More “good news” than The Good News?

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We watch a lot of Christmas films at this time of year.  They are formulaic: go-getter has no space for love or family – ends film in love with romantic interest and family – love and family is where it’s at.

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The acting can be pretty average – even the actors can be the same. We watched two yesterday without realising the romantic interest was the same in both until half an hour into the second.

Christmas Corn.  We trash it while wiping a tear.  There is an innocence and predictability.  There is a shallowness (perceived) from a simplistic (unrealistic) storyline.  It must press our emotional buttons whilst allowing us to treat it as a forbidden pleasure.  Don’t admit it touches you … don’t admit to enjoying it touching you … insist these films are another burden of the Christmas Tradition … another example of commercialisation … honest!!

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I used to be in denial and now I am not.

I love watching them.  I love holding back a tear.  I love knowing it will end well for all.  I love that I am “all”.  I love that it encapsulates the Christmas Spirit.  That love changes everything for the better.  That money, power, status, fame … all that “normal rest of the year stuff” … can be washed away by love, by family, by relationship and simplicity, by love that overcomes “conditions”.

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And the crowds asked John the Baptist, “What then should we do?”  In reply he said to them, “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.”  Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they asked him, “Teacher, what should we do?”  He said to them, “Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.”  Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what should we do?”  He said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.”  As the people were filled with expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Messiah, John answered all of them by saying, “I baptize you with water; but one who is more powerful than I is coming; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandals.  He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”  So, with many other exhortations, he proclaimed the good news to the people.  Luke 3:10-18

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The Christmas Story has been hijacked by an agenda of salvation with condition.  A condition of belief in specific religious and scriptural statements (of belief) now sold as fact.    And like any sale worth the title, so too The Good News is stacked high and sold cheap every Christmas.  Churches are full.  Collection plates are fuller.  Bums on seats (or “footfall” as retail calls it) is compared to previous years.  The unchurched become churched for a short festive carol service or two.  Order more wine and wafers the communion rail will be standing room only.

John the Baptist offered equality and fairness.  Obey the rules.  Keep the rules.  Apply the rules in the spirit they were written.  He baptised with fairness and obligation.

But one who baptised with Christmas Corn was to follow.  Because to be baptised with Christmas Corn is to be baptised into a simplistic naive story.

Love Changes Everything.

The plot is familiar.  The players are familiar.  The struggles are familiar.  The conclusion is corny.

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I wonder as I watched these Christmas films … is this closer to “the good news” than The Good News?

Where all the “in and of this world” is still in and of this world.  Where all the problems of everyday living are still everyday living problems.  Where the key players remain the key players.  Where nothing changes but everything changes.  Where love changes everything.  Where race, religion, colour and creed … income, size of house, absence of house, absence of income … none of that is important.

Where all of this “Christmas Corn” is not of obligation and fairness – but of a conscious choice to be kind – a conscious knowing of life-changing love overcoming condition … Of knowing Christmas Corn is liberating and rejuvenating and healing in love – real love – no statements of belief or scripture required – no conditions at all.

Isn’t that THE Christmas Story of universal hope?

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