But it’s a poignant reminder that being attentive to the little things can make all the difference to those in need, says Krish Kandiah
I was sent this year’s John Lewis Christmas advert by a friend of mine who works for John Lewis. He said: “You’re going to love this ”, but he didn’t tell me why.
As I watched the first few moments, I thought: What’s going on? Some guy falling off a skateboard - how is that important? And then comes the punchline. Spoiler alert: we find out that the man has been preparing to receive a teenage foster child into his house and, because of her interest in skateboarding, he’d been trying to learn. It’s beautiful and powerfully done. I was moved to tears.
With my family, I have been fostering children for the last 16 years. I haven’t learned to skateboard yet, but I have found ways to connect with the kids who come into our home needing love and affection. As the John Lewis advert points out, it’s often the small things that make a difference. When we found out that one of our foster children loved Liverpool football club, we put a Liverpool poster above their bed.
Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be tough
Christians shouldn’t need a John Lewis advert to know that looking after those in need is important to God; the Bible is so clear: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress (James 1:27). Yet today, there are more than 100,000 children across the UK in foster care. I’d love Christians to be spurred on by the John Lewis ad to consider whether they could foster or adopt. Wouldn’t it be amazing for people to have that vision at Christmas?
The heart of Christmas
Hospitality is at the very core of the Christmas story. Despite there being no room at the inn, Mary finds refuge in an inn-keeper’s barn. She welcomes shepherds, straight from the fields, into her birthing party. Later the Magi, despite being foreign gentiles, are welcomed into this Jewish couple’s lodging.
There are many ways we can be attentive to the needs of those around us. The Bible tells us that we should be quick to listen and slow to speak. How can we listen to the needs of our neighbours? How can we consider the elderly who may be struggling with the cost of heating their home this winter? How can we make sure we hear what our community needs, and then respond to it with love and compassion?
I’d love Christians to be spurred on by the John Lewis ad to consider whether they could foster or adopt
The warm welcome campaign is a wonderful way to use our church buildings to provide hospitality, helping people who are struggling to heat their homes. We’ve got more refugees living in people’s homes than we’ve ever had in British history, yet there’s still a need for more.
So as we watch the Christmas ads fill our screen, now is the time to ask: What could I do to stand alongside those in need? If there are foster carers or adoptive parents in your congregation, what could you do to come alongside them? And let’s pray for more. Let’s pray for support for birth families who have been separated from their children because of difficult circumstances in their own lives. It’s easy to think about heroes and villains in these circumstances but, actually, there’s just vulnerable people who need love and compassion.
Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can also be tough, especially if you’re struggling for money. As Christians, let’s be attentive to the needs of those around us. As the John Lewis ad so beautifully points out, sometimes it’s the little things that mean the most.