Advent Tales: Rounding of the Circle with Christmas stories we love

During this last week of Advent, the different stories and verse that have been shared are coming together to give a complete picture of the Advent season. It is about the time we spend in reflection and looking back on our past lives. And when we see that there are things that we need to forgive and to forget, it’s a time to look deep inside our souls and to build the strength we need to let things go. As with the story shared in our first week, the Zen Koan called “Crossing the Stream” tells us we need to stop carrying a burden of guilt, shame or anger and let it go. Week Two: The Tale of Another Donkey We can look at the tale of the first Advent Family, Mary & Joseph, traveling to Bethlehem in a different light. This young married couple had very little in the way of earthly goods, yet they possessed the strength of character and moral fortitude to stand up for justice and to protect those weaker than themselves. In this story, it’s an abused donkey who finds love and courage to carry the Holy Mother as she prepares to give birth in Bethlehem. And all those who have rescued animals can identify with the lasting love and adoration that is found in these blessed animals. The Treasures we store In week three, we are asked to seek a true definition for the treasures in our life.  We find that those things that we store up inside our hearts and souls far outweigh the goods and the baubles that attract us each year. Those material goods are sometimes referred to as ‘earthly pleasures.’ We find that those things that last are what we consider to be priceless. The treasures we store up for Heaven are things we do to help others and how we choose to live our lives and treat other people. Those are the things that matter. The Movies: Messages of hope & rebirth for the Holidays And finally, for those who love movies as I do, there is in this final week a look at the different messages from the beloved films we watch each year. A Christmas Carol talks of the same treasures we talked about in week three, as the ones that were prized by the character of Scrooge. And the ghost of Jacob Marley warns Scrooge, and all of us, that those things we store up in our rooms and closets will not be of value when we are gone from this earth. It’s a Wonderful Life gives us a feeling of redemption which is part of the Christian Faith. A rebirth each year, with the celebration of Jesus’ birth, is also a part of the look inside our own lives where we see what we have meant to other people. The word “Friendship” from George Bailey’s life also means fellowship and community. These are the things that are of value in his life. For films like Christmas Vacation we laugh at all the misadventures of the bumbling Clark Griswold. But his true motive is pure and selfless. He wants to have an old-fashioned family Christmas to give to others and to share the joy of the Christmas season with his family. As for the Miracle on 34th Street, even a young Natalie Wood is seen as a cynical version of an every-child, one who has been conditioned to see things as they are. We can acknowledge that it was a hard world for all children and adults who lived through a Great Depression and a frightening world at war. Therefore, this film entailed all that is great and good about believing in miracles that can occur. The message is timeless. If we do believe, and if we not only have faith, but perseverance, then we can prevail.  And as is often the case in today’s world, we can find our dreams come true. With lots of hard work and some lucky breaks, determination and youthful dreams may come together to create a miracle or two. And finally, there’s the beloved TV cartoon tales of Christmas. We can acknowledge that the Grinch is somehow a cartoon version of Scrooge, with a cute and lovable dog named Max. But the Charlie Brown Christmas is unique in its depiction of another set of cynical children, those created through the eyes of Charles Schultz. It’s the character of Charlie Brown who bemoans the exploitation of the Christmas season by commercial interests. And we know he speaks for a good number of those who believed, in the sixties through the present, that Christmas has lost its true meaning with commercial exploitation and 20th Century marketing. But little Linus quotes Scripture to give Charlie Brown a glimpse of the true meaning of Christmas. It’s from the New Testament in the Book of Luke 2: 8-14. Linus talks about the field of shepherds who are visited by angels who tell them not to be afraid. That the tidings are of ‘great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in Bethlehem, a savior which is Christ the Lord” And with all things that tell a great story, there’s a rounding of the circle as they put actions to words when they surround a forlorn little Christmas tree with love.  That small tree may represent the poor and the broken among us. The children tend it with determination and care, and then form a circle of love that brings the drooping tree to new life. It’s a fitting end to a type of message that surrounds the season of love and giving. We can talk and we can preach and suggest and cajole ourselves into believing in the Christmas Spirit. But surrounding us is the world as we know it. We can make it a better place if we choose to do so. That’s the message that we put forth in each of our Advent Tales. Merry

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