It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
I can tell it’s nearly December for as price-slashed pumpkins are gradually edged from the shelves, snowmen, chocolate elves and tinsel immediately fill the void. Yes, the Advent season is about to begin, and with it, John Lewis launches its now famous yearly media offering warming our hearts and luring us into their stores.
For those who haven’t seen it, this year’s ad tells of a heart-warming bond between a little girl in her family home and an old man living alone in a shack on the moon. We are told this is designed to raise awareness for Age UK, with profits from three products – a mug, gift tag and card – helpfully going to the charity.
While watching the ad however, despite the emotional music, I was left pondering about deeper issues than whether a John Lewis coffee set would appeal to my wife. Certainly the advert plays on an anxiety that many of us share, especially at this time of the year, a fear of not being loved, of being alone and isolated. The simple solution offered is a balloon-delivered, gift-wrapped telescope – so now at least the lonely man can watch the girl happily ensconced in her warm, Christmassy, family-filled home, waving and smiling at him. Nice… or is it?
The painful reality for many in our community is a life filled with anxiety, uncertainty, isolation and fear, and these ills are seldom resolved and perhaps only ever briefly soothed through consumerism. Perhaps I sound a little humbug, after all I, more than many, absolutely LOVE Christmas – I love the food, the lights, mince pies, the songs, mince pies, parties and of course presents… and mince pies… However, the sad truth for too many people is the resulting side-effects from this culture of consumption with its ‘medicine of materialism’: deeper dissatisfaction and growing debt.
For me, the sad sight of this man left alone on the moon, gazing out at others from a distance, made the final strapline somewhat hard to swallow. “Show someone they’re loved this Christmas,” no, not by visiting them or taking them a meal or by inviting them into your family and your life, but simply by shopping for them.
This Christmas season, my prayer for us all is to experience afresh the greatest, most life-enhancing, wondrous gift that was ever given – The King of Kings, born as a child, dwelling amongst us and for us, in order that we need never be truly alone: for His name and His nature is “Immanuel” – ‘God with us’.
For In thy dark streets shineth,
The everlasting Light.
The hopes and fears of all the years,
Are met in thee tonight.
Have a wonderful Advent and Christmas, Tim, Sarah and family x.
Priest in Charge Loves church pioneering, family, guitars, Macs, jeeps and Jesus, not necessarily in that order...