Gareth Harper @Upsplash.com
In keeping with my determination to see movies that are sure to be Oscar picks, last Saturday I treated myself to the new Pixar film “Coco.” Coco is not to be confused with a bio-pic about Coco Chanel nor is it about tasty hot chocolate. It is, however, a wonderful, colorful, and funny story about a little boy who discovers the importance of “remembering.” Four-stars. The whole family will love it.
Christmas is also that great time of year for “remembering.” Granted, not all memories are that terrific. My dad, for instance, passed away very suddenly ten years ago on December 22. It’s amazing to me that somehow that heaviness still finds its way into my psyche right around this time of year. I miss him. That’s a good thing because I then remember to tell my children about their grandfather. I am hoping that they will pass his story, and then my story, along to their children.
There are good Christmas memories too. My favorite: One year our son, Luke, got a Gameboy from Santa. In his glee (and shock) Luke shouted, “Now I know there’s a Santa because you guys would have NEVER gotten me this!” And, boy, was he right about that (wink, wink).
Throughout Advent, we are encouraged to “remember.” The holiday commercials ask us to remember the warm family traditions. “It’s a Wonderful Life” asks us to recall what life might have been like if a certain angel didn’t “get his wings.” Old Christmas ornaments remind us of happy times when we were young(er).
That old, old story of Jesus’ birth is so primitive, so hard on the face of it that we want to remember it through rose-colored glasses…but we should avoid doing so. Poor Mary and Joseph! Outcasts, shamed, refugees with no place to go. The Motel 6 was all booked up. They ended up in the barely covered parking lot where the feral cats and stray dogs hung out. Homeless people. Mary had to give birth in a place like that? With no medical care? “Sleep in heavenly peace?”
Somehow though, it was a holy night. And from those terrible beginnings, that baby grew, led a peace-filled revolution, and changed the world and history. We need to remember that part of the whole Christmas story as well.
In the movie “The Lion King,” Simba tells the monkey, Rafiki, that his father, the elder lion, Mufasa, is dead. Excitedly, Rafiki leads Simba to the water’s edge. Simba’s reflection becomes that of his father. Rafiki says, “He lives in you.”
And that’s the “hallelujah” moment in this Advent season. The babe – who became a man – lives in us. Jesus’ spirit lives in and through us! God’s love is available to everyone. We, as sons and daughters, must remember to pass on that gloriously generous story. There’s a hurting and polarized world that desperately needs to hear the good news of a very special baby’s birth.
Joy to the World!
P.S. I’ll be on vacation for the next two weeks. Merry Christmas, friends!