I’m about to admit something that may shock people to the core of their Christmas-movie-tradition centers.
I have not seen Home Alone beyond the first five minutes. No, I’m not talking about the sequels, I mean the first one. The famous one. The “Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!” one.
It’s A Wonderful Life gets really, really, really long for me. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the message, I absolutely do. I’m rather fond of Jimmy Stewart as well. I watched more black and white movies as a kid than movies with color, so that’s not stopping me. There’s nothing “wrong” with It’s A Wonderful Life, it just doesn’t move me that way it does for other people. I have watched it twice, and I’m done for another decade or two.
And another thing…
I didn’t fall in love with White Christmas. To be honest, most of the time I was staring in horror at how unhealthily thin the younger sister was. My sadness was deepened when I learned the actress starved herself in order to maintain her reputation as being ridiculously small. She ended up dying too young of cancer that was connected to malnutrition. I have much to say on the subject of Hollywood’s trail of bodies, but that’s for another time.
And just when you thought I was done…
My family and I got 15 minutes into the Jim Carrey version of The Grinch That Stole Christmas before we couldn’t do it anymore. We turned it off and didn’t care. My version of the Grinch is the recent animated one starring Benedict Cumberbatch in the voice role of Mr. Grinch. It’s beautiful, deep, light, and just really beautiful visually. It’s the perfect bite of a Christmas movie, and that is the version my future children will know of as “the Grinch movie”.
Aha! But there’s more!
I saw Miracle On 34th Street once. It was okay. Just okay.
I didn’t set out to be different from the rest of American society in this particular way. That’s not how I roll, I don’t “have to be different” just to feel special. Things just happen.
I do, however, have some favorite Christmas movies. Many favorites, but I’m going to feature 3 that are likely not as well known and definitely underappreciated. It’s time to refresh that Christmas watchlist, my friends. Branch out, try something new.
It Happened On 5th Avenue (1947)
Honestly, I don’t know why this one isn’t more acclaimed than Miracle On 34th Street. This gem of a movie absolutely fits the bill for a perfect Christmas watch. It has heart, humor, and a happy ending.
Taking place right after WWII, a group of homeless people finds shelter by squatting in a rich, unhappy millionaire’s home while he is away for the winter season. They are joined by the millionaire’s daughter, who pretends to be one of them in order to enjoy the fun and camaraderie of the situation. Before long, she drags her father into it, and he is forced to play another “poor man” who is squatting in his own home.
This movie is utterly hilarious. I mean, hilarious! The number of misunderstandings, the amount of times the millionaire is utterly flabbergasted, and the changes that result from his time with these people is a delightful journey, all taking place leading up to the Christmas season.
Another neat feature of this movie is showing the housing crisis faced by some of the GI’s and their families post-WWII.
This movie is one I can rewatch more often and not get bored. It’s a nice story with appeal to multiple ages and personalities. It makes use of verbal, situational, and physical humor. And the ending is tied with such a nice, neat bow, you genuinely feel like something beautiful was accomplished. It’s delightful!
A made-for-TV movie about a whimsical toymaker during the WWI era. A.C. Gilbert and his brother Frank go out on a financial limb and start a toy company. They are wildly successful. A. C.’s inventive spirit and his brother’s practical mind create one of the foremost toy companies in the United States. It’s a wonderful place to create, to play, and to work.
Until the shadow of WWI comes looming…Frank enlists, and A.C. is approached by representatives from Woodrow Wilson who request him to turn his beautiful toy factory into a weapon and munitions factory.
I’ll sum up the whole movie with the movie’s own tagline – He couldn’t stop the war, but he wouldn’t let the war stop Christmas.
The historical setting is deeply intriguing as many more movies often focus on WWII. But WWI came first, and it shaped the world that birthed WWII. The characters are very engaging, particularly A.C. and his beautiful wife, Mary (who is a whole head taller than him which is adorable). I love watching the way this family faces sadness, loss, uncertainty. They go through a lot (everyone did back then) and yet, they continue to fight for the light, hope, and the oxygen that a whole country needs!
Christmas is necessary. Christmas brings healing. Christmas brings hope. Celebrating Christmas is warfare against the darkness of this fallen world. That’s the message of this movie, and it’s beautiful.
The power of this story comes with raw human emotion, whimsical invention, and a rich historical setting.
I saved the best for last. If there was a team of people assigned to the promotion and recommendation of this movie, I would already be a senior member of said team.
This is the story behind the story of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. I’m already deeply in love with Dicken’s work, particularly A Christmas Carol. That story captured my heart during a very difficult Christmas season, and the Lord really used that story to breathe hope, wonder, and joy into my heart.
