As I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve only seen two Christmas adverts this year. Both of them were online. Both were posted on Facebook. And in different ways both have created a stir.
I’ve already spoken about Monty, the John Lewis penguin. The second advert I’ve seen is Sainsbury’s ‘Christmas is for Sharing’. It’s fair to say that this promotional film has sharply divided opinion. It’s like the Marmite of Christmas supermarket adverts. Few seem to be indifferent.
Writing on the BBC website, the German journalist Sebastian Borger said, ‘the latest example of the trivialization of war is Sainsbury’s re-enactment … what we get is a sanitised, terribly sentimental version of what happened’.
I guess that we all feel somewhat uncomfortable with the association of something as horrific as the First World War with the triviality of selling chocolate bars. But for all our legitimate beef with Sainsbury’s inappropriate and opportunistic advert, it nevertheless celebrates something very wonderful. Right at the heart of that advert is the remembrance of a rare moment of sanity in what was otherwise four years of pointless conflict. It commemorates the Christmas Truce in 1914. And last year was the one hundredth celebration of that moment. That the opposing sides put down their weapons, buried their dead and buried their animosity is entirely fitting and appropriate at Christmas.
Because Christmas celebrates the beginning of the permanent end to our hostility with God. It’s about the end of our futile conflict with our creator. If we’re honest, we’ll recognise that conflict in our own hearts because we’re familiar with our impulse or deliberate refusal to let God be God over us. We’re unwilling to let God call the shots. We’re not at peace with the idea that he’s the boss. And we resist him. We rebel against him.
This Christmas time there’s an opportunity for a rare moment of sanity. We can lay down our arms. We can bring to an end our hostility with the God who made us for Himself. We can experience the peace that Jesus came to establish. God has shown us His willingness to bring the conflict to an end in the gift of His Son. God sent his Son to make peace between him and us. And to declare peace between him and us. The question remains, how will we respond?
I thought I ought to let you know that because, as Sainsbury’s have reminded us, ‘Christmas is for sharing’!