Well, I just finished watching another Hallmark Christmas movie. My wife, Debbie, loves these movies – and I love my wife – so we watch as many of them as a DVR can hold during the season. 

A Hallmark movie is pretty formula. Girl has bad breakup and wants nothing to do with men. Girl unexpectedly meets man who seems different than any man she has ever met. Girl falls in love with man. Circumstances occur that are misinterpreted by girl who now thinks she was initially right – all men are rats. The truth is revealed just before her plane takes off and she ends up marrying the man in an idyllic Christmas setting (substitute as necessary: man falls for girl; female elf falls for man, etc)

I suppose we watch these movies because no matter how bleak the situation in them seems to be, things always work out; and that leaves us feeling warm and hopeful – at least for the moment. Hallmark movies are two-hour whimsical fantasy escapes from the stress and disappointments of daily life.

However, real life is not a Hallmark movie. In fact, I often watch these movies with a touch of sadness, reflecting back on the number of people who sit in my office and literally ask me, “Why can’t life just be the way it is supposed to be?” (they have the turmoil and disappointment of a Hallmark movie; they simply want to know when the last commercial will end so they can get their “happy ever after”)

The message of this almost Christmas Eve article is that while it is true that real life is not a Hallmark movie, real life is not without hope. In the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life” George Bailey finds himself on the brink of suicide as a result of the lies he believes about himself and about life. When the truth is revealed to him (by a strange little angel) he discovers purpose and hope and joy (even though life itself has not changed much).

Once again, this Christmas we will celebrate the intentional decision of God to send Jesus to be Emmanuel, God with us. And when God is with us we have all the truth and hope we will ever need. Will life be “fixed” after the next commercial break? Probably not (at least not in the way we might want). But can we discover purpose and hope and joy in the midst of life? You bet! Because He lives, I can face tomorrow. You can, too.

Pastor Jim

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