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wepray - December 2021

What makes a Christmas movie? Does it need to feature Christmas Trees, Snow and Tinsel? Should Santa Claus make an appearance? Surely the soundtrack features such Christmas classics as ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Frosty the Snowman’ or ‘All I want for Christmas is You’? In 2019, the Observer newspaper dedicated an entire page to the phenomenon of Christmas movies and whether Die Hard should be regarded as one – clearly it was a quiet news day! The conclusion it draws is that Die Hard should be considered a Christmas movie because:

  • It’s set at Christmas time

  • It has the right music

  • The set pieces are correct (e.g. it plays to the Christmas ideals)

  • It features the right Christmas themes (e.g. the importance of family etc…)

  • It focuses on the right messages (good triumphing over evil and the importance of hope)

  • It’s a film that draws the family together and it’s something watched collectively (are you sure?!?!)

Whilst I enjoy an action film, I’m not sure I totally agree with the Observers conclusions! Surely there must be more to Christmas (movies) than this? This Christmas we’re going to explore if there really is something more and whether there is something that we’re missing along the way…

Home Alone

I love this film! When it first came out in 1990, I was 11 years old, and the thought of being left to my own devices at home, ordering pizza every night, watching movies on TV and generally behaving with no accountability and responsibility was, I imagined, what heaven on earth was like! Added to this the ingenious protection of the property from thieves (The Wet Bandits) and generally being heroic and funny and Kevin McCallister was my childhood idol!

At yet, it’s not until I re-watch this film with my own children (aged around the same age as both myself when I first saw it, and the character Kevin), that I begin to realise what this film is really all about. Whilst the comedy violence (who doesn’t love cans of paint being swung over bannisters into faces or bad guys woollen hats catching fire) is designed to make you laugh out loud, there is a stronger, more potent message to the film. One which as a child, I felt got in the way, but as an adult (and parent), I watch, and it resonates loudly.

Next door to Kevin lives an old man called Marley. Quiet and reserved, the children in the film treat Marley as some form of bogey man, identifying him as the ‘South Bend Shovel Slayer’ given his family had disappeared. Later we find out that it’s an argument between father and son which has led to this separation, but why let the truth get in the way of a good scare story?

As the film progresses, the relationship between Marley and Kevin grows and develops, with Kevin realising that rather than being the dread ‘South Bend Shovel Slayer’, Marley is a sad, older man who has lost touch with his family, and for whom pride is a barrier to reconciliation. The circumstances of the film, mean that Kevin has also lost his family, but not through argument, but through a simple mistake. Both are experiencing loss, but in different ways, and in the moment, both young and old connect with each other through these difficult and challenging moments.

This conversation is played out in the local church, where Marley is watching the choir sing Christmas carols. Kevin has gone in to pray for a Christmas miracle and as they talk, they begin to open up about what’s happened. At one point, Marley points to a red-haired girl singing and explains to Kevin that it’s his granddaughter. He goes on to add, this is the only way he gets to see her.

Kevin with his juvenile innocence asks the hard question – why don’t you simply apologise?

How you feel about your family is a complicated thing. Deep down, you’ll always love them. But you can forget that you love them, and you can hurt them, and they can hurt you, and that’s not just because you’re young’.

The scene ends with the audience left asking the same question as Kevin. Why not simply apologies and look to rebuild the relationship, but just like most questions, there is often a resonance with us. Maybe for us, there are things we need to apologies for this Christmas and relationships we need to look to repair or rebuild?

As the film ends, Kevin has successfully defeated The Wet Bandits, and wakes the following morning to see snow falling at the window. As he looks out, he sees Marley in the garden embracing his granddaughter whilst his son looks on. Forgiveness and redemption, inspired by a small boy who asked the hard question, because the reasons for the falling out didn’t make sense to him.

And as for Kevin… did he get his Christmas Miracle? Perhaps you’ll have to watch the film to find out!

God Bless and Merry Christmas


December Prayer Requests

This month we’ve asked Caz, our other east to west’s Head of Schools (along with Clare S) and Relational Support Worker at Thomas Knyvett to share some prayer pointers about the work across the schools and team she supports.

  • Please pray for Year 13 as they will be undertaking their mock exams (Friday 3rd - Thursday 16th December 2021)

  • For all the school Staff (and their families), students and families to enjoy a very special, safe holiday season this Christmastime.

  • As school communities embark on the final stretch of the Autumn term, a rejuvenating covering of strength, high energy and zeal.

  • Please pray for Alisa as she begins her new role as EIC at Thamesmead (adding a day here, with her commitments in Windsor First Schools)

  • A family at Thamesmead who have their first Christmas without their mum. She was such a major party organiser, going all out at Christmas, and has left a big hole.

  • Thamesmead students who’ve got their ‘Mocks One’ results day – they do an envelope like the real GCSE results students been waiting sat mocks first two weeks after half term. Tends to be quite hard if you don’t get the results you expected. Students can be very upset / emotional / disappointed in themselves etc…

  • For those who struggle with Christmas to find comfort and Joy in Jesus.

  • Caz’s maternity cover

  • For the team at east to west who have worked so hard over this long term, may they find rest over the Christmas break.

  • For our school’s leadership and teachers to also get a chance of rest, equally after a longer term and as things are feeling less certain around COVID.

  • Please pray for Irum’s (Bishop Wand) daughter who had an accident at the end of November. Please pray for complete healing and for there to be no long-term damage to her hand. Also pray for the family as they recover from this horrible accident.

  • For all the students at schools we support to have a deep sense of how much their loved and valued.

  • For our relationships at schools to continue to deepen into the New Year.



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