Less is More, as Seen in a Commercial

There is an old saying that sometimes “less is more.” In other words, at some point excess becomes burdensome and pointless.

In the commercial below, the upgrades to mowing equipment begin as helpful, but end as silly and even dangerous. Meanwhile, the poor wife struggles with an “upgraded” watering can that is downright burdensome.

One of the secrets of life is learning to enjoy things in moderation. A glass of wine brings joy; a full bottle brings inebriation and a hangover. A nice dinner is satisfying, but too much food brings obesity and even disease.

What in your life has become excessive? Where have you come to realize that less is in fact more?

Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: Less is More, as Seen in a Commercial

There Are Few Easy Cures, as Seen in a Commercial

The commercial below illustrates an important principle about side effects. When faced with a problem, we often wish for an easy cure, one without any personal costs or side effects. However, in general, the bigger the problem, the more drastic the cure and the larger the side effects.

In my experiences with deliverance ministry and pastoral counseling, I have found that many people are desperate for a solution. They are hoping without hope that a few prayers will drive away the demons or problems and everything will be fine again.

Most people want relief, not healing — but healing is hard work and true deliverance often requires making significant changes. Some of the uncomfortable “side effects” can be having to confront past sins and traumas. Relief is cheap but often temporary. Healing is costly, but it brings about more lasting effects.

Enjoy this zany commercial. I got a particular kick out of the ending, when the pets reap a bountiful harvest as a side effect of the family’s unusual stress reduction technique.

Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: There Are Few Easy Cures

The Pain of Divorce and Remarriage in a Beer Commercial?

The Heineken Beer holiday commercial below “taps” into a sad reality for many families: divorce and “remarriage.”

In these situations, most of the focus is on the happiness of the couple, with little to no attention paid to the effects on the children involved. For children, it typically means being shuttled between two different “homes” on a regular basis. They also must endure the pain and awkwardness of seeing their parents dating and possibly “marrying” others. As their parents set down the cross in order to pursue “personal happiness,” the children must shoulder it.

Even when the children of divorce become adults, much of the suffering continues. Not only are the emotional wounds still present, but the logistics of dealing with blended families present many challenges.

Leila Miller has explored these and other issues in her excellent book:  Primal Loss: The Now Adult Children of Divorce Speak.

As for this commercial, it is lighthearted in its representation of the oddities, but it is ultimately a sad commentary.

Cross-posted at the Catholic Standard: cathstan.org/posts/the-pain-of-divorce-and-remarriage-in-a-beer-commercial

No One Goes Away from Jesus Unchanged

blog1223The video below is a 2008 Coca-Cola commercial that takes up the theme of the star of Christmas.

Let us review the impact that the star of Christmas had on the wise men, the Magi.

  1. The star moved them to seek meaning outside themselves; it made them look out and up.
  2. The star called them beyond what was familiar in their own country and world and expanded their horizons toward Christ and His Kingdom.
  3. The star summoned them to seek Christ, and when they found Him, to worship Him.
  4. The star drew them to be generous to a poor family in Bethlehem; they made sacrifices as they lay costly gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh before the Lord.
  5. The star roused them to conversion; they “returned to their country by another route,” following the straight and narrow path rather than the wide and destructive one.

Yes, no one encounters Jesus Christ and goes away unchanged. A blind man went away able to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. The hungry went away satisfied, the ignorant instructed, the guilty forgiven, sinners converted.

The call of the nations to change and to new life began with a star. The light of the star opens the way to the Light of World, Jesus. The star of my life is Jesus.

In the commercial below we see Santa (a name that means “Holy One”) sending forth a star, one that touches people and radiates a light that transforms them.

  1. A woman sees the light of that star and is able to forgive her husband and be reconciled with him.
  2. A young soccer player sees the light of that star, surrenders his pride, and steps aside to let another share in and get a shot at glory.
  3. A young girl sees the light of that star and, giving up some of her own beauty, seeks to beautify a public park for others.
  4. A museum guard sees the light of that star and shows mercy to the guard dog with him (this was a silly one).
  5. A father sees the light of that star and allows his son a moment of growth.

Yes, there is something about that star that changes everyone who looks at it. They become more forgiving, more gracious, more aware of others, more connected to others, more loving. The light of the star, and the light of the world, is Jesus. His light is meant to have that same effect—and more besides.

