Tag Archives: Hollywood

Son of God

Read Matthew 28:16-20

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“And he said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.’” (Mark 16:15)

Son_of_God_film_posterAs a person who is kind of a film buff, I have collected a good many of movies over the years. In particular, I have been and will continue to be a collector of “Jesus” movies. I remember enjoying the film, “King of Kings”, growing up as a child. I remember watching “The Greatest Story Ever Told,” “Jesus of Nazareth”, and other such films centered on the life, death and resurrection of the Christ. I now, as an adult, own these films and do watch the periodically. I like how each “Jesus” film brings a slightly different take on who the Christ was and how his message played out to the people. In fact, different films focus on different aspects of Jesus ministry.

There is a new film that has been released on screens throughout theaters country-wide today. It is called “Son of God” and it is about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. It is taken from the The Bible miniseries that aired on the History Channel during Lent last year. This film contains the footage, and then some, that was found in that miniseries, and it was produced by Mark Burnett and Roma Downey.

In an interview, Burnett and Downey were questioned about how they went about making the film. “Clearly, there people all over the board when it comes to reading and interpreting the Bible,” the interviewer began. “Different denominations have different interpretations as to the person of Jesus, who he was and what his life, death and resurrection means for the world. Did you consider that in the making of this film? How did you go about making a film that would satisfy different people with different interpretations?”

According to Burnett and Downey, they met with religious leaders from different denominations, including but not limited to Roman Catholics, Baptists, Evangelicals, Assembly of God, and other denominations in order to get their opinion on the Script and the direction the film was taking in terms of its presentation of who the Christ was. Burnett even said they brought the film to the Anti-Defamation League to seek their advice and approval to make sure that the film didn’t unintentionally cross into the realm being anti-semitic.

What a novel idea. While Burnett and Downey certainly have their own understanding of who Jesus is, they were not afraid to have their understanding challenged in order to create a film that reached people where they are at. That is not to say that the film will satisfy every person’s burning belief of who Jesus was, but it does show a level of openness to accountability that we rarely see in Hollywood, let alone in the church.

While, having seen The Bible miniseries, I do not share all of the theological positions of the filmmakers regarding Jesus, I do know that I will be going to see this film today. I think it is important to support such films because they get the message of Hope, Healing and Wholeness out to the masses. They catch the attention of people who need to hear that God loves them so much and that God would never leave them alone. They stir a curiosity about the real CHRIST in a world that has all but forgotten the power and importance of his message. So today’s challenge to you is to go and support the film, “The Son of God.” Even if you do not agree with everything, or even if you agree with everything, this film is one that is worthy of our time and money. No doubt, if you open yourself up to the possibility, God will speak to you as you journey with Christ through this film. Let your Lenten journey begin here.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Christ who was in the world is also within you, and through you Christ remains in the world still! Live into Christ and his Good News.

PRAYER

Lord, use me in a way that reflects Christ’s presence within me. Amen.

Extreme Makeover

Read Matthew 7:1-6

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.” (Psalm 139:14).

dreamstime_l_20636837Have you ever seen the show Extreme Makeover? It was a show on TV that centered around taking people who were considered to be in need of a “new look”, bringing them to Hollywood, and giving them a makeover.  These makeovers weren’t just a day out to posh clothing stores and applying top of the line makeup; rather, these makeovers included plastic surgery such as face-lifts, breast augmentation, liposuction, and other appearance-altering surgeries.

In the American culture, more focus is given to how we look than to any other thing. Everywhere we go we are inundated with images that tell us we are not as perfect as someone else thinks we should be.  I hear my own daughters saying, “I wish I looked like that,” every time they stare at these unrealistic images of women who, outside of Photoshop, don’t really exist. 

We are all in a race to look the best that we possibly can so that people don’t judge us. God forbid if we look unkempt or frumpy when we go out to the supermarket. God forbid if someone sees us in our PJs or if we aren’t wearing enough make up to mask our “imperfections.” The fact is, many of us spend a great deal of time trying focusing on how we look and for good reason. We all have learned that we get judged by our appearance. I am sure that you are nodding your head in agreement as I write this. Our culture focuses too much on appearance.

