Summary: In this movie, the real Santa came to town, but, he was rejected. Drop back in time, 2000 years. Jesus Christ came to his own, but he was rejected. The Miracle happens every time someone believes.
Miracle on 34th Street
Today our Advent sermon is the first in the series of sermons that come from great Christmas movies.
There are many great Christmas movies... A Christmas Carol, A Christmas Story, White Christmas, Ernest Saves Christmas,
And my personal favorites: Home Alone and Home Alone 2
But I’m not using any of those because I don’t have enough sermons. I have picked 4: How the Grinch Stole Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Santa Clause (maybe) and today’s sermon – Miracle on 34th Street
For those few unfortunate souls who are not familiar with this movie let me explain:
Macy's Department Store is having their Thanksgiving Day parade and the actor playing Santa is discovered to be drunk. Doris Walker, the no nonsense special events director, persuades a bearded old man to take his place. The old man proves to be a sensation and is quickly recruited to be the store Santa at the main Macy's outlet. Ms. Walker gets concerned when she learns that he calls himself Kris Kringle and he claims to be the actual Santa Claus. Doris still has misgivings, because she has cynically trained herself, and her daughter, Susan, to reject all notions of belief and fantasy. And yet, people, especially Susan, begin to notice there is something special about Kris. He is determined to advance the true spirit of Christmas amidst the rampant commercialism around him… and is succeeding in improbable ways. He said, “Christmas is not just a day, it’s a frame of mind.” When Kris gets into a raucous conflict with the store's cruelly incompetent psychologist, Kris finds himself held at Bellevue mental hospital, where, in despair, he deliberately fails a mental examination. All seems lost until Doris' friend, Fred Gaily, reassure Kris of his worth and agrees to represent him in a court case to gain Kris’s freedom. 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 re-examined and put to the test, but even so, it's going to take a miracle for Kris to win.
The case is turned and won when the post office delivers thousands of letters to Kris and they are all addressed to Santa Claus. The judge rules that if the government says he is Santa then he must be Santa and Kris is freed.
OK you may be asking, what is spiritual about a movie? Why should you waste a sermon on it?
Nothing! Because there are a couple of themes in the movie which are points I want to make about Christmas, and Jesus.
In this movie, the real Santa came to town at the time when people were looking for Santa. But, because there had been so many fakes before, he was not believed, he was rejected, and he was not accepted. Drop back in time, 2000 years. It was a time of spiritual blackness and desperation. People were crying out to God for a savior. They were looking for a deliverer.
And who comes along? THE SAVIOR… Jesus Christ. The scripture says “in the fullness of time” God answered their prayers and sent the Savior.
And what happened to him? He was rejected. He was called a liar. He was locked up for being crazy. But worse because Kris Kringle only went to the hospital. Jesus was murdered.
The scripture is clear… “He came unto his own… and his own received Him not.”
Isaiah warned about how he would be treated: Ch. 53
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. 6… and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. 8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. 9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked...
What was the miracle on 34th street?
A man became Santa. The people finally believed and accepted Kris as Santa. Santa became real. People’s hearts were melted and warmed. Happiness and faith replaced stagnation and cynicism.