Have you seen John Lewis’ latest festive TV advert, about a young boy and his Grow-your-own Perfect Christmas Tree? I’ve only just watched it. I heard it reduced some people to tears (in a good way!) so I thought I should have a look. I must confess, it’s worth seeing. It certainly tugs at the heartstrings. On the soundtrack, the famous Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performs Festa, a song composed for the advert: “La vita è una festa”, which translates to “Life is a celebration.”
It is rumored that the total cost of development, production, and promotion of this 2-minute film exceeds 6 million pounds. That’s more than £50,000 per second. For that kind of money you would expect it to be good, wouldn’t you? I wish the church would get paid as much for each retelling of the Christmas story. After all, that story has moved people to tears as well, for 2000 years on end.
Thankfully, the church is no department store. We are not trying to make a profit. Nor are we here to entertain. In contrast to Christmas adverts, the story of the birth of Jesus doesn’t change, year on year. In contrast to Christmas adverts, the Nativity is not intended to make us feel warm, cozy, and comfortably well-off. At no point in the story is the world’s pain hidden or edited out. If anything, the darkness of the world is emphasised, providing a stark background against which the Light of the world arrives among us with dazzling effect. At Christmas, God himself, in the vulnerable baby Jesus, draws close to our broken world, revealing our potential for love and care, healing and hope.
La vita è una festa. Life is a celebration. We look forward to welcoming you at one of our Christmas celebrations this month. Let’s share this wonderful time together.
Love and prayers