God has place this wonderful creation in our hands. As U2 sings, "It's a beautiful day, don't let it slip away." We have this one life to live on this beautiful planet so enjoy these reflections on God, faith, life, and music. "After the flood all of the colors came out. It's a beautiful day."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Leading People Out of Darkness

Every Christmas I pull out old much loved movies and am moved by them once again. One of my favorites is It’s a Wonderful Life. The opening scene of the movie begins with a chorus of prayer being offered on behalf of George Bailey, who is facing the crisis of his life.

I owe everything to George Bailey, help him Dear Father.
Joseph, Jesus, and Mary, help my friend Mr. Bailey.
Help, my son George tonight.
He never thinks about himself God, that’s why he’s in trouble.
George is a good guy. Give him a break God.
I know him, dear Lord, watch over him tonight.
Please, God, something’s the matter with Daddy.

In one of the darkest sections of the film, George wanders out - on Christmas Eve - into the dark night, heading for Martini's Italian restaurant and bar. Seated at the bar, he drinks heavily and utters a prayer for help that is heard up above:

Lord, I’m not a praying man, but if You're up there
and You can hear me, show me the way.
I'm at the end of my rope; show me the way, O God.

The bartender Nick and Mr. Martini are worried about his heavy drinking. Near him at the bar is Mr. Welch, husband of Zuzu's school teacher. He angrily punches George in the mouth, and explains how his wife cried for an hour after George screamed at her on the phone. In defense of George, Martini throws Mr. Welch out of the bar. Sporting a bloody lip, George mumbles cynically: "That's what you get for praying." He interprets the sock in the mouth as the only answer to his prayer. He reaches for his insurance policy in his coat pocket, convinced that his suicide will be the best solution for everyone.

How many of us have felt as if the prayer of the heart we have prayed has been answered by a slap in the face. And yet, George isn’t the only one praying. The town is pouring out their prayers for him. And George is sent a very special answer, in the unexpected form of Clarence. A bumbling first time angle who shows George how loved he is and what a wonderful life he had.

What is your prayer this Christmas? The Christmas story is the story of prayers, and longing: the longing for a savior, a messiah who will come and lead the people out of darkness. One of the prayers spoken is by the priest Zechariah who has been silenced because he didn’t believe that God would send the answer to his prayer for a child. When God sends the answer he refuses to hear and see what is before him and is silenced by God until the birth of his son John. On John’s birth Zechariah sings this prayer:
By tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace. Luke 1:78-79
May God guide your feet this Christmas and may you pray the prayer of your soul knowing the answer is already on the way in an unexpected, surprising way,

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