Tag Archives: Christmas

Unremembered Redemption

Unremembered Redemption

As Christmas day has now passed, so too another of our annual traditions comes to a close: watching Christmas films. Each December, my wife and I enjoy a particular part of our DVD collection as we view a wide variety of Hollywood’s perspectives on Christmas. Drama and comedy, live action and animated, classic and contemporary, there are a range of experiences to be enjoyed. This year included Miracle on 34th Street (the modern remake), Santa Claus: The Movie, Elf, Fred Claus, and The Nutcracker Prince.


Scrooge: a role model?

Within our collection, we also own several versions of the classic Dickens story, “A Christmas Carol.” This year we saw a new rendition: the CGI animated version from Disney released in 2009. It was surprisingly dark and intense, but it did bring up something to reflect on.

Being a “Scrooge” remains a cultural stereotype of someone who is tight with money and missing out on the joys of life. I found myself saddened by this prevailing image for one simple reason: it completely overlooks the end of the story.

Sure enough, throughout most of the tale, Scrooge does typify these ideas, but the end of the journey brings about an incredible transformation in this rough-edged miser. He becomes a paragon of generosity, embraces others, and engages in the beauty of relationships that life has to offer.

But none of this is included in our common image of Scrooge.

His redemption goes completely unremembered. Overlooked. Cast aside. We hold on to what he was, and not what he became. In our minds, Scrooge is forever trapped in the midst of greed, loneliness, and joylessness.

Instead, why can’t Scrooge be for us an image of the one who was delivered from such a colorless existence? Why can’t calling someone a Scrooge instead be a celebration of how they have changed for the better?

Christmas is about God moving forward in His plan of redemption, of taking us lost souls and bringing us into fullness of life through the coming of His Son. Scrooge is a perfect emblem of what is offered to each of us, but we choose to cling to his old self rather than to celebrate the new life that he enjoyed.

One blog post will not transform our cultural archetypes, but I at least desire for myself that I will be able to interact with others from a place of hopeful expectation about the change and wholeness that we all might experience, rather than simply relegating one another to the way we were at the beginning of our own story.

The time for New Year’s resolutions is nearly upon us. For me, I think I’ve got a simple one:

I want to be a Scrooge.

Not a miserable miser, but a generous, friendly, caring soul who acknowledges his own redemption and employs his means to be a blessing to others.

Care to join me?

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Posted by on December 27, 2013 in Life


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A Necessary Gift

A Necessary Gift

It’s September. The local newspaper was recently encouraging people to book restaurant space now…for Christmas parties! I thought the season always started a bit early in the US, now that it appears right on the heels of Halloween…but apparently, here in the UK, we are well ahead of America in terms of holiday spirit.

The notion of Christmas parties got me thinking about gifts.

All I want for Christmas is...

All I want for Christmas is…

There are all kinds of gifts. There are generous gifts. There are polite gifts. There are thoughtful gifts. There are extravagant gifts. There are surprise gifts. There are expected gifts. There are wished-for gifts. There are etiquette gifts. There are thank-you gifts. There are thinking-of-you gifts. There are returnable gifts. There are “just because” gifts. There are romantic gifts. There are commemorative gifts. There are collector gifts. There are homemade gifts….

There are also necessary gifts.

Most gifts, in some way, are extra, optional; they can be refused, set aside, or forgotten about without much detriment…except perhaps to your relationship to the giver.

But there are some gifts which are vital, requisite even.

The Bible speaks of sleep as a gift (Ps 127:2).

A quick search on Amazon didn’t reveal sleep as an item on anyone’s wishlist. In fact, it doesn’t even look like you can buy sleep on Amazon…or on eBay…or the Home Shopping Network. Even Costco doesn’t seem to stock any sleep.

I’ve realized that, for all our ability to control our environments and our actions, we actually can’t make ourselves rest. There are times when I find myself in excellent circumstances for resting–no obligations on my time, plenty of physical comfort, little stress…and yet, I still cannot seem to rest.

