I’m a big fan of Christmas movies and specials, which is ironic because I’m not a big TV and movie watcher the rest of the year. Every December, though, I cycle through my favorites: It’s a Wonderful Life, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, Elf, Christmas Story, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Emmet Otter, and the list goes on…
Last night we had friends over and we watched A Christmas Carol (the Muppet’s version, of course). And as I watched the story of Ebenezer Scrooge play out, I thought about the theme of the second Sunday in Advent: peace. In the course of the story, Scrooge goes from a man disconnected from any sort of spiritual concern for others to one who finds peace and joy.
This transition isn’t unique to one story. George Bailey finds peace in the end. So does Charlie Brown. Even Buddy the Elf’s mind is finally at ease. There’s something about Christmas that makes stories of losing hope and finding it again all the more special.
This time of year many people live with depression or anxiety or grief. The holiday season can make what is usually manageable seem particularly unbearable. We don’t talk about that much in the church, but we should. Because if ever we had a message of peace, it’s now in Advent.
For me, the “peace” that we talk about the second Sunday of Advent is akin to the serenity that Reinhold Niehbur wrote about in his well-known prayer. It’s a quick reminder this time of year that even when the world around us makes no sense, and even when we feel powerless in the face of the odds, peace is buried deep inside of us, a peace that Christians believe comes from Christ’s love for us all. It’s not a bad prayer for today. Actually, it’s not a bad prayer for any day:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.