Monday, 10 November 2014

Re-inventing Christmas?

As this year's Christmas Ads are released, I'm musing again on the elements required to create a perfect Christmas as portrayed by the bigger stores' advertising campaigns. 
I love the Magic and Sparkle fairies for M and S, though I wish they'd made them Angels instead of fairies. And the pair of penguins in the John Lewis Ad are heart-warming. I'm not so sure about all the kids searching for just the right thing in the Debenhams Ad.
But all of these - and others beside- portray the essential perfect Christmas elements variously as: Finding the right significant other, finding just the right gift, enjoying domestic harmony, if not bliss, a gift laden tree and a food laden table.
We know that that picture of Christmas is so far removed from the experience of many in our communities, far less across the world.
I confess that I wait with excitement each year to see what these big store ads will reveal. I track the journey of the Christmas Coca Cola truck too.
But somehow, this year, the millions spent on these advertising campaigns and the images portrayed cause me to stop and wonder.
How far we have moved from the starkness of an unmarried mother giving birth in a stable and, from such unlikely surroundings, giving hope to a people oppressed by the harshness of life.
The images portrayed today surely cause pain, not hope, for all sorts of reasons, for folk, whether in positions of privilege but knowing loss or for folk struggling to cope with the demands of everyday life, exacerbated by the pressures that a media fuelled Christmas applies.
It seems to me that we in the church must work all the harder to be simply inclusive this Christmas, embracing all with that simple message of hope backed up with love in action.

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