And over the next four weeks, that’s what we will do collectively as a community.

We are going to go “0G,” and we will walk away understanding the message of the original gospel, the original good news. Because guess what?

The “gospel” – the life and message of Jesus (which should be what religion is all about) IS good news!

And – if anything about religion comes across to you as NOT good, then frankly, it’s probably not a part of the original.

Over these next several weeks, let’s chip away at the things about religion that need to go away and get back to the original good news.