Updated: Aug 1, 2019
During the Christmas season, many families have particular traditions to help celebrate the holiday each year. For my wife and I, our annual tradition to kick of the Christmas season is to go to Disneyland for the Candlelight Processional. This is our fifth year doing this (we’ve been married for six years).
My wife and I are Disney nuts. We are annual pass-holders at Disneyland, and up until this year, we were actually pass-holders for both Disneyland and Disney World. This fall we even made the trek to Paris, France, to go to Disneyland Paris.
However, what draws us to Disney isn’t Frozen, Marvel or Star Wars… it’s classic Disney. It’s Walt Disney himself. It’s the creativity and the imagination and the vision that he had to change the world for the better.
As a entrepreneur myself, I appreciate learning about how Walt and his brother Roy built the empire that we today see. As Walt liked to say, “It was all started by a Mouse.” Mickey Mouse, that is! But it’s bigger than that. Walt saw an opportunity to do something that no one else had done. He revolutionized the animation business. He created the first full-length animated feature film, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. He created the most successful theme park in the world. He created an entire industry of animation. He created a company that was focused on bringing families together.
However, what many people don’t know is that, according to a friend of mine who actually knew him, he was a believer. Now, I don’t know his theology or whether he was a Five-Point Calvinist, but, according to my friends who personally knew him, he was a believer and wanted to have themes in everything that he did to promote biblical morals, be pro-family, and point to Christ when he could. In fact, Walt was a conservative and was close friends with Ronald Reagan. It wasn’t until Michael Eisner took over that Disney became a flaming liberal, anti-God company.
That’s where Walt's idea for the Candlelight Processional came into play. Walt wanted to be able to share the true Christmas story of the birth of Christ with the world. He saw an opportunity for the thousands and thousands of visitors to Disneyland over the Christmas holidays to hear the actual reason for the season. So, he came up with the idea of having a 600 person choir and full orchestra sing Christmas songs about the birth of Christ, accompanied by a celebrity narrator reading straight from the Bible.
Over the years, many A-list celebrities have read the account of the birth of Christ right out of the Bible… word for word. Everyone from John Wayne to Julie Andrews to Michael Landon. Over the years, my wife and I have had the opportunity to see Beau Bridges, Kurt Russell, Ginnifer Goodwin and Lana Parrilla.
This year, however, Disney executives chose to keep the narrator a secret until the day of the processional. It ended up being Thor himself, Chris Hemsworth. He read the account of the angel appearing to Mary telling her that she would bear a Son who they would call Jesus. He read that Jesus would be the one to save the world from their sins. He shared how Jesus is the Son of God.
Of course, Disney, being the liberal company that they are right now, ended up the night with the words, “No matter how you choose to worship…” The story of the birth of the Messiah was shared for all to hear, as it has been for almost 60 years. Think about it… millions of people have now heard the reason for the season because of a decision that Walt Disney made that has turned into an annual tradition for my wife and I.
And to cap it off each and every year, the grand finale is always the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus. I get chills every time. And every time, just as you would experience in church, everyone stands to show their respect for this great piece of music that brings glory to God.
But here's what Disney misses each and every year: They miss the follow up of what makes the birth of Christ so special. While they gloss over it in name, they leave out the fact that we are all sinners in need of a Savior. They leave out the fact that the only way for us to not have to be eternally punished for our sins is to have God Himself come down to earth, born of a virgin, to live a perfect, sinless life and ultimately die as a perfect sacrifice. By dying on the cross, Jesus took our punishment for our sins on Himself so that you and I might have eternal life. Simply by placing our faith in Him and repenting of our sins, we can receive the benefit of His sacrifice and having our the debt owed for our sins permanently paid for. You see, Disney missed all that. However, for being a secular, liberal company, I'm thankful that they at least read from the Bible the actual Christmas story and those of us who know better can use this as a launching pad for the Gospel.
I pray that during this Christmas season, as you are coming together with your families to celebrate the birth of Christ, you will create your family traditions to bring honor to God. He deserves every ounce of worship and praise that we can give, and more.