Soon to be released, “The Hobbit” might be the most successful prequel since “Phantom Menace,” but neither can hold a candle to the light of all lights: Baby Jesus. In this epic tale of love gone right, a small town teenager is raised to the heights of heaven, and a young man, whose girl seems to have cheated on him, becomes a saint. Backed by an all-star cast of Zechariah, Elizabeth, Gabriel and a flock of shepherds, this blockbuster is sure to be a box-office smash.
In his earlier films, “Mark” and “Matthew,” director and producer God-the-Father told the amazing story of the Son of Man, Jesus of Nazareth. Audiences will recall how he healed the sick, lifted up the lowly and gave hope to the poor. In those Gospels, viewers were treated to riveting miracles such as feeding thousands with a few loaves and fishes, walking on water and stilling storms, healing hundreds and even raising a young girl from the dead. Most amazingly, the holy actor did all his own real-life stunts.
Now in “Luke: the Nativity,” God turns back the clock to the mystical events leading up to the Savior’s arrival, making a decisive turn from the gritty, driving narrative of “Mark” and the wisdom-drenched saga of “Matthew” to an almost magical tale that shows God is perhaps most at home creating musicals. Who would have guessed? Critics are suggesting the Messiah franchise is courting a younger following.
What has not changed is God’s certain love for the humble and his obvious favoritism for the underdog. It isn’t giving too much away to say the beloved Christ child is born in the most unexpected nursery and to a young, unwed mother named Mary. Mary’s gentle wrestling with her angel messenger is sure to be one of motion picture’s most famous love scenes, and her solo that follows — now the hit single “The Magnificat” on Jerusalem’s billboard charts — is one of those timeless tunes generations will sing for years to come.
Most artfully, God has set the coming of the infant Christ amidst the backdrop of powerful rulers like King Herod and great kingdoms like the Roman Empire, highlighting with sly irony how God’s simple love for the world adorns the Prince of Peace beyond all riches humanity can muster.
This, folks, is the film of the millennia — the film of three millennia — and you can be sure every church in town play it Sundays in December and on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You don’t want to miss this wonderful story. It is a story for everyone, appropriate for audiences of all ages. It is a true story, and it will change your life.
Go to a church this holiday season. Discover that you are loved beyond measure.
The Rev. Buff Grace serves the Episcopal Church of the Ascension, Stillwater, MN.