Tag Archive: faith

Christmas Hope and Faith

Family Movie Night

By Karyn Bowman

Every year on Thanksgiving day or soon after, there is one movie I must watch. It is a movie full of sentimental feelings, of earnestness and faith.

It is not a favorite with most of my family but slowly they are all around watching the movie right down to the bitter end.

Miracle Parade SantaOf course I am talking about Miracle on 34th Street. And as far as I am concerned the best version is from 1947 in the original black and white.

Edmund Gwenn won an Oscar for his performance as a man named Kris Kringle. He looks like a real-life Santa who knows more about the North Pole elf than even the most dedicated Santa-geek.

In the movie, we meet Kris as he discovers a drunken Santa on the float of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in New York City. He becomes the Macy store Santa who brings his own costume and charm along with a customer service attitude that surprises both customers and store leadership.

Miracle on 34th StreetHis grace and actual interest in others makes friends with many of his co-workers including Mr. Macy. Mrs. Walker who organizes the parade each year works to find a home for Kris. Meanwhile, Kris sees this as an opportunity to teach Mrs. Walker and her daughter, Susan, how to trust and have faith.

But when an incompetent psychologist is offended by Kris and works to have him committed, it takes Mrs. Walker’s lawyer neighbor, Fred Gaily, to keep Kris from being sent away forever.

This is a movie I have known by heart since I was in my teens. I know every scene, maybe not word by wordt, but certainly by how it all feels. Every time I watch it I notice something different. Maybe it is the way Kris and Albert talk to each other or how the rooms are decorated.

What never fails to catch my attention is how hope and faith are the focus of the story although we are never told if the Walker family are Christians or non-religious. These two parts of the story, the bedrock, depends on how we interact with others. They depend on how we treat others, what we expect, and what we expect to get back. In this case, we come to realize that Kris is motivated by the joy he sees in others when he gives them presents that have real meaning.

Edmund Gween Miracle IMDb com

Image from IMDb.com

This movie reveals the true meaning of the holiday, even for non-believers. It was a sentiment needed after a long war that was hard on many families. Hope, faith, joy. It’s all there.

The movie was an instant hit when it was released in June of 1947 and stayed in theater till the holiday season of that year. People needed, wanted the emotions displayed in this movie. And I think we are looking for all of that today. The question is how do we make this happen in our lives?

After all, not all of us can find a Kris Kringle for a Christmas intervention. Sometimes we have to create the intervention for ourselves.

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

Let’s Make a Deal

A few weeks ago “Glee” chose to explore religious belief.

Can you see the eyes? Picture by Click.

The Holy Cheesus.

Sure, we have all seen those stains and images that could look like Jesus or the Virgin Mary. But how many of us have done exactly what Finn did in that episode – made deals with God for the thing we want most to happen.

“If my child gets well, I will make a large donation to the church.”

“If the surgery goes well, I will believe in you.”

“If we win the football game, I will honor you.”

Sound familiar?

I know I have been there, willing to make a deal. On the other hand, I am frustrated to hear people act as if God/Jesus are like Santa. Believe and you will get all that you desire. Rewards shall rain down upon you as they did Job after his trials.

I realize that scripture states that if we believe, truly believe, in Jesus and God we will be rewarded ten fold. We will be rewarded for faith given. But at what point do we believe in God because we just know he is there? Why must our belief be motivated by something other than total faith? Why do some people need fear or greed to make them realize earthly riches, while nice, are not the totality of riches.

I am not sure what Finn actually learned during his week of miracles. Getting to feel up his girlfriend or winning back his spot on the football team will have some short term gains. I wish that Emma could have made him understand that Jesus was there on that sandwich but it was for more than to realize his greatest dreams of the moment. It was a reach-out effort that could have lead to greater faith, greater depth of character.

Let’s be honest. Finn is a good guy but he has a shallow character. He lives in the moment for the most part, just as most of us do. But religious belief asks for something more. It is a living, breathing way of thinking and doing on a daily – moment by moment sometimes – basis.

Do unto others as you would want them to do for you.

Be a willing giver.

Give without others knowing who is the giver.

Is he reflected in your heart? Picture by Alex Lobo

What a good Christian that must be to give without letting others know what you do. Most of us want credit. We want assurance that while we have accepted Jesus in our hearts, and we know we were saved,  future sins will not land us in Hell. Living blameless lives after being saved is difficult, an endless tightrope.

We want people to know how we live our faith so we announce it and proclaim it. Maybe it is on your neck or your car but is it in your heart? Do your actions all week let people know you are a christian?

They will know we are Christians by our love.

Convert as many people as possible, use words if neccessary.

Funny thing is, Finn lives these words, these various maxims, in his character. But he has never declared himself as Christian or Jew, Protestant or Catholic. Perhaps what he really needs to declare is his belief. And that is what the Holy Cheesus was trying for all along.

What do you think is the message that Finn missed?