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It’s a Wonderful Life shows the true meaning of Christmas

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I enjoy the Christmas holiday because I can legitimately relish my favorite Christmas movies, which I do tend to watch all year long.

My favorites are:

  • Christmas Vacation (with Cousin Eddie in his clunker RV)
  • A Christmas Story (about little Ralphie and his quest for a Red Rider BB gun)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas (where poor Charlie Brown makes an important discovery)
  • A Christmas Carol (with George C. Scott as Scrooge)
  • The Homecoming (the Walton’s premier)
  • Miracle on 34th Street (with Richard Attenborough as Santa)
  • Santa Clause (when Tim Allen discovers an unusual secret about Santa).

My all-time favorite Christmas movie is probably It’s a Wonderful Life, with Jimmy Stewart playing  George Bailey, a man frustrated with the direction of his life and who thinks the world would be a better place had he not been born.  I know I have had several “George Bailey moments” in my life.

Then, I think about the little 2-year-old girl I found at the bottom of a hot tub on one of two occasions I actually used the pool facilities at the apartment complex I lived in. I pulled her up, patted her back until she coughed a bit and then ran off to her older siblings who were supposed to be watching her.

I also think about the time I was stopped at a red light and looked up to see a 3-year-old boy with one leg on a wagon and the other dragging on the ground as it was speeding backward downhill toward a four-lane highway.

I hit the horn and entered the intersection, which caused all the traffic to stop just as the little guy went through the red light and the wagon bounced off my tire. A frantic, but grateful mom arrived a minute later and the look on the face of the elderly woman who would have surely crushed the kid with her car is burned into my memory.

Had I not been there, I suspect life would have turned out differently for the kids, their families and a few other folks.

Many people tend to get depressed over the holidays, especially if they find themselves alone or having to spend time with family members with whom they are estranged.

The best advice I can offer is to find some way to serve another person on Christmas. Perhaps it is a secret gift, or simply buying someone breakfast. You’ll feel better and give someone else something for which to remember the day.

Despite what our culture today says and political correctness requires, we celebrate Christmas for a simple reason — the birth of baby Jesus. Everyone is familiar with the nativity scene depicting Mary, Joseph and a group of animals along with three wise men surrounding a baby sleeping in a makeshift crib in a barn.

Few people remember that despite the angelic proclamation of the birth of a savior, the government of Israel at the time tried to kill Jesus and stop his prophecy by murdering every boy under 2 years of age living in Bethlehem at the time.

Throughout his life, people tried to kill Jesus and eventually succeeded by nailing him to a cross 33 years after his birth for simply challenging the religious and political authorities of the day.

Jesus even had his own George Bailey moment when he pleaded with God to “take this cup” from him, begging that his life be spared the night before Good Friday. No doubt knowing that he was facing a brutal beating and horrible execution, the human side of Jesus probably thought it would be better had he never been born.

But, the godly side of Christ was obedient to his mission and allowed himself to be killed to pay the penalty for all the sins committed by people living then and yet to be born. All they would need to do is accept that gift and acknowledge him as their lord and savior.

I, for one, am eternally grateful that Jesus was born and that he didn’t succumb to satan’s relentless temptations or run away in fear of what would happen to him one Friday during a celebration of Passover more than 2,000 years ago.

Jesus has changed my life and saved billions of other lives over the past two centuries. Yet, as it was in his time, people today continue to mock Jesus and his followers. We see it with the banning of Christmas carols in schools, nativity scenes in public parks, signs along public streets wishing people Merry Christmas, and even regulating simple greetings people exchange just to diminish the impact of this important holiday.

Still, Christmas is one of the few events that unite people around the world on a single day. There is a genuine reason for the season.

In It’s a Wonderful Life, an angel second class named Clarence opens George Bailey’s eyes to the true meaning of Christ’s birth.

For Jesus himself said, in Matthew 20:26-28, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whomever wants to be first must be your slave — just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.”

Clarence showed George all the people he faithfully served during his “uneventful” life, and how his presence impacted an entire community for the better. It’s about serving others, and the ultimate sacrifice a little baby eventually played in changing the world.

This Christmas, pause and reflect for a moment about all the people you have touched during your life. I’ll bet there are one or two people who are grateful that you were born because your life made a tremendous difference in theirs — even if they don’t know who you are or remember what you did, as is the case of the two children mentioned earlier.

Then, contemplate what Linus told Charlie Brown regarding the meaning of Christmas. You can find it by watching this video clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BeVDOu2_Fuc

If Christmas has no special meaning for you, then spend some time getting to know the baby who was born on Christmas day — a child who changed the world, and will change your life for the better, if you let him.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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