We all have a favorite Christmas story. Whether it’s the one about the elf with a strange affection for maple syrup, the boy who inevitably shoots his eye out, or a guy named Clark whose unwavering optimism makes him an expert at “external illumination.”
What I love most about Christmas time is the amount of second chance stories that flood our televisions all throughout the season.
They come in all forms.
Some stories are told with claymation, puppets, and cheesy musical numbers but don’t miss their deep and abiding meaning! These stories have lasted for decades, if not centuries, because their message connects with us on a deeply human level by inviting simple truths into our souls, truths like “beauty comes from brokenness,” “joy isn’t about what we own but who we are,” and “even the worst of us deserve a second chance.”
It’s easy to turn on the TV this month and watch a bunch of pain unfolding all around us. In the midst of all these bummers, here are three examples of second chance Christmas stories you can find flickering on the old tube this season that score some points for “team hope” in some profound ways:
1. Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Ok, so we might all be a little tired of the song, but glimpse underneath the tinsel and the sleigh bells, and you’ll get a pretty clear reminder that our shame doesn’t define us. After all the other reindeer laughed and called him names, Rudolf was quick to cover up the very thing that made him different. Little did he know that the big man with the beard would one day use that “defect” to his advantage, giving gifts to the world and bringing light to the darkness.
2. A Christmas Carol
Originally published in 1843, Charles Dickens penned one of the greatest second chance stories literature has ever known. Ebenezer Scrooge is a mirror to our rushed, bitter, and material-minded tendencies, tendencies deeply rooted in shame and abandonment (as reminded to him by the Ghost of Christmas Past). But even this miser of a man who most people had given up on got a second chance to be the generous, peacemaking soul that lived deep inside of him.
The parallels between this work and the gospel would take at least another blog post if not an entire book to unravel. For now, I’ll encourage you to look at this story through the lens of reconciliation and grace. It will change the way you see it forever.
3. A Charlie Brown Christmas
If you’re like me, you instinctively identify with the main character, Charlie Brown, when watching this classic. You’re jaded, frustrated at the amount of commercialism, and can’t believe you paid the girl who takes the football away from you to give you psychiatric counsel.
This year, why not view the cartoon through the eyes of the tree? That’s right, that fledgling little tree that no one saw any value in. If I’m honest with myself I feel like that tree more than I care to admit. I can’t see the potential God or others see in me, the idea that with just a little bit of pruning and dressing, I could be a shining beacon that, when others gather around me, can’t help but sing, “Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinner reconciled!”
Christmas is a gift from God.
It is a gentle reminder of the plot to this whole story called Life: that we once were lost and are now found, once broken and now restored. The Gospel of the Second Chance brought by the helpless baby-king born in a barn is a gift for all of us…
Whether we’re in inmates in prison. Whether we live in Ferguson or Capital Hill. Whether we’re 5 or 55. Or, yes, even a red-nosed reindeer.