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It's Personal

If you live in or near Leesburg, you've probably noticed posters of downtown merchants. 

The posters are giant blown-up photos of the shop's business owner. In most of the photos, the business owner is hamming it up for the camera, posing, in a lighthearted way, with some prop appropriate to his or her business.

The posters themselves, and the whole campaign for that matter, strike me as a fun, truly creative way to promote downtown businesses.

And oddly enough, they got me thinking about Christmas. Not in the way the ad campaign intended (shop downtown this holiday season), but in a deeper sense.

The posters got me thinking about the true meaning of Christmas. 

Here's why: the effectiveness of this campaign is that they personalize the downtown businesses participating in the campaign.

You can drive by Mom's Apple Pie five times a day and not really take notice, but all of a sudden there's Avis Renshaw, smiling at you with her giant rolling pin.

There's Mike of Leesburg Vintner, foot up on a case of vino. And there's Stanley of Caulkins Jewelers, holding an oversized gem.

And somewhere in the back of your mind, these buildings...these shops...these places become personal.

The genius of this campaign is that it plays to the strength of downtown businesses. Its message seems to be, "Look, these aren't the impersonal, literally detached big-box-stores of the strip malls. Downtown shops are personal: just as they literally share walls, they are connected, one to another, and to the community."  

These aren't just stores, the posters want to remind us, but Avis.



Well, if I'm reading my Bible correctly, the story from Genesis right through Revelation is the story of another campaign: God's campaign.

God's salvation campaign.

God's campaign to reveal his goodness and love for humanity.

And what was that first Christmas all about, if not God's attempt to literally personalize himself?

 As the climactic words of "O Come, All Ye Faithful" put it, the true meaning of Christmas was the "Word of the Father, now in flesh appearing."

The effectiveness of God's campaign that first Christmas, you might say, was to personalize himself. 

Christmas isn't all about God's omnipotence, omnipresence, power.

It's about Jesus.

And why did God enter into that campaign? Because God can seem so large and impersonal. But -- because God is a tender lover -- that remoteness, detachment, and distance breaks God's heart.

So that first Christmas -- God's incarnation -- was God saying, "Here. This is what I look like. This is me. You want to know me, what my priorities are, what I care about? Watch. Look. Listen."

In other words, that first Christmas - God's incarnation -- was God saying, "I care; I am connected. I do not want a remote relationship. This is personal, so I might have a personal relationship. With you."

May God's campaign be an effective one, for you -- in you -- this Christmas.


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