My cousin Joanna shared this clip on facebook and as I watched my eyes brimmed with tears at the tender moment shared on the battlefield of World War One, Christmas 1914. The ethereal singing of the soldiers. The bravery of the individual. The simple togetherness of the game of football. It was touching and drew on my emotions in quite a startling way.
Then, as the warmth of the moment settled in me, thinking about the release and joy that must have come from that shared experience, the well known signature of Sainsbury’s supermarket filled the screen and I was at once drawn back to the ‘real’ meaning of the advert. Christmas is for sharing. Christmas is for buying from Sainsburys. Underpin your sharing with buying. This is what will bring you joy.
The use of that tender and incredible moment to encourage people to buy products from a supermarket suddenly seemed a violation of what that moment had really been about. Not about buying. Not about spending money and eating something nice. But about receiving a gift that was quite unimaginable in the circumstances. A gift that touched the lives of the soldiers and undoubtedly changed their current world view.
It symbolised for me the violation of the simple yet unimaginable gift that was given at the very first Christmas.
Picture the scene. A draughty stable at the back of an inn that was full to bursting with paying guests. An outcast couple that were bucking the socially acceptable ‘normal’ way of beginning a family by marrying after the child was conceived, a child conceived by the means of someone other than the father. The tiny baby brought into the world surrounded by animals, a bed of straw, shepherds. No tinsel. No turkey. The only celebration of the event a bright light in the heavens guiding the madji to the new babe and the singing of celestial beings who couldn’t contain their delight at what was unfolding before them.
The reason for His birth was to bring peace, to reconcile us to the God who adores us and to save us from eternal exclusion from God by the eradication of our sin. A complex and multifaceted reason for sure, but one that was solved by the simple birth of a King made man.
I love what God did for me that first Christmas. I thank Him that he sent His Son to draw me into His adoring Father arms, making a way for a loving unique relationship that deepens and strengthens every aspect of my life.
The gifts are nice and I will no doubt take pleasure in the joy my children will get from the presents we will share on Christmas Day. But I feel challenged to cultivate an atmosphere in my home that doesn’t violate the simple yet unimaginable gift that was given to all when Jesus was born on this earth. A gift of Love. A gift of adoration. A gift of life changing proportions that cannot be replicated by anything that can be bought from a supermarket or online. Literally the gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving long after the tinsel has come down and the tree has been put back in the loft and the toys have been abandoned in the recesses of the toy box. A gift that truly warms the heart in every sense and nurtures the recipient beyond anything that we could imagine. The true meaning of Christmas. Christ’s Mass. A celebration of Christ.