‘Tis the season for Christmas movies.
From the Hallmark romance movies to Bill Murray’s “Scrooged” to “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation”, there are movies to be found on television for everyone’s taste. However, there is none quite like Frank Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the Holiday Classic starring Jimmy Stewart.
In the movie, Stewart plays the role of George Bailey, an average man whom, through a series of circumstances, finds himself living a life which he had never really envisioned himself leading. When dire circumstances arise, he contemplates killing himself, only to be stopped by an angel named Clarence, who shows him what his hometown would be like if he had never been born.
After viewing the difference which he had made in his sphere of influence, Stewart prays to the Lord to return him back to his family and his life.
The movie ends happily, with all the people whom he had helped over the years coming to his aid in his moment of crisis.
The last time I watched this movie, I had not seen it in quite a while and I found myself with tears in my eyes at the end of it.
It was then that I realized that God puts us where He wants us to be.
It is up to us to navigate around the pitfalls of life caused by our own Free Will by using the Gift of Discernment which we have been blessed with and by listening to that Still Small Voice which resides within each and every one of us.
Each and every one of us can make a difference within our own sphere of influence.
However, there remains only One who walked this Earth in human form who is still making a difference and whose birth we celebrate today.
Many stories have been written about Him.
On this Christmas Day, please allow me to present to you one of the best and the gentleman who wrote it.
Dr. James Allan Francis was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. He became a pastor at age twenty-one and served in ministry for the remainder of his life. His first pastorate was in New York City at the Riverside Baptist Church, and after serving in other varied pastorates in the East, he came to Los Angeles in 1914.
Though he had a busy life as a pastor, Francis was able to publish a handful of books: Drops from a Living Fountain (1895), Christ’s Mould of Prayer (1924), and Christ is All And Other Sermons (1928). His publications are full of passionate encouragement for Christians to know their Lord, to rely on him, and to follow his example.
Francis’ most famous words, now known as “One Solitary Life,” originated as part of a sermon that he delivered on July 11, 1926 to the Baptist Young People’s Union at a Los Angeles Convention. A friend transcribed the message titled “Arise, Sir Knight,” and Dr. Francis published it that same year in a collection called The Real Jesus and Other Sermons.
Here is a man who was born in an obscure village as the child of a peasant woman.
He grew up in another obscure village.
He worked in a carpenter shop until he was thirty and then for three years was an itinerant preacher.
He never wrote a book.
He never held an office.
He never owned a home.
He never had a family.
He never went to college.
He never put his foot inside a big city.
He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where he was born.
He never did one of the things that usually accompany greatness.
He had no credentials but himself.
He had nothing to do with this world except the naked power of his divine manhood.
While still a young man the tide of popular opinion turned against him.
His friends ran away.
One of them denied him.
Another betrayed him.
He was turned over to his enemies.
He went through the mockery of a trial.
He was nailed upon the cross between two thieves.
His executioners gambled for the only piece of property he had on earth while he was dying, and that was his coat.
When he was dead, he was taken down and laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend.
Nineteen wide centuries have come and gone and today he is the center of the human race and the leader of the column of progress.
I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, and all the navies that were ever built, and all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon the earth as powerfully as has this one solitary life.
Today, we celebrate the birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ.
As you spend today with your family and friends, please stop for a moment and say a prayer for our nation and those who are away from home, protecting you and me.
Please allow me to close with one of my favorite Christmas songs, featuring a remarkable performance by the man who wrote it, Mark Lowry.
God bless us, everyone.
Until He Comes,