Friday, December 23, 2011


I am grateful that my friends are such a wonderfully diverse group of people from many different backgrounds and belief systems. I have some Christmas thoughts to share with you. Last night, we read the story of the birth of Jesus from the gospel of Luke with my wife and a few friends. We talked about some lessons from the story that apply to everyone, whether you're a Christian or not. In fact, the angel that showed up said "Fear not, I bring you good news of great joy which shall be to ALL people..." Admittedly, sometimes bible believers do not have a message that is good news for everyone. Sometimes they turn good news into bad news and judge people who don't believe and behave the way they think they should. They think the story is only good news for their church. Like Dana Carvey's "church lady" character they dance their superior dance. But reading the story, it's evident the message was that Jesus had a mission to show love to everyone. John 12:32 says that when "He is lifted up, ALL are drawn to Him..."

The story of the birth described a lot of hassle this young couple had to go through. The government had a census that forced them to travel over rocky hills on a donkey, even though Mary was nine months pregnant. Governments hassling sounds like today's dysfunctional bickering in Washington. Once they arrived in Bethlehem, there was no room. Have you ever travelled and been tired, then the hotel loses your reservation? Another hassle. "There's no room at the inn, but we can let you stay in the stable out back..." Depending on who tells the story the innkeeper is either vilified for not making room for Jesus birth, or given partial credit for offering what He had to God. But nevertheless, it was not a smooth transition for the birth of Jesus. It reminded me of a quote by Sergei Eisenstein, a famous filmmaker. "Smooth transitions are lost opportunities," he said. He was talking about film editing, (something I'm currently dealing with on my movie about Roberto Clemente.) He believed if everything in the movie is cut together too neatly, it is not as impactful. This got me thinking... Maybe the fact that everything isn't so perfect is part of the journey and the learning of life lessons. In a perfect world, I'd have millions of dollars to finish my movie and not have to beg friends for money. I wouldn't have the many obstacles on the journey to finish our labor of love about my boyhood hero.

Imagine a smoother journey in the Christmas story: Joseph and Mary would have stayed home instead of going to Bethlehem and Jesus would have been born in a comfortable warm environment. But wait...there was a prophecy by the Old Testament prophet Micah 800 years earlier that the birth would be in Bethehem, and the hassle of the census got them there to fulfill the plan and the prophecy. Now if my Hollywood publicist friends were in charge there would have been a red carpet and searchlights criss-crossing the sky. The humility of the manger would be replaced.

I can't speak for any of you, but I can say for me, the rocky transitions of my universe become God's university, and I have learned grace through the difficulties. Making my movie has been an incredible journey. Our cast and crew have been on an adventure like Jason and the Argonauts travelling to find the golden fleece. I have learned spiritual and psychological lessons. I've grown as a filmmaker and writer. I've overcome my shyness and self consciousness about asking people for money and assistance. I've learned how to handle criticisms and judgments about myself and my work. I hope and pray the film we are giving birth to will be a blessing to the people who see it. The fact that it hasn't been a perfectly smooth transition has been part of the journey for me.

Some of you have passed through some things in life that haven't been smooth. Maybe you've been out of work or had to work with some real flakes or anal rententive micro-managers. Maybe you've been through a break up. If Eisenstein is right that "smooth transitions are lost opportunities," maybe you've learned something about yourself through these things. My hope and prayer is for a Merry Christmas for you and a happy and hopeful New Year. In the words of the angel "Glad tidings of great joy to all people. Peace on earth, goodwill toward men."


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