Charles Dickens is one of the authors I admire the most. He used the power of story to change the world. He saw his occupation as a sacred calling, and considered every story an opportunity to teach someone a truth.
The Man Who Invented Christmas is based upon the true story of the shockingly short deadline Charles Dickens had when he wrote, A Christmas Carol. It isn’t just about Charles writing a new book, or teaching the world something, it is also about facing his own past trauma and personal demons that are robbing him of the joy of his own life. In this movie we see it’s not just the Oliver Twists who need saving, but also the Ebenezer Scrooges.
The magic of this movie is meeting Charles (Dan Stevens knocks it out of the ball park), but also seeing his writing process. As a writer myself, I connect so much with how Charles draws inspiration from the world around him. A stray name that catches his fancy, the sounds of a busy market street, a ghost story he hears his children’s nanny telling them. The characters of A Christmas Carol come alive and speak to Charles as real characters in the story. We also see how personal Charles’ writing is, how much of himself he puts into his stories. The griefs he feels, the hopes he carries, the brokenness he is trying to heal. Good writers do this, we bare our souls and the souls of others in our stories in order to make something beautiful out of them. This movie is such a beautiful blending of fantasy mixed with raw human reality.
The ending is my favorite. For Ebenezer Scrooge is saved, and we learn why he is allowed to be redeemed. But the very best part is the information shared at the beginning of the ending credits. We learn about the real life impact that A Christmas Carol had on the world. My friends, this story truly change the world and changed the way people saw Christmas and each other. God used Charles Dickens’ writing to bring more of His heart to humankind.
This movie shows the power of story and what it can do in full force. And I loved it, absolutely loved it. It’s a deeper watch than It Happened On Fifth Avenue, and definitely more British than The Man Who Saved Christmas, but this one is my favorite.
I highly recommend all of these movies to those who are looking to change up their Christmas watchlist and enjoy the layered beauty and meaning of this holiday. Obviously Jesus is the reason for this whole season, and He is my favorite part of it. Though none of these stories focus on Jesus specifically, they echo pieces of life, beauty, hope, and redemption born from the truth of Jesus. These stories are produced organically from a world that has Jesus in it, He is the source and stories like these show us His heart in multiple ways.
If you’ve seen any of these movies, or choose to watch them after reading my article, what did you think? Merry Christmas!
Han Solo stands in the Hall of Fame as one of the most beloved characters in cinematic history. And he deserves every bit of that love.
I absolutely loved this movie, it was a love letter to Han Solo fans, Star Wars fans, and to the heart of Star Wars in general. Alden Ehrenreich was Han, a bit more wet behind the ears, but every bit the joking, self-assured, awkward risk taker that we come to know and love in the OT. He took many cues from the one and only Harrison Ford and it absolutely shows.
Han grew up trapped in childhood gang slavery, but he never let that mentality become his identity. The boy was born to fly, and fly he will.
Han interacts with multiple characters who are all suffering under oppression and despair in one way or another. Everyone is trying to survive. Han is in the same boat, but somehow, he emerges differently than the others.
The difference between Han and all of the other characters is one key thing : Han has hope.
Tobias Beckett admires this kid and his enthusiasm, but grief, fear, and greed have broken Beckett down to the place where he will always take the backstabber’s way out. Hope is for suckers.
Qi’ra lost hope so badly that even when she was offered a way out, a chance to be with someone who she loved and who truly loved her, she didn’t take it. She remained a prisoner to a life she truly hates because again, hope is for suckers.
Lando Calrissian knows everyone and is fully known by no one. He charms, seduces, tricks, and one-ups everyone around him. The person he seems most attached to was his droid, and she bought it. He’s not a terrible person by and large, but he’s a loner. It’s safer that way.
What I felt when the end credits rolled at the end of Solo was that Han’s supposedly crazy “idealism” enabled him to look at life above the smog and get a clear vision of where he wanted to go. He never gave up, he was willing to dream big when people told him to settle for less, and he valued life in a way others didn’t. Hope pushed him to be better than the evil he faced, and it got him farther than those who despaired.
If that isn’t quintessential Star Wars, I don’t know what is.
What Han walks away with is the world’s best friend, Chewbacca, the sweetest hunk of junk in the galaxy, and the reputation for the guy who made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Not only does Han accomplish all of this, but he actually makes other people’s lives better in the process. #whatascoundrel
It’s 10 years before the Rebellion begins to gain ground, while we get a taste of what is to come, the galaxy is still in a choke-hold from the Empire. It’s a rotten time to be alive. And yet, Han thrives.
