A United Methodist Pastor's Theological Reflections

"But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory (nikos) through our Lord Jesus Christ." - I Corinthians 15:57

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Dave's Deep Thoughts - What Is a Perfect Christmas?

Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.

Call it true confessions
Time to house clean the soul.

Yes, I am the one who ate the pasty white glue in elementary school art class.
Yes, I have been known to pick my nose.
Yes, I have been caught talking to myself.
Yes, I have tried to push a pull door many, many times.
And yes, I have walked into restaurant bathrooms designated for ladies…..
on more than one occasion.

But this last one is hard to admit.
Deep breath.

Last week, 
I watched a movie on THAT channel,
you know the one between the Food  and  Home & Garden channels……
Yes, THAT channel,
the one that shows non-stop saccharine sweet Christmas movies.

There’s more to this confession.
I watched one of its movies…
on a Sunday afternoon…………….
during football season.

My name is David,
and I have officially turned in my man card.

I don’t know what got into me.
My team wasn’t playing that day,
But that’s no excuse.

I flip to the sugary sweet channel.
There is the recently widowed attractive mother,
trying to learn to live her widowed life 
while raising the cutest but saddest ten year old boy in the world.
It is approaching the 2nd Christmas after the funeral.

Now Bobby isn’t always sad.
You see, his deceased father is still roaming the house as a ghost,
because his spirit isn’t free to go to heaven until his family is happy again.
(okay, I realize this movie wasn’t written by Bible scholars OR good script writers)

Dad appears to Bobby daily,
helping him with his homework,
or playing a game of air hockey,
(he always lets Bobby win)
or tells him stories as Bobby falls off to sleep at night.

Of course, the attractive but lonely Mom does not believe Bobby.
nor can she see her dead husband because she is sad and has no Christmas spirit.

Mom decides that Bobby needs a grief counselor.
Attractive Mom finds counselor Steve,
who looks like he could model clothes in any fashion magazine.

Surprisingly, Steve turns out to be the most kind, down-to-earth
man hunk who shockingly, only lives a few blocks from Mom and Bobby.

Now when Mom is setting up the counseling appointments in the man hunk’s office,
she  sees a photo of Steve with his wife.
She assumes he is married.

We later learn that man hunk Steve is a widower.
Did anybody NOT see this coming?

Now Steve is also a hockey coach for a youth hockey league for 9-10 year olds.  
Please remember that Bobby is TEN YEARS OLD

Bobby loved to play hockey before his dad died,
but because his dad died, Bobby doesn’t want to play anymore,
unless it’s air hockey with his dad, the ghost.

The ghost thing is really beginning to upset attractive but lonely Mom,
which causes her to have more meetings with man hunk Steve.

Counselor Steve tries to get Bobby to join the hockey team.

Bobby and the Dad ghost, like Steve,
but Bobby is not emotionally ready to play hockey.

This is a shame because man hunk Steve’s youth team needs another player,
and the playoffs are approaching.

Mom begins to become aware of her dead husband’s presence in the house,
not so much because she has more Christmas spirit, 
but because she is developing a crush on the man hunk.

I think we all know where this is headed……
Bobby has a melt down and runs away.
Dad, the ghost, appears to Mom.
Mom finds out that the man hunk is a widower.
Man hunk finds Bobby.
Dad the ghost tells Bobby it’s time to play hockey.
Bobby suits up for the playoff game.
Attractive mom is in the stands watching the man hunk as much as she is watching the game.
Bobby scores the game winning goal, and oddly enough,  none of the other ten year olds are jealous
even though Bobby just started to play on the team.
Dad the ghost, is cheering in the stands as well.

Attractive Mom and man hunk coach Steve have a “celebratory” postgame moment.
Bobby, the hockey hero, witnesses the moment and also notices his ghost Dad’s approval.
Later, Dad the ghost, appears to Mom and tells her it’s time to move on.

Next day is Christmas Eve.
Mommy and man hunk Steve kiss under the mistletoe.
Ghost dad appears to Mom and Bobby and says goodbye and disappears into the night sky
that oddly is aglow with a very bright star.

Bobby, Steve, and Mom all hug.
The end.

There is a desire inside each one of us that life works itself out.
Somehow at Christmas, we hope that every child has a toy,
every person has someone to kiss under the mistletoe,
and everyone has a warm home and meal to eat.

But that isn’t the Christmas story.
The Christmas story is about peace, hope, and joy.
But that doesn’t make life easy, and certainly not perfect.

Ask Joseph who walked 8-10 days over a mountain range while pulling a tired donkey.
Ask Mary, who endured the same trip while almost ready to give birth.
Ask the shepherds, who were “abiding in the fields” outside Bethlehem
because they were the social outcasts of Bethlehem.
Ask any Bethlehem family who had young male children slaughtered,
following Herod’s maniacal genocide.

God’s entry into the world brings peace, hope, and joy.
but it also brings a response from those who want no part of God intervening into human history.

I don’t wish you a perfect Christmas.
There is no such thing.

What I do wish for you is
peace that can only be found within your heart as you receive Christ there,
hope that comes from knowing this life and it’s circumstances are not the final answer, and
joy that  comes from knowing  we have a God that would rather die for us, then live without us.

That is the Christmas and the life that the Lord intends for His children.

As for the movie channel,
too much Christmas saccharine makes one a spiritual diabetic.
And that is why football is awesome.

But far more awesome, is God.

in the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

In Him was life,
and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness did not comprehend it.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us,
and we beheld His glory,
glory as of the only begotten from the Father,
full of grace and truth.
                                                      John 1:1-2, 4-5, 14

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