Are your details fuzzy about what exactly happened during the last week of Jesus' life? If you are like me, you probably know the high points, but the Church (not one individual church, but the Church that is made up of every believer as a whole) has traditionally remembered specific events on every day leading up to Easter.
Here's a short guide you can use every day this week if you'd like to take part in this historical and sacred tradition.
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Have you noticed some of the goofy "assurances" some products place on their packaging? Next time you go to the store to buy a common item, make an effort to really examine the printing near or around the name of the item. Chances are, you will find some kind of promise that this product will not let you down. In my experience, the generic brands have the funniest claims.
For instance, we make our poor dog eat cheap Wal-Mart dog food. I admit to this at the risk of having ASPCA and PETA write me dirty letters. It has corn and "meat and bone meal," instead of corn and "chicken by-product meal," like its more expensive counterparts. I don't think either brand is better for the dog, but Wal-Mart's Ol' Roy is about $5 cheaper. Probably because it doesn't specify what kind of meat-like meal is grounded into the food. When your dog is the size of a miniature horse, you have to cut corners somewhere. If I can eat Wal-Mart brand food, so can he.
Once when purchasing a large 44lb bag of this stuff, I noticed a seal is printed on the front of the bag with the words "Trusted Brand." I couldn't help but laugh. That's all they could come up with to assure their customers? They are merely a trusted brand? This basically means, "your dog won't roll over and die after eating our product." I wondered if anyone else has every read that and thought they should promise a little more.
Another label I noticed is on our toilet paper. This is another area where we refrain from getting the most expensive brand. Angel Soft takes the "Three Bears Approach" in manufacturing their bathroom tissue. It is not too hard, but not too soft. In other words, it is average. Right under the brand name the words: "2-ply" and "septic safe" appear in a luxuriously dressed up font. Perhaps they are hoping you will see the font without reading the words. Anyone that actually puts forth the effort will discover that these two "assurances" so prominently displayed, are claims that any toilet paper manufacturing company can make. Do they honestly think someone is going to read those words and think, "oh great, this stuff will actually go down when I flush it. That's the one to buy!"?
Our cheap laundry detergent does a better job in dressing up its mediocrity. The Sun detergent we use is even cheaper than the Wal-Mart brand. Under its logo is the phrase "with Sunsational Scents." Clever. They used a fancy play on words to convey the fact that their detergent smells good. Granted, that is not a bad thing. But when was the last time you bought any kind of laundry detergent that did not have some kind of fragrance?
These individual products are just a small sampling. I'm sure you will notice even more the next time you go to the store. Or, if you are normal, you will not give this a second thought, and you will go about your life without noticing such trivial details. On some level, however, I am convinced people notice this. That is why companies continue to place these "assurances" front and center on their products. They are aware that people want to feel like what they are buying will not let them down. They want to be assured that even the cheapest bar of soap will still get things clean. On one hand, these goofy "assurances" offered by off-brand products seem pathetic and humorous. But on the other, they are accurate and reliable.
Ol Roy can't claim to be gourmet dog food, but it can claim to be a trusted brand. Angel Soft can't claim that using it feels like wiping your tushy with a cloud, but you can count on it getting through your pipes without an issue. At the very least, Sun will make you clothes smell better, even if it doesn't kill all the germs and bacteria other detergents might. These companies know people want to feel secure in their product, so they offer them the best assurance they can think of.
The reason some people are turned off by God is because he does not have a simple and safe "assurance" that can be ever before your eyes. Scripture makes some pretty crazy claims about God, the craziest of which is celebrated at the end of this month on Easter Sunday. In the person of Jesus Christ, God became a person, experienced death, and came back from the grave, just so we could know him forever. You can't package that truth into a nice and tidy slogan that can be stamped on some physical product God is selling. The writer of Hebrews puts this into perspective when he claims that "faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see (Heb 11:1)."
No one today has seen Jesus rise from the dead. Most people have not claimed to see the blessed hope that those who believe in him have as a result of his resurrection (and for the record, I am skeptical about the ones that do). BUT, this confidence and hope is not some dressed up "assurance" that does not amount to anything when you take away the fancy font and clever wordplay. This is an assurance that has been believed for over 2000 years. It can't be bought with any amount of money. It must only be ascertained through faith.
May faith in Christ's resurrection assure you of a hope that is beyond the cheap and physical trappings of the world this Easter.