The tears are real. The format is revolutionary. And the Christmas 2003 "Jesus Wept" television campaign by the Christian Television Association Victoria (CTAV) promises to be one of the most talked-about spots of the Season.
The television ad campaign, which is due to go to air on December 1, 2003, was created in a unique environment provided by CTAV, which included people from a wide variety of differing religious and ethnic groups. The campaign features close up shots of Australian, American, Middle Eastern, African, Aboriginal, Asian and South American people weeping.
But the tears were not for the camera. In creating the television spots, this diverse group of people spent a day getting to know one another and listening as each other's many personal and cultural stories were told. There were many emotions on display on the day of filming. But the key moments captured by the camera are when much of the sadness that life can deliver brought the participants to tears.
The campaign is based on the shortest verse in the Old or New Testaments, "Jesus wept" (from the Gospel of John, Chapter 11 verse 35). CTAV spokesperson John Dalziell commented that CTAV wanted to combine the celebration of the birth of Jesus with the fact that "this child became a man who felt very deeply about the world¹s pain, suffering and grief".
There is a "time for laughing", but there is also "a time for weeping", commented Dalziell. "And CTA wanted to send a message of hope and understanding to those who feel loss or sadness this Christmas Season. Jesus was born. Jesus became a man. And that man wept. Whenever any of us cries, feels like crying, or wish we could cry, We need to know that Jesus understands us at this time more than we can understand."
The images in the campaign are accompanied by a wistful, sorrowful rendition of "Silent Night" sung by Melbourne singer songwriter Rebecca Barnard.
CTAV is made up from representatives of major Christian Churches, Anglican, Baptist, Churches of Christ, Salvation Army, Presbyterian and the Uniting Church. Images and media from the television spots can be obtained from CTAV.