Each and every year I have always watched the same holiday movie while wrapping Christmas Gifts. It is my touchstone for the season and embodies the lessons I want to live every day of every year. Although, it is hands down my absolute favorite Christmas movie, it is not likely one that is favorited today.
Like everyone, I have several favorite holiday movies I watch. I love “It’s a Wonderful Life”. It is so like “A Christmas Carol” with its themes of redemption, change, and gratitude. Then, there is “Holiday Inn” with the debut of the iconic song “White Christmas” and starring Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire, and the heartwarming, “Love Actually”, where love mostly wins out. A holiday season is just not right without playing each of these movies in the days leading up to Christmas.
But for me the film that resonates most is “The Bishop’s Wife”. Disguised as a romcom, it is the story of an Angel who answers the frustrated prayer of a Bishop who believes his only problem is fundraising for a new cathedral. As the story unfolds, it gently leads us to the theme, that Grace is not measured by what we own or can obtain… and God is not in a building, but lives within the heart.
I love Everything in this movie.
In a lighthearted and soul warming way, The Bishop’s Wife sums what we already know…we already have what is most important in life… family… friends… and connection.
The scenes are nothing less than charming and sometimes whimsical. There is the restaurant, the hat shop, the visit with the Professor, the boy’s choir, and the skating party. There is comedy and flirtation, envy and regret. It is so well written, directed, and acted, you can easily ignore there is any message or conclusion.
We are led so very gently to the omnipresent conclusion that by the time we hear The Final Sermon from the renewed Bishop, we are ready for the message. A message that brings both renewal and tears of regret for the missed opportunities to hear God everyday and not just at the holidays that celebrate Him.
So, here it is… the final sermon from “The Bishop’s Wife”, written by Leonardo Bercovici, Robert E. Sherwood, Charles Brackett, Billy Wilder, and based on the novel by Robert Nathan.
The Final Sermon
“Tonight, I want to tell you the story… of an empty stocking.
Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts.
We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries. We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.
But especially with gifts.
You give me a book, I give you a tie.
Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe.
For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one…and we have even forgotten to hang it up.
The stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.
Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most… and then, let each put in his share,
Loving Kindness, Warm Hearts, and a stretched-out Hand of Tolerance.
All the shining gifts that make… peace on earth. “
Video – The Final Sermon from The Bishop’s Wife
Wishing you a Very Merry Christmas… and All The Shining Gifts
Jan Nunes, Encharted Cook