So here we go again – the slide into Christmas and all the good things that it can bring. I’m well aware that it can also bring added pressure on those who set out to make sure that it is a special time for family and friends, but my hope is that the appreciation by family and friends would bring a sense of joy, peace and fulfillment to those who put the effort in. Who knows, the appreciation may even spill over into doing the washing up after Christmas lunch.
Within the Christmas season we of course can’t escape the commercial importance to retailers and all the advertising that goes along with it. You may recall that at this time last year I wrote about the 2016 John Lewis Christmas TV advert and how bowled over I was about its creative brilliance. This year’s John Lewis advert has been eagerly anticipated in some quarters, with even an article in The Guardian on Friday 10 November informing its readers of the first viewing schedules later that day. In some ways the news item and interest surrounding the advert was taking on the dimensions of what we have seen in the launch events of such things as Apple iPhones and the like.
So, the 2017 John Lewis advert features Moz the Monster who sleeps under a youngster’s bed and, over period of time, a fun and loving relationship grows between the two. This culminates in a Christmas present from Moz to the youngster, unwrapped on Christmas Day with the tag line “For gifts that brighten their world.” As The Guardian article said – an advert designed to pull on the heart strings to loosen the purse strings.In my opinion the advert isn’t quite up to the standard of creativity as last year, but what I now find fascinating is the growing number of similar TV adverts from other retailers – the likes of Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s, Aldi and others – which almost fight for the accolade of best advert. On some retailer’s websites you can even re-view the adverts from previous years. It’s almost as if a dynasty of adverts is growing – and growing in lavishness and cost (the John Lewis advert was estimated to cost around £7m).
Please understand that I have nothing against retailers – I appreciate the competitive strains that they are under and good Christmas sales can be important to the ongoing employment and wellbeing of their staff. But I do wonder how long this TV advert dynasty trend will last before something else comes in as “the way” to do Christmas.
Then I’m brought back to the things of God. His way of doing that first Christmas was to give his Son, Jesus, to the world – a step down for Jesus from the heavenly realms to enter the earthly plain and be with us in all our humanity. We remember it through carol services and nativity scenes, and in over 2,000 years that same message and approach has not died out. Why? I think it’s because the truth and experience of Jesus being alongside and within lives in each generation speak of a Godly reality. As the well known Christmas carol has it – “Where meek souls will receive him still the dear Christ enters in.” For those who seek it, it truly is a Gift that brightens their world.
Jesus steps in to lives that welcome him. May this Christmas season bring you much joy and peace.
Rev Tony Stephens