The "Spirit" of Christmas

Updated: Dec 3, 2021

I tossed and turned in the bed for about five hours before stumbling upon a Christmas movie released in 2019. Unlike some people I know, television is not a lullaby for me. In fact, it works in the reverse - at least at night time, but what did not help was that the main characters showed up in the most beautiful shades of blackness I could have ever imagined.

In the first few minutes of the movie a terrible tragedy strikes one of the lead female characters (Jess), and she dies in a car crash. Albeit her own fault for texting and driving (an underlying message within the movie), it was terribly sad because she had finally found someone who made her feel sparkly and he (Ben) seemed to feel the same way about her. Needless to say, when she didn't return his text that night he immediately assumed he had been ghosted (not entirely false). A few days later and after some social media stalking, he learns the truth about Jess' untimely demise.

The plot becomes eerily thicker when we learn Jess was unable to ascend, and remained visible to her best friend Kara and Ben. The story line centers around Jess, Kara and Ben trying to find a way to push her into eternity. They learn from Kara's spiritual guru, that the only reason a person would not cross over is if she/he had never experienced "big love" in their lifetime.

Jess and her friends try their best to create the atmosphere for her to experience the "big love" with Ben, nonetheless, who for some reason went along with this in a way no black man I know would ever, but that's beside the point. Their relationship climaxes and by some stroke of genius, or black magic they are able to share a level of intimacy, which did not yield the results she was looking for. Jess remained stuck! Apparently, Ben was not the "big love" Jess was looking for.

Further into the movie we learn that Jess had in fact experienced the "big love" of her life through the relationship she had with her best friend Kara. It turns out Jess was too wrapped up in her own selfishness to realize the bond of love and friendship they both shared. Moreover, Jess realized that she was stuck because she had never demonstrated "big love" in much the same way Kara had so selflessly done. Jess was stuck not because she had not received "big love," but because she had not given "big love." She had lived and died and never embraced the good and the abundance she was so blessed with. Sure enough with the help of her friends she was able to make a life long dream of Kara's come true and was finally she ascended.

How many times have we been like Jess in our own lives failing to be thankful for the many blessings we get to enjoy each day. Instead, how often do we find ourselves complaining about what we do not possess? What about those of us who live like Kara, barely existing, or living into the fullness of our expression. The Kara's of the world who are forever sacrificing self to the benefit of others, too afraid to dream, to explore, or to move on for fear of leaving others behind? While Jess' story ends well, it is solely because her story occurs in fairy tale land where all dreams come true. We, on the other hand, will not have the same opportunity as fairy tale Jess. When this life is over there is no tying up of loose ends that we get to do.




So, what does Jess' story teach us? The biblical text admonishes us to live each day focused on that day alone, while leaving room for tomorrow to take care of itself. Many who interpret this text in the Gospel of Matthew (Matt. 6:34) suggest that each day has its own set of woes to be concerned with, so leave tomorrow alone (paraphrased). Here are some of my takeaways from the wisdom found in this text.

In the opening verses of chapter 6 the evangelist's encouragement is to make sure all our actions are for an audience of one whether charity, or otherwise. The writer describes what should ground our day - prayer. Prayer anchors the soul making one ready for anything and everything that might pop up. From verse 19 Matthew then encourages us to keep our perspectives well aligned with our purpose, which is to serve God in everything that we do. If we are serving God, then another master will not stand a chance in the grand scheme of things.

Matthew also suggests that we be mindful concerning what has a hold over us. Material possessions have their place, yet it is God who provides them for us to enjoy. When we cling to the right mindset worry cannot and will not plague us. There is no need to worry when our actions are geared towards pleasing God, and when we have the right mindset because our day is anchored in prayer. We become even more liberated in our understanding, that God desires for us to live a life of balance. God has made room for us to enjoy the things we have been blessed with as much as we store them up for a rainy day. The evangelist's closing admonition is for us to remember that it is God who provides for everything and everyone existing even down to the smallest creature; therefore, worrying is not for us to embody. Conversely, we are mandated to faithfully commit to the present moment.

What Matthew suggests in this chapter can be summed up as this:

#1 - Live each day to the fullest. Do all the things God has put in your heart to do because the next moment is not promised it is our responsibility to lean into the fullest expressions of who we are called to be in the earth.

#2 - Take hold of the reins of life. Seize opportunities as they arise, for there is no guarantee that they will ever come around again. Life must not be lived timidly, but boldly, as a testament of the faith we have in our God to keep us.

#3 - Don't miss the now moments. Be fully present in every encounter you are afforded, for we never know when we are entertaining angels. Be intentional about seeing clearly the people and relationships you are privileged to experience on this journey. Avoid distractions that rob us the ability to love fiercely, feel deeply and dance unashamedly to the beat of our own drum.

Do what it is you have been placed in the earth to do

Do it afraid!

Do it alone, but whatever you do, just do it!


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