There is a certain department store, with a branch in Cribbs Causeway, which is getting very good at making Christmas adverts. Do you remember last year there was a little boy who couldn’t wait for Christmas, and he waited and waited and waited – until the big day came and he jumped out of bed, not to open his own presents – but to give a big present to his mum and dad.
Well this year John Lewis has come up with another great advert, which, I will admit, makes me cry. I find it really powerful. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s called The Journey, and it starts in a snow covered garden, where children have made a snowman and a snowlady. Next morning the snowman has mysteriously disappeared. During the advert we see the determined snowman crossing rivers, mountains and even busy city roads on a very special mission. He gets scared by water and a bit overwhelmed by the city streets but then we see him looking up and finding the place where he wants to go.
We don’t find out the reason for his mission until the next scene, when we see him back in the garden on Christmas morning, having bought the snowlady a very lovely hat and scarf from, you guessed it – John Lewis. And all the while, in the background, the song being played is “The Power of Love”, originally recorded by Frankie goes to Hollywood and covered by Gabrielle Aplin. And that’s it – and it floors me every time I see it.
Why? Am I just overly sensitive or sentimental around Christmas time? Am I particularly affected by snowmen? It’s not that really.It’s more the fact that the advert speaks of a love which goes the extra mile. A love which will go up hill and down dale and face danger and hardship and difficulty – just because the other person is valued and appreciated and worth doing something for.
Of course you know what I’m going to say next. It echoes the Christmas story. God knew that his people were in a bit of a mess – needing hope, needing peace, stuck in a cycle of broken relationships, wars and oppression. Jesus – the Word made Flesh – was born as God’s Son to come into the mess and be in it with us, but also transcending it – living to show us a better way, dying so that we might know his commitment to humanity, rising again so that the power of death is broken and a new start is possible.
In the person of Jesus we see God – a God who is prepared to go the extra mile for us – being born into the dirt and muck of a stable, running as a refugee from the murderous Herod, growing up in a simple town in Galilee, growing up to be a man who would challenge the authorities, experience a brutal arrest, trial and crucifixion and finally living again. This is the God who will go to great lengths to show the world how much it is loved – to show US how much we are loved.
So many people have no idea how much they are loved. Life has kicked them down, bad choices have left them damaged, governments have taken away assistance, people have hurt them or they have hurt themselves.
Our world is very beautiful sometimes but also incredibly damaged. Where is God when schoolchildren are killed in their classrooms? Where is God when queues form at foodbanks and homeless shelters? Where is God when someone is depressed and facing Christmas alone?
John Bell from the Iona Community summed it up perfectly during a Thought for the Day slot on Radio Four this week. This is part of what he said:
And then – as Christians believe – God comes in Jesus, flesh of our flesh, to share the pain, the uncertainty and the insecurity of human life, to enter into solidarity with all who suffer, and to bring to the mystery of unmerited agony the bigger mystery of unmerited love.
And all this because nowhere does any religion profess that God made the world perfect. Instead we believe that God made the world good. And love, only love can make it better.You can find the whole thought HERE : http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p012q1n0
And Gabrielle Aplin/Frankie Goes to Hollywood sing:
“The power of love
A force from above
Cleaning my soul
The power of love
A force from above
A sky-scraping dove
Flame on burn desire
Love with tongues of fire
Purge the soul
Make love your goal”
Have a really good Christmas everyone x