Meet the Nativity is a time-traveling romantic comedy in which 21st- and 1st-century Christmases magically collide.
Popularity of Christmas Spirit
What classifies a movie as a “Christmas Movie”? Does it have to be about Christmas? Does being set at Christmas make it eligible? On that basis, some argue that Die Hard is a Christmas movie. After all, nothing says Christmas like a hostage situation. (Some might feel that way on Christmas Day when trapped with people they wouldn’t normally choose to spend time with, like Will in Episode 1.)
But the safest route to success in a Christmas movie is to make it about “Christmas Spirit.” This vague sensation can mean anything: discovering that Santa Claus is real after all; realizing that Christmas isn’t about getting that last out-of-stock toy; learning to be satisfied with what you have, especially if the lesson involves James Stewart explaining how mortgages work. Christmassy, right?
Christmas Spirit is an appealing motif for movie makers because it’s inoffensive and non-specific. It gives us a warm glow and makes Santa’s sleigh get off the ground when it breaks down in Central Park, but it has nothing to do with Christ or his birth. We don’t need Christmas Spirit. We don’t need to make ourselves believe that Christmas miracles can happen. We need Christ.
The Savior Who Sets Us Free
In Meet the Nativity, Will, Claire, Ruth, and Ken aren’t drawn together by Christmas Spirit. They get something far more powerful and precious. They meet Jesus Christ. They enter the stable and discover something about their own fears that Jesus came to address. And he ultimately frees them from their fears on the cross.
In a quiet moment this Christmas it’s worth asking ourselves what the coming year holds for us and what we are scared of. What mistakes do we already know we’re going to make? What matters to us? Is that thing controlling us? What will happen to our bitterly divided society? What future do we have to look forward to?
We will never overcome these anxieties on our own. We may be able to manage them or live with them. But we won’t overcome them without the King of Kings who made us, who loves us, and who was born to be with us that first Christmas. And so at Christmas we can truly sing the line from “O Little Town of Bethlehem”: “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”