Summary: What would the world be like if there was no Christmas and No Jesus? This message was inspired by John Ortberg's message "Who is this Man?"

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It’s a Wonderful Life

(Begin with Clip from “It’s a Wonderful Life” scene where George meets Clarence and wishes he had never been born”

It’s a Wonderful Life has consistently been ranked in the top 100 movies of all times, it has been called the number one inspirational film as well as one of the most popular Christmas movies ever produced, and it’s not even about Christmas. It is simply a movie that is set at Christmas time. Even if you’ve never seen the movie you are probably familiar with the phrase: Every time a bell rings an angel gets his wings.

It’s a Wonderful life is based on a short story, entitled “The Greatest Gift” that was written by Philip Van Doren Ster. The author couldn’t interest a publisher and so he eventually self-published in 1943 and used the story for his Christmas cards. Eventually though the story was seen by director Frank Capra who purchased the rights and the movie was made and released by RKO studios in 1946. It starred Jimmy Stewart who had just returned from serving as a pilot during WW2 and Donna Reed an up and coming actress.

Interestingly enough the movie was considered to be a box office flop because of its high production costs and the stiff competition that was out at the time. I wonder what the more successful movies of that year were?

It would be easy to assume that everyone here has seen the movie but I actually watched it for the first time last year.

So for the three people here today who have never seen the movie here is a synopsis. George Bailey, played by Jimmy Stewart is a good man who consistently puts the needs of others before his own needs, even to the point of giving up his dreams of travel and becoming an architect in order to run the family building and loan Company following his father’s death. You still with me? The turning point in the movie comes when George’s Uncle Billy accidentally loses $8,000.00 of the company’s money just before the bank examiner arrives to audit the books. Enter the villain, Henry Potter, played by Lionel Barrymore who was best known for playing Scrooge on radio productions of the Christmas Carol. Potter is an evil banker who determines that he will have George thrown in jail and charged with fraud so he can close down the competition.

George feels that he has let everyone down and he decides that he is worth more to his family dead than alive and decides to commit suicide by jumping off a bridge. However, all over town people are praying for George and God sends down Angel Second Class Clarence Odbody to intervene. And if Clarence is successful in saving George he will be made a full angel and receive his wings, with the appropriate ringing of a bell of course. Not great theology but a pretty good story.

Just before George jumps off the bridge Clarence does, prompting George to once again put aside his plans in order to help someone else. George jumps in and saves Clarence and that led to the scene that we just watched.

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