Another 10 years will go by and during that time Han is going to pick up some more mileage. He’s going to grow more jaded and cynical, a bit more selfish and definitely more arrogant.
But Solo absolutely explains how and why Han was “converted” to the Rebel cause so quickly, it’s because in his heart he was a Rebel all along. And hope tastes familiar to him.
Hope Is The Key.
Star Wars Rebels : Foundations And Family
The number of words I could expend upon this series alone are in the tens of thousands. It’s my favorite of the animated series, contains some of my favorite characters of all time (not just Star Wars), and is some of the finest storytelling I’ve ever seen.
Star Wars Rebels was a new chapter in Star Wars history. It opened up a new mentality for Star Wars in general and rewrote a lot of old rules. It laid the groundwork for future stories and characters that didn’t have a place before.
To me, Rebels was about creating a foundation out of the rubble and death that followed Revenge Of The Sith. For the Star Wars universe in general, Rebels was a crossroads for every era, idea, and character presented on the big and small screen, and yes, even from some of the books. All stories connect in this one series.
And the foundation that supported that huge weight was this, family.
Kanan Jarrus, a former Jedi padawan was forced to flee for his life after Order 66 and the death of his master. He is a beautiful person, kindhearted, intelligent, and highly skilled. But he feels like there is a question mark hanging over his life. When he is called upon to embrace his Force abilities and actually train someone else Kanan is regularly faced with is own insecurities and sense of inadequacy.
Paired with Kanan is Ezra Bridger, a young and scrappy Force-sensitive kid who, like Ahsoka, creates a fresh perspective for us to engage this story. He’s beautiful in his rawness and vulnerability. He often fails with less grace than Ahsoka ever did, but there is more flawed humanity to his character that is relatable.
Together these two create a master/padawan duo that really becomes more of a father/son connection, and it’s beautiful. Through the development of these characters we see what the Jedi COULD have been if they had embraced their humanity, loved deeply, had the grace to fail, and the humility to say, “I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Both Ezra and Kanan find themselves in this place repeatedly throughout their complex and rich character arcs, but it is never a liability. They always grow, and they take you on that journey of growth with them. By Season 4 you cannot even believe what they are capable of.
Hera Syndulla is yet another example of the foundations created in this chapter of the story. She grew up during the Clone War years and has been involved in conflict her whole life. She challenges the status quo and expectations of so many who’ve come before her, even her own father. But she does it because she knows something else is better. Her reach extends beyond just the series, she’s referenced in Rogue One, The Battle of Endor, and The Rise Of Skywalker. She stands on equal footing in honor with Kanan, and together they create this family environment that births the strongest Rebel cell in the movement.
Sabine Wren is a character who reveals more about the mysterious Mandalorians who can be viewed through so many lenses, but she gives us a directly personal perspective. Her clear appreciation for belonging to a family who accepts her regardless of her past mistakes shows that this is a more forgiving group of characters and a new culture. The old rules and ways of doing things died with the Republic.
Star Wars Rebels covers some redemption arcs that will never have the acclaim of big name characters like Darth Vader or Ben Solo, but they are every bit as important. The kind of Rebellion that our characters create is one where everyone is welcome, regardless of what you have done or what you once were, you can change. You are given a place at the table and an opportunity to contribute to building something special.
Forgiveness and rising to the occasion are common themes for this series.
This time of Star Wars is not about rebuilding what once was, it’s about creating something new out of the ashes. A foundation strong enough to hold up all that is to come, and that means something has to be different. The old corruptions of the too-stiff Republic and the narrow-mindedness cruelty of the Empire do not get to hold back what is being built.
People come first, love makes us stronger, and hope cements characters of various backgrounds into one united front. They are a family of Rebels and they are the foundation of something new.
Foundations And Family.
Rogue One : Sacrifice
This movie is like a punch in the gut.
And yet, it’s probably one of the best movies I have ever seen in my life. Not only is it an absolutely beautiful movie to watch, but the message and purpose are brought across with such crystal clarity you cannot misunderstand it.
This movie was made with the intention of hearkening back to classic war movies. They were spot on. When you’ve seen classic titles like:
The Longest Day, The Sands of Iwo Jima, The Guns of Navarone, The Bridge On The River Kwai, Gung-Ho, Flying Tigers, The Battle of Britain, Mrs. Miniver, The Great Escape, you can absolutely see the resemblance. Long odds, heavy casualties, and sacrifice are common themes.
What Rogue One really wanted to communicate to audiences was the sacrifices that were made by hundreds of “little people” enabled our more famous heroes to succeed. This war was not won by Luke Skywalker alone, it was accomplished through the selfless actions of thousands. This movie honors all of those people in a stark and sobering way.
