The Bishop’s Wife is one of my favorite Christmas movies. It came out in 1947 starring Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young. My wife and I just watched again last night and enjoyed the dialogue and what it has to show us about spiritual living.
The movie is about an Episcopal bishop that loses his focus on what is truly important. This loss of focus entrenches him into a religious mindset that changes how he relates to former friends, new ministry relationships and most noticeably, his wife. Through a series of events a stranger, Dudley, comes along and shows the bishop’s friends what God is like—loving, kind, and giving. This offends the bishop and leads to anger and frustration.
The movie does a great job showing how those free to love God offend those who are trying to earn God’s favor. This is the same way that Jesus offended the Pharisees. The Pharisees tried very hard to do everything right to get God to bless them. This effort turned to competition with others. The way of a God-follower was to be one of discipline and hard work.
In this movie, Dudley offers life to everyone he meets. He buys the bishop’s wife a hat she wanted, he takes a taxi driver skating in the park, he refills the sherry bottle of the professor many times for appears to only be for the joy of it. Dudley had a way of making everyone feel important, while the bishop was stuck in thinking about himself or the ministry he was working on.
Obviously this is a Christmas movie, so it has a happy ending. The bishop has the light of love re-ignited in his heart, and it ends with a great Christmas sermon, which is transcribed below. If you want to keep the Christmas spirit for a few more days, I encourage you to watch this movie: The Bishop’s Wife.
Tonight I want to tell you a story about the empty stocking.
Once upon a midnight clear, there was a child’s cry, a blazing star hung over a stable, and wise men came with birthday gifts. We haven’t forgotten that night down the centuries.
We celebrate it with stars on Christmas trees, with the sound of bells, and with gifts.
But especially with gifts. You give me a book, I give you a tie. Aunt Martha has always wanted an orange squeezer and Uncle Henry can do with a new pipe. For we forget nobody, adult or child. All the stockings are filled, all that is, except one. And we have even forgotten to hang it up. The stocking for the child born in a manger. Its his birthday we’re celebrating. Don’t let us ever forget that.
Let us ask ourselves what He would wish for most. And then, let each put in his share, loving kindness, warm hearts, and a stretched out hand of tolerance. All the shinning gifts that make peace on earth.