December 2018

I was watching TV the other night, and ran across a movie that has become one of my Christmas favorites, The Bishop’s Wife. Produced in 1947, this movie tells the story of a suave angel (Cary Grant) who comes to earth to save a woman (Loretta Young) and her Episcopal priest husband (David Niven) from spiritual doubt, and a lack of love for life itself. You see, the Bishop had become so focused on raising the money to build his Cathedral that he had made everything else in his life secondary – his wife and daughter, his relationships, and even his principles. He had lost his way, and Dudley, the angel, was sent in response to his prayer, and that of his wife, for guidance.   But this movie is so much more than that, and features a sermon at the end, that would preach well anywhere today, in a world so in need of the simple, non-commercial message of Christmas.
 
The Bishop’s sermon goes something like this: Tonight, I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.   Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.   But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.   Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.  
 
In many ways, we can all become like Bishop Brougham. We can become so obsessed with the commercial, the tangible, the temporal, that we forget why we really celebrate this time of year. Even, in the church, we can lose sight of what’s important – the birth of Christ, heaven come to Earth, our salvation laid in a manger. Let’s don’t forget to remember, this year. Let’s put something in Christ’s stocking, this year. Let’s do more for others than we do for ourselves. Let’s seek someone to be a blessing to, and give of ourselves over and beyond.  
 
Merry Christmas!
Bro. Heath      

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