What Mr. Magoo Can Teach Us About Being Born Again
I love this time of year. Right about now, all the great holiday movies are being played on TV. As a kid, I could hardly wait to see “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” or “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
And as I got older, it became a tradition to watch “White Christmas” (featuring the frighteningly skinny Vera Ellen) with my pal, Jeff. I would cry every time the soft strains of “We’ll follow the old man wherever he wants to go…” started near the movie’s end. I’m still very impressed Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye were able to pull off bringing in hundreds of veterans to Vermont’s Columbia Inn without the General knowing! Ah, the magic of movies.
But perhaps one of the old Christmas saws that leaves me feeling most nostalgic is “Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol”—the first made-for-TV Christmas special aired in 1962, starring Jim Backus. Its primitive animation does not take away from the classic Charles Dicken’s story of one very rich man whose heart is transformed by reviewing his life, past, present, and future.
At the end of the TV version, Mr. Magoo awakens to find that it’s Christmas morning. He realizes that this is his moment to turn away from being the miserly old Scrooge that every one fears and disdains. He gleefully heads outside and literally starts throwing money at all the people he meets.
Magoo then heads over to Bob Cratchit’s house and joyfully gives his employee a raise, provides the turkey dinner, a Christmas tree, all as he sings these lyrics by Bob Merrill, “Ringle, ringle, coins when they jingle, make such a lovely sound. Give them away and nobody can rob you.” A stunned Cratchit says to Scrooge/Magoo, “You’re a child again, sir!”
And indeed, Mr. Magoo, in a very real sense was born again.
We usually don’t think of the Christmas season as a time when we too might need to be born again. We are too busy shopping, baking, decorating—doing all the good things that make the season just right for us and our loved ones. But perhaps we should take a moment—minus the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future—to think about how we might be born again as we celebrate the birth of a Baby in a manger.
Magoo was transformed into a person whose gratitude and generosity knew no bounds. What might the impact of being born again (again?) have on your life this sacred season? Jesus came to change us. He came to move us
- out of our comfort zone
- to challenge the powerful
- to speak up for the oppressed
- to live a life overflowing with gratitude and generosity.
Yep. Being born again is not for the faint of heart. Thanks for the reminder, Mr. Magoo.
P.S. This is the last week to get you year-end letter reviewed by me. Make sure I have it by December 15!
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. For some reason, her kids would rather watch "Elf" over "Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol." There's no accounting for taste. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.