Anyone who knows me, I mean really knows me, knows I love movies. I have always loved the ways in which I could get lost in a story. The way I could be transported into whimsical fantasy or a swashbuckling adventure. As a child I would exchange dismal reality for a grand adventure revealed to me either on the big screen of the local movie theater or the small screen that had 3 channels. As I grew into adulthood I found that while some people collected ceramic figurines, snow globes or stamps I was collecting moving experiences of a character on screen. A few of my favorite adventures were of Indiana Jones narrowly escaping a runaway boulder or the epic battle of swords and wits between Edmund Dantes and Fernand Mondego or the harrowing quest of Frodo and Samwise. Yet, with all the intensity of those adventures I find myself considering my favorite movie Frank Capra’s 1947 film It’s a Wonderful Life and how beautifully that story resonates with me.
It’s a Wonderful Life is the story of George Bailey and how life knocks him down, hard. He finds himself on Christmas Eve in a very dark and broken place, the place where hope is absent. The place where the roadmap has been torn and you cannot see true north. George Bailey in his despair decides to jump off a bridge but inadvertently “saves” his guardian angel, Clarence. George Bailey is a bit dumbfounded when through the course of the movie it is revealed how different the little town of Bedford Falls would be had he never been born. George Bailey had no idea that his life had such an impact on his community that his very absence affected the characters in monumental ways.
Can you imagine what the world would look like if you yourself were never born; if you did not exist? If you were absent from ever coming into being? If you did not inhabit your skin. Take that a step further and imagine Jesus, God incarnate not coming to us in the form of that tiny baby in a manger? God not with us! How would our very nature be affected without Immanuel here with us? What a sobering thought.
The Christ Child came to us as a precious gift from the Father. He is an opportunity for us to truly see God with us. Jesus says anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. Yahweh in all of His sovereignty in all of His righteousness and in all of His goodness knows our need to feel His presence on a corporeal level. There is something about skin to skin contact that we as humans crave, it is almost as if we have been designed that very way. And God in all His mercy animated Himself so that we may have God incarnate through the Son, Jesus.
And that is the hope that we are abundantly blessed with. Hope resides in the Christ Child wrapped in swaddling clothes. Hope that we are not alone that God is truly with us. Jesus in all of His lavish love for His disciples did not leave us without hope. Jesus promises His disciples the Holy Spirit as our own roadmap pointing to true north where God passionately pursues us so we too can say it’s a wonderful life.
~Written by Dea Braaten