Pause for Thought – a five minute read – Week 4

John 20 v 19 – 26

I don’t know about you but one thing I find can be a bit irritating is the advertisements on television. I appreciate that the considerable income generated from this kind of media, enables the programmes to be produced and broadcast, but even so some of the best efforts of the advertising moguls to persuade us of the miracles of their products, put together with the ‘commercial’ time allocated to them on our screens, seems to me to be a bit excessive.

When watching the commercial intrusion, I have started to play a little game of categorising the efforts of the advertising companies into; – 1) the confusing. 2) the humorous. 3) the insult our intelligence, and 4) the good.

  1. The confusing are the ones that have two minutes of apparently unrelated images with usually a classical background music and leaves you with a feeling of, ‘what was that all about?. A good test of the confusing is to turn the sound off and guess the product; it’s usually a perfume (very expensive one) with a French sounding name.
  2. The humorous category is quite small due to the fact that on first viewing the advertisement is very funny, but after being fed the same message repeatedly at every commercial breaks the fun wears off. However, over the years there has been some exceptions, for example how many of you can still remember the PG Tips Chimpanzees, particularly the one with piano on my foot, or Lenard Rossiter and Joan Collins in the 1970s persuading us to drink Cinzano Bianco when most of it was spilt down the front of Joan Collins dress? Today the humour is still there but more subtle, as in talking cats and dogs, and aristocratic Meerkats.
  3. The insult to our intelligence examples are those that stretch our imagination to the limit, like pouring Blackcurrant juice, mud and oil down the front of a white shirt, dipping it into a water based solution and it comes out shining bright and not a stain in sight. There may well be an overlap into category 2 here. I did try the product, a white T shirt with tractor engine oil poured down the front, dipped into the product and guess what, – it came out black. There is a more concerning side to this category, are we really expected to believe that everyone who takes part on a gambling site is going to win a prize? I don’t think so but some people do think they will, it’s the power of advertising.
  • The good ones I like and I have used two or three in this category, ( I admit they are quite old now) as illustrations in my sermons. The football match in the trenches in 1916 is quite a powerful image for Remembrance Sunday, even though it promotes a super market. I have also used ‘Simon the Ogre’, (apologies to all Simons reading this), where a man is bad tempered at work, bad tempered driving his car, bad tempered at home with his wife and children, and bad tempered at the airport, but after diving into the hotel swimming pool he emerges totally transformed in fact he is Mr Wonderful, all due to the package holiday company. We can relate this to Baptism, the water symbolically washing away all the evil from us and leaving us different people, and if we change the water to the Holy Spirit, we are cleansed internally also.  

The other ‘theological’ advertisement that I have used was called ‘the train’ and it featured, understandably, a train picking up little cartoon like passengers including a young couple with a pram, at the station. The train moves off and stops at the next station where the young couple alight and return with the child, now growing up, dressed in school uniform. The train moves off and stops at the next station where the couple alight and return with ‘L’ plates for learning to drive. The journey is repeated and at each station the couple alight and return with, a black gown and mortar board hat (university) , wedding dress and finally a young couple with a pram, and it all starts again.

The advertisement is for a well-known bank who make the point that they (the bank) will be there at every stage of life to help support their customers and give financial support and security, and it is very comforting to be aware of that.

However financial security only relates to the material things in life, what about the Spiritual support that we all need at those same stations, no bank can offer that. In addition there is the obscure fact that banks make charges for their services, as my dad would say. ‘There’s no such thing as a free meal’.

Our Lord Jesus Christ is there beside us at every stage of our lives, even the dark times that are not planned for or expected, and all charges were paid in full when Jesus was lifted on that cross at Calvary. Jesus has been with us in the past, is here with us now and will be with us into the future, and that’s more comforting than the bank.  

Luke 20 v 19 – 26 Jesus said ‘ Pay to the Emperor what belongs to the Emperor and pay to God what belongs to God’.

Derek T.