A Hollywood Christmas #1
It was scandalous, absolutely scandalous. The law said she should be put to death by stoning. Such a thing was NOT supposed to happen, even though everyone knew that it did, they had been teenagers at one time. The sad part is that she had always been such a nice girl, a religious girl. She was always reminding her sisters and friends to stop and pray for just about anything and everything. She had always seemed so, well, pure and Holy, not holier than thou or acting holy but just holy as in closer to God than most people.
But now? Now she was ruined. How could God have anything to do with her after she let that happen to her. How could SHE lose control like that. Such a nice girl. Such a nice young man, too. His business was ruined for sure. No one would want to do business with him NOW, not after he took advantage her the way he did.
Or maybe it wasn’t his fault, Maybe she led him on. You know how some of these young girls can be. But No! Not her, certainly not her. It just didn’t fit. Anyway, he’ll have to pack up and leave if he wants to stay in business and avoid the scandal. And I don’t mean just over to the next town. He’s going to have move a long way away and let all the dust settle before he can come back.
It’s all so sad, I’ll bet they send her away. I’ll bet he breaks the betrothal and you know how hard that is. It’s over for both of them. We’ll never hear from either one of them again. Mark my words, no one will remember anything about Mary and Joseph except the scandal.
This morning we start a new series titled A Hollywood Christmas. We’re going to be looking at the events leading up to that first Christmas through the eyes and emotions of some of the characters. And I’m going to be tying them to or filtering them through some of our favorite Christmas movies. And today we’re going to look at Mary through the movie “Home Alone.”
Before we go any further, let’s turn to the Scripture and find out a little more about Mary. Luke 1:39-56
 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,
 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.
 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
A. One of the things that made me think about the movie Home Alone, and especially the title, is the fact that like Kevin, in the movie, Mary was home alone. At first, she was all by herself.
Now in the movie Home Alone, Kevin is excited to be alone. He says, “I made my family disappear,” with joy and excitement. And then, he begins to do all those things an eight year old boy is told NOT to do. But the novelty of being alone soon wears off and loneliness begins to set in. In the end it turns out the only thing Kevin truly wanted for Christmas was for his family to come home.
B. I think that same kind of loneliness filled Mary because she was all alone. While there was a deep unspeakable spiritual joy of being chosen for such a momentous task, there was also a soul aching sense of loneliness that came with being chosen.
We know what life in a small town can be like. The stares, the questions, the whispers behind the back, “Hello, Mary, you’re looking well, well pregnant.” What did her parents think? What did the neighbors think? And Joseph? Well, Joseph took some beating up as well. But Mary, who couldn’t share the secret with anyone, received the brunt of all those cruel comments and looks.
Except when she went away to her cousin Elizabeth’s. The minute Mary stepped into Elizabeth’s presence, the baby in her womb leapt for joy. And Mary offers up a song of joy and praise. In the midst of her loneliness joy still filled her heart. We need that joy. And we can’t really depend on others to give it to us. It has to come from inside, I think it has to come from God.
C. I think that’s portrayed in a roundabout way in the movie Home Alone. It’s a secular movie but it has this touching scene of Kevin coming to the realization that he truly does miss his family and he wants them to come home. He goes, first to Santa Clause but then he goes to the church. And while there he has this great discussion about love and reconciliation with his neighbor. WATCH
I think Mary must have had some inkling of what the life of her son, Jesus, was going to be about. I think she understood on some level, maybe just the subconscious level, but she understood the hope and reconciliation Jesus would bring to the world. I think she understood in part the joy that he would bring to combat the loneliness some of us feel; loneliness like Kevin felt in the midst his family and the loneliness like Mary felt because she know she was doing God’s will and no one else understood.
A. I also think Mary understood something most of us miss, that the purpose of life is always bigger than our experience of life. The purpose of life is to matter, to count, to stand for something, and to make a difference in this world we live in, even if it’s only in the life of one other person.
Through both the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit, Mary knew the purpose of her life and it gave her the strength she needed to face that loneliness. It gave her the assurance that what she was doing was God’s will, despite all the rumors and whispers and innuendos.
