The Corridor: December 2008

The Corridor

We are a church community committed to having an incarnational presence in the Washington/Baltimore Corridor.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Joyeux Noel

We had a movie night last evening where we had friends over and watched “Joyeux Noel”, the 2005 foreign film which depicts the true story of the World War I Christmas truce of December 1914. Seen through the through the eyes of French, Scottish and German soldiers, who after experiencing much bloodshed entrenched in war with each other, declare a ceasefire for Christmas.

The truce became a life changing event in their lives where they learned about the brotherhood of man and common humanity that would trump their own sense of nationalism. Not only did this event really take place but the men who took part in it were punished for it, and most of them died soon enough afterward. But on one Christmas, they were able to experience what it means to live out “peace on earth” and “good will toward man.”

I particularly enjoyed the character of Palmer, a Scottish Anglican Priest, who took a leading roll in this movement of peace. In contrast to Palmer, his Bishop would in the end chastise Palmer, and the Christmas service he held for soldiers on both sides of the war, for “going astray”. It is the Bishop that you see and hear in the trailer that speaks of a “Holy War” and a “Crusade”. Father Palmer, who also serves a stretcher barer in the trenches, comes to question his Bishop’s nationalistic view of Christ in favor of one he feels is more true to Christ’s teachings.

The character of the German singer turned soldier Nikolaus Sprink also leads the way in a movement for peace. He takes a risk and sings along with Christmas carols as they are played on the bagpipes by Palmer and the other Scotts in their nearby trenches. Sprink takes the concert into “no man’s land” with an offering of a lit Christmas tree that would begin the talks for peace.

There are many other rich characters in this film, including the commanding officers in the trenches of the Germen, French, and Scottish soldiers. This is a must see film and after netflixing it I plan on buying it to watch again next Christmas season.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

A Voice Crying from the Wilderness of the North Pole

Miracle on 34th Street may be an ironic story in our culture as Santa Claus becomes the champion against the commercialization of Christmas. Kris Kringle works to re-kindle the faith and magic of the Christmas season as the WAY of dreaming for a better world than one where people think Christmas, and the value of humanity itself, can just be bought and sold at a department store. Yet as Kris fights to help people believe in something more, he finds himself in court defending his apparent crazy ways and to determine if he is the real Santa Claus.

I liken Kris in this story to John the Baptist. Like the prophet, Kris' ways stand out as nonsense in the civilized world that thinks it has outgrown the wild imagination of its prophets. You must be a crazy person to suggest such a radically different way of life over going along with the established business as usual mentality of our world. The question though comes as this voice actually begins to tap into our hopes and rekindle our dreams, is he the one?

Celebrating the second week of Advent, tonight we will be using clips from the original "Miracle on 34th Street" to talk about how going against the grain in a consumerist society can make us seem like crazy people from the wilderness of the North Pole who think they are Santa Claus. Can we give up our cynicism of the world long enough to imagine a better world and listen to that wild dream of hope the cries out to us from outside of society's boarders of the status quo?

Santa Clause may not be the reason for the season, but at least in this story, this man from the wild wilderness of the North Pole may be pointing to the One who's Christmas stockings he is unworthy to fill.