Theme: The First Gift of Christmas
A Christmas Story
The first thing that must be said about the film, The Polar Express, is that it is a Christmas Story. How obvious you say?.....No, not really! What touches the heart in this film goes way beyond the sentimentality of Santa Claus and Reindeer bells. What touches the heart is the real story of Christ Mass1 that is revealed in this beautiful parable.
The film opens in the heavens, and then like the snow, comes down to earth, zeroing in on one young boy. We never know his name because he represents every child at the "age of identity"; The age when childhood faith is being assaulted by gown-up doubt and cynicism. The story finds this particular boy in darkness, overcome with the doubt and fear that he will never hear the sound of Santa's sleigh bells. The magazines he has consulted along with his own encyclopedia tell him the facts: Santa is not real and the North Pole is stark, barren, and devoid of life.
This is a parable of how a child loses faith in God (the greatest gift giver) and in the place where He dwells, the heavenly realm. What replaces this innate knowledge is doubt, cynicism, and unbelief, all substantiated by scientific fact. The God who spoke and created the world now becomes silent and irrelevant, while His heavenly domain is believed to be stark, barren, and devoid of life.
The Polar Express
Once one understands that this is a parable about a child's belief in God, the rest of the film falls easily into place. The magnificent Polar Express gives us an incredible picture of Jesus Christ, the One who opened the heavens and came down to retrieve the lost, unbelieving children of God and bring them back into His presence.
|It arrives with great shaking
||There is always great shaking in the Presence of God. (Hebrews 12:26)|
|It arrives between December 24th & 25th on
the alarm clock. It appears out of the fog.
|He exist out of time - Eternal (I Timothy 1:17)|
He reveals Himself to those whom He calls.
|The Conductor is acquainted with all the boys' doubts.
||Intimate with all our ways. (Psalm 139:1-3)|
|The Conductor issues the invitation to go to
the North Pole.
|He invites the lost into the Kingdom of God.|
|The train is filled with light, refreshment, and joy.
||He is the Light who is the source of all life and provision. (John 1:4-5)|
|It goes to the other side of the tracks for those
not on the list.
|He opens the Kingdom of God for the entire world.|
(John 1:12 & John 3:16)
|It has unique non-transferable tickets for each passenger.
||He is the Giver of unique gifts to each member of His body. (Ephesians 4:7-8)|
God's Foundational Story2 is really quite simple. God's people are in bondage under a harsh taskmaster. The Savior God redeems them by judging the Power of Darkness and delivers His people. He brings them out, in order to reveal Himself to them: Divine Victory - Divine Indwelling. The journey of the Polar Express is this exodus story. The children are in a fallen world where even the toys are terribly abused. At a crucial year when the children are losing the ability hear the music of the other realm, the Polar Express comes to deliver them. The journey out is fraught with all kinds of dangers: ravenous wolves, loss of light (headlight), broken parts (brakes), and the need for help from mysterious strangers (Hebrews 1:13-14). And yet, the caribou are parted, the sea of ice does not swallow them, and when they pass though that final gap, they are in a whole new world, a world of unimaginable beauty, music, and joy.
The North Pole
There is a scripture which tells that the entrance to heaven is in the north (Psalm 48:12). It is no wonder the North Pole is designed to look like that bright and shining City set on a hill - the Heavenly Zion, the New Jerusalem. The Polar Express crosses the sea of glass like crystal (Revelation 4:6) and arrives in the magnificent city where all the inhabitants have gathered to celebrate their creator. The trumpets sound, the doors are opened, and the king comes forth to sit on his throne.
"I kept looking until thrones were set up,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
His vesture was like white snow,
and the hair of His head like pure wool.
His throne was ablaze with flames,
its wheels were a burning fire.
A river of fire was flowing
and coming out from before Him;
thousands upon thousands were attending Him,
and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him
The court sat,
and the books were opened.
The First Gift of Christmas
Hero Boy cannot hear the sleigh bells or see Santa until he believes with all his heart (Hebrews 11:6). At the moment he confesses with his mouth his third I believe3, he hears the bell ring and comes face to face with Mr. C. This is the most beautiful scene in the movie. The children receive no condemnation (Romans 8:1). Each one is given a unique word, and they are transformed in that moment. Their round trip ticket is punched, and they learn their true identity, their unique gift. Is it surprising that the very thing that has been assaulted or perverted in each one of them is their unique glory?
What is the First Gift of Christmas? The first gift of Christmas is the greatest gift God gave to mankind. The gift of His Son, Jesus Christ, Who came down to earth to redeem the lost children of God and bring them back into His presence. To receive this gift, all one has to do is accept the invitation and climb aboard (John 3:16).
1. Christmas (Christ + Mass) - An annual church festival, kept on December 25th in memory of the birth of Christ. Webster's Dictionary
2. God's Foundational Story is found in Exodus and the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
3. Three times suggest a triune God.