Luckily, God invited her cousin Elizabeth to be a part of that journey and a part of Mary’s purpose. I believe you and I have a purpose as well and part of our journey of faith, part of our discipleship is simply discerning that purpose.
B. Someone saw this sign on a subway wall: “Life is one contradiction after another.” Underneath someone else had written: “No it’s not.”
For some people, life has no meaning and purpose, it is all just contradiction and loneliness. I believe that just like Mary, We have a purpose. Listen to what God says in Jeremiah 29:11. “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
Did you know that at one time it was against the law in Dallas not to have a purpose? According to Presumed Ignorant by Leland H. Gregory III, there was an ordinance in Dallas that forbids “walking about aimlessly, with no apparent purpose, lingering, hanging around, lagging behind, idly spending time, delaying, sauntering and moving slowly about.” (1) So, you see, it was against the law not to have a purpose in Dallas.
We all have a purpose in life. A couple of weeks ago Ginger English called to share something with me. She and Maurice went back to the church Ginger grew up in, FUMC Corsicana. Mike Alexander is the pastor there. Ginger called to share a conversation they had about me. Mike told Ginger that I’m the reason his son, David, went into ministry.
Every year that I worked summer camp, I always took the time to give my personal testimony. I didn’t do it to brag. I gave my testimony to because kids need to hear how God works in people’s lives. I think kid’s need to hear that preachers are just people who live normal lives like them but who God has called to lead and make a difference in the lives of others, if they’ll just say “Yes,” like Mary.
Mike’s son David was a PK, he’d heard about Jesus and church and all that stuff all of his life but it didn’t seem real. But that night, as I gave my testimony, it all became real for him for the first time. That night David accepted Christ. That night David heard God’s CALL and believed. And not long after, David answered the call to preach.
The point is this, we all have a purpose if we’ll just say “Yes” to God for that purpose. Mary said “Yes” to God so Jesus could say “Yes” to God, so the Disciples could say “Yes” to God, so Wesley could say “Yes” to God, so eventually my pastor could said, “Yes” to God so I could say “Yes” to God so David could say “Yes” to God.
So, the question becomes, How can you say “Yes,” to God so someone else can say “Yes,” to God. What’s your purpose.
I remember seeing a car one day while driving that was the ugliest car I’ve ever seen. This car wasn’t just ugly – it was ugly on top of ugly. If you looked up the word ugly in the dictionary, you’d find a picture of this car.
It had a large gash on its side; one of the doors was held together with baling wire; and several other body parts were almost completely rusted out. One of the headlights was held in place with duct tape. The muffler was so loose that with the slightest bump, it hit the street, sending sparks in every direction. I couldn’t tell the original color of the car. The rust had eaten away so much of the paint, and so much of the car had been painted over with so many different colors that any one of them (or none of them) could have been the first coat.
The most interesting thing about the car was the bumper sticker which was plainly written in big bold letters, “THIS IS NOT AN ABANDONED CAR.”
In one sense, that’s what we learn from Mary. ‘THIS IS NOT AN ABANDONED WORLD.’ God hasn’t given up on us. We may not understand the signs, we may not even recognize the messenger but Advent and Christmas are about light in the darkness. The light of joy in the darkness of our loneliness. The light of hope in the darkness of our despair. The light of forgiveness in the darkness of our sin. The light of purpose and direction in a world which seems to have no direction or purpose.
Advent tells us that we matter to God. Advent tells us we’re NOT Home Alone. God IS with us. God HAS given us purpose and meaning if we’ll listen and say “Yes,” to God like Mary.
Here’s the challenge, How can YOU say “Yes” to God so that others can walk in the light? How can YOU say “Yes” to God so that others can know they are not alone or abandoned? How can YOU say “Yes” to God so you can know YOUR purpose and help others find their purpose?
How can YOU say “Yes” to God? As we pause for a time of reflection, think about what it is God is calling you to be a part of? What is it that God wants you to do? Where does God want to shine the light of His love in your life so you can grow and become more like Christ? Listen and say “Yes,” to God like Mary.
This is the Word of the Lord for this day.
1. Presumed Ignorant by Leland H. Gregory III, New York: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc., 1998, p. 22.