Christmas Eve 2008

I just finished It’s a Wonderful Life on YouTube. To be honest, I think I appreciate it more this year because my TV is indisposed right now. I’m just grateful I got to watch it! I noticed that the Christmas Story is also on YouTube, so maybe I’ll watch that tomorrow evening.

Christmas was a hard time for me last year. I was alone with cabin fever. I watched lots of television, and I did lots of reading. But I eventually grew tired of TV and reading, so what do you do then? In the end, my Christmas was a pretty bitter experience.

So I decided that I need a game plan for this year. This year, I’m going to do a little bit of everything. I’ll go to church tomorrow morning, and to an AA meeting tomorrow afternoon. After the meeting, maybe I’ll go to a pizza place, if one is open. I don’t get pizza that often, and I want to spoil myself a little on Christmas (albeit not extravagantly).

I don’t plan to read a whole book this Christmas, as I did last year. But I’m reading some Martin Luther sermons here and there. I like Martin Luther because he focuses a lot on God’s love and grace, which led him to love Jesus Christ. I may also listen to the Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe CD that I have from Focus on the Family’s Radio Theater.

This evening, I feel pretty good. I read some Martin Luther sermons while I listened to Rush, only Rush wasn’t on. Someone from Minnesota subbed for him. Then, I did an hour of my daily quiet time, as I prayed and read the Koran. I didn’t think about my Koran reading for the entire hour, but I spent much of the time simply telling God what was on my mind–the good, the bad, and the ugly.

In the process, I remembered a remarkable Christian I knew in high school: many of her classmates considered her fat and ugly, but she was a truly sweet person, with a really pleasant disposition. Her faith somehow enabled her to rise above her difficult surroundings and to have faith, hope, and love. I said a while back that there aren’t too many Christians I want to be like. Well, she’s one who deserves admiration.

Then, I went to an AA meeting. Unfortunately, I got stuck with chairing, but there was a blessing that came out of it. A while back, someone told the group that he couldn’t see his dying mother, since she lives in another state, and he’s stuck where he is because of his probation. But he told me today that his mom is now in remission, and he’ll be off of probation if he can pay his fine. He’s trusting God for the money!

One thing he said to me: he’s been mad at God, but now he’s decided to make amends with God because of all the good things that God is doing. I don’t know if God does that sort of stuff all of the time, since there is suffering in the world. But it is good when God helps someone out. I feel as if my prayers and those of others are not in vain. I was blessed to hear his story. And hopefully he felt blessed that someone asked to hear it. I hope to give this Christmas as well as receive.

As I watched It’s a Wonderful Life, I wondered to what extent each of our lives touches everyone else’s. I mean, that was a big point of the movie: George’s very existence and life of helping others had a ripple effect that benefited people he didn’t even know. He learned that when he got to see what Bedford Falls would’ve been like had he not been born.

But would the world really be all that different if I were not here? I think of that Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, in which Q let Captain Picard relive an event from his youth. Picard was worried that he’d dramatically change history, to which Q responds: “Look, the same wars occur, everything pretty much happens as it would have anyway. You’re not that important.”

I’d be tempted to dismiss It’s a Wonderful Life as idealistic, until I realize that it actually touches real people’s lives. I heard a person talk about it at an AA meeting I attended last week. Even idealistic movies can have real consequences on our outlook, or resonate with our day-to-day experiences.

So I prefer to think that God put me on this earth for a reason, meaning that my life plays some important role in the web of humanity. Tomorrow, maybe I’ll think about the significance of Christ’s coming to earth, since that is what Christmas celebrates.

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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6 Responses to Christmas Eve 2008

  1. Juan says:

    James,

    Your posts always amaze me. Merry Christmas!
    Juan

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  2. Gaby says:

    Jesus used parables in his time. I’d bet he would have given some serious thought to becoming a big time movie producer had He been born now.

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  3. gram says:

    gram said – Thanks Jim, I appreciated your blog so much, made me feel good about people, have a good day

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  4. Janice aka mom says:

    Very inspiring post–Christmas can be a very depressing time of year, especially if one is far from friends and family, but this gave the day perspective.

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  5. xHWA says:

    I love that movie. Now that I’m away from Herbert Armstrong, I can actually appreciate it.

    Have a great one, James!!

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  6. James Pate says:

    Thanks for commenting, all!

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