Miracle on 34th Street – Signs and Wonders

Theme: God’s desire to communicate with us

Bible refs: Hebrews 1 vv 1-3

Location of clip: 30 mins and 54 secs to 33 mins and 26 secs

Film Description:
Cynical mother Dorey Walker doesn’t believe in Father Christmas. Shock horror! She is an executive at Macy’s Department Store and it’s her job to hire the actors playing Father Christmas in the different departments. Trouble ensues when she hires Kriss Kringle. The old man not only does a convincing job as the white bearded benefactor – he actually believes he really is the jolly man himself. He winds up in court – under threat of being locked away for being balmy! However a young lawyer defends him and producing a dollar bill reads the quote, “In God We Trust.” This is a matter of faith – and he challenges the court on the whole question of belief. Meanwhile Dorey and her little daughter begin to believe in Father Christmas themselves.

Clip description:
Kriss Kringle, a.k.a. Santa Claus, is doing his stuff in a big department store. Parents are bringing their children to him, to sit on his knee and tell him their Christmas lists. One mother brings her daughter to him, but when he starts to talk to her, the little girl’s mother stops him and explains that she is deaf, and he need not try and communicate with her, she just wanted to see him.

Kriss looks carefully at her, thinks for a moment, then smiles. He begins to speak to her using sign language. She smiles and replies. They talk for a while and then end up signing Jingle Bells together. Kriss then glances across at another little girl, a rather serious child, who has been looking on longingly. Kriss winks at her and she quickly hides, realising that Santa Claus has spotted her.

In amongst our many debates and much theological wrangling about God I wonder whether we forget one basic thing. God just wants to communicate with us.
How can I say then when he’s invisible and rather quiet at times? Suppose all those hunches, all those nudges and good ideas and moments of compassion and inspiration are coming from him? Suppose his communication with us is like superfast broadband, the channels are always open and information is always flowing two ways. We may give these things other names and descriptions, but it could be that God is a part of it all. Tom Shadyac, the director of Bruce Almighty once said that he thinks coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous. I really like that.

Children often have an inbuilt sense of God and wonder and other worlds. Life can punch that out of us as we grow older. Jesus once pointed to a little child and said, ‘Learn from them, become more like them, don’t overlook their humilty…’ 

In the church we can argue till the Prodigals come home about the importance of various aspects of faith and theology – but we must never forget that behind everything – behind creation, the Bible, history and the present moment – is a God who made people so that he could be with them. Everything that happened in the Bible stemmed from the fact that God was always trying to get the attention of the wayward people he loved. When the folks in the Bible hit a crisis their response was to go back to the beginning, to revisit the creation story, to remind themselves that at ground zero is a caring designer who communicates and is intensely interested in us.

Nowadays I have little time for formulas and instruction books that explain the latest theories about how to get God to do what we want him to do. It’s so tempting to want to turn God into a jukebox, push the right buttons and he’ll play the right tune. But let’s stop that for a moment and try and see things from God’s perspective…
I believe God often communicates with us through the ordinary things, through other people, through the practical workings of daily life, through nature and the city. We may look to God for specific guidance and answers to questions on our particular agenda, but he is always speaking to us about everything. About his nature and our nature, about the workings of normal life, and the struggles we face.

We often say that God is not Father Christmas, a benefactor with a big beard, but in the case of this scene I think we can safely say, he is just like Father Christmas, caring far this little girl and working hard to connect with her.

1.         Does God communicate with you in ways that others might find surprising?
2.         Do you place less value on these forms of communication than the more conventional ones?
3.         What kinds of things refresh your relationship with God?
4.         Do you sometimes get cynical?
5.         Did the clip make you think about anything else?

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