Advent Day 20: Made For TV Movies

I originally posted this on my church’s blog here, as part of a weekly advent reflection one by the pastors at our church. I wanted to reprint it here as a reminder to not be bored as we hear Luke read, or the tale of the wise men recounted. The nativity was anything but boring, and there should be no other response to it but awe.

“For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Matt 13:17

In the last 50 years, there have been countless Christmas movies made. A few titles were real winners. The 1999 film Olive, the Other Reindeer was a touching film about a dog called Olive who wants to be a reindeer. Then there was of course the classic Santa’s Slay where Santa Claus is actually a demon who lost a bet with an angel, yet after the bet is called off, returns to his evil ways of murdering people. Every year, more and more Christmas movies come out trying to bring a fresh and exciting perspective to the holiday…some more successfully than others.

Besides just another opportunity for the movie industry to make a few bucks, the constant attempts to reignite interest in the Christmas story seems telling of a deeper problem. I think many people are bored with the original Christmas story.

I know I’m guilty of it. After reading the story at our family Christmas Eve party every year, I grew tired of it. The impact of what happened grew numb with the repetition. Even though I could almost recite word for word the Nativity, the wonder was gone.

The other day as I was flipping through channels on the TV, seeing new made-for-TV movies starring washed up actors telling hackneyed stories of some ambiguous Christmas magic, this reality struck me. What happened in that small cave in the back alley of Bethlehem some 2000 years ago isn’t boring. In fact, that story marks the beginning of the greatest story ever told. Not only did God solve the problem of redeeming a fallen creation by dying for them, he began the main act with a dangerous birth in a no name town to a scared peasant woman and no name husband with a bunch of migrant workers and cattle as witnesses. Jesus’ birth was messy and dangerous, dramatic yet not overstated, completely unexpected but perfectly what was necessary. Not even the best of writers could have written it better.

We don’t need new Christmas movies every year to be excited about Christmas. No other story can compare, no narrative could be more moving, than the story that started Christmas.

As I enter this season, I have felt deeply convicted to take the time to fully take in what God did through that first Christmas, and spend as much time as I need to be fully moved to the wonder it should always illicit. I hope that we as a church can follow in suit and see the Christmas story as exciting once again.

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