We didn’t watch Christmas movies at my house back in the 1960’s. Videos, DVDs, and streaming services didn’t exist and our black and white TV picked up two local stations which had very limited programming. If you ever would see a Christmas movie, you had to go to the theater and buy a ticket, which was something else that didn’t happen at my house. That’s why I’d never even heard of “Miracle on 34th Street” until I was in seminary and a Christmas movie buff friend introduced me to it, along with a few other classics.
I think I would’ve liked the movie as a kid, but after a career as a senior pastor, I love the movie and its message, for two reasons.
One, I’m fascinated that when the movie was released, in 1947, the primary protagonist in the movie, Kris Kringle, complains that Christmas had become too commercial. This was in NINETEEN FORTY-SEVEN, folks! Chew on that for a little while. He thought it was too commercial then!?
Two, after a career as a senior pastor, I profoundly identify with the mother in the movie. She worked herself silly putting together the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, organizing all the acts, and at the last minute replacing a drunk “Santa Claus” with the aforementioned protagonist, Kris Kringle. After doing all that, she was too tired to watch the parade, so she went home to rest, and just about missed the Big Story right under her nose.
That often happened to me as a senior pastor – so caught up in the detailed planning of various worship services, plus getting family plans solidified that I missed the Big Story. At least psychologically, I never showed up for the parade. Lately, I’ve noticed that a whole lot of other people share that malady. Certainly, many of us run the danger of plunging into this holiday season with such laborious severity that we miss stuff.
This past Thursday, one of the participants in our Spiritual Health group through the UAB Integrative Medicine Clinic made a great statement. She said that she wasn’t running herself ragged this year, that she was taking the advice of a friend who said, “Let Christmas come to you!” Everyone else in the group, including me, immediately laughed and nodded our heads. It’s like the proper way to watch a parade. You patiently stand along the route and let it come to you.
That’s what Advent is for. Advent stands in front of us inviting us to watch the whole parade. Let’s stop and stand in front of Advent – and let it come to us! As assuredly as Santa at the end of the parade, it will come to us.
So, pause. Light candles. Take time for conversation. Spend time in solitude and contemplation. That could lead to a miracle on YOUR street, whatever the number!