We watch them die for what they believe in.
Sacrifice, it’s a hard topic to cover and an even harder one to watch. But we wouldn’t be seeing the full picture without it.
The other topic that is introduced in this story was a theme begun in Star Wars Rebels that has been expanded upon in the recent movies and series. The Force is for everyone, and everyone has something to contribute. This new way of thinking does not lessen the contributions of some of our favorite Force-wielding characters, but it does remove some of their all-importance, and that’s a good thing.
The thoughts that I had spinning around in my head after this movie were unlike anything I have ever felt following a Star Wars movie. I sat there in the theater, stunned…and overwhelmed with gratitude.
This movie felt so real, because in essence, it was. How many times throughout history, how many times daily do brave people make choices to do what is right and end up sacrificing themselves for others? How many countless of lives have been laid down to build something better for future generations? Thousands, millions! I will never know all of their names, and I won’t get to thank all of them in person.
They knew that, but they did it anyway.
The sequence that captures this most dramatically for me takes place after Scarif has just ended and our entire Rogue One crew is dead. The Death Star plans that Jyn projected up to the fleet have been transferred to a disk and are now being passed from one Rebel to another.
And then…*a red lightsaber ignites*.
I saw A New Hope when I was 13 years old, Vader was not someone who caused me fear. But during this sequence for the first time I felt the fear of Vader, because I felt what those poor Rebels felt.
That whole, horrifying sequence is so intense. These Rebels are helpless before the silent might and power that is Darth Vader. They know that, he knows that, the audience knows that. So what do they do?
They don’t give up, they keep fighting even though it’s scary. And what that means is they die, each person taking up as much of Vader’s time as possible so that they buy time for the disk to get passed further down the line.
These men may or may not know what they are carrying. They for sure know they will never get to see the outcome of their efforts. It could be all vain, they still could lose.
But they sacrifice anyway. Each one of them.
Each person down on Scarif. Each member of the Rogue One crew. Each brave little ship in that Rebel fleet. And each tiny Rebel crew member who is nothing more than a blade of grass chewed up in the lawnmower that is Darth Vader.
It’s stark. It’s harsh. And it’s humbling, because we know it’s real. Sacrifice is a part of any war, any cause. Some of the greatest causes in human history have involved horrific sacrifices, but people made them willingly because they believed in what they were doing.
Rogue One is a fictional movie that captures these stark truths in a way that gives such honor to the reality.
Next, The Galactic Civil War and New Republic Aftermath.
The Chosen. A TV series that shows the life of Jesus, told through the stories of those who knew Him best. The largest crowdfunded media project of all time. A show about Jesus paid for by people who love Jesus. I’m not going to share all of the technical details, instead, I’m going to tell […]
A TV series that shows the life of Jesus, told through the stories of those who knew Him best.
A show about Jesus paid for by people who love Jesus.
I’m not going to share all of the technical details, instead, I’m going to tell you a piece of my story and share my heart.
This article is for anyone who will read it, regardless of your religious background or your beliefs about God. I’m just a person, like you, and this a conversation from my heart to yours.
I have known God is real my entire life. My parents are believers, and I was raised in a home where Jesus was a regular part of the conversation.
My mama read me Bible stories and I watched Bible stories onscreen.
But it goes deeper than that. God called me to Himself. He chose me.
Many children who are now adults have many of the same ingredients to their origin story that I do, and yet they have never met God for themselves. Nor do they realize the value of who they were created to be.
To them, Jesus was just another topic around the dinner table, or maybe He is merely their parent’s “thing”. Here’s a common one, “He was a good man and teacher with good ideas but nothing more“. Calling Him something as wild as the Son of God on earth is like something out of a fantasy story, right?
I beg to differ. My life is not built on a fantasy, in fact, it has been quite the opposite. My life has been just as grounded and down-to-earth as anyone else’s.
I’m mature enough now to honestly tell you this, “I have a lot to learn.”
But there is one thing I am confident of in this crazy world of unknowns.
God is real Person, He is GOOD, and He called me.
How did God call me and how do I know it was Him?
God is the Creator of the Universe, He knows all things, He knows all people because He created all people.
He speaks your language before you do. Each person has a unique collection of interests and dreams that set them apart from others. Where do those things come from? From a Creator, Someone Who lovingly made you an individual.
Because I am a storyteller, God called me to Himself with the stories of the Bible. God touched my artistic soul with my love for the beauty of the world that I felt came from somewhere deeper. He used my strong memory and intuition to communicate things to me that some would say I was too young to understand, but I did.