In the background of the commercial an old Elvis song plays: “Wise men say only fools rush in, but I can’t help falling in love with you. Shall I stay? Would it be a sin if I can’t help falling in love with you?”

Of course the love that is symbolized by the star is not the romantic love of the song but the brotherly and agape love that Christ gives. Like the Magi who found Christ by the star, no one sees the star of Jesus and encounters Him and then goes away unchanged. Indeed, if we authentically encounter Christ, we are equipped to love, just as the people in this commercial are. We are equipped to forgive, to bring healing, to help others find strength and glory in the truth, and to come to full maturity in Christ. A person who knows Jesus and has encountered Him cannot help loving others, not in some merely sentimental way, but with a strong and vigorous love rooted in the truth. This is the same love that Jesus has for us all.

At the end of the commercial is an exhortation in Spanish that translates as follows: “Give the world the best of you.” The best of me is Jesus.

Jesus’ Urgency to Save Us, as Seen in a Christmas Commercial

The John Lewis Christmas commercial shown below has a surprise ending. We are led through a traditional story line about a child who can’t wait for Christmas, but there’s a twist at the end. You may wish to watch the ad before continuing, lest my comments ruin the surprise.

As I watched the commercial, I was first reminded of these Scripture passages: It is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:34), and God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7).

There is something more than a cheerful giver illustrated in this ad, though. Indeed, the young boy is an urgent giver, one who cannot wait to give the gift he has to offer. The hours and days creep by. When will he finally be able to give his gift? Finally, the day arrives, finally!

This seemed strangely familiar to me, that it was speaking to a biblical theme. Then it hit me. Yes! This was Jesus on His final journey to Jerusalem, urgent and eager to give us the gift of our salvation, to snatch us from the kingdom of darkness and translate us to the kingdom of light. Scripture has this to say about this almost impatient desire in Him:

  • As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem (Luke 9:51).
  • Jesus exclaimed, “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed!(Luke 12:49)
  • Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. … Now my soul is troubled, yet what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” … Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”(John 12:23, 27-28, 31-32).

Scripture says that as Jesus’ apostles followed Him up the road to Jerusalem for His final journey, they were “amazed and afraid” (cf Mk 10:32). Fearful of Jesus’ predictions of His own death, the disciples protested, But Rabbi … a short while ago the Jews there tried to stone you, and yet you are going there? (John 11:8) Finally, seeing Jesus’ determination, Thomas (likely in exasperation) said, Let us also go, that we may die with him (John 11:16).

Yes, Jesus set His face like flint as He journeyed toward Jerusalem, eager to give the gift of salvation. What distress, what impatience until He must have felt until He could give that gift! Resolutely, He went forth with fervor.

Think about these things as you watch this Christmas commercial.


Let God Find You – As Seen in a Touching Christmas Commercial

It may seem odd to say, “Let God find you.” After all, God knows just where we are. But there is something very respectful about a God who, as Jesus says in the Book of Revelation, stands at the door and knocks.

Even back in the Garden of Eden, as sinful Adam and Eve hid, God walked through the garden and called, “Where are you?”

Yes, God waits until we let him find us, until we open the door of our heart where he knocks, or until we decide to come out of hiding.

But God does knock. He sends us prophets and speaks through creation and His Word to establish a connection with us. He seeks a connection. Let God find you. Open the gift of His offer.

Something of this dynamic occurred to me while watching the John Lewis Christmas commercial below. And while the roles seem reversed, the dynamic is the same. A little girl spies a lonely man on the moon and seeks to get his attention, to connect with him somehow. But the man seems lost in his loneliness. Through perseverance, she reaches him and the connection is opened.

Let God find you. Let Him connect with you this Christmas.

The Measure You Measure Will Be Measured Back to You, as Seen in an Advertisement

There are many biblical texts that speak of being generous to the poor, for to do brings bountiful blessings. Or, put negatively, if we are stingy, we will come up short in our own blessings.

Consider the following verses:

Here is a promise from the Lord:

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap (Lk 6:38).

The text goes on to state a clear principle:

For the measure you measure to others, will be measured back to you (Lk 6:38).

The rule of returning proportion:

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously (2 Cor 9:6).

The Lord the admonishes us with this:

One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty (Prov 11:24).

And now a word from our sponsor (a snack manufacturer in the Philippines), illustrating well this text: Who sows sparingly will reap sparingly. You may find that the ad is “clever by half.”