Here’s my latest Credo article – due to appear in the Newark Advertiser this week.
Merry Christmas to all my followers.
I’m sure many of you will have seen the classic Christmas film ‘It’s a Wonderful Life.’ (If you haven’t you should; it’s bound to be on some channel or other this year.)
The film tells the story of a selfless man, George Bailey, who repeatedly puts his own interests behind those of others and who is as a result unable to fulfil his ambitions to go to college, become an engineer and leave his small town of Bedford Falls behind. Instead he runs a ‘Building and Loan Association’ – a type of building society – that allows people to buy their own property and not have to rent from the unscrupulous landlord Mr Potter.
As the films draws to a close a simple but costly mistake by someone else one Christmas Eve threatens to undermine everything George has achieved and leaves him facing financial ruin and even possible imprisonment. He is in despair, considers suicide and wishes that he’d never been born.
Then something wonderful happens; George is given the opportunity to see what would have happened if his wish was granted – if indeed he never had been born. His town would have been completely taken over by Potter, people are living in slums, the High Street is full of sleazy businesses, his wife never married and, of course, his adored children would never have been born. George realises that his has been a life well-lived and (without giving everything away) all ends happily, as it should in a Christmas film.
It’s easy to underestimate our impact in the world, but every action we take has a direct bearing on how things move forward. This applies to the good things we do, (those which have a positive impact) the less good things we do, that have negative repercussions and, crucially, the good things we choose not to do. Each one of us is faced by choices in life: do we do things just for our own benefit or do we put the needs of others first.
As Christmas comes around again we remember the arrival among us of the most wonderful life that was ever lived. Jesus Christ taught us to love one another both by the words he spoke and the things he did. His example is a lesson to us all and when we try to live by his principles our lives, like George Bailey’s, are well-lived too. Every one of us can make a difference and make the world a happier, fairer and more contented place.
At one crucial point in the film George sees a sign that says ‘All that you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.’ I think there’s a great deal of truth in that.
On behalf of everyone in the Newark churches who contributes to these weekly columns may I wish you all a very merry and peaceful Christmas. Maybe we’ll see you in church over this Christmas time – you’d be made very welcome.