Merry Christmas, you broken down old Building and Loan!

“You call this a happy family! Why do we have to have all of these kids?” George Bailey exclaims to his wife while experiencing financial despair in the classic film It’s a Wonderful Life. George’s presumption: Children are a (financial) burden. You know the story; George soon learns that life is not about acquiring what the world has to offer. It’s not about securing the world’s education. It’s not about seeing the world or even conquering the world. In the climax of the film on Christmas Eve, George never gets the high paying job with the fancy clothes and travel opportunities. He never gets to go to school or even leave Bedford Falls. What George gets is a revelation from God. A revelation about how living and providing for others is inestimably more powerful than living and spending for oneself. In one scene there is a picture of George’s father hanging on the wall at the Bailey Building and Loan office, the one institution standing between the people of Bedford Falls and a devious, power hungry banker named Potter. Under the picture it reads, “The only thing you can take to heaven is what you give to others.” Perhaps an echo of what Jesus says in Matthew 6:20: “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal.”

What Potter did-the “warped, frustrated, old man”-was take advantage of people’s unfortunate circumstances. What the Building and Loan did was provide the people with freedom to become who they were meant to be. George’s father was founder of the Building and Loan and when he died Potter made a motion that the board of directors dissolve the company, leaving the population of Bedford Falls at the mercy of Potter’s evil schemes. George seeing the future injustice and abuse addressed the board saying, “This town needs this measly one-horse institution if only to keep people from having to go crawling to Potter.”

Maybe the multi-billion dollar international abortion industry is like Potter conspiring to take advantage of women facing unplanned pregnancy. And maybe little pregnancy centers yours and mine are like the little Bailey Building and Loan working vigorously to offer the gift of vision to a woman drowning in a river of overwhelming circumstances, a vision of her future after having a baby. Without your pregnancy centers most of the women at risk for abortion would be forced to go with the only alternative available to them and make the tragic choice of terminating their pregnancy.

You and I both know that not a sane woman alive wants to have an abortion. Women seriously considering abortion are so because they feel stuck, like they have no choice; they feel like they need an abortion. Pregnancy centers convert the generous resources of the community into tangible help, providing baseline pre-natal care, options consultations, and on-going community based support. All this in an effort to safeguard not only the future of her child but also the woman’s future reproductive health. This type of ethical support actually insulates women from the pressures that drive her to get an abortion, providing her with real empowerment, the kind that frees her to say, “I could actually have this baby if I wanted to.” Your pregnancy center, like the Bailey Building and Loan, stands in the gap and champions the cause of those in desperate need of alternatives to twisted agendas and unethical practices keeping America from becoming Planned Potterville.

Thank you, Executives, for faithfully serving in what I am sure sometimes feels like a broken down old building and loan. Rest assured, the world is different because of what you do every day. Merry Christmas and may God bless all.

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