Maureen Moynahan Elwyn
Third Week of Advent: Joy
Thursday, December 20, 2012
Miracle in Bethlehem
"This is how the birth of Jesus came about…." Matthew 1:18
I love to go to the movies. Some of my earliest memories evoke mental images of Mother and Daddy dressing my brothers and me in our pajamas and taking us to the local drive-in theatre. I guess I never made it to the end of the movie, because the next morning, to my surprise, I would wake up snug in my own warm bed.
I think I inherited a movie-loving gene from my father’s side of the family. According to my mother, my great-grandfather, George Newman, went to the movies in his hometown of Scottsville, Kentucky, every night. It didn’t matter how many times he had seen the feature or even if company were visiting, Granddad went to the movies.
My favorite Christmas movie is Miracle on 34th Street. I saw it first during my senior year in college. Paul and I were newlyweds living in a cramped trailer, searching for a few minutes of relaxation amidst the chaos of college classes, final exams, and part-time jobs. Watching the story that unfolded that night on our $25 twelve inch black and white television screen became a holiday tradition that continues to this day.
When our daughter was five years old, Hollywood filmed a new version of Miracle on 34th Street. As a birthday treat, Paul and Laura took me to Lexington for dinner and a movie. I was excited for the opportunity to watch my favorite movie on the big screen along with my daughter and husband. Remakes are seldom as good as the original, but we enjoyed the picture none-the-less.
On the trip home, Laura was unusually quiet. As it was well past her bedtime, I thought she had fallen asleep. Suddenly, a small voice whispered from the back seat, “Well, I guess this means there’s no Easter bunny or tooth fairy, either.” Paul and I shot quick “Oh, boy!’ glances to each other across the front seat of the car. Evidently, Laura had watched the movie more intently than we had realized and had reached her own conclusion about Kris Kringle.
My mind searched for the right words. She was my only child, not even in kindergarten yet, and truthfully, I wasn’t ready to let go of the magic of stockings, and reindeer, and the mystery of toys left under the Christmas tree. What should I do? I hesitated as long as I dared, processing my choices. A question as serious as this deserved a fair answer.
In the end I opted for honesty, because the real story of Christmas is so much more awesome and thrilling than any story she would ever see on a screen. God produced and directed a drama that rings down through the ages and throughout eternity. The story of the birth of Jesus takes place in the perfect setting, combining a suspense-filled plot and unforgettable characters.
The story of the birth of Jesus truly is miraculous, so I opted to tell her of the miracle which took place, not on 34th Street, but in Bethlehem. It’s a story that should live in our hearts and minds, not just at Christmas time, but all year long. Not even the best of movies can do that!
Heavenly Father, May we keep the story of the birth of your Son alive in our hearts and minds every day of the year.