It's that time of year again. John Lewis have released their latest Christmas advert.
I must admit, I really love them. They work really hard at understanding what makes us tick.
They look for things that make a connection into our busy lives, causing us to want something more.
Making a Connection
This year's offering has a young girl making a connection with an old man on the moon. We see her locate the moon and then focus in to find a man living what seems to be a really lonely existence. It is beautiful how his own loneliness seems to mirror her loneliness. She knows how he feels and we are able to identify with both of them. We want them to make a connection.
We will them to make a connection as she goes out on her roof and tries to send him a note. When that fails, she tries to send it by bow and arrow. How will they connect?
Then there is the surprise. There is always a surprise, it is Christmas after all. The Christmas tree pops out of its string bag and the party swirls into action. But then we see the man on the moon, on his bench all alone. The dull moon scape is barren before him. His head is bowed in a glum acceptance - he is on his own. The scene is devoid of colour and life is absent. But then, bouncing over the moon's surface comes a brightly coloured present. The end? "Presents make Christmas - buy them at John Lewis" No! The present is simply the way to make a connection. The connection is what counts. "Show someone they are loved this Christmas." Yes, thank you John Lewis. That is smart. I really like it. It is true, it is moving and I do hope that many people make a connection this Christmas. But what are they missing?
People sometimes think of God as a 'Man on the moon' character. Lonely, in need of our love and waiting for us to contact him. We are painted as the enthusiastic girl who makes contact through our own efforts. The true story of Christmas is nothing like this at all. Romans 5:6 says "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly."
Notice the movement here. We do not find God, he comes and finds us. This is the true celebration of Christmas. It is not us searching for God, it is him coming down to us. We were powerless, helpless and not even aware of our true state and he came.
The Connection Between Us and God
The central theme of the advert is great. Connections are really important. That tear the man sheds is heart-felt and resonates with all of us doesn't it? Yet, Matthew 1:21 speaks of a connection on a deeper level, "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
Sin creates a barrier between us and God. It is not God that has fled to the moon, but us that have pushed him away. It is not us who must go searching for him, but he comes searching for us. It is not something that just needs a present - the problem is deeper than that. The connection between us and God can only be made by great sacrifice.
How do we know God wants to make that connection? We can see the extent of his love at the cross of Christ. God was willing to let his own son die on our behalf. We love the commitment of a young girl with the tenacity to send a parcel to the moon. Should we not love, even more, the Father who sends his only son to make a connection with us?
Blog post adapted from Gareth's Blog