Last weekend I watched The Polar Express for the first time. A few years ago when it came out, it didn't wow me, and I wasn't drawn in by all the hype. I will admit that I wanted to see it in 3D, but sadly, finding a non-sold out showing was nearly impossible. During the Family Channel's 25 Days of Christmas, they are showing multiple viewings of this holiday film and last Friday night whilst doing laundry and paying bills I thought I'd tune in and see what all the hoop-la (or ho-ho-ho-la) was about.
At first, it appeared a bit scary. A little non-believing boy gets snagged onto a train to the North Pole on Christmas Eve and witnesses children being drug to the roof to be pitched off the top. Yikes. Along with a train full of other annoying kids who can't wait to get to see Santa. I will admit the animation was exquisite and I was even more saddened that I didn't get to see this in 3D. Watching it was kind of like watching OJ Simpson driving his Bronco down the highway to get away from the police. I was compelled to watch the movie for no other apparent reason than to see what happens at the end. And, boy, am I glad I did.
I've discussed the Santa debate - do you believe or not believe - and one of my fellow bloggers, Katrina, addressed it beautifully in her blog post. Whether you embrace Santa Claus or not, this blog post won't engage in the discussion. What I did glean from this Santa-focused movie was some basic principles of belief. And, the real Reason for the Season is quite the defining moment to understand what it means to believe. There are spoilers ahead, so be warned...
A little boy is skeptical to believe there is a Santa and at the end of the Polar Express ride to the North Pole, Santa is revealed. He gives the boy a small bell, which at first he can't hear, yet once he truly believes, he can hear the jingle of the bell. On his way back home, the boy sadly loses his bell, but just like the magic that occurs in movies, it finds its way wrapped under his tree Christmas morning. As he picks it up and listens, he and his little sister can hear the jingle, yet their parents say, "What's wrong with that bell? It doesn't ring." The sound is only heard by those who truly believe.
I immediately was taken to a verse of Scripture in John...
"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." - John 10:27
Knowing Jesus as your Savior and Shepherd allows us sheep to know His voice. Those that believe hear Him, know Him, and follow Him. When that spiritual bell is rung in my ear, I hear it...and I believe. But those that don't believe are deaf to the sweet sounds of His Voice. Their spiritual bells are silent and they don't believe. Oh how this analogy made me think of that great Christmas Hymn, "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day"...especially these verses...
And in despair I bowed my head
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”
Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, good will to men.”
I pray this Christmas that you believe. Not just in a white-bearded man in a red suit, but in a Shepherd who says..."I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." - John 10:28
...as the Conductor on the Polar Express said..."Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see." May Jesus be the most real to you this Christmas season.