The scene begins with a man, a homeless man, with his dog making their way through an affluent neighborhood. This is winter and people need a place to get out of the cold. McKeever has a system for living. He knows that this rich family heads south for the winter so he takes up residence in an empty house while they are in their other home. Normally, McGeever leads a solitary life – just his dog and him. But this year he meets a veteran who has just been kicked out of his apartment. McKeever invites him home. This invitation leads to more veterans and their families coming to stay in the mansion. Soon the house is full of people from old to young. There is life in this house that usually only has the divorced second richest man in the nation. His wife is gone, his daughter has run away and he has a house that even when occupied by its owner is very empty and lonely.
But now the house is full of life. The daughter who has run away actually is invited to stay. The rich man who finds the squatters and his daughters is invited. Eventually even his divorced wife comes to stay. In what had been an empty house there is fullness and life. Laundry is done together, meals are shared, laughter and singing becomes part of the routine. There is someone to watch the young while the parents work. McKeever is worried that all of the noise and life will mean an end to his winter squat. Being a movie, it all turns out happily ever after. The veterans find jobs that allow them to provide for their families. The daughter falls in love with the single veteran, and the divorced get back together.
What struck me this year as I watched “It Happened on 5th Avenue,” was the way in which we create communities, families, even in the hardest of times. When we come together, we can all bring enough of what is needed to the table that everyone can have what they need not just to survive but to thrive. As we enter the new year, I hope that we can begin to experience how Jesus invites us into a new community where traits that alone can lead us to despair when part of a community can be healed and provide the place where God works in and through you. As we walk through the Beatitudes this new year, the Blessings we see mourning, meekness, poverty, hunger, mercy, peacemaking, persecution become a vehicle to a new community as followers of Jesus that show the world a new way to live fully, completely, in the love of God.
“Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here to be salt-seasoning that brings out the God-flavors of this earth. … “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. …Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God” Matthew 5: 13-16
Jesus invites us to bring out the God flavors, to bring out the God colors, to so shine before all people that they want to join in this new community. “Love and joy come to you,…”And God bless you, and send you A Happy New Year, And God send you a Happy New Year.”