Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ecclesia Church's Alternative Christmas Market

Today was the second Sunday and the 8th day of Advent and I spent a wonderful day at Ecclesia. First, we listened to an inspiring Bible message from Pastor Joseph about 1 Corinthians Chap 1-4 plus wonderful praise and worship from the praise band. There was also strong prayer from the prayer team in the wings as we partook of the Lord's Supper, including us gently sopping the communion bread in wine just as Jesus did. There isn't a time that I take communion that I am not thankful and humbled by Our Lord and Saviour and His sacrifice for us.

After service, we all headed out to the lobby for Ecclesia's Alternative Christmas Market. The alternative market is a way of supporting Christian missionaries and needy charities around the world as they do their outreach. The church was already decked out for Christmas but now the lobby filled with throngs of would-be shoppers and a band of carolers moved about singing Christmas favorites. There was lots of items for sale including jewelry, bags, scarfs and Christmas ornaments. There was Christmas goodies of all varieties for sale, too. I supported the Wild Hope Artisan Project and thereby supported the Masai women by buying their unique Christmas themed hand-beaded trinkets and jewelry including a beaded Christmas tree made of glass beads for one sister-in law. (Ooops I spoiled the surprise)!

I made another small donation in honor of my two sisters to Corridor of Hope saving young women from prostitution and poverty and leading them to Christ. I then bought some traditional Masai hand-beaded jewelry also made by the tribes women including a traditional necklace for another sister-in law. Then I sat down at the Kenya table with an eager band of twenty-somethings and made cards to send to various mission children in the Kibera slums of Kenya for Ghetto Light Youth Ministry. We made lots of lovely cards for the kids, all of whom have strong Bible names like Samson and Ruth, etc. I took home a bunch more cards to design at home, too so I'll be busy all this week.

I walked around some more first stopping to look at the items on the table at iSanctuary, which prevents human trafficking and sexploitation of young girls in Mumbai, India. I then donated a small amount to Heifer International towards livestock and training in the third world then I grabbed a quick bite to eat from the PATH (People Assisting The Homeless)table where our donationd go to feeding the homeless at their shelter.

It's A Wonderful Life
Then I grabbed some Christmas cookies and snuck back into church hall/theater for the showing of Frank Capra'sIt's a Wonderful Life. The movie was being shown on a new and bigger projection screen than the one the church had before. Apparently it was upgraded by the landlord for the church for free just in time for Christmas and the showing of this wonderful film. God is Amazing!

I snuggled in my seat as Brian introduced the movie and gave a little background on the history of the film. It's A Wonderful Life was not a money maker when it was released but it grew on people over time and it has now become a Christmas classic. Though it's unlikely that anyone over 25 had not seen it, Ecclesia especially wanted to show it to explore the faith-based concepts it promoted in the 1940's and to reflect on them in the present day.

I absolutely love this movie and must have watched it over 200 times and will probably watch it 200 more times in my lifetime if I'm so blessed. James (Jimmy) Stewart is at his best as the lovable, George Bailey, an earnest and hardworking manager of a local small Building and Loans. George defers all his life's dreams in order to keep the B & L afloat and to help his family, friends and neighbors to accomplish their dreams like attending college, traveling the world, attaining financial security, buying a new house etc. This movie is poignant, funny and believable, especially the chemistry between Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed (as his high school sweetheart then wife, Mary Bailey).

It's A Wonderful Life is based on a short story aptly named, The Greatest Gift, by Phillip Van Doren Stern and it has a lot of parallels with A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Both are timeless stories but IAWL definitely has more of a religious tone with lots of praying to God, angels to the rescue, redemptive themes, discussions about suicide plus good George Bailey versus evil Mr. Potter (played splendidly by Lionel Barrymore).

I missed some of the post-film group discussion but here were my thoughts: Mr. Potter is a sneaky thief and liar just like the devil and Potter's field is referenced here just like in the Bible. There is lots of reference to God, morals and prayer in this movie. For example, George talks/prays to God at least 3 times and Mr. and Mrs. Martini's pray at least twice and make the sign of the cross. The kids pray as well especially in the scene when Georges storms out of the house and his daughter asks her mother, Mary if she should pray for him and Mary says, "yes... all of you should pray".

The movie climaxes with George Bailey being angry at God and questions his own existence i.e. that he would be better off dead and contemplates suicide. Then comical angel, Clearance, comes to his "rescue" (lol). Clearance takes George through a series of scenarios that prove that George is indeed loved and needed in the lives of those he'll be leaving behind if he does kill himself.

Spoiler alert: The movie's resolution occurs later when George realizes he wants to live and prays for God to help him return to his family. As he runs back to the arms of his loving family and friends, our hearts are with him too. The icing on the cake was old Clearance getting his wings and that notable saying "teacher says 'whenever a bell rings an angel gets his wings'".

I read somewhere that there was an alternative ending to IAWL that was felt to be too religious. I don't know how that script may have read but I think the film is just right as it is and a "must see" for everyone on every Christmas.

Later, I had an amazing hour of fellowshiping with a new friend in the church's basement. We shared testimonies of God's amazing abilities and we prayed strong healing prayers for each other. We even danced around a bit and sang Christmas carols and then (surprise, surprise) I got my first Christmas gift of the season from my newly found friend in Christ. Yeah, keep them coming!

Update: There was more caroling on Sunday 12/12 during the Sunday service.

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