Tuesday, December 25, 2018

The “Other” Message in Christmas Movies

“Look for Christ and you will find Him. 
And with Him everything else.”
C. S. Lewis

  So, what’s your favorite Christmas movie? There are some wonderful ones. There are also some horrible ones but no one will deny that there are lots of them. Essentially, all of December is filled with Christmas movies but then it comes to a screeching halt on December 26th.
  Though I don’t want to read something in to Christmas movies that are not there, as I was mulling this over, I do think that there’s more of a redemptive element in many of these classics than perhaps we’ve noticed, elements of the real Christmas story are there even by those who may have never intended to put them there. For example…
  We’re all sinners and really messed up. I love Home Alone, but is there any character that you’d want to be “home alone” with in that movie? They have a huge, beautiful house but they’re mean, cruel and vicious to each other. They’d be dubbed dysfunctional. That seems too kind. They illustrate that bucko bucks and a fabulous vacation to Europe won’t transform sinful people into good ones. Miracle on 34th Street also shows the emptiness of what most consider to be success.
  The difference one person can make. It will be forever debated whether Die Hard is truly a Christmas movie. While John McClain is heroic, he has lots of serious issues and is certainly not an example of how to live. Yet, in spite of that, he’s willing to sacrifice his life and everything else for others. Wonderfully, our Savior who came and entered space and time is truly a hero, a White Knight with no chinks in His armor. Jesus is the perfect, sinless lamb of God who sacrificed Himself for us.
  All of us must be prepared for death. He’s only a snowman but every child is saddened that Frosty’s clock is ticking and he’s headed to his soon demise. Frosty shows us that the seasons of life can’t be stopped. As much as we seek to freeze ourselves in youth, death is imminent for all of us and we need to prepare for our all too soon coming end.
  Unrealistic expectations always leave us empty. Both Christmas Story and National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation are about expectations and the frustration of unrealized ones. Clark Griswold wants to have a perfect family Christmas, so he pesters his wife and children, as he tries to make sure everything is perfect. But it will never happen and things quickly go awry. His redneck cousin, Eddie and family show up…unplanned and start living in their camper on the Griswold property. Worse, Clark’s employers renege on the holiday bonus he’s planning on and desperately needs.
  You can’t judge the overall plan on your little piece of information. One of my favorites is White Christmas. Yet, what a comedy of errors and anger that’s a result of misinformation and not having the “big picture.” If we only look at today and this world, we too will become quickly disillusioned and angry. What a wonderful encouragement those words from Isaiah are, “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord” (55:8). It also shows how we muck things up when we manipulate and try to force things. Often we attempt to “help” God out only to discover that we’ve created a bigger mess.
  What a dark and different world this would be if Jesus had not come. Christmas doesn’t seem like Christmas unless I’ve watched It’s a Wonderful Life and I spring a leak every time. It’s considered, not just one of the greatest Christmas movies, but one of the greatest films ever made. Frank Capra, the director, confessed that it was his personal favorite among the films he directed. He screened it for his family every Christmas season.
  George Bailey is the classic antihero. After setback after setback, he repeatedly gives up on his dreams to help others. His attempted suicide on Christmas Eve brings about the intervention of his guardian angel, Clarence who shows George all of the lives he’s touched, and how different life in his community would be if he’d never been born.
  Think about that. Our world is so dark and evil now, but what would it be like if Jesus had never come. No churches, orphanages, hospitals. Think of how many organizations, including most Ivy League colleges, were birthed by Christians seeking to serve the Savior. What if Jesus had never come? It’s a very dark concept.  
  Hope and redemption for the seemingly unredeemable. Another longtime favorite is the original Grinch. The theme song nearly makes the movie. He’s a surly character with a heart “two sizes too small” who especially hated Christmas and determines to stop it from ever coming to Whoville. He steals Christmas from the Whos and returns to his mountain,  waiting to hear their sad cry. Instead, the Whos joyously begin to sing Christmas carols, proving that the spirit of Christmas doesn’t depend on material things. The Grinch begins to understand the true meaning of Christmas and his heart grows three sizes. He brings everything back to the Whos and even participates in their holiday feast.
  Christmas movie after Christmas movie repeats the same theme of hope and redemption from A Christmas Carol to Christmas with the Cranks and even Elf. Yet, the fictional tales are nothing compared to the real one. The real Christmas story, the one found in Scripture, is about hope, forgiveness and redemption. As the angel told Joseph, “You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21).
  How about you? Has He saved you from your sins? Is your life story His redemption story and the great plan of salvation? Because He came for you, your life can be one of the greatest Christmas stories of all time, too. 

Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address. 

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