Hallmark Movies and the Real Romance of Christmas

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What’s your favorite Christmas movie? All of us can name a couple of movies that we believe captures the flavor of Christmas perfectly, but our particular tastes don’t always match up with our friends’ and families’ essential holiday filmography (i.e., is Die Hard a Christmas movie?). At any rate, you’re sure to want to convert the teenagers you love best to champion your personal favorites. We hope our series, Finding the Gospel in Christmas Movies, will help youth ministers and parents enjoy their favorites with their small groups and families. You’ll find a couple of questions at the end of each to get the conversation started. Enjoy!

The Christmas season ushers in added joys to our otherwise mundane daily rhythms. We walk past decorated store windows, light trees in our homes, drop our loose change into Salvation Army buckets, maybe even devote time in the morning to read an Advent devotional. I love all of it. One added joy in my life during the Christmas season stands out among the rest: Hallmark. Christmas. Movies. 

If you have yet to discover the magical Hallmark world, allow me to paint a brief synopsis of your typical Hallmark Christmas movie. Our leading lady (we’ll call her Jennifer) is a down-to-earth classic beauty who works in the local small-town bakery. She has always loved the magic of Christmas, but ever since her mom’s passing last year, she’s lost that sense of Christmas joy. 

Enter our leading man (we’ll call him Chad). He’s a ruggedly handsome workaholic who “doesn’t have time for all that Christmas stuff.” When he stops in for coffee one day and meets our leading lady, she is immediately turned off by his grumpy attitude. However, things begin to change when Chad asks Jennifer to give his adorable nephew baking lessons while he’s staying with Chad for the Christmas holidays. The more she gets to know Chad, the more Jennifer falls for his undercover sensitive side. And he begins to fall for her warm, quirky spirit. 

Through a series of moonlit walks in the snow, ice skating dates, and a playful flour war while baking together, Jennifer and Chad fall in love. Not only have they met their soul mates, they have both re-discovered the magic of Christmas in the process– all in the span of 90 blissful minutes.

Needless to say, I don’t pay $8 a month for a Hallmark subscription for riveting cinema and Oscar-worthy acting. Yes, Hallmark movies help me get in the “Christmas spirit” with little requirement on my end. And critiquing B-level acting is a guilty pleasure of mine. 

If I’m being honest, though, these movies draw me in because I am a sucker for a good romance. 

And who among us doesn’t love a good old fashioned love story? Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Boy woos girl with grand romantic gestures and heartfelt words. Boy and girl live happily ever after. These love stories represent everything we hope ours will be: easy, beautiful, and filled with over-the-top Hollywood-level romance. 

The Bible tells us a different kind of love story. The true story of Christmas as seen in Scripture reveals a romance that puts all Hallmark movies to shame. When it comes to real love, the love portrayed in these movies is like an artificial Christmas tree compared to the freshly cut evergreen of God’s love for sinners. Though we are wooed by lesser loves at Christmastime, Jesus invites us into a deeper, richer, and fuller love that far exceeds even the best Hallmark has to offer. 

The life-changing love of Jesus is as romantic as it gets. Real romance is more than kisses under the mistletoe, snuggles by a fire, or sharing a blanket in a horse-drawn carriage. Real romance is Joseph choosing to stay with Mary in the wake of her scandalous pregnancy. Real romance is God leaving behind all the riches of Heaven to come and be born in a dingy stable in the middle of nowhere. In the grandest gesture of love of all time, God walked among us as a poor carpenter, only to suffer, die, and take on the punishment for sin in our place. 

Though our sinful hearts yearn for Hallmark-level love, Jesus offers us something far greater; a love that is never-ending, steadfast, willing to go even to the depths of Hell to reclaim his beloved. While we are captivated by flimsy and artificial displays of love, Christmas reminds us that we are invited into the greatest love story ever told: a story about Love himself who is so committed to his lover, the Church, that he was willing to come down to earth to win her back. 

According to Hallmark movies, Christmas is all about love. In the end, the protagonists discover that love is the “true meaning of Christmas.” Christmas has brought them love in the form of an attractive mate to enjoy the season with and thus they are now complete. Forget the gifts and the tinsel — Christmas is all about finding true love with your soulmate. 

In some sense, Hallmark is right. Christmas is about love– just not in the way any Hallmark writer intended. Christmas is about helping us fall more in love with our first love, drawing us back to him as we seek to “know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 2:19). Christmas is a reminder of the spectacular love of our incarnate Savior, the one whose love lasts well beyond the Christmas season and into eternity. 

By all means, continue to curl up on the couch with a warm beverage and enjoy Hallmark Christmas movies. I for sure will. But when these movies prick that age-old draw to romance and lesser-loves, may our hearts be drawn to the true lover of our souls, Jesus Christ– the one who shows us romance in its purest and most lovely form. Jesus is a  lover greater and more beautiful than any leading Hallmark star. 

Reflection Questions: 

  1. Why do you think our hearts are so drawn to love stories? What is it about them that resonates with us? 
  2. Tell the “love story” of the Bible in your own words. 
  3. Do you have a hard time believing Jesus loves you more than anyone on earth ever could? Why or why not? 
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