Saturday, December 24, 2011


My all-time favorite Christmas movie, well, of all movies, is The Bishop’s Wife. (Not The Preacher’s Wife!) I watch it a couple of times throughout the year. 

If you have never watched it, I highly recommend it. Hearing Cary Grant tell the story of David and the lion and then reciting Psalm 23 is wonderful. 

If you’ve never watched it, here’s a synopsis of the movie...

Bishop Henry Brougham (David Niven) prays for divine guidance as he is troubled about the building of a large cathedral. The answer to his prayer comes in the form of an angel named Dudley (Cary Grant), initially known only to the bishop. 

Everyone, except for Henry, is charmed by the angel, even the non-religious Professor Wutheridge.

Dudley’s mission is not to help with the funding of the cathedral but to guide Henry and the people around him. Henry becomes obsessed with the building to the detriment of his marriage to his neglected, unhappy wife, Julia (Loretta Young). 

Dudley persuades the wealthy parishioner Mrs. Hamilton to contribute the needed funds but not to build the cathedral. He helps her decide to give her money to feed and clothe the needy, much to Henry’s displeasure. 

As Dudley spends time cheering up Julia, he finds himself becoming strongly attracted to her. Sensing this, Henry becomes jealous and anxious for his unwelcome guest to finish his mission and depart. 

After talking to his friend Professor Wutheridge, Henry stands up to Dudley, who realizes his mission of guidance is now complete and promises never to return. He tells Henry that all memory of him will be erased, and on Christmas Eve at midnight, Henry delivers the sermon that he believes he has written.

Since I’m part of’s blog chain this month, and the topic is Gift of the Heart, the sermon the bishop gives at the end of the movie instantly popped into my mind. 

It goes like this...

“Tonight, I want to tell you the story of an empty stocking.

Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts.

We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries; we celebrate it with stars on the Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts. But especially with gifts.

You give me a book; I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer, and Uncle Henry could do with a new pipe.

Oh, we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all, that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up: the stocking for the child born in a manger. It’s His birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.

Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most and then, let each put in his share: lovingkindness, warm hearts, and a stretched-out hand of tolerance. All the shining gifts make peace on earth.”
The Father shared of Himself and sent His Son into the world.

The Lord gave of His heart; what gift of your heart do you give Christ this year? 

Do you bring sacrificial gifts to the Christ-child out of your heart’s treasury? Gifts like the purity of holiness? The costly fragrance of continual prayer? A cleansed soul, preserved from eternal death?

Do you offer Him your heart as His manger, as an empty vessel for His resting place? Or is it full of jealousy, envy, hatred, unforgiveness, self-pity, lust, anger, or prejudice? 

Do you leave Him no room to “lay down His sweet head”? Have you said, “Sorry, there is no room for You in this inn”? 

Give the Babe of the manger the lodging place He deserves. Give Him the gift of your heart.

May your Christmas be blessed with a special touch of the Lord’s presence. 

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