Speaker: Sandy Souder, November 27, 2016

Great Morning Beloved!

Today is the first Sunday of Advent.  Advent, from Latin meaning ‘coming.’ We in Unity look at Advent as preparing metaphysically for experiencing the awareness of the Christ presence in each of us.

The first candle is the candle of Hope or Faith.   Charles Fillmore said hope is the parent of faith.

Hope is the ability to hear the melody of the future.  Faith is the courage to dance to it today & every day.

Miracle on 34th Street

Welcome to our Christmas Reel to Real Series!  For the next four weeks, we’ll be looking at four beloved, classic Christmas movies… and learning their very important lessons about faith, hope, love and joy …. the very essence of Christmas Spirit.

We’re beginning with Miracle on 34th Street. Here’s a quick synopsis:

At the Macy’s Department Store Thanksgiving Day parade, a whiskered old man (who looks suspiciously like Santa Claus) discovers that the actor playing Santa in the parade is drunk. (“He’s a disgrace to the meaning of Christmas.”) Doris Walker, the no nonsense special events director for Macy’s, persuades the old man to take his place. The old man proves to be a sensation and is quickly recruited to be the Santa at the Macy’s store.

While he is successful, Ms. Walker learns that he calls himself Kris Kringle and he claims to be the actual Santa Claus. (“I’m older than my teeth and younger than my tongue.”) Despite reassurances by Kringle’s doctor that he is harmless, Doris still has misgivings, especially since she has cynically trained herself, and her daughter, Susan, to reject all notions of belief and fantasy.

And yet, people, especially Susan, notice there is something special about Kris and his determination to advance the true spirit of Christmas amidst the rampant commercialism around him and succeeding in improbable ways. Here are several examples of Kris’ Christmas spirit:

  1. He sends a mother to another store to get a gift for her son that Macy’s doesn’t stock.
  2. When a little girl from Holland sits on his lap, he spontaneously starts speaking Dutch to her. (Remember, this was after WWII…)

When an argument with the store’s incompetent psychologist erupts, Kris finds himself held at Bellevue where, in despair, he deliberately fails a mental examination to ensure his commitment. (Doris didn’t want to tell Kris about the test at Bellevue, is she running away from her problems still?)

All seems lost until Doris’ friend and neighbor, Fred Gaily, reassures Kris of his worth and agrees to represent him in the fight to get him released. To achieve that, Fred arranges a formal hearing in which he argues that Kris is sane because he is in fact Santa Claus. What ensues is a bizarre hearing in which people’s beliefs are reexamined and put to the test. (interesting what we call a logical argument can prove!)

We have so much to learn from the characters in this wonderful movie.

From Mr. Sawyer, the psychologist who diagnoses everyone in his path, but refuses to look at his own frustration and unhappiness. (“The log in our own eye…”)  Have you looked lately at your log?

From Mr. Macy and Mr. Gimbel, who rediscover the true meaning of Christmas – the true joy of giving – transcending the commercialism they had succumbed to. (there’s a lot of ‘ism’s’ going around, and commercialism is the worst!)

But at the heart of the story are the relationships between Doris, Susan, Fred and Kris.

First, we learn from Doris:

Hurt by a bitter divorce, she has become cynical and lost her faith in love and hope. And she’s passed her cynicism on to her young daughter

Doris to Fred regarding children: “We shouldn’t have them believing in a lot of legends and myths like Santa Claus for example. When we fill their lives with fairy tales, they grow up considering life a fantasy instead of a reality.”

Susan to Kris: “I’ve known for a long time that Santa Claus isn’t real.  Whatever I want, my mother will get me, if it’s sensible and doesn’t cost too much, of course.”

Doris has confused her resignation and cynicism with the “truth. She has allowed her hurt to blind her to the joy around her, to blind her to the real meaning of Christmas. She’s also confused “fantasy” with faith…. faith in things not seen.

We learn from Fred:

He says to Kris in Bellevue about Doris: “She hasn’t really believed in anything for years.”

Doris says to Fred after he quits his job to start his own firm: “You go on an idealistic binge; you give up your job and throw away all your security… and you expect me to be happy about it.”

Fred: “Look Doris, someday you’re going to find that your way of facing this realistic world just doesn’t work. And when you do, don’t overlook those lovely intangibles. You’ll discover those are the only things that are worthwhile.” (he’s talking about faith, hope, love, lovely intangibles.)

“Faith is believing in things when common sense tells you not to.”

This quote from Helen Keller relates a lot to this story: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. Security does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than exposure.”

And finally, we learn from Kris:

To Susan he says: “The imagination is a wonderful place, a nation all its own.”  (Imagination – one of the 12 Powers!)

To Doris: “Christmas isn’t just a day. It’s a frame of mind…. If I can wake you up, there’s still hope.”

Kris: “If you can’t accept anything based on faith, then you’re doomed to a life dominated by doubt.”

Susan: “If you’re really Santa Claus, you’ll get it for me.”

Kris: “Just because every child doesn’t get their wish, doesn’t mean there isn’t a Santa Claus.”

How often have we prayed and then doubted when our prayer didn’t come “true”? Instead of trusting and believing that all things work together for good??

Interestingly, one of the lessons in the movie is that even Santa Claus needs help sometimes…Kris needs Fred to remind him of who he is, when he’s become discouraged.

To Fred: “Sawyer (the psychologist) is vicious and he’s called normal and I’m not.”

Just as we need each other to remind us of who we are.

And I like Kris and the bubble gum… it shows his childlike curiosity.  Or as E.B. White puts it, “Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”

AND, Kris faces the consequence of his choice when the bubble breaks!

Ask for other insights…

 1947 version: At the trial: Fred uses the U.S. post office for proof.

In a remake that came out in 1994…it’s Doris who presents the judge with a one dollar bill:

“By presenting me with this bill, she reminded me of the fact that it’s issued by the Treasury of the United States of America and its backed by the government and people of the United States of America.  Upon inspection of the article, you will see the words ‘In God We Trust.’ Now we’re not here to prove that God exists, but we are here to prove that a being just as invisible and yet just as present exists.

The federal government puts its trust in God. It does so on faith and faith alone.  It’s the will of the people that guides the government and it is and was their collective faith in a greater Being that gave and gives cause to the inscription on this bill.  Now if the government of the United States can issue its currency bearing a declaration of trust in God without demanding physical evidence of the existence or the non-existence of a greater Being, then the state of NY by a similar demonstration of the collective faith of its people can accept and acknowledge that Santa Claus does exist and he exists in the person of Kris Kringle!”

What are we willing to believe in without demanding physical evidence? What do we have faith in? Are we willing to believe in the innate goodness of one another? In a loving God? In a benevolent Universe?

Are we willing to let go of the past, to forgive… to love again?

Doris to Susan: “I was wrong when I told you that Susie. You must believe in Mr. Kringle and keep on believing. Just because things don’t turn out the way you want them to the first time… you still have to believe in people.”

Rev. Kelly Isola, Unity minister: “The purpose of faith is to remind us of the current that is always flowing, even when we can’t see it, or feel it. We practice our faith by falling and getting up again.  Faith is always unfolding; it is never static; nor is it ‘done.’  It is the humbling events in life which return us to our knees over and over, bringing us closer to God, to the faith of our being,”

“I am not what happened to me ~ I am what I choose to become.” – Carl Jung

At a certain point, we forgive because we decide to forgive. Healing occurs in the present, not the past. We are not held back by the love we didn’t receive in the past, but by the love we’re not extending in the present.”