“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23 (KJV)
Filmed in 1947, The Bishop’s Wife is definitely an oldie. The cast stars Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young and a strong, talented supporting cast. Although the film is in black and white, the stars and the theme allow one to use his/her imagination to color the movie.
David Niven, Henry, the bishop, believes that his old church, St. Timothy’s, needs to be replaced with a beautiful new cathedral to be located on a hill overlooking the town. He firmly believes that the new cathedral will glorify God and inspire his parishioners. On the committee tasked with funding and designing the cathedral is a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hamilton, who is willing to fund the majority of the cost if a chapel is dedicated to the memory of her late husband, George. The bishop is very reluctant to honor this demand fearing that the chapel will overshadow that the cathedral is for everyone and glorifying God. The bishop continues to search for a way to raise the money for the cathedral. This daunting task consumes him so much that he has little time to spend with his wife, Julia and daughter, Debbie. The bishop turns to prayer asking for guidance and help to complete his task. And Julia prays that her husband will find a way to build the cathedral and return to be a loving husband and father.
Cary Grant, Dudley, is sent to become the bishop’s assistant. His identity as an angel is revealed only to the bishop. His cheerful manner, thoughtfulness and the time he spends with the bishop’s wife and daughter and the household staff makes him instantly liked by everyone – except the bishop who sees his assistant replacing him in the lives of the people he loves. Eventually, the bishop demands Dudley leave. However, Dudley has been very busy performing many minor – almost unnoticeable miracles. When he meets with Mrs. Hamilton, she reveals that she gave up her one true love to marry her late husband George for financial security. Dudley allows her to see that the money she is willing to donate to the building of the cathedral would be much better spent for food, clothing and shelter for so many people in need.
The movie emphasizes that God is everywhere in many of the small, everyday aspects of life. As we continue our battle with the commercialization of the Christmas season and rush around giving parties, attending parties, buying and wrapping gifts, we often lose sight of the true meaning of Christmas. One of the most touching scenes in the movie is when Dudley is playing with Debbie, and she asks him to tell her a story. He tells her the story of David losing a lamb, finding it and saving it from a lion. He kills the lion and celebrates the safe return of the lamb to his flock by composing the 23rd Psalm. This scene is incredibly moving. The Bishop’s Wife is both entertaining and inspiring. One will definitely feel the Christmas spirit and the true meaning of the season after watching this classic.
t Janet Golden
(September 12, 2014)
O God, You care for us as tenderly as a loving shepherd cares for his sheep. We remember that the lowly shepherds were the first to hear the Good News of Jesus’ birth. We also remember that Jesus later said that He is the Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. Help us in this busy season and season of excess to remember what is most important and to live our lives according to that priority. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.