What I learned about Christmas from Talladega Nights

The few days right after Christmas are always a little weird for me.  I usually have spent weeks thinking about and getting ready for the big day.  Christmas comes and we celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ with gifts, feasts, singing and rejoicing.  Then we wake up the next day and all the packages are gone, the meals have been eaten, the naps have been taken, and I find myself wishing we could do it all again.  But we can’t and life moves on.

It makes me wonder about Mary and Joseph and what they were thinking the next day.  What did Mary do when she had finished pondering?  What did she do after the shepherds left and things quieted down and they found themselves alone with this new baby far from their home?  Did they wish to re-live the day of Jesus birth?  I’m sure Mary had mixed feelings.

Why is it that we want to dwell on Christmas –- to prolong it?  Is it just that we don’t want to go back to work?  Is it that we are trying to comprehend the idea of God becoming man?  Is it that maybe we like this baby Jesus more than the Jesus of the cross?

I’m not sure about you, but I’ve heard lot of talk about Jesus over the last week.  I find it a little strange that people who don’t ever seem to think about Jesus have no problem talking about him and singing songs about him during Christmas.  This morning I was thinking about why this is, and a scene from a movie came to mind.  In an amazing moment of revelation, Talladega Nights opened my eyes to why people who don’t follow Christ celebrate Christmas.  I realized a lot of us are like Ricky Bobby.  We love baby Jesus, cuddled up in a manger, surrounded by shepherds and angels.  I mean after all who doesn’t love baby Jesus, except for that Herod guy and maybe the ACLU?  Baby Jesus doesn’t ask much of us, he just lies there and allows us to worship him for a little while and walk away much like the shepherds.

But there is a problem with this.  After the birth, after all the people left that little baby changed.  Life moved on and he grew up.  Luke 2:52 tells us that “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men.”  Mary’s little boy grew up and he became a man.  And the grown up Jesus doesn’t allow us to come and worship for a few minutes and walk away.  He asks much more of us than the Baby Jesus.  He says things like “come, follow me”, “if you love me, obey what I’ve said”, “leave your father and mother”, “if you lose your life, you will gain it”, and “take up your cross and follow me”.  Worshipping this Jesus is way more involved than staring at a manger or singing some songs, it is about walking with him and becoming more like him.

So we are left with a decision.  We can continue to worship the Baby Jesus and as the holidays wind down we can walk away from Him and go back to the life we were living.  Or, we can recognize that he is no longer the baby in the manger. That he bids us to come and walk with him, to take a journey that will not allow us to go back to where we were before. I am on that journey and want to encourage you that though there are bumpy spots along the road, the journey is worth it.  If you are also wandering along, perhaps we can walk this part together.  If you aren’t on that journey yet, I ask you to join us and take the first step.  There’s always room on the trail.

I’ve found that it is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.  Where are you on the journey?

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9 Comments

Filed under Christmas, Discipleship, Movies

9 responses to “What I learned about Christmas from Talladega Nights

  1. julieabel

    Love this post. It always made me laugh that the writers of this movie put Baby Jesus and Oprah in the same line. It shows our culture’s priorities. Adult Jesus is hard. We need to not forget that we have to count the costs to follow him. But it is oh so worth it.

  2. paige

    this is great, jeff. what an inspiring reminder on the day after Christmas. yes, the journey is worth it!!!

  3. Kelley A

    …”and thank you for my sons Walker and Texas Ranger…”

    Ha! I love that we can watch any movie and find the worldview, but that even God can use Will Farrell to show ua the light! Personally, I don’t like to prolong Christmas, I’m glad that the season only last a month. I think part of it has something to do with your point that people have no problem being in the moment and spirit of Christmas but don’t allow any of it to really sink in. Enjoy the rest of your holiday time!

  4. Carlton

    This was very beautifully written, and very apt for the times. I think most people prefer the Manger Jesus, instead of the One on the Cross…who gives us many “hard sayings”. I am one who loves to prolong the “Christmas Spirit” so to speak, though I don’t really know why? I’ve always just assumed it was because for just that little while, the world seemed to “get it”, to understand that Love and Compassion are things worth paying attention to. I don’t know. Anyways, wonderful post man! God Bless!

  5. Ben

    Love the post, Jeff. My wife and I have been laughing hard after hearing a song called “Happy Birthday, Baby Jesus” on Christmas Eve night. We both immediately thought of Ricky Bobby.

    Enjoyed the post.

  6. jeffabel

    Thanks for the comments everyone. I know there are people who want to get the holidays over and move on, and those who want to stretch it out until January. I also know that there are as many reasons for this as there are people. For me, I wanted to ask myself why it is that I approach Christmas the way I do, and challenge others to ask the same questions while looking at how our culture treats it as well. Thanks for joining me and for sharing your thoughts.

  7. I love the theme for the title of your blog. Very fitting. Found this by you using #bloggeries on twitter. Thanks for helping and best of luck Jeff!

  8. Well, I tried this earlier, but my computer has been acting up, so here I go again…

    This is such a GREAT post, and so very true. I also love the correlation because I am a huge NASCAR fan, and love this movie 😉 It always made me laugh when he would pray to the baby Jesus-but there is so much truth in what you are saying.

    It is not always easy following grown up Jesus, who died on the cross for our sins, and then asks us to pick up our cross and follow Him faithfully…but it is worth it…even in the midst of doubts, questions, and an unknown future-which is what I have been facing for awhile-I am reassured that He is there, walking beside me and with me even when I cannot see…which is what faith is about anyway, right? It is quite a journey, and I am glad I am on it-I don’t think I would have it any other way, and am so thankful I have a family of believers to walk it with. It is definitely important to remember the journey along with the destination-because when we lose site of that, we miss out on what all Christ is offering us as He walks with us, and each step should bring us closer and closer to Him.

    Again, thanks for the reminder, blessings on you as you continue on this journey! 🙂

  9. Great word Jeff! Makes me wonder….what if every Christian’s life resembled the earthly life of Christ. We all start out as babies – we all die one day. What happens in the middle matters. Happy New Year!