My eyes still well up in tears every Christmas as I watch the end of the Christmas classic, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” George Bailey has just realized how precious life is, what a beautiful family he has, and then the bank president and local police come to arrest him. That’s when the magic happens! George’s friends, neighbors, and all the people he helped through the years come to his aid. Baskets of money are emptied on the table, people are taking coins out of their change purses, and an entire community rallies around to remind us what is possible when redemptive love is put into action.
I experience the same sense of wonder and awe when I watch “Miracle on 34th Street.” Who doesn’t feel the power of the excitement, unity and love of the people when the chairman of the board of “Coles” ask on the television ad “Do you Believe?” The music explodes, and all the residents of NYC are exclaiming, “Believe” in Santa Claus. Much like George Bailey, the people of NYC rallied around Santa, and redemptive love was put into action.
This season, the word kindness is everywhere. Retailers even have a kindness doll with tokens stating words of kindness for children to give to playmates. The story of Mr. Rogers and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is making headlines and getting extensive coverage on all the networks and talk shows. His red zip-up sweater is trending in the fashion world. The movie has an updated, mature twist, but it’s still about redemptive love being put into action. The power of all the classics, whether in a book or on the big screen, with a Western such as “Dances with Wolves,” a love story like “Titanic” or a superhero like Batman, it’s always about redemptive love being put into action.
Another critical component to the making of a blockbuster film is the sacrifice. In all the classics, redemptive love required significant sacrifice from the person extending love. George Bailey sacrificed his career on behalf of making sure everyone else was cared for. Coles’s special events person put her career on the line in challenging Coles’s board of directors to stand by Santa. The lawyer risks being a laughing stock when he challenged the judge to believe in Santa based on the faith and not by sight statement, “In God we Trust” on our dollar bill. Mr. Rogers gave his time to whoever needed a kind word or deed. No one was excluded. In each story, the sacrifice was always freely provided by the redeemer to the one loved with no expectation other than the well being of the person. Sound familiar?
The most powerful and redemptive story of love being put into action in all of time exceeds any screenwriters or producers’ imagination. The story was prophesized long before it came into being. The birth of Jesus. Think about it. The World stops for a month and focuses on Christmas. Christmas carolers stroll our communities singing Joy to the World!!! Music in the malls, in our cars, on our phones, is proclaiming the birth of Christ. Much of the World is decorated with Christmas trees, angels, candy canes, manger scenes, stars, and colored lights. Families and friends are gathering together to celebrate the season with parades, pageants and parties. Many are giving money, supplies, food, and gifts, to the poor, the helpless, homeless and hopeless. Billions of dollars are spent on gifts. Why does the World celebrate the birth of Jesus so elaborately? No other proclaimed deity is celebrated so lavishly and by so many all over the World. Why? Because it’s true. It’s more than a story; it’s a relationship based on the unfathomable, redemptive, sacrificial love of God. For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him would have everlasting life. He gave us the Gift of Love; the redemptive gift of Jesus. His birth was love put into action, freely given to anyone and everyone that believes and accepts Him as Savior with no expectation other than a loving relationship.
This Christmas, I encourage you to do two things only you can do: Give the Gift of Love. Give your spouse, your children and your family YOU. Give them your time, your focused attention and love. Secondly, put love into action and obey the second commandment, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” and answer yes to Mr. Rogers famous question. Won’t you be my neighbor? Give them YOU and lead them in word and deed to Jesus.
Lisa May is the Executive Director of Live the Life South Florida etc. She can be reached at [email protected] or by mail at 5110 N. Federal Hwy. Suite 102, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33308