Binge watching the Hallmark Channel's cheesy and cheery Christmas movies is a big part of my holiday season traditions. Right after lighting the Advent wreath, of course. Because if you can make it through the choppy acting and predictable plots, then you might find an unexpected Christian witness woven throughout many of these heartening films. Themes of Christ's birth, salvation, miraculous healing, and restoration are embedded within several of the cheesy Christmas movies I've discovered so far this season. And considering the brokenness of pop culture, I appreciate the wholesome films that do intertwine elements of the Christian faith.
Skip the deficient "A Prince Asks Santa Claus for a Christmas Princess" type movies. Those are the films hinged on unrealistic relationship expectations and a lackluster ending. You know the storyline. Dean Cain probably plays a spoiled prince in search of an equally self-centered princess, or a similar plot formula. They meet. They fight. Then, with only three minutes and fourteen seconds left to the movie, the couple kisses under the mistletoe. Viewers are supposed to believe the royal couple live happily ever after without the real-world problems the rest of us face.
Instead, find the cheesy and cheery Christmas movies highlighting struggles and hardships badly in need of remedy. Those are the ones you and your family should watch because they hinge on divine redemption.
There's a delightful scene in a film I recently found on Netflix starring, well, Dean Cain. The shot opens inside a United Methodist church. A lonely older widower sits on a pew alone in the sanctuary missing his deceased wife. He prays:
I don't know why you picked me to stay here or how much longer you're going to make me stay here. But I know you're taking good care of my Emma. And I did some foolish things when I was young, even some bad things and I'm sorry for it. But I just hope I've done enough good so I can see her again. So if I've got a month or two...or even ten years, you just tell me what you want me to do, Lord. And I'll do it.
In another titled "Christmas Grace," a small business owner is faced with a failing shop. Feeling discouraged, he and his pregnant wife attend a church service to hear the divinely appointed sermon on John 16:33 where Jesus instructs, "In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." The reminder that God will take care of him despite his suffering, was exactly what the business owner needed to hear. (I noticed in the film credits thanks are given to Oakland Baptist Church, Brighton Nazarene Church, and Clarkston Salvation Army store staff and was clearly written with an evangelism goal.)
In a few others, a young couple is of course involved in a local theatrical production of the Christmas story. Viewers watch as cute little girls dressed in angel costumes recite the Scripture verse, "For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." (Luke 2:11)
The spiritual views of the Hallmark Channell are not adequate doctrinal education to be sure. By no means am I saying every film I've seen gets Christianity perfectly or is adequate evangelism. But perhaps there is an evangelistic benefit to holiday films highlighting the local church, a minister's sermon, and Jesus Christ's birth.
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I'm not the only one who binges cheesy Christmas movies around this time of year. So perhaps these heartwarming holiday films will remind any viewers feeling lonely or lost that their local church remains a constant source of community, shelter, hope, and Jesus Christ's joy and peace on earth.
As one movie tagline reads, may viewers "discover the greatest Gift" this Christmas season.
Originally posted at Juicy Ecumenism.