Which Miracle on 34th Street is better? The one from 1947 or 1994?
Have you had this Christmas debate? Well, no matter which one you prefer, the story remains the same. An unassuming Santa Claus look-alike, Kris Kringle, starts working for Macy’s (or “Cole’s” in 1994). All through the movie the main character, a little girl named Susan, attempts to decipher the actual identity of this man. And when an antagonist tries to destroy his credibility and Kringle ends up in court, we — the audience — are left with the question, “Is that really Santa Claus or not?” Could you really believe that?
Spoiler alert: in each version of Miracle on 34th Street, Kris Kringle’s identity as Santa Claus gets confirmed on a technicality (in 1947 it’s that the United States Postal Services receives letters on his behalf). But it helps us reflect on how the Advent season accentuates our interesting juxtaposition of wonder, belief, faith, and cynicism.
In today’s passage (Psalm 34) we see another such juxtaposition. This psalm is labeled in the Bible: “Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.” That story is detailed in 1 Samuel 21. David is on the run from Israel’s King Saul and pretends to be insane in the presence of an enemy king.
Now note that Mary’s song in Luke 1 directly quotes Psalm 34:2-3: “I will glory in the Lord; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the Lord with me; let us exalt his name together.” When Mary says in Luke 1:46, “My soul glorifies the Lord,” it’s a statement of worship and wonder based on the audacity of the Gospel being true.
In this season, we have to wrestle with our own “You wouldn’t believe it…” ideas. It’s not simply a case of wishfully thinking Santa Claus exists. On the contrary, God’s work in our hearts and lives reflect the surprising ways He reveals His presence to us.
Our worship results from the wonder of a Savior coming to earth, dying on a cross, and rising from the dead. Saying, “God works in mysterious ways,” is not a cliché, but the reality of a life for a follower of Jesus.
Lord, today I worship you in awe in wonder. My soul glorifies you.
Pray over Psalm 34:1-22 and Luke 1:46-55. Write out parts that resonate with your life and different circumstances over the past year. What do these songs stir in you to say to others, “You wouldn’t believe it”?
Photo by Cris DiNoto on Unsplash