Just some early morning thoughts from me to you…

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.

And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2: 8-12 (ESV)

Well it happened again this past Saturday night. I watched my favorite movie of all time—“It’s a Wonderful Life.”

It happened “unexpectedly,” while I was flipping between “The Preacher’s Wife” with Denzel Washington and the late, Whitney Houston, and the ACC and Big 10 Championship games.

There it was and there it stayed on our television screen. Despite having seen it at least a hundred times and preparing to watch it next week on DVD, I sat there watching it to its glorious eye-moistening end as all of those people whom George Bailey’s life had touched, came to his aid during a time of trouble and need.

The movie never fails to remind me of what God was trying to tell us so many years ago when He sent His Son for you and for me. And it is a reminder I need. It is a reminder that many of us need.

In the movie, George Bailey has lost $8,000 from the Bailey Building and Loan, and decides in his despair that his life insurance would make it right—that people would be better off if he were not there, better off if he had never lived. And so he jumps off the bridge to end his life.

He’s fished out of the river by Clarence Odbody, Angel 2nd Class, who gives George a chance to see what the world would be like if he had never lived. And in scene after scene, George finally comes to realize that so many lives would have been less had he not been here, and that all of us influence other people’s lives for good in all sorts of unique ways we could never imagine or expect.

It is a reminder especially needed at this time of year when the pains and disappointments of past seasons rise from their dwelling places within our memories to our conscious thoughts. When the commercialization of the season creates a pressure we can’t afford, and yet too often succumb to—a pressure to do more and more, to keep up, and to believe it’s about gifts and things.

Maybe it’s a reminder you don’t need, but I do. A reminder I need to point me back to that moment of God’s love for us which occurred over two thousand years ago—and which this Christmas season is all about—nothing more and nothing less.

It’s why I begin to play Christmas music in my car in August. To remind me of the reason. It’s why I watch “It’s a Wonderful Life,” and often with our precious two granddaughters, “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens, “The Santa Clause” and the sequels II and III, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” “Frosty the Snowman,” “The Polar Express,” “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever,” and so many others.

They all help to embrace what it’s all about. They help to refocus me, away from a focus on personal struggles of today and the painful memories from long ago, which we all experience and struggle with, and also away from the commercialized gods which society suggests the season is about.

Instead they all help to remind me and focus me on that moment which occurred so many years ago in a dirty, damp, dark manger in a stable behind an inn in Bethlehem. A moment where we are headed again. A moment which has made, and will continue to make, all the difference in our lives.

They help to remind us of God’s plan for our lives, and through the words of Clarence Odbody, Angel 2nd Class, to George Bailey, as George finally began to realize that he had been given a great gift of his life and that it in fact has made a difference in the world when he says—

You see, George, you’ve really had a wonderful life. Don’t you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?”

And then, “Strange, isn’t it?” he says to George, “Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?”

This moment that we are heading toward again was the moment God orchestrated just for us, to remind us of how much He loves us, and of how special we are to Him.

So special, that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to restore each of us to Him, to assure our eternal salvation, and to all the fullness of life we were meant to have. And to help us remember, when the world tends to drag us down and back, the impact that our lives can and were meant to have in the world around us.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is

Christ the Lord.

And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in

swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

For you? Yes, for you.

For me? Yes, Scott, for you, too!

In His Name—Scott

Copyright 2014. Scott L. Whitaker. All rights reserved.