The Wife and I have been watching a different Christmas movie each evening in the run-up to Christmas.
In the midst of a party-less pandemic, it is the next best thing.
We started the first night with A Christmas Carol (the George C. Scott version), followed by How the Grinch Stole Christmas, then the next night, my favorite, The Bishop’s Wife.
Then last night we watched a movie neither of us had ever seen, The Man Who Invented Christmas, a loose biopic on Charles Dickens’s writing of A Christmas Carol. The movie is as much fiction as fact, but it led me to a realization: I had never actually read the story Dickens wrote. I had seen several versions of the movie, and my wife and I go every year to the local theatre to see the play, but I had never read the actual words Dickens wrote.
After the movie, I went to my study to do some writing, and while there I noticed one of the temperamental track lights on the mezzanine in our library had flickered off again, so I scurried up the spiral staircase to tinker with it. My tinkering brought light, and when I looked down on the bookshelf where the light shone I noticed on top of a row of vertically stacked books a thin leather-bound book, with gold embossed pages, and gilded lettering on the cover:
A Christmas Carol
I then remembered the book was a gift from my wife, but I had not yet read it.
One of the most common tools of filmmakers used to convey the message of the movie is the symbol.
In Sam Mendes’s American Beauty, the first scene shows the two main characters behind a picket fence and mullion windows to convey that these two feel trapped in their marriage.
In Woody Allen’s Crimes and Misdemeanors the protagonist who secretly commits adultery and murder and realizes there will be no earthly punishment for sin is an ophthalmologist. He helps us see, you see.
What filmmakers do with fantasy and script, God does with reality and history, and God did with the birth of Jesus.
“And she gave birth to her first-born son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was not room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7. Jesus was not born in a hotel room; a hotel room is too small and bounded. Jesus was born outside, where walls do not hide or inhibit.
This is, first and foremost, a blog about the kingdom of God.
This blog is rooted in the firm belief the word “Kingdom” is not merely a contentless adjective for Christians to use to sound more spiritual in their religious conversations but is in fact an administration with territory, earthly and spiritual, with people, including citizens and enemies, with a purpose, along with a rival kingdom opposing that purpose, and most importantly, with a King.
I was reading the Christmas story in the first chapter of Luke yesterday and saw something I’m sure I had seen before but had not fully registered. When Gabriel spoke to Mary and described for the first time the child she would give birth to and His purpose, he said this, “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Luke 1:32-33.Continue reading “The Kingdom in the Christmas Story”
On Christmas Eve I was reading the Christmas story in Matthew and Luke, and I saw something I had never seen.
An angel appeared to the shepherds in the field and told them a Savior had been born and where to find Him. (Luke 2:8-18).
The Shepherds do what any of us would have done: they go to try to find Him.
They find Him, and Luke says this about what happens next:
“When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had ben told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
It has become a Christmas tradition for the wife and I to go to the local theater to see the play, A Christmas Carol.
Its message is as fresh each year as the first time I saw the play because the message of redemption and change never grows old. And Scrooge does change. Radically.
Tonight, while at the play, I began to think about why more Christians don’t see more change in their lives. After all, one of the best arguments for Christianity has always been a changed life. Yet change often comes imperceptibly slow or not at all, and not always because of a lack of trying.
There are five principal reasons people don’t change.