Well, it’s that time again…the Christmas ads come out on T.V. and billboards everywhere, and some of us get all mushy about the over-sentimentalised mush and some of us…get upset.
This year it is the turn of U.K. bakers Greggs. The above image was released as part of their Christmas campaign and has caused a bit of a stir among certain Christian circles. Now you may accuse me of jumping on their wobbly bandwagon but I actually think it is a good advert for Christianity. (Such a thought may, of course, really upset Greggs more than the complaints and mean that they withdraw it, which would be a shame.)
How can I say this is a tasty advert for Christians?
Firstly, it reminds me that at Christmas time we are celebrating the incarnation of God in human form. Ok, not as a sausage roll, I get that, but that God, who is essentially beyond being, took on flesh and blood and became part of the creation. God became a member of the human race. As such Jesus hungered, ate, became tired, thirsty etc. For me, the
sausage roll may be a good reminder that God came in humility.
Secondly, there is something so wonderfully mundane about the sausage roll in the crib that reminds Christians of the danger of sanitising the story of Christ’s birth. I don’t know which Bible you are reading but mine has a refugee, homeless family taking a somewhat begrudging offer of questionable hospitality and undergoing the risky business of birth in less than sanitised surroundings.
The baby Jesus, contrary to the carol, did cry, did poo and wee and all those other delightful baby things. If the thought of a sausage roll spoils your view of the ‘classical nativity’ scene I suggest you read the first few chapters of either Luke or Matthew.
Following on from both of these, Christmas is not a one off for Christians. It points forward to the rest of the life of Jesus and, ultimately, to his redemptive death and resurrection some 30 years later. All through his ministry Jesus showed himself not as a ‘mover and shaker’ but as a friend of the poor and the outcast.
I usually try to avoid the bias-ridden question of ‘What would Jesus do or say…?’ in any contemporary situation but I have a feeling that we would be much more likely to find Jesus hanging around Greggs than, say, a Café Rouge or a five-star restaurant. He lived and travelled with Galileean fishermen who were certainly not considered among the influential of the day.
Lastly, and most importantly, Jesus says in John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Whatever else it is, a sausage roll is food for the human body and the metaphor of Jesus as food for our souls works just as well in a different form.
When we find ourselves full of Christmas fare; our homes full of Christmas ware; and yet we still feel that something is missing from our souls – just maybe we will pass a Greggs window display and be reminded that God has come; God is near; and God wants to fill us with something more than pastry – with his transforming forgiveness, grace and strength this Christmas.
Nice one, Greggs!