Our resident Christmas movie experts, Mary Carver and Anna E. Rendell share faith-filled devotions inspired by real Hallmark holiday movies, plus hosting tips for gathering this holiday season. . . and since tonight’s the premiere of DaySpring’s new Christmas movie, it’s the perfect night for such a gathering! Tune in to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries tonight at 8/7c for the premiere of A Miracle in Bethlehem, PA, and join some DaySpring friends on Facebook during the movie for a fun party full of trivia, discussion, and prizes! Now read on for a devotion and those hosting tips.
“See what great love the Father has given us that we should be called God’s children — and we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it didn’t know him.”
1 John 3:1 CSB
My 5-year-old and I occasionally play a game where we pretend to swap identities. When one of us doesn’t want to do what we’re supposed to do (something I’m guilty of just as frequently as she is), I’ll say, “OK, how about you be me today and I’ll be you?”
I can go to school; she can go to work.
She can fold the laundry; I can take a nap.
I can be the child; she can be the grown-up.
It’s a fun game that usually snaps either or both of us out of a grumpy mood, mostly because it makes us laugh. We don’t really want to trade places! Neither one of us is interested in a Freaky Friday scenario. She knows she has it good as a mostly carefree kid, just like I know how good it is to be the grown-up in charge (most of the time).
But sometimes our desire to be someone else or forget ourselves altogether isn’t a joke. Sometimes we can get so wrapped up in comparison and envy, so overwhelmed with our circumstances and responsibilities that we desperately wish we could forget our troubles or be someone else for a day.
Conveniently — or magically — this happens quite a bit in holiday movies. Characters switch places, or they receive a head injury that steals their memory. And poof! Just like that, they’re living our most stressed-out, green-with-envy fantasies. The characters get to live someone else’s life in someone else’s house or city or wardrobe! Or they get to be whoever they want to be, free of expectations or labels they normally wear.
Inevitably, the characters who have switched places or pretended to be someone else realize that they miss their real life, their real friends and families, their true personalities, and even their responsibilities. And the ones with amnesia find that with the return of their memory comes a renewed appreciation for everything they have and everything they are.
As nice as it might sound to escape our reality for a bit, we don’t have to bump our heads to experience confidence in who we are. Like many worship bands, the one at my church still plays a lot of Chris Tomlin — particularly “Good, Good Father.” It might not be my favorite song (it’s not), but that doesn’t stop me from being moved every time I hear or sing the lyrics, “I’m loved by you. It’s who I am. (It’s WHO I AM!)”
I am a daughter of the King, loved by the Almighty God. And you are too. You are a child of the King, and you are loved by God. And that? That might be all we know when life is hard or hectic, overwhelming or unexpected, disappointing or devastating. But it’s enough.
When we feel frustrated and wish we could be anyone else, anywhere else — we are still loved by God. No matter who or where we want to be, who we truly are — that doesn’t change. When we wonder if we can possibly take one more thing — one more task, one more expense, or one more piece of bad news — we are loved by God. It’s who we are.
When we are afraid of letting down our loved ones, of facing this complicated season alone, of getting answers to the questions keeping us up at night — we are loved. By God! And He promises to never leave us alone and to give us the strength we need.
We are loved by God. You are loved by God. That is who we are! And no amnesia or greener-grass gazing or Freaky Friday holiday magic can change that.
Oh God, thank You for loving me. I love You, too! Thank You for creating me and placing me in the exact right time and place. Please forgive and remove any discontentment and replace it with gratitude. Please open my eyes to see the blessings You’ve given me in my right-now, real life. Amen.
Tips for Hosting A Holiday Movie Watching Party
WHEN TO HAVE A PARTY
Holiday calendars fill up fast, so start planning early. Here are a few things to keep in mind when picking a date:
- Decide in advance how many movies you want to show during your party. Showing several must-see movies, one right after another, is a good plan if you want to have an open house, come-and-go event. Screening one or two all-time favorites (or a new premiere) is better if you’d prefer a shorter evening get-together.
- Schedule your party early in the holiday season before schedules are jam-packed and stress levels are sky-high. Or schedule your party over winter break, when everyone needs an afternoon or evening out (and away from the kids!).
- Facebook events make inviting people super simple. Or you could lean into the “cheesy movie night” theme and deliver invites attached to cheese crackers or string cheese. Search Pinterest for a movie ticket-shaped invite template.
WHAT TO DO AT THE PARTY
Well, obviously you’re going to watch a cheesy holiday movie! But‥. is that all? As much as we adore holiday TV movies, we realize your party might need a few other activities for guests who have already seen the movies or who aren’t as enamored with predictable or sappy romantic comedies. So with that in mind, here are a few ideas:
- Wear Christmas pajamas (like a grown-up slumber party!)
- Color in adult coloring books (DaySpring has several devotional coloring books!)
- Play holiday movie bingo (how many squares can you cover?)
- Decorate your own sugar cookies
- Do a simple craft (hit up Pinterest for great options)
- Wrap presents or address cards (multitasking for the win!)
WHAT TO EAT AT THE PARTY
No party is complete without snacks! Serve up your favorite Christmas cookies or, better yet, invite everyone to bring some of their own and have a cookie swap during your movie-watching party! You could make up punny snacks based on the theme of your movie, or just go simple and order something in. The purpose of the get-together is to gather with your people, so don’t get stressed about the details!
We hope you’ll tune in to Hallmark Movies & Mysteries tonight at 8/7c for the premiere of A Miracle in Bethlehem, PA, and join the fun on Facebook during the movie for extra fun!
For more devotions like the one above, get Anna and Mary’s ebook, Fake Snow and Real Faith. And be sure to visit their site, HookedonHolidayMovies.com, for podcast episodes, devotions, and a free bundle of fun and festive downloads (including movie guides, recipes, and more!)