Posted by: Jim E | January 12, 2012

A House Without A Christmas Tree…Hound Of Heaven…That Old Classroom…And How Close God Really Is…

So much to write in so little space…I know Christmas is passed…it came and went by us like a winter wind right out of Canada…and there was so much going on…but hold on, I made notes…so here goes…

Every year we enjoy a Christmas movie called “The House Without A Christmas Tree”…it was a “made for TV movie”, made in 1972…detractors talk about it being “old”…(what they mean is, technically it is not “up to date”…well, it was made in 1972, duh)…but the movie is filled top to bottom with some trues that we need today as we needed then…the story was written by Gail Rock, who wrote some other stories about her childhood…it takes place in 1946, in the little town of Clear River, Nebraska…population 1,500, no traffic light…didn’t need one…it’s a touching story of “loss, hope and the power of redemption, not only at the holidays, but all the year through.”…Jason Robards is the father, Lisa Lucas the 10 year old daughter and Mildred Natwick is the grandmother…all playing strong roles in the film…

The story is at Christmastime…the daughter is determined to get a Christmas tree…a tree which her father won’t allow, because it reminds him of his wife, whom he still mourns…losing her in the birth of his daughter…he can’t bear to celebrate Christmas in any way…Addie, the daughter, wins a Christmas tree in a school contest…and the grandmother (and Mildred Natwick is such a wonderful actor) is now placed in a position of trying to smooth over the battle between her son and her granddaughter, both she adores…it is a upbeat, yet serious topic…and very good…and it is not only the story and the actors who are wonderful…but the town, the school…and even more…I find myself there…right there…it’s about the time I grew up…I can place myself “right there”…I know, you know, what I mean…it has happened to you many times…

The classroom of Addie’s school…I remember my school was much like that…probably you too have memories of your elementary school…the cloakroom which was behind a wall in the front of the room, the wooden floors, the tall windows, the blackboards, the desks…it all may be a little different…but yet the same…and her teacher, I know I had teachers just like that…the school was three floors…a picture of George Washington in front of the room…Zaner-Bloser alphabet posters above the blackboards…standing for the pledge of allegiance (“under God” not yet a part of the pledge)…a Christmas tree in the corner (now of course there are rules against trees in the classroom, at least no “real” trees…no electric lights…”boring”)…and then the bringing of exchange gifts to each other…and what an embarrassing and stressful thing that was…but it was the 1940’s and its the way it was…I miss it!!!…a thoroughly delightful movie…do I recommend it???…of course…if you come with an attitude of history…and the ability to translate that into your own experience…I know you can do that…

So as we are bathed in Christmas light I look back to that time again…I did that during December…it was on December 7th…you can go back and read that if you like…I mentioned David McCullough’s book “In The Dark Streets Shineth”…he talks about Christmas Eve 1941, just two and a half weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor…when Winston Churchill came “at considerable risk, crossed the Atlantic in great secrecy to meet with President Franklin D. Roosevelt”…and there under a thin fragment of moon…the two leaders came on the South Portico of the White House to light the national Christmas tree…with a holiday greeting to a world very unsure about even tomorrow…things were not going well in the war effort…and wouldn’t for some time…Roosevelt said, “we set our faith in human love and in God’s care for us and all men everywhere.”…Churchill said, “Let the children have their night of fun and laughter,”…”before we turn again to the stern task and the formidable years that lie before us, resolved that, by our sacrifice and daring, these same children shall not be robbed of their inheritance or denied their right to live in a free and decent world”…radio carried their words around the world…20,000 were there in the twilight…standing by the now shining Christmas tree…and under that moon they gazed up to an uncertain future…but as one commentator wrote, “bathed in Christmas light”…

So here we are, maybe not in the same sort of fix…but in probably the worst economic times since the Great Depression…fighting in wars around the globe…terrorism is all around us…and though our existence is not in doubt, at least yet…many of our schools, unlike back in Clear River, Nebraska…especially in our cities, are failing to educate…debt is growing and anger is all around…and if there is not a direction change soon, we are headed toward more problems…but what I have seen in America over all my years…is hope…an optimism for the future…to overcome the problems we see…and I also have seen faith in the hearts of people…to believe in an America that is resilient…that will bring the changes necessary to become what we know we can be…

I still believe there is a God in heaven who cares for the likes of us…British poet Francis Thompson catches the essence of our God…unique to Christianity is God’s pursuit of us to draw us to himself…every other religion people have to pursue their god, hoping to gain favor…rituals, good works, etc…but Thompson writes of the relentless pursuit of God in his life…in his poem, “The Hound of Heaven”, he writes that as he fled from God he couldn’t out run “those strong feet that followed…with unhurrying chase and unperturbed pace.”…But this is not just his story…it’s all of our story…Wesley wrote…”Died He for me, who caused His pain?/For me, who Him to death pursued?/ Amazing love! How can it be/That Thou my God, shouldst die for me?…

So where does all this lead me???…though sometime we feel alone…or feeling loss…even at Christmastime…like “Addie” in the story…she found, because of her hope, redemption and healing…a great story…and what about that Christmas Eve night 70 years ago, when two leaders of the free world…at the end of themselves…looked to the God of heaven to work out what needed to be done…don’t think for a moment that God was not there that night…and how about you and me…do you sometime feel “The Hound of Heaven” breathing down your neck…chasing, pursuing, speaking to you…and for all of those other moments…when we feel God is not there…not really interested…I think of something I read not long ago…“One day when the mysteries of heaven are opened, and we are all amazed at how close God really is to our hearts, we will all realize that a simple faith is all we really needed.”…

In the end, that is all that I really wanted to say…have a great week…


Advertisements

Responses

  1. Hi Jim,
    I love the message at the end of your post (the one you read recently). That just ties everything together perfectly. Have a good week!
    Julie

    • Julie…Oh, yes…that’s a great quote…sometimes, when we are alone with ourselves…or in and around people, we feel alone…no one to rely on…this qoute needs to come to mind…oops, He’s right there…we just forgot, He’s right there!!!…at that time, I reach out and grab the hand of God…and that’s a big deal to me, knowing He is there and He cares…thanks for the comment…as usual, I’ve gone on and on…thanks again…Jim E

      • I think I’ve talked to God more in the past few months than I have in a long time. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how close He really is (at least for me) and all we have to do is talk to Him and ask Him to draw closer to us. The past few months I’ve really had to rely on Him for strength and comfort, which is how it should have been all along but I think I drifted away somewhat. It’s amazing how much better I feel now though. As for going on and on, I get that way quite often too. When there’s a good topic to discuss, it’s easy to keep talking.
        Take care,
        Julie

      • Julie…thanks for the comment…you are so right…and sometime we just need Him more…so we go more and more often…thanks again…Jim E


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: