Monday, December 24, 2007

The Bishop's Wife - Ending Sermon


I have just discovered a wonderful Christmas movie, and it only took me 49 years to find it.

The Bishop's Wife, produced in 1947, is the story of a suave angel who comes to earth to save a woman and her Episcopal priest husband from spiritual doubt, and a lack of love for life itself.

But this movie is more than that, and features a sermon at the end, that would preach well anywhere today, in a world so in need of the simple, non-commercial message of Christmas. And here, for the first time on the Internet (as I could not find the script in the public domain), is the closing sermon of The Bishops Wife:

Tonight I want to tell you the story of an 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.

Short but sweet. Sixty years old, and not a day off center. Still relevant.

Merry Christmas to all.

For the latest version of the sermon on YouTube which has not been attacked by the attorneys:

8 comments:

Dreypie said...

Thank you for posting this. I watched "The Bishop's Wife" for the first time last weekend and was charmed by its simple yet still important message. Tomorrow I am teaching a group of teenage girls and wanted to share a special message about Christmas. I thought of the sermon in "The Bishop's Wife" and decided to give them Christmas stockings full of ideas for giving to Jesus this holiday season. I wanted to share the sermon and was thrilled to find it posted on your blog. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I love this sermon...and live by it everyday!

Anonymous said...

"For the first time on the Internet..."--I believe you are correct! Two years later, and yours was the first hit on Google when I searched for the words to this touching and beautiful sermon. I do believe it will help me see and be the presence of Christ for the remainder of the Season. Thank you very much and God Bless You!
"It is, indeed, the season of regenerated feeling—the season for kindling, not merely the fire of hospitality in the hall, but the genial flame of charity in the heart." ~Washington Irving

Nancy O said...

This is still tops on Google! I watched it by myself tonight - family is away doing their things - but The Bishop's Wife is one of my all-time favorites. His grace is sufficient - and thanks for writing things! Merry Christmas

Anonymous said...

Thank so much for posting this!This truly is the message for Christmas.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. Excellent. Also, remember a few minutes earlier the Angel framed The Bishops prayer beautifully. Paraphrasing......"Your prayer was answered......no it wasn't....I prayed for a new cathedral and I didn't get it........No......you prayed for GUIDANCE.....and you achieved it.
thanks again

Susan said...

Thank you for posting this. I love "The Bishop's Wife" and I've written the sermon down many times over the years, but always lose track of it. Now it's pasted into it's own file on my computer.

I agree that the sermon offers a message to live by for all of us. And it is just as relevant today as it was in 1947.

I also think that the sermon is a commentary on World War II. The film was made in 1947, written by Robert E. Sherwood, the great playwright, and produced by the great Sam Goldwyn. Sherwood and Goldwyn were just coming off of "The Best Years of Our Lives," their brilliant and multiple Oscar winning film about three men returning home after WWII. Every time I watch "The Bishop's Wife," I feel certain that Sherwood is still thinking about the war - in the sermon he offers a formula for "peace on earth," which is especially poignant for a world just starting its recovery from WWII.

The director of "The Bishop's Wife," Henry Kosta, also directed another good film about faith: "Come to the Stable," with Loretta Young, Celeste Holm, and Elsa Lancaster. It's a charming film about the simple faith of a group of nuns. If you haven't seen it, I think you would enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

I watch the Bishop's Wife every year, and never fail to be touched by it. The message seems to become even more poignant each year. And like those who have already posted, I love the sermon at the movie's end. Tonight, the Bishop's Wife is on again, and I decided to check the web to see if some wise soul had made it available through the net, and found you. Good on you for posting this...I think that for every few who respond in writing, there are thousands of others who will read it, and appreciate it. Many thanks!

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