Sermon: Christmas is Coming, George Bailey!

Bulletin Ad 3“Christmas is Coming, George Bailey!”

(December 15, 2013) George Bailey is at the end of his rope, unable to see a way forward, when Hope breaks into his life, against all odds. Can we learn from his story that hope can enter again, in unlikely places and through unlikely people, and to respond with compassion and love to those for whom hope is elusive or altogether lost? (Isaiah 35:1-11)

As I reference in my sermon, this week a student at Montpelier High school ended his life, and I pray these words and others like them remind us to respond in love and care. And as always if you are in a place where hope seems gone, or if you suspect a friend might be in such a place, say something. It’s hard and scary, but you don’t need to be afraid or ashamed. People will listen.

I name this portion of the film “It’s a Wonderful Life,” although of course you should watch the whole thing since it’s that time of year. 😉

The Advent series this year is a look at how God breaks into our lives when we least expect it and whether we’re ready or not. We’ll look at seasonal grumps who find transformation breaking into their lives: The Grinch, who experiences love; Ebenezer Scrooge, who moves toward justice; George Bailey, who rediscovers hope, and a Mystery Grump, in need of some Christmas joy.

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8 Responses

  1. Interesting: George Bailey finds hope and love because he’s given up his own dreams, at least to some extent, to take care of his family and loved ones. It provides a sort of conundrum, does it not?

    • The way I see it, George discovers or rediscovers hope and joy because he realizes that his life, imperfect as it is, and totally not what he had planned, is nevertheless wonderful. No matter what others might think, or how they might judge it from their outside perspective and their ignorance of his life and his heart. It’s a powerful story of growing where one is planted, finding the beauty and sacredness in life in the every day things that somehow are never ordinary. Sometimes one has to lose ones life to find and keep it.

      Shalom,
      Becca

      • It’s not that I disagree with you at all. And it’s truly one of my favourite films. However, it makes me a tiny bit sad–the suggestion that it’s ok to simply give up on one’s dreams. I so want George to go to college or get to travel. Or is the lesson that self sacrifice is the key to peace?

      • I mean, is George fully being his authentic self, a term that so many of us (and I’m including myself here) throw around and seem to value? Or is George giving up too much?

        • I agree, Valerie, and I hope that’s not the message people take away from the movie. I think that’s part of what makes George such a tragic hero– we want him to follow his dreams and we are heartbroken along with him when so many of them elude him. However, he gets most frustrated when he compares himself to other people’s ideas of success– to Sam or to Mr. Potter, or even to his brother, Harry.

          I love the subtle but powerful contrast with Mary, who does achieve her dreams, from her whispered declarations of love as a child to her wish when she throws the rock, to her college degree (yes! She has one and George doesn’t!). Rather than resenting or being jealous of his wife, George loves her all the more for her determination I think. She knows what she wants and– as he wishes he could do– she gets it.

          It’s hard to say why some people follow their dreams and things work out, and some people find themselves stymied at every turn. I remain convinced that the powerful point of the movie is not so much about being true to your dreams as it is about finding your dreams in the love that’s already in your life. The near-closing line that George is the “richest man in town” is a little corny, but true. I think sometimes the challenge in life is finding excitement, adventure, and passion in the ordinary and beautiful.

          And I do hope ZuZu grows up to be a famous doctor and sends her parents on an adventure cruise for their fiftieth wedding anniversary…

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