One of my favorite movies to watch this time of year is It’s a Wonderful Life. But I’ll tell you a secret: I really cringe at the part where George Bailey sees what his life would be like if he was never born. Not only because I find the fact that Mary’s worst case scenario is that she’s an old maid, but because I tend to get uncomfortable at the sight of angst. I know that conflict is what drives a story, but something I don’t like is a story that drags out the drama at the expense of everyone acting completely out of character or not communicating like actual people. Think of the contrived drama of soap operas.
Thankfully, Advent knows how to pace things when it comes to anticipation. In the third week of Advent, the color of the candle is rose instead of purple to represent joy. In fact, the word “Gaudete” as this Sunday is called means “Rejoicing.” To quote one of my favorite Doctor Who episodes, Gaudete Sunday represents the Catholic Church saying “We’re halfway out of the dark.”
Yep. We’re halfway there. Living on a prayer. But it’s a little different from the halfway point of Lent. If the halfway point of Lent is like the halfway point of a long journey, the halfway point of Advent is like a little rest stop on a short road trip. (I’m biased because Texas has Buc-ees which is the king of rest stops, but please bear with me!) You drop in, get some food and drinks, freshen up, and get back to your trip.
Some people complain about the fact that Mr. Potter never got his comeuppance at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life. But I like the fact that the movie ends with that loose end dangling because there’s still a sense of hope that things will turn around. George Bailey learns that he made a difference and learns his own worth in the world. The police drop the charges and there will probably be a more proper investigation later on. Mr. Potter may not get his comeuppance in the movie, but I like to think that he will eventually. The point of the ending is that George Bailey is halfway out of the dark. And in this third week of Advent, we cross over that same halfway point.