By Rob Buzza
With Christmas music starting in the malls so early this year (no doubt to boost sagging sales), Christmas movies can’t be far behind.
As someone who loves watching movies, especially the more wholesome variety we see at this time of year, I thought it might be fun to reminisce about some classic Christmas movie moments during the next four weeks.
My all-time favourite is from A Christmas Story. Now with a title like that you would expect some reference to the story that started it all – the birth of our Saviour.
Not so much.
It’s about Ralphie and his quest for the ultimate Christmas present – a Red Ryder BB gun.
There’s wonderful, whimsical scenes of Ralphie’s dad fighting with the furnace, Ralphie’s friend Flick getting his tongue stuck on an icy flagpole, the neighbour’s hillbilly hounds attacking their turkey dinner, the waiters at the Chinese restaurant trying to sing Deck the Halls, and the recurring warning about BB guns from every grownup – “you’ll shoot your eye out!”
While there are many memorable moments in this holiday classic, one stands out as my favourite. And believe it or not, it does remind me of the first Christmas story.
Ralphie has finished opening all his gifts, including the embarrassing pink bunny pajamas from Aunt Clara, then settles on the couch, sighing with a resigned sense of deep disappointment.
Just when he has given up all hope of ever getting his dream gift, his dad notices a long and narrow box hiding behind the tree.
What I love even more than Ralphie’s excitement is the unrestrained joy beaming from his dad. His expression at that moment is such a contrast to the frustration on his face throughout the rest of the movie. It reminds me how all of us, even though we are clearly flawed at times, occasionally reflect the One who created us.
The Bible says we are uniquely fashioned in the image of God.
And in those moments when we move beyond our chronic selfishness to focus on those we love, we discover the truth in what Jesus said: “It is more blessed to give than to receive”.
This is the heart of the original Christmas story, a Heavenly Father who gave the greatest gift of all to each one of His children. The gift, when we fully understand it and receive it, transforms our lives, and helps us come back to the way we were intended to live.
The families from our church experienced that same kind of joy, and our own little movie moment” just last week. We stayed after service to form a north-pole-like assembly line, packing hundreds of boxes for Operation Christmas Child. Imagining the smiles on the faces of children around the world opening these gifts gave us more joy than we were giving away. It helped to know that everything we packed in those boxes was safety approved – no one would lose an eye.
God designed us to love and to give freely to others (yes, even BB guns) and that’s the simple message of The” Christmas Story.
Rob Buzza, is lead pastor of NorthRidge Church.