Monday Musings for December 11, 2017
Have you ever tried to find something that you know you have but you can’t for the life of you remember where you put it? It happens in churches, too. It happened at Alexandria United Methodist Church, Alexandria, Louisiana. They were looking for a Christmas movie they had made clear back in 1943.
World War Two was raging. 400,000 troops had been training in Central Louisiana, including George Patton, Omar Bradley, and Dwight David Eisenhower. The attendance at the Methodist Church in Alexandria was boosted considerably by the presence of the military.
An idea was hatched. Why not work together on a movie about the birth of Jesus? The military had all the equipment needed. They also had a famous actor, Don Porter. He would direct the film and play the role of Joseph. Other roles were played by church members. A high quality, 22 minute, full color film was created. It was shown once and then lost. For 44 years it was lost.
It was found in 1987 buried under a pile of junk in the church library. It was shown a second time, then lost again.
This year, 30 years later, 74 years after it was first made and shown, the film was found again.
“We are the church that keeps finding Jesus,” says their current pastor, Ashley McGuire.
With the help of Louisiana Public Broadcasting, this old film has been restored. It will be shown for the third time this Sunday, December 17, at Alexandria United Methodist Church.
You probably won’t make that trip, but you will enjoy the 7 minute video I have linked below. It tells the story of this story very well. You will notice a real baby plays the role of Jesus. It’s a baby that can’t be more than a very few days old.
Here’s my favorite part of the story: Mary and Reba, the delightful women you will meet in the video, did some research on the identify of this baby Jesus. There was a note in the film canister saying baby Jesus had been played by “baby Deason”. There was only one Deason family in the church back then. They had two children, both girls. Yes, baby Jesus in this film is a girl!
A 74-year-old girl now. They tracked Beth Deason Dart down in an assisted living facility in Dallas, Texas. She said, “My mama always told me I was baby Jesus!”
It’s the story that never gets old. The story we will be reading in worship in the coming days, and also all the other stories, this one included, that spring from that greatest story ever told.