What is sadder than what I have already written about above, is the fact that the church is no different than the rest of the world and, in some cases, it can be far worse in its judgment. If people don’t look the right way, if they don’t smell the right way, if they don’t say the right things, if they don’t believe things the way we do, and if they don’t fit in with our way of doing things then they are clearly NOT ONE OF US!

That is the mentality that fills the hearts and minds of many people in the church and it is a sad one considering that Jesus, himself, wouldn’t have fell in line with any of our categories. We are so busy judging others that we often forget the true reason we are the church to begin with: namely, that we were loved by God and given undeserved grace despite our not doing things the “right” way. Who has more of a right to build up walls of distinction more than God? Can anyone of us claim that right?

The question for us is this, if God chose not to judge us, what makes us think we have the right to judge others? If God chose to accept us how we are, what gives us the right to demand that others undergo an extreme makeover? If God is cool with difference and diversity, why are we so fearful of it?  The challenge for us is to embrace the uniqueness of others and celebrate them for being who GOD MADE THEM TO BE. Remember that God made you who you are. Just the same, God made others who they are and we are called to celebrate in that fact. Let us makeover our hearts and warmly welcome people, as they are, in God’s love and God’s grace.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.” – Wayne Dyer

PRAYER

Lord, makeover my heart and help me to be an extension of your love and grace so that others may know, through me, that you love them. Amen!

Entertaining Angels

Read Hebrews 13:1-2

Entertaining AngelsMy family and I just got done watching a movie we watch annually during the Christmas season. If you haven’t guessed it by looking at the picture, the movie is “It’s A Wonderful Life” starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. It is a movie about a man (George Bailey) who has given and given to people, putting others ahead of himself and his own dreams, only to have other people’s mistakes crash down around him. None of his dreams of success, traveling or any other ones are ever realized. Sure he has a nice family, a lovely wife and kids, and sure he has had moments of joy in helping those around him. But deep down, there is a longing to have more, to be more, to finally have something he’s dreamed of come true.

But this is real life we are talking about, not some tinsel town fairy tale, and Capra makes to give George a whopping double dose of reality. Instead of finding Bailey being rewarded for all of his kindness and generosity, instead of seeing him defeat the Scrooge like miser, Mr. Potter, and instead of seeing him amount to be more than a guy who nickels and dimes his way through life (literally), we find George facing fraud charges and prison time. His uncle lost $8,000 and George is going to take the fall for it, just as he has his whole life. It’s just not fair. So, this man, at wit’s end, finds himself at a bridge. He’s contemplating suicide, when he runs into Clarence, who is an Angel 2nd class. After wishing he were never born, and Clarence granting him that wish, he comes to the realization how hellish life would be for the countless people George helped in those years of personal sacrifice that he has come to regret. So, in the end he finds himself realizing what a wonderful life he has, and how happy he is to have his family. In the end, the town of Bedford Falls comes together and donates the $8,000 to George to save him from prison. This encounter with truth has changed his life forever.

Some might call this a happy ending. I have often heard people say how Hollywood always forces in a happy ending. But in this film, I don’t know that I would call it a happy ending. Sure, he realizes what means most to him and how valuable his life really is, and that is a happy ending in that sense. But in terms of unrealistic Hollywood happy endings, this film does not have one. George may have his life back, but with that “gift” comes the reality that following Christmas he will go back to nickling and diming for the Business and Loan. The town members will go on in their poverty and need George’s help as much as they have always needed it. And the most terrible of all the truths, Potter will continue on misering, trying to ruin George and that miserable Business and Loan that always stands in his way.

The real happiness of this film does not lie in unrealistic, sappy Hollywood endings. The happiness lies in the fact that when we help others, when we put others first, when we value others’ lives as much as we value our own, we end up entertaining angels. I am not one who espouses angel theology or gets enraptured by cute little cherubim. In fact, Clarence was borderline annoying to me in the film (I forgive him). Rather, the angels are the people all around George…and in fact, George is an angel too. He helped countless people, some of