Matthew 3:1-12 CEB
As I mentioned last week, this is an Advent movie series. Advent is the four Sundays before Christmas. Each week, in traditional churches, they light a candle on an advent wreath. The four weeks represent Hope, Peace, Joy and Love. Last week we looked at how It's a Wonderful Life represents the hope of Christmas. Believe it or not, this week we are going to make the connections between peace and Christmas Vacation.
It is my opinion, in a really good comedy everything falls to pieces and nothing really is at peace. Then, some sort of 'ah ha' moment happens and peace is found before the curtain closes. Even Life of Brian, which ends with everyone hanging on a crucifix, ends peacefully because of the closing song, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. Shakespeare's, Much Ado About Nothing, is full of ado until the end when the everyone realizes miscommunication was the culprit in their pain. Then, at the end, everyone is at peace. I think the only exception to this rule would be the book form of The Princess Bride. I am sure William Goldman, I mean [clear throat] S. Morgenstern, thought it would be hilarious to take all our favorite characters and end where they all could meet their doom. I give the book a pass, because it is pretending, I mean [clear throat again] is actually a lost history book. History books can end tragically and chaotically. Comedy must end in peace.
Which leads me to our movie, National Lampoons: Christmas Vacation. Now I would never use this movie to show what hope looks like, because Clark acts into false hope throughout. Nor would this be a good movie to show Christian joy, but I guess I will get into that in a coming week. This movie, is actually one of those comedies that highlight peace in a good and proper way.
I can already imagine a few of you laughing outloud at your tablet or PC at the thought of anything National Lampoon signifying peace. I mean, this is the same movie where icicles destroy super expensive CD players, killer squirrels leap from Christmas trees, a cat is obliterated by faulty tree lights, an uncle is singed by lighting a cigar near methan, a boss is stolen by a crazy brother-in-law... need I go on? I can. This movie seems to be about anything but peace. Yet here it is, in a meditation focused on the subject.
OK, put your snickers away. The answer lies in the scripture. A word often tied to this week is 'Prepare.' The advent scripture even says it, "Prepare the way of the Lord." Peace isn't something that naturally exists. We were created from the chaos and have a natural tendency to return it. Peace take work. Peace takes preparation. It's a constant, lifetime effort.
Let me put it another way. War does not magically happen because two or more parties decide they no longer want to be at peace. War is the result of an actions years, decades, maybe even centuries before. That event builds. And through that time it could be solved peacefully with little conflict. Yet, the more the situation is ignored, the more discord is produced and the more work it will take to bring peace back. I believe there comes a point where war is the only option. War eventually becomes the only option to bringing peace back. This is why there is no just war. Every war, whether the good guys and gals won or not, could have been stopped years before by proactive actions. By seeking peace early.
Bringing it back to the movie. Clark wants to build a pool. He acts out of his perceived knowledge and assumes he is going to get a Christmas bonus, just as he had in the years before. Only this would be the year the boss decided to cut bonuses and give the jelly of the month club. (It's the gift that keeps on giving.) Shenanigans ensue, when Eddie gives Clark the Christmas gift of his boss with a big red bow on his head. It's only when the boss gets to talk it through with one of his employees, does the chaos finally is resolved and peace is brought to the finale of the movie.
I loosely use this term on this movie: Good conflict had to be initiated to bring about peace. That is the point of peace this season. We have to prepare for it. We can't magically have it. Perhaps we can meditate our way to it. Perhaps we have to initiate some healthy conflict to find it. Either way, we need to look at ourselves and find out what we need to cross off our list to find peace on Christmas morning. Our hope cannot be fulfilled without it. So this season, prepare for peace.