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29.11.2018

The Christmas Jesus | Connecting with Culture

When does Christmas start in your household? At what point is it reasonable to put up your tree and start playing Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ at full pelt?

With the regularity of a liturgical calendar, the Christmas adverts on TV arguably mark the beginning of the festive period for many. Nowadays, the Christmas ad is as much a part of the season as Boxing Day sales, broken toys, and left-over turkey.

Over the years, the John Lewis ad has become something of a sensation. This year’s is called ‘The Boy and the Piano’, and it features Elton John. We’re taken back in time to the moment his excited younger self ran down the stairs one Christmas morning to open his first piano. The moral of the tale, as the tagline tells us, is that ‘some gifts are more than just a gift’.

But, can a gift really make that sort of difference to our lives?

If the commercial hype feels too much, you might like to check out a two-and-a-half-minute Christmas film, made for £50, called ‘Love is a Gift’, which has been viewed millions of times.

It features a young man decorating his tree and counting down the days until Christmas, when he sits alone and listens to a cassette tape his Mum made for him before she died. We’re able to see that she recorded several tapes for him to listen to every year on Christmas day following her death. As a tear falls down the man’s face, it’s revealed that it’s the last tape his mother made. The film ends with the tagline: ‘Love is a gift that lasts forever. Merry Christmas.’

But, is love really a gift that lasts forever?

We need love, and we long for connection; good gifts really can make a difference in all sorts of ways. It’s not that the sentiments are wrong. It’s that the solution to our sense of lack is located in the wrong place. The Christmas ads are laying out a need we have that can be met only in the Christmas Jesus.

Can a gift really make a difference to our lives? Yes, but all the gifts in the world won’t make the difference we really need. Is love really a gift that lasts forever? Yes, when it comes from the one who lives forever. And he offers it to us today.

Author

Antony Billington

Comments

  1. Thank you. A timely and profound reminder. A simple diagnosis with a very available remedy for a widespread disease. I will share this.

    By Maureen - 30th November 2018
  2. Very helpful. These Christmas ads do tend to capture the mood of people’s expectations very well. I guess that Preachers need to see them as both a mirror of our dreams and s window into our stifling idolatries.
    Thanks for tip about Love is a Gift

    By John Woods - 30th November 2018
  3. Excellent.

    By Reginald Blake - 30th November 2018
  4. How true is this…thanku

    By Iris White - 30th November 2018
  5. Thank you Antony inspirational as always and thank you for the day on Exodus David

    By David White - 30th November 2018
  6. Wow! This is a stunning reflection. Thank you.

    By Mel - 30th November 2018
  7. Thanks 🙂

    By Alison - 30th November 2018
  8. Thanks, we all need reminding from time to time that true love is what counts. Thanks again.

    By Mrs J Bates - 30th November 2018
  9. Amen. How can we get that on prime time tv?

    By Chris Edmonds - 30th November 2018
  10. That’s such a perceptive comment about the fact that our sense of lack is located in the wrong places. Brilliant. You are absolutely right Antony.

    By Magdalen Smith - 2nd December 2018
  11. A very well structured thoughtful piece, thank you. We will use it as an encouragement at our home group. For all of us to share the love that is Jesus, real, eternal and true.

    By Helen, East Lothian - 2nd December 2018
  12. It’s so easy for us Christians to squash the genuine reaching out towards love in our world. This film represents a genuine seeking for something authentic amongst the commercialism and a recognition of what is important in the world. Why can’t we commend those who are on their way? Why do we always have to take a superior stance when Christ’s love can be first experienced by each one of us through our family relationships? We do not have a monopoly on love….. Can we not notice how the generous Spirit is not confined by our mean demarcation lines this Christmas but overflows and pours out God’s grace to all. There are many folk in this generation who are looking to see if we are the real thing. Can we not put obstacles of judgement in their way by dictating hoe they must approach Jesus?

    By .M.Bazely - 14th December 2018

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