I have never experienced anything like that anywhere else. It was more real, more wonderful, and more powerful than anything we humans can create on our own.
Life in a fallen world happens, we grow and we are faced with pain, suffering, and broken people. Doubt enters the picture and creates room for lies that hide the truth of God’s love.
During my walk with the Lord for the past 19 years, I have fallen prey to many of the lies that made me doubt His love.
God as a “Loving Father” seemed more like a phrase used to sell Christian calendars rather than what God actually was.
I felt that He was far away, harsh, and constantly disappointed with me. I was really good at failing as a Christian/human, I must be a shame to Him. I didn’t believe I was going to hell, but I didn’t really think God liked me that much. Nor did I feel that I could trust Him with the deep needs and desires of my heart and life.
You live frightened, confused, angry, sad, judgmental, and empty. That’s how I felt so much of the time. And so have so many others.
This is not the entire summary of my walk with Him during those darker years, He still reached me where I would dare to open up to Him. But it was a slow, sometimes really painful process.
My heart was longing for more.
The things I had experienced as a child, the things God had used to call me to His heart were still in there, but they were buried. I had a deep heart cry, a question that I carried with me.
Is there more? God, are you more???
The Chosen series Season 1 gently inserts us into the lives of normal, broken people living in first-century Judea.
God feels distant and unreachable, while his problems are threatening to tear his life away from him. Does God really care about his needs, orhas he already failed so badly that God will never acknowledge him again?
She once was loved, she once believed, but she has fallen so far, had so much taken from her. The words of prophecy regarding a Savior her father taught her seem like useless garbage in the face of her constant torment.
He’s alone in his own little world where no one understands him, nor do they care. He’s considered a traitor to his own people, so why would God acknowledge him?
Everyone around him seems content to carry on with the traditions they have been taught for generations, he desires to respect what he knows but he keeps hoping against hope that God is more.
As if life isn’t hard enough, Rome’s conquering presence is all around them, fear is a regular part of every character’s daily reality.
And their lives are suddenly turned upside down.
You’d think that people who lived 2,000 years ago would have nothing in common with those of us living in this futuristic world of the 21st century. While the show creators do an excellent job of painting the first-century world with great detail and richness, the core elements of the story and characters confirm this: these people are just like you and me, and they are asking the same questions we ask today.
“Am I going to be okay?”
“How do I get through tomorrow?”
“How do I take care of myself and my family?”
“Does God actually care about me and my needs?”
“Am I worthless? Should I just end it and be done?”
“Is this truly all there is? I feel like there should be more.”
Israel was the nation of God’s chosen people. They had known God for literally thousands of years. Their story was God’s story, His miracles and words are a part of their very DNA and culture. You would think out of everyone on planet earth THESE people would have it figured out! Much like the Church today, you would think these people would understand God!
One glance at these characters in their various walks of life testifies for the opposite.
Simon (the fisherman) fears God’s judgment and believes in His disinterest.
Mary (the broken woman) feels forgotten and unloved by God. She’s too unworthy to be saved.
Matthew (the tax collector) struggles with anything he cannot explain, but this Jesus keeps doing the inexplicable. Matthew is fascinated, but he expects to be rejected by Jesus as he is by all Jews.
Nicodemus (the Pharisee) wonders if he is just an old fool for wanting God to be more. He also fears what his peers will say about him for seeking beyond what they already know.
Does any of this sound familiar? Whether you are a Christian or not, this is familiar to the human struggle with questions about God and our relation to Him.
I myself have asked many of these same questions, even though I have known God is real my whole life. Even though I met Him and His true heart at age 5, I still had/have questions.
And the older I got the more I became desperate for answers, much like The Chosen characters are at various levels of desperation when we step into their lives onscreen.
Let me show you something really special from Episode 4, The Rock On Which It Is Built.
Andrew, brother of Simon the fisherman, comes to him in a flurry of excitement. He’s seen Jesus. “It’s Him, it’s the Messiah. The Lamb of God.”
“I don’t need a Lamb, I need fish.” is Simon’s reply. (The Chosen, Episode 4 – The Rock On Which It Is Built)
Simon is out of options, he’s so in debt to the tax collectors that if he cannot pay an exorbitant amount by the next day he will be taken to prison, or be killed. His family will likely fall into ruin without him. It’s an awful, awful circumstance to be trapped in. He’s desperate, and God seems to be ignoring him, and he believes he deserves it.
His brother and fellow fishermen help him cast nets all night. Nothing.
Jesus arrives on the shore of the lake in the morning following an entire night of desperate, useless fishing. See what happens.
At Jesus’ word, he lets his nets down one more time.
And his boat almost sinks for how many fish are in his nets.
