BCC Blog

December 19, 2021

Pastor Ryan Eikenbary-Barber, Lead Pastor

Are You Living A Wonderful Life?

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Gal. 6:9

There are certain sensory cues that remind me of Christmas: the sweet smell of fresh-cut pine trees, the dazzling sight of glittering lights, the taste of warm gingerbread cookies, the familiar itch of a woolen Christmas sweater, and of course the sound of Jimmy Stewart’s aw-shucks voice as he once again shows up on my television set to play George Bailey in the greatest film of all time, It’s a Wonderful Life.

The New Yorker’s Pauline Kael calls Frank Capra’s classic “doggerel” and “patronizing.” She’s just being a Grinch. Most film critics agree it’s one of the best films ever made. Grouchy relatives may say, “Not again, that film is too sentimental.” Bah humbug! It’s a Wonderful Life is anything but sentimental. For goodness sake, the story revolves around an attempted suicide on Christmas Eve! As Roger Ebert puts it, “The movie works like a strong and fundamental fable, sort of a “Christmas Carol” in reverse: Instead of having a mean old man being shown the scenes of happiness, we have a hero who plunges into despair.”

It’s a Wonderful Life holds up 75 years after its initial release because it deals with life’s most essential question, how can I live a good life in the midst of so many struggles? As we approach Christmas 2021, it’s a good spiritual therapy to watch our “ole’ building and loan pal,” George Bailey, get pulled from the abyss. After all, Christmas is all about the Light of the World penetrating the darkest night.

If you haven’t seen It’s a Wonderful Life, read no further. I need to ask the rest of you about the end of the film. What do you think saves George Bailey from despair? Is it the miraculous gift of seeing a world without his quiet contribution? Or is it the warm circle of family and friends that surround him with moral support, Christmas carols, and more than enough money to hand over to the bank examiner? Perhaps it’s Clarence the angel, God’s faithful representative in the movie, who is so weak, but who is made so very strong. George confesses early in the movie that he is not “a praying man,” but maybe his conflicted prayer is just the thing that brings about his salvation. Is it Zuzu’s petals?

If you know the despair of George Bailey as Christmas rolls around yet again, perhaps you too can imagine a “Pottersville” devoid of all your loving acts of kindness; maybe you can put yourself in the tightest circle of your most dear companions; possibly there is some flawed and wingless angel trying his best to get you to see how wonderful your life really is; even if you don’t know how to pray, I assure you that God knows how to listen to the prayers of the hurting; or maybe it’s just the smallest thing like the flower petals of a child to wake you up to the coming of God’s love in the flesh: Jesus Christ. I don’t know which miracle is waiting for you this Christmas, but I can assure you that there is Light ready to burst into the darkness.