by David Sisler

The folks who print the Sunday paper would get to bed earlier on Saturday night, if they printed only the sections I read. There is just too much in there for me to handle on Sunday morning at 7:00 as I prepare and consume my habitual B.C. (before church) Breakfast. While the three biscuits are baking, and the creamed chipped beef gravy is simmering, I walk outside to bring in the twelve pounds of newsprint which has been hurled somewhere close to my newspaper receptacle (why does one have such a container if it is seldom used, but I digress).

By the time I am back in the house, Bonnie is at the table, adding butter and jelly to her biscuit. I cover the other two with a concoction my Mom taught me to make 40 years ago.

I read the headlines on the front page, flip to the editorial and op-ed pages, and then search for the "good stuff" — the Parade Magazine (finding new Princess Di tributes almost weekly) and the Sunday Comics. That's enough for any man to handle with his breakfast and his second cup of coffee.

Well, a couple of weeks ago, the Parade was trapped inside a mountain of coupons. One particular set featured a full page spread for Hormel Foods. If you purchase any twelve qualifying products before September 25, you qualify for a $5.00 refund, and (are you sitting down?) when you buy three different participating products, you will receive a free gallon of water! Hooray! Well, okay, if you are going to buy the stuff anyway, you might as well get something free.

Now, these folks did not produce their coupons for me. I walk in, buy something, walk out. Coupons? Can't be bothered with them. Comparison shop? Who has time? That's why Bonnie does not let me close to a grocery store, if she can help it. But I read the testimonials in this come-hither advertisement, and thereby hangs a tale.

There were seven alleged affidavits, placed there to convince me, the unwary shopper, to buy Mary Kitchen Corned Beef Hash, Spam, Dinty Moore Beef Stew, or one of the other products. Check out three of the endorsements.

"I need great tasting meals that I can keep on hand and fix up in a hurry, and I know Hormel provides both!" Signed, Mom.

"It's a benefit of the law of ‘Supply and Demand' — the more you buy, the more you save, and that's being smart!" Signed, College Professor.

"Dinnertime is best when Mom lets us have FUN stuff to eat — and Hormel's the greatest!" Signed, Kid.

Well, I was all ready to let the biscuits and gravy get cold, skip Sunday school and run to the store and fill a cart. Then I read the fine print. "Persons depicted are not actual consumers."

Come on! Hormel entices me to buy a truck load of their products, pushing corporate stocks and profit sharing way up, and they do it with people who don't eat the lean ham with water added? The Kid said, "Hormel's the greatest!" and she doesn't eat it. She says it is the greatest and she is not a consumer. Not the Soccer Coach, not the Homemaker, not the Mama.

Jesus left Bethany one morning on his way to Jerusalem. Hungry, he saw a fig tree in full leaf. He walked up to the tree, expecting that he would find his breakfast hanging among the leaves, because that is the way of the fig tree — when the leaves are full, the fruit is present. But not this tree. It advertised fruit, but it did not have fruit. Jesus said to the tree, "You are pretending to be something you are not. So no one will ever eat fruit from you again." And the tree shriveled to a dry stick.

Suppose I am a church member, but I never darken the doors. I believe God blesses tithers, but I keep all of my money for myself. I believe God's Word is the road map for a spiritually successful life, but I never read it. I believe God answers prayer, but I never talk to him. Intellectually, I understand that Jesus Christ is the way the truth and the life, that the only way anyone can approach the Father is through Jesus. But I have never tried him for myself. If that were all true, and my picture appeared in the advertisement, would you believe that I might be a consumer? Would you be tempted to try Jesus if such a life testimony was your only Gospel sermon?


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 9/11/99

Copyright 1999 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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