Tuesday, December 19, 2006

My Best Attempt at Being a Movie Critic

Recently, my family went to see The Nativity Story down at the new cinemas in Lititz. At the risk of being accused of endorsing Hollywood’s attempt to make money off the church, I would highly recommend that you go see this motion picture this Christmas season. I would take the whole family. All ages will enjoy this movie.

Though the writer takes some artistic license, which is very understandable, the movie seems to be very historically accurate and overall, very Biblically accurate as well. The only major element I disagreed with was their bringing the Magi (Wise Men) to the manger where Jesus was born. A careful study of Scripture reveals that the Magi did not come to the manger the night of Jesus’ birth but rather arrived up to 2 years later when Jesus was more of a toddler. However, I’m not sure our western culture will ever allow us to keep those visitors from afar away from our American manger scenes.

In fact, even here at Grace Church one can find nativity scenes on tables or in programs in which the Wise Men are at the manger. I teased our staff and told them that I was thinking of fining staff members $500.00 per wise man that I see them put at any manger in our ministry. I’m the type of guy that wants to pull over every time I am driving and see Wise Men at a manger scene in a yard and have my kids run up and move those three guys to the other side of the yard. It’s just one of my Holiday pet peeves. At our house, we keep the wise men on the other side of the room from where the manger is.

And for the record, they also made it appear that the wise men came to the conclusion on their own that they should not report back to Herod as he requested regarding the location of this one born to be King. According to the Bible, the Kings were told this in a dream.

In spite of these minor discrepancies, it was at this part of the movie, as the Magi visited the manger, that the movie came to a climax. Here, one of the Magi made this statement, “This is God made into flesh!” I just wanted to stand and shout! “YES! That’s it! Did you catch it? That is what Christmas is all about! God became flesh!” What a thrill it was to watch a movie out of Hollywood communicating that Jesus was God in the flesh.

I also appreciated the way that they made Joseph and Mary out to be exactly who they were…normal yet poor Israelites who were devotedly following God during a time of terrible Roman oppression. I love the conversation that they have with each other on their way to Bethlehem as Mary is very pregnant with the Son of God. She asks Joseph when he thinks they will be able to notice that this baby is more than just a baby. Would it be a look in his eye or something he said? Joseph replies by saying, “I’m not sure I will be able to teach Him anything!” It made me wonder what these two individuals felt and what went through their minds. I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to be the earthly father of…God. The movie for me brought a sense of emotional joy. Yes it is true what the angels said on that very first Christmas, “For unto us is born this day in the city of David a Savior who is Christ the Lord!” Hallelujah!

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