Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Nativity Story

It is not my intention to discuss politics or religion on this blog often. I understand that these are touchy subjects and rarely do you have two people who agree completely on either topic. However, it is my website and therefore I do reserve the right to do so when I feel compelled. If you find these topics to be offensive, it might be best not to read the rest of this post.

It is Sunday morning and the storm that they predicted to roll in over the weekend is here in full force. My brother called this morning to say the roads are very bad and it would be best to stay at home today if possible. So instead of running out to get those last few gifts, we decided to start a fire and watch a movie. I had gotten The Nativity Story purposefully to watch before Christmas. It seems most households have some sort of movie tradition when it comes to Christmas. In ours growing up it was Ralphie; Christmas did not feel complete until we watched A Christmas Story. In others it may be Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation, Miracle on 34th Street or Prancer. My hopes were that we would like this movie enough that we could start a tradition in our household of watching it in the days leading up to Christmas.

I’m not sure I could say enough good things about this movie; I enjoyed it that much. Now, I realize my point of view is biased, but I really believe that even someone that did not share my religious beliefs could appreciate this movie for the elegance, yet simplicity, in which it tells the story of Jesus’ birth. In my opinion, the actors’ performances were top notch. I could feel their pain and fears of living under the rule of a king who felt no mercy and thought nothing of bloodshed in order to protect his position, being willing to take even the lives of his own wife and sons. And yet, with them, I was filled with hope and joy, with the promise of a better future. Throughout the movie I found myself getting choked up as my emotions swung from fear and anger to happiness and anticipation.

The other thing I think this movie did a great job of portraying, at least for me, is the reason that Catholics honor Mary. Her trust and faith is so strong, even in the face of adversity. Notice I use the word honor. I use this purposefully; a common misconception is that Catholics worship Mary as they do Jesus. (I’m more than happy to talk about the difference between these two if you’d like, but I don’t want to get off on a Catholic tangent here as that wasn’t the purpose of this post.) But what it did for me that I was not expecting was leave me with a much deeper respect for Joseph. Setting up my nativity scene has always been my favorite part of decorating for Christmas, but after watching this movie, I think it is going to hold even more meaning.

It is so easy to get wrapped up in the consumerism of Christmas. I’m incredibly guilty of it. Yesterday, after running out to pick up those “last few things” I had an entire trunk full of gifts to unload. Watching this reminded me of the true meaning of Christmas. Yes, it is a time to rejoice and celebrate a special gift. That gift however, is not found under the Christmas tree wrapped in pretty red paper and tied with a gold bow. It is the gift of Jesus Christ and the best way to celebrate that gift is to spread love to all of mankind.

Anyway, all of this to say, I highly recommend seeing this movie if you were at all considering it, and if you could do so before Tuesday, even better.

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