“For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
(Isa 9:6, NRSV)
Okay … time to be honest. This year, as we have been approaching Advent and the Christmas Season, I have newly discovered the Hallmark Movie Channel. Actually, I have known of its existence for many years previous, and it has historically been the central issue behind struggles for possession of the TV remote control, especially with their Christmas movie marathons. These mushy, extremely predictable, “chick-flick” stories were hard for me to make all the way through—and don’t even try to get me to take in two in a row. Now having confessed all this, I would not be at all surprised if a number of you “Ladies” are thinking to yourself, “Typical man!” And I would have to further confess, “Guilty as charged.”
But I have to also confess that I am this year finding myself actually keying in that channel number on the remote, and doing so without any “traditional” prompting. This year, I find myself looking forward to the predictable endings, when all the misunderstandings and contention between the characters gets resolved. I catch myself being drawn into the “mushy” plots where the happy ending always involves characters patching up broken relationships and at least one new couple lives happily ever after. And as far as the “chick-flickyness” goes, my official position is that I tune into that channel strictly to honor my wife’s wishes (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
But seriously, why I am I actually liking the Hallmark Movie Channel this year, with all its predictability, its adherence to happy endings, and its guaranteed portrayal of Christmas peace and goodwill? Could it be that I long for the assurance that all these things are indeed real and possible, even in a world that seems more upside down than any time in recent memory. The uncertainty we face today seems pervasive and is present in almost every aspect of life—internationally, domestically, politically, economically, socially, and morally. Perhaps I am seeking a little refuge from all the uncertainty and potential instability, even if only for the duration of a two-hour “mushy” Christmas-time movie.
But I am also reminded, especially as we work our way through Advent and toward Christmas, that there is one aspect of life that is anything but uncertain … and that is the redemptive presence and renewing promise of Christ in the world and in our lives. Through the birth of Jesus, God fortified our pathway toward a life-giving relationship with the Divine, thereby equipping God’s people with the stable foundation to heal brokenness and achieve the ultimate happy ending—everlasting joy and fulfillment with God as the center of all that we are. One of the best parts is that this pathway is more than predictable, it’s guaranteed.
I expect that I will likely watch a few more Hallmark Christmas movies throughout December (of course, it’s only for the sake of peace with the TV remote). But I will put my faith in the certainty of our “happy ending” because our God who loves us so much that a Savior would be given to us, upon whose shoulders all authority rests, and whom we shall know as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. May this Advent and Christmas Season fill you with hope and assurance, and may the presence and promise of Christ serve as your stable foundation for life now and forever more.
Blessings and Peace to you always … Pastor Bob