(I preached this sermon in response to Number 21:4–9 and John 3:14–21. You can find the video of worship, including the sermon at www.ststephenlc.org)
If you are like our house, you get ads in the mail. You are probably also familiar with all the ads on TV and on the radio. And these days, you get ads on most websites you visit on the internet as well as in your inbox, and maybe even through texts.
Ads try to catch our attention with something that sounds like a great deal. Who doesn’t love a sale? Especially on something that we either need or have been thinking about. Even better is when we hear about a sale for something we haven’t even been considering — it starts to get us thinking about whether we want or need the service or product. We can get excited about the possibilities all of a sudden.
I just went through our pile of mail that we have thrown out over the last couple of weeks. And I found a variety of ads. All selling us on so many different things.
We receive the Val Pack, and it’s loaded with all sorts of ads for a variety of things.
Maybe you get the postcards. Some are huge and you wonder how they fit in your mailbox.
And some show up looking like a newspaper.
But many have what is called the fine print. It’s at the bottom of the page and printed with really small lettering. Or it’s at the end of a spoken ad — said at the speed that an auctioneer would be jealous of. It gives the details of the ads. The terms and conditions. Essentially, the fine print that lays out how the claims in the ads aren’t quite as good as they sound. There are often restrictions.
None of this shocking to us. In fact, it’s quite common. We hear or read an ad, and we’re already thinking about what the terms and conditions are, what the exclusions are.
We have an eternal hope that somehow, we’re going to make out really good, forgetting that ads are just a way for a company to get you to part with your money for whatever service or product they have. In and of itself, this isn’t a bad thing. It’s how businesses work and operate. There’s nothing wrong with trying to get someone to buy something that is being sold. And in most cases, what companies are selling is actually quite helpful to our lives — they make our lives more enjoyable, or efficient, or healthier, or help us to do something. That’s a great thing.