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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

This Christmas Commercial Is not a Victory of Christmas

It happens every year during the Christmas season; someone trots out the heartwarming story of the time that British and German soldiers during World War One put down their weapons on Christmas Eve and met each other in the no-man’s land between the barbed wire and the trenches to celebrate the birth of the Prince of Peace together.  It’s not yet Advent.  It’s not even Thanksgiving yet, but already the story is “blowing up the internet,” and going viral. First out of the gate this year seems to be the British supermarket, Stainsbury’s.

But I don’t think the story (the true story… it really happened...several times  ) is very heartwarming.  It seems, to me, to be more of a failure than a win.   The sentimentalist voice says, - Look, they laid down their weapons, they traded gifts, they sang carols together.  They played football together.  Awww. Warm fuzzies all around, there's a lump in our throats, and tears welling up in our eyes.

But the very next day they were shooting and shelling each other again.  That needs to be emphasized. 

Yes.  For one brief shining, glorious moment, those soldiers recognized and put into practice the meaning of Christmas.  But  they refused to continue in it.  They knew the right and the good thing to do – but they refused to do it. Forget peace. Pick up the rifle.

The commercial produced by Stainsbury’s swells with a lush arrangement of the hymn “Leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms,” and effectively demonstrates that the “everlasting arms” upon which the world continues to lean are not the arms of God, but the fire-arms used to kill the enemy.

This story (and the advertisement that exploits it for Christmas sales) is not a victory of Christmas.

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