The Hallmark Channel’s 10th Countdown to Christmas has begun. Actually, they began their series of Christmas movies before Halloween while you weren’t looking.
Maybe you still aren’t looking, because you’ve already seen that movie. Aren’t all those Hallmark movies really the same? The title is a pun, like “Write before Christmas.” A career woman in the big city is a workaholic, a distraction from her sad and unfulfilled life. She has to go home around the holidays. Her family’s land or business are in jeopardy. The picturesque little town is decorated like a greeting card, naturally. A cute animal appears. A handsome widower is raising his daughter as a single parent. The child introduces the two and they all have a snowy adventure. They argue. She bakes something. They kiss. Santa winks. She decides to stay and help the family. Bring down the lights, the show’s over.
What is so appealing about that formula? Conflicts are resolved. Relationships are mended. Sad people find joy. A child’s needs are met. People display honesty and love because relationships matter. Those are real desires, met not by watching a movie but by living life God’s way. The Bible uses the words “one another” over 50 times, exhorting us to forgive, accept, admonish, and serve. It says we bear burdens and bear with one another. Jesus wraps these into one, “love one another, just as I have loved you” (John 15:12), meaning selflessly and sacrificially. For today’s culture, it’s worth noting that real love is not easily offended (1 Cor. 13:5).
Those “one another” things are more noticeable around Christmas. Max Lucado writes, “The magical dust of Christmas glittered on the cheeks of humanity ever so briefly, reminding us of what is worth having and what we were intended to be. We forgot our compulsion with winning, wooing, and warring. We stepped off our race tracks and roller coasters and looked outward toward the star of Bethlehem. For a few precious hours our heavenly yearnings intermesh and we become a chorus, banking that Bethlehem’s mystery is a reality.” And we sing, “O come let us adore Him” to the One who inspires angels and humans to rejoice.
Life deals both regrets and longings, hurts and hopes, failures and dreams. You yearn for your story to include conflict resolved, wounds forgiven, and sadness displaced by childlike joy. That, actually, is not a fantasy. The Advent, the first coming of God the Son is a celebration of that very plot. Those yearnings all point to the same thing: peace on earth, peace with God, peace for eternity. The appearance, death, resurrection, and return of Jesus is the divine plot, “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet.1:20) to bring such a peace. Those events that inspire faith, hope, and love in us are the original and real Christmas plot.