One of the first ways we can tell that Christmas is coming is that everywhere you look there are Christmas adverts. With Christmas adverts comes controversy – whether it’s the sausage roll nativity or the strange monster under the bed, the Christmas adverts are a normal topic of conversation at this time of year.
Marks and Spencer had based their advertising around Paddington Bear. I have yet to see the movie but everyone I know who been says how heart-warmingly lovely it is. Unlike seemingly everyone else in the country I am not a huge fan of Paddington – as a child I found him quite annoying, but I realise that I am very much in the minority.
In recent years Paddington has had a massive resurgence due to the two films that have been released. Now, to add to all of this, we have the Marks and Spencer adverts which see the annoying, I mean appealing, little bear mistaking a burglar for Father Christmas and showing him that giving, not stealing, is the way forward.
The advert ends with the catchphrase ‘spend it well’. Now obviously they mean, spend it well with us at Marks and Spencer. However, there is a lesson for us as Christians as well. Spend it well – not in the way M&S mean, but instead perhaps we should look at our lives – do we spend them well? As we approach Christmas with its hustle and bustle and the endless Christmas shopping, the to do list and decorations, what motivates us as we celebrate this season?
Perhaps it is the love of family, the chance to be together. Perhaps you love giving gifts and don’t mind receiving them either. Perhaps you love parties and the energy and excitement that Christmas brings. Jesus said he came in order that we might have life – life in all its fullness. At Christmas it’s easy to get overwhelmed trying to create the perfect day when, in actual fact, how we live our every day moments is much more important.
In the Marks and Spencer’s advert Paddington ‘saves’ the burglar – he shows him kindness, that it is better to give then to take, and what joy is like. This is what God did in giving us Jesus – he knows the best in us and the worst in us and loves us anyway. He couldn’t love you more. He came to this earth as a tiny babe – God with us, Emmanuel. He came to show us what God is like, love in human form.
To spend Christmas well we need to spend at least some of it consciously with God and acknowledge that unconsciously God is always with us, and even a whispered prayer will reach him.
I may not be Paddington’s biggest fan, but I do love Christmas – I love the parties, I love the lights, I love the decorations, I love buying gifts and getting gifts. I love that at this time of year we talk about love of each other and of God. I hope and pray that you have an incredibly blessed Christmas – that you know how loved you are by the Creator, and that you celebrate that by living life to the full, not only at Christmas but all year round.