Advertising Christmas

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

The latest supermarket ‘war’ seems to be with Christmas adverts! John Lewis, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Aldi and even PC World are all at it – with varying degrees of taste…

So what about the Church? Well, so far as the Church of England is concerned, there is an advertising campaign in the run up to Christmas each year. In 2016 it used the strapline “Joy to the world” and this year it is “God with us – Your Christmas Journey”. You may or may not have seen something of this campaign – but one thing is certain, it will not reach the number of people that the supermarkets do on prime time television.

And yet, come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, people will flock to churches in massive numbers. The cynic may say that, for many, it is simply part of the ‘hype’ of the secular celebrations and that, if there is a gentle snowfall to add to the candlelight and the Christmas tree as folk make their way home from church, all the better.

In truth there is likely to be some substance to this claim but, as I stand at the door of St Michael’s on such occasions and wish people a Happy Christmas as they head back for further festivities I am convinced that many do take seriously the message of God’s love which the birth of the Christ-child signifies.

Of course, there may be much more emphasis on family celebrations in the current day – but, heretic that I am, I become more and more convinced that our God is so loving that he will revel in the enjoyment that many experience over the Christmas season.

Let’s be honest, there have been periods in the history of the Church when people of faith did nothing to advertise the wonderful message of the birth of Christ and its significance for humankind. Under Oliver Cromwell the celebration of Christmas was frowned upon and it is even suggested that he made the consumption of mince pies illegal!

The responsibility for advertising Christmas – and the wonderful truth of the Word made flesh – lies first and foremost with those of us who are regular, card carrying members of the Church locally. If those with whom we have to do see the faithful folk who worship week by week in a positive light: being welcoming, caring, compassionate and non-judgemental – not just at Christmas but all year ‘round – they will ‘catch’ some of that way of life and want to be part of it.

So, my plea is that, here in Alnwick, our Christmas advertising campaign will be a way of life, a daily activity filled with the love which came down at Christmas.

‘Love came down at Christmas, love all lovely, Love divine;
love was born at Christmas, star and angels gave the sign.’

With every blessing for a Christmas filled with the love of God and a New Year that brings happiness and contentment,

Paul.

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