Jesus watches in pure delight as 5 grown fishermen splash and scream for joy because their desperate need has been met by the Lamb of God.
This God whom Simon has been avoiding out of shame and fear came to him in his moment of need and loved him like no one else has, unconditionally and overabundantly.
He didn’t expect it. He didn’t think he deserved it. He as much as said he didn’t need a Lamb. He’s broken so many rules of the religion and done much that he knows is wrong.
If God is who Simon had expected Him to be, angry and judgmental and only rewarding of those who always “do” good, Jesus would have walked right past him without a second glance.
Jesus loves Simon so much, and that love is captured in this scene in such a raw and beautiful way.
This kind, beautiful, compassionate, humorous Jesus is taking people by surprise. It’s both beautiful and sad all at once.
Our world and our perspective are so broken that we are truly taken by surprise when the Man who literally came to earth to die an excruciating death that we might be saved actually loves us.
To see this truth of a loving, real-life Jesus played out on screen the way it is portrayed in The Chosen is shocking people, many of them Christians.
As for non-Christians, this is probably a new version of Jesus to you too.
What happened to that really solemn, super “holy” guy? Where’s the Jesus who is constantly put out by the disciples’ failings? What happened to that angry God who hates you because you are sinful? Whatever happened to earning your rewards, your favor, your place in the world? Whatever happened to someone wanting something from you before they help out?
You know, like how our world works. Whatever happened to the Jesus who barely tolerates us?
What is it with this guy who just shows up on people’s worst days and completely changes everything with a heart so kind it almost frightens our abused, broken hearts?
Romans 5: 6-8
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)
I can hear potential accusations from some very confused people in the Church.
That’s not really Who Jesus is, this is Dallas Jenkin’s (creator of The Chosen) version of Jesus, a watered-down mushy version aimed at getting people in the door without actually convicting them of their sin!
I can hear the doubts of people who are suspicious of all things Christian.
He can’t be that good, you all are just making up a really shiny story so that we get sucked in by a lie! And then we’ll end up as miserable as you all are because your God is mean!
To the first group, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I reply to your doubts and criticisms with my testimony.
In 2016 I was less than a year out of being graduated from high school, and I was searching for the next thing in my life. Little did I know that my world was also about to fall apart dramatically and everything I thought I could count on would be turned upside down.
It was at this time that my need to know if God was morebegan to burn to a point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I couldn’t bury it for fear that I would be disappointed.
That’s what had held me back all of these years, fear that God would be just as miserable as I thought He might be. Fear that the loving God I hoped for would just be another instance of my unrealistic idealism. And if that was the case, would I give up?
Perhaps it was because I was already asking a lot of new questions as a green adult that there was a new space for God to move in my life.
I believe He knew it was time, and I was ready.
One day I saw a documentary calledFinger of God. It was about God and His heart for us, His Created Ones.
I saw things that blew my mind. I saw people being touched by a love so radical, so pure, so joyful, so unearthly that it changed the entire course of their future in a moment. I saw people being healed, inside and out. I saw people tasting what I had tasted the moment I had asked Jesus into my heart.
Radical, unearthly joy and a love so powerful that you can literally feel the warmth of on your skin.
As I write this it is a shiny new year, 2020. In the four years that I have lived in between that day in 2016 and now, I have walked the hardest, darkest, most shattering days of my life.
And God has never been so real, so good, or so full of love.
Logic says that if someone is going to fall away from God, it would be when the worst of life and people smack us in the gut and leave us bleeding out. We see this happen all the time. And we know the questions that get asked,
God, if You really are good then where are You? What happened? Why did You let me down?
But we are talking about human logic here, human logic based upon broken perspective and limited experience. God logic works differently, He goes beyond what we expect and loves us more than we know what to do with. He comes bursting into our worst moments in surprising ways. He doesn’t base His decisions upon a small window of experiences or choices, but rather upon His never-changing Heart for us.
I got desperate and curious enough to reach, and this is what happened.
Jesus was God on Earth, and He only did what He saw His Father (God) doing. He didn’t walk in His own agenda, He walked in His Father’s will. (John 5)
So to those who fear the Jesus portrayed in The Chosen, this is what I have to say to you.
The Chosen does not scare me because I already recognize the Jesus I see portrayed here.
I know this guy! I see the Heart of God that I have been getting to know apart from this show for the past 4 years!
In 2016 The Chosen was just a twinkle in God’s eye and Dallas Jenkins hadn’t even crossed paths with the idea yet. I cannot blame the Jesus I know on Dallas or anyone else involved with the show, because I have already met Him in my own life.
