This weekend, I took some time to watch a movie. I usually unwind with a Hallmark, happy-ending kind of story, but on Sunday I stumbled across "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." Apparently this movie was based on the book by Mitch Albom, which I'd never read before but am thinking would be an awesome book to add to my must-read list. It was a spiritually deep movie in many aspects. Too often we feel our daily life is uneventful or tedious, and we often associate those "normal" events as basically meaningless. The theme of this movie addresses the anger and unhappiness which stem from feeling your life is meaningless. Eddie, the main character, was a man dissatisfied with his life, wishing he had lived a more exciting or more valuable life. All the woulda, coulda, shoulda's haunted him. When Eddie dies unexpectedly, he goes to Heaven but it's not what he expected. In Heaven he meets 5 people who help him understand his 'meaningless' life, some of whom he never really met in life. I won't give away the ending, but I'll tell you it's something you won't expect. If you have ever struggled with wondering about the purpose of a normal or boring life, you will be encouraged to know that every life: no matter how short, boring, or seemingly inconsequential is part of the wonderful plan of God. Every life matters more than we ever know this side of Heaven.
Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.
The first specific Christmas hymns we know of appeared in 4th century Rome. Composed in Latin, one such hymns is known as Veni Redemptor Gentium, written by Ambrose, Archbishop of Milan who lived 340-397AD. Saint Ambrose wrote statements of theological doctrine surrounding the birth of Christ, the Incarnation of God in verse form. The St. John Church's video of this Gregorian Chant is linked below.
Veni, Redemptor Gentium
O COME, Redeemer of the earth,
and manifest thy virgin-birth.
Let every age in wonder fall:
such birth befits the God of all.
Begotten of no human will
but of the Spirit, Thou art still
the Word of God in flesh arrayed,
the promised fruit to man displayed.
Thy cradle here shall glitter bright,
and darkness breathe a newer light
where endless faith shall shine serene
and twilight never intervene.
All praise, eternal Son, to Thee,
whose advent sets Thy people free,
whom, with the Father, we adore,
and Holy Ghost, for evermore. Amen.
Later in the 9th and 10th centuries, the Christmas "Prose" was introduced in North European monasteries, developing under Bernard of Clairvaux into a sequence of rhymed stanzas. Traditionally, carols have often been based on medieval chord patterns. This is what gives them their uniquely characteristic musical sound. It was during the 13th Century under the influence of Saint Frances of Assisi the singing songs specifically about the Advent or Coming of Christ grew popular during the Christmas season. The Piae Cantiones is a collection of Christmas carols dating back to Theodoricus Petri, Finnish believer in 1538. This collection was given as a gift to John Mason Neale who translated several songs and published them in 1853. The songs include, Here is Joy For Every Age, Christ was born on Christmas Day, Good Christian Men, Rejoice, and Good King Wenceslas. It is thought the song O Come All Ye Faithful made popular in the 18th century may have lyrics originated as early as the 13th century. Christmas Carols gained great popularity after the Reformation and grew as publication became easier. Songs like God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, The First Noel, I Saw Three Ships, and Hark the Herold Angels Sing were published in 1833.
Completely secular Christmas songs emerged much later with Jingle Bells & Deck the Halls, but these songs weren't made popular until the late 1940s-50s when a big push was made by the commercial industry and Hollywood to increase retail sales.
Whatever Christmas Carol you are enjoying this year, may you know and remember the true reason of why the world sings... to celebrate God in the flesh being born to take away the sins of the world.
My son recently shared with me an AMAZING video on youtube about the paths Hate can take in our lives. The video has great animated detail of a WWII dogfight between a British Spitfire and a German BF109. In life, especially in times of war, what begins as just a job to stop "the enemy" becomes a path to destruction of the heart. The symbolism in this short film is surprisingly deep. I especially found the scene when the German airman held so tightly to the trigger that the Rosary Beads, symbolic of his faith, were torn from his hands by his hatred. When faith in the God of Love is absent, all that remains is hate. Similarly, the British airman's love, portrayed by the photograph of his sweetheart, blows away. The words Love are seen flying out of sight once outside the plane. When Love and Faith are removed from our lives, Hate grows. And the end result of Hate is always total destruction. Destruction of the body and the soul. The only thing that will remain are the evil ghosts of actions.
What do you think of the film? Did you see other symbolism about the messages of love, faith, and hatred?
An Alaskan Author, Prospector, Homeschool Teacher, Ordained Minister,
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