The comedy Home Alone stars 8-year-old Keven McAlister (Macaulay Culkin), who accidentally gets left at home when his family goes to Paris for Christmas. Sounds a little improbable, right? But if you’ve watched the movie, you know that it only gets more improbable from there.
Kevin fights off Harry and Marv—two dimwitted burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern)—with death defying booby traps. We all winced when Marv stepped on a nail barefoot and probably begin to wonder if they were really human after Harry’s head got burned by a blowtorch. But in the midst of all its farcical humor, some spiritual elements creep in.
Kevin wanders into a church on Christmas Eve and listens to a children’s choir sing Oh Holy Night. His neighbor “Old Man Marley” (Roberts Blossom) approaches and asks to sit next to him. Kevin’s older brother Buzz (Devin Ratray) had told him a fabricated tale of how Marley was the “South Bend Shovel Slayer,” causing Kevin to run away in terror every time he saw his neighbor. But this time was different.
Both mention regrets they have. Kevin feels bad about some unkind words he said to his family. Marley had an argument with his son and hadn’t talked with him in several years. He came to the church that night to watch his granddaughter sing from a safe distance.
“If you miss him, why don't you call him?” asks Kevin.
“I'm afraid if I call that he won't talk to me,” replies Marley.
They talk for a moment about fears, and Kevin suggests that often when you do something you’re afraid to try it turns out better than you think. But even if it doesn’t, he concludes: “At least you'll know. Then you could stop worrying about it. Then you won't have to be afraid anymore.”
Marley hesitantly considers Kevin’s words, and by the end of the movie both Marley and Kevin reunite with their families. The words from “Oh Holy Night” ring true:
Truly He taught us to love one another;
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
In a deeper sense, this story depicts what many of us feel about approaching God—afraid, guilty, and ashamed. Like Marley, we think it’s hopeless. But no matter what we’ve done, the beauty of the gospel remains the same—we are never beyond God’s reach.
God offers forgiveness as a free gift. We need only come to Him, recognizing our sin and Christ’s payment for sin on our behalf, and place our trust in Christ alone. Upon trusting Christ, we receive forgiveness for all our sins—past, present, and future.
The power of the gospel also enables us, as believers, to seek reconciliation with people around us. We may feel it’s hopeless after having exchanged harsh words with a member of our own family, but don’t let fear of the unknown stand in the way.
As Kevin reminds us, things often turn out better than we think when we muster the courage to take the first step.