I’ve come across nights where my body is tired, my mind isn’t racing, and yet still I cannot fall asleep.

For all of my skill at managing life, for all of my learned habits to exert control, sleep and rest are something that we cannot actually manufacture for ourselves. We cannot force them. We cannot create them.

They must be given. As a gift.

And they are necessary.

I’m not sure what the etiquette books say, but I expect that asking for a gift is usually considered a cultural no-no. Such a request would likely come across as rude, greedy, selfish, or as implying that your intended giver wasn’t naturally very generous, or thoughtful, or caring.

But I find myself asking for rest, asking for sleep. Because I need them.

The Bible talks about other gifts as well, and God is identified as the giver of good gifts (James 1:17; Matt 7:11). Some gifts are optional, blessings that aren’t actually needed (Ps 127:3).

But others are crucial. Like salvation. His Word. The abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. And faith.

Will God find me rude, demanding, or infantile if I ask for these things?

If He gives them, will I receive them, hang on to them, enjoy them, cherish them? Or will I set them aside, or even try to return them?

What’s my role in the acquisition of a necessary gift?

And what do I do with it once I get it?

And how do I respond to the One who gave it?

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Posted by on September 21, 2013 in Life


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Santa: Desperate for Faith

A Santa Desperate for Faith

A Santa Desperate for Faith

My wife and I have enjoyed watching a number of Christmas movies over the last few weeks. Now that we’ve come to Christmas Eve, our time is short if we want to squeeze in the last couple of “must see” films!

Last night, we watched the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street, which is one of my favorites. I was reflecting on the plight of Santa depicted there.

Time again, Santa refers to his necessary quest to get people to believe in him. He has to convince wounded, skeptical Mrs Walker to believe so that her daughter can believe.

My thoughts then turned to other Santa films. In 2003’s movie Elf, Santa has had to install a jet engine on his sleigh because there isn’t enough Christmas spirit (faith) in the world in order to make it fly. When a Central Park crowd sings a rousing version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the “clausometer” (a measure of Christmas spirit) goes off the charts and Santa’s sleigh begins to fly without the rocket propulsion.

In 2002, The Santa Clause 2, finds Tim Allen as Santa Claus is desperate to convince a woman that Santa is real…so that he can get married and fulfill the requirement for there to be a Mrs Claus. Throughout the film, he struggles through the “de-Santification process” and the using up of his magic as his powers dissipate.

In all three of these cases, Santa Claus is in a somewhat desperate position to maintain his own existence. He’s basically running scared. Without the faith of the people of the world, he loses significance and power…which will lead to his own demise and the loss of joy for millions of children.

I’m thankful that the God we celebrate at this time of year is not in such a predicament. Jesus Christ did not come because people were starting to forget about God and He needed to do something really radical in order to awaken their faith. God did not act out of fear for His own existence when He sent His Son to earth. It wasn’t an act of self-preservation that motivated His activity.

Rather than trying to build up His faith ratings and maintaining His magical powers, God’s move in sending His Son was for our benefit. God wanted to be near us, and for us to be near to Him.

Santa visits earth every year, and yet still one movie plot after another emphasizes that people tend to forget him. He is desperate for people to believe, but often times seems satisfied if people believe in the idea of Santa Claus, rather than specifically in the person himself. He’s not looking to relate to people directly, but rather to keep the dream alive. In Miracle on 34th Street, Santa is willing to be locked in a psychiatric hospital in order to preserve the good name of Santa, even while separating himself from that identity.

But God isn’t satisfied with selling people on a disembodied belief. He wants relationship. When people don’t believe, He is saddened…but He’s not ontologically in jeopardy. God desires faith from the world because He desires relationship with the world.

On the other hand, Santa is desperate for faith from the world because he ceases to exist without it.

How will we use our faith this Christmas? To maintain the flight capability of an arctic jolly old elf? Or to engage in relationship with the true Father of Christmas?


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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Reviews


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