Let me clarify, The Chosen is not meant to be a replacement for Scripture. The creators of the show have said this repeatedly. The stories told in The Chosen, the miracles shown are 100% true. The characters were real people that even secular authorities will confirm existed.
Some of the arrangement of these stories and the fleshing out of these characters has been worked with and adjusted by a team of people to create a watchable show.
But I recognize the fingerprints.
There are more than just men and women working on this show, I believe that God’s Hand and Heart are woven into it as well. I think God is tired of seeing His children fear Him. I think He’s tired of seeing the lost people in the world only view Him through lies. His heart is bursting with love for us and by its very nature Love needs somewhere to go and someone to touch.
Now, to the second group, my brothers and sisters of the human race who are not Christians.
I get it, there are a ton of really mean and really unhappy Christians out there. There have been so many instances of cruelty, harshness, and hurt in the Church. I get it, I have been touched by it myself. But to you, this is what I want to say.
Having worked with children in professional settings before, I can attest to the truth of this statement.
The children who are more confident in their parents’ love and their own identity in their family are far calmer, more secure, and less easily given to offence. They are far easier to get along with and they have a greater trust for authority. Often they take direction better and are teachable. They are more likely to treat those around them with kindness even if the person is different from them. While not perfect, they stand apart as someone enjoyable to be around.
The children who feel less confident in their parents’ love and their place are either very shy and insecure or very loud and insecure. Their feelings can be easily hurt, they are often harder to manage, and they expend a lot of energy trying to be admired or at the very least noticed. It’s harder for them to trust and harder to get them to respond to instruction or discipline. They can be mean very quickly and form fast grudges. These children, while every bit as precious as the first type of child, require a lot more energy and patience to be around.
There have been thousands of people throughout the history of the Church who have never understood their own Father’s love for them.
Therefore, they are miserable, and they often spread that misery to others.
That’s why. And on top of that, just know this, Christians aren’t perfect.
I, a Christian, make mistakes. I make choices that are wrong, sometimes consciously, just like anyone else. The difference is that because of Jesus inside of me, I am counted as righteous in God’s eyes and He looks on Jesus’ sacrifice of blood on my behalf, not on my shortcomings.
There is a whole array of characters shown in The Chosen that represent each one of us where we are at right now, Christian or not. We have only begun to meet them, and over more seasons (8 Seasons are planned) even more beautiful characters and more incredible stories will be shown.
As a summary for Season 1, this is the message I hope to convey to those reading this review.
Each one of the characters represented by the above questions finds their answer.
And it’s the same answer I myself have found.
Yeah, I know, it’s crazy different. Different from what we have known, what we have heard, and often what we have experienced. But to quote an awesome line in Episode 7: Invitations.
Get used to different.
Friend, whether you are already a Christian, or at least brave enough to read this whole article #youareawesome, this is what I want you to walk away with.
You do not have to be afraid of God.
You do not have to be afraid of His Son Jesus.
Love has come, and His name is Jesus.
The Chosen has created a beautiful open door for people all over the world to step into an introduction to get to know the beautiful, radically loving heart of Jesus our Savior and of our Father God.
God is already using The Chosen powerfully to reach people in some of the darkest places and in every country in the world.
People in Iran who have lived a life without hope are watching it. People in China living through the coronavirus are watching it. People living in the US who have everything and yet nothing are having their hearts broken open by Love.
If you want to give the first episode a watch it is completely free on The Chosen‘s YouTube channel.
A story doesn’t have to be complicated to be profound.
The best ingredients for a deep, rich story are these: real people, honesty, love, healing, and an understanding of the purpose and potential of stories in general.
Netflix’s The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society combines all of the above to create a warm and beautiful story full of truth and healing.
Based on a book of the same title, the movie stars Lily James as Juliet Ashton, a lovely young British writer in post-WWII England. She’s beautiful, talented, sought after by a wealthy American, and enjoying the beginning fruits of a long future as a successful author.
And she’s lost.
It’s England, 1946. The war is over. People are breathing again. Repairing and painting their homes. Dancing. Starting businesses and families. The war is over…outwardly anyway.
But Juliet still feels the choking dust of the London Blitz. Of the millions dead or missing. Of the years of lack. Of her own trauma and loneliness that she has bottled up inside.
“Do you ever feel like we’ve emerged from a long black tunnel into a carnival?” Juliet Ashton
Juliet is reeling from the experiences of the past years, including losing her parents. She feels overwhelmed with the new joy as she is still holding too much sadness and torment to have room for anything else. She feels guilty for this feeling, which only adds to her sense of being displaced…until…
Enter, Dawsey Adams, writing from the island of Guernsey, a tiny British island located in the English Channel between England and France. An island that experienced German occupation and all the horrors that accompanied it during the war.
Dawsey Adams, a gentle farmer, writes Juliet with a very simple request. He asks her for a book. He came across an old book that previously belonged to her, the information he discovered when he found her name and former address in the front of the book. This letter begins a fascinating correspondence in which Dawsey tells Juliet about The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a book club society begun by a few Guernsey residents in order to cover up a roast pig from the Germans.
Intrigued? So is Juliet. So intrigued in fact that after corresponding for a time, she makes the journey to Guernsey herself to meet this group of people and hear their full story.
I am not a fan of many of the works Netflix has put out. While I applaud series like Lost in Space, Lost and Found, Dragons: Race to the Edge, Greenhouse Academy, there is still so much garbage that Netflix has created. Trashy comedies that mock beautiful people and things, action movies that could be intriguing except…86 f-bombs, really, Netflix? That’s enough to make a sailor blush!
13 Reasons Why has caused damage to the world. The Michelle Wolf special was a fiasco for everyone concerned. Anne With An E lacks understanding and proper respect for the purpose and classic story of Anne of Green Gables.
Netflix is not my hero by any stretch of the imagination. But I loved The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society.
It’s masterful storytelling. You glide back and forth between the present and the past, discovering the true story of the Society as Juliet does. It’s a mystery unveiled only a piece at a time, but you are always dying to know more. As Juliet discovers this story and these people, she begins to unravel the deep well of grief and feeling in her own heart, and she begins to heal.
For years Juliet has been creating this well inside of herself. It’s dark and deep, so empty and full of echoes. And she can’t seem to reach it, can’t seem to fully comprehend it. She cannot grasp what she wants, or what she needs. She cannot enter into rest. She cannot find a place to call home. She cannot dream about her future, all she can do is react.
The members of the Society have grieved as well. They are still grieving, but you recognize a marked difference in their grief versus the grief of those around them, including Juliet. And I’ll tell you what this difference is.
They are not grieving alone, but rather they are sharing the hurt as it comes and celebrating and creating joy even in the midst of it.
There is a life to the members of the Society that draws Juliet in like the tide. She’s been alone for so long, but no longer. As soon as she begins to know these people, she begins to unravel everything inside of her. She begins to laugh, truly laugh. She can see the world. She has a fire burning inside of her. She cries, she cries so much. She hurts, she hurts so much. But at least she is feeling something. And so, the healing begins. Why? Because she is no longer hurting alone.
What brought all of these people together? A story. A made-up story to cover up an innocent get-together that is criminalized by a cruel world. And that made-up story turned into a deeper story. It intertwined several people’s lives as they began to share in a love for stories, and it gave them a place to belong. People to stand with. Shoulders to help bear their burdens. Hearts to laugh with. And a future to share. And they became a story so deep, so compelling, they drew in yet another soul (Juliet) out of the cold and gave her a place to begin the healing.
This story shows people as people like us. People who are hurting from pain and grief no human beings should ever have to bear. The things they have seen and had done to them are WRONG, and you feel the wrongness of it clearly, you cry out with the characters at all they have endured. It also shows the purpose and joy of stories, their power to heal and to connect. It shows how simply sharing your life with people can bring so much joy in the midst of suffering. It shows people giving each other grace despite their flaws. It shows people who see beyond the outer shell to the heart within. It shows what true love can build and the redemption it carries.
And this story gives us permission to grieve over the things that have hurt us. And it gives us permission to let that happen in as much time as we need. And it beckons us to find a people, a tribe to share our griefs and our joys with.
Real stories flow, they are not in separate boxes or segments. One part is deeply connected to another. Grief and joy can be but a word or sentence apart. Healing happens in the midst of the feeling. And sharing your story with others can make all the difference.
That is what Juliet Ashton discovers. And as Juliet discovers it, so do we.
My friends, I don’t understand everything in this world, but these are the few things I know for sure.
God is real, more real than I ever imagined. He is good, better than any of us have ever comprehended. Tragedy and grief are all around us in this fallen world, and it breaks my heart just as it breaks God’s. God is love, and love conquers all.
Joy and grief are not mutually exclusive. Healing takes time. We are in each other’s lives for a reason. And none of us was made to be alone, but rather to share life together.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society touched me like a warm summer breeze drifting off of the sea. And as I saw this movie, I got to heal a tiny bit because I felt understood.
Friend, your story matters. You matter. And I want you to share your story with the world. I want you to allow yourself to feel, the grief and the joy.
Perhaps in the midst of it you will even decide that you should have a roast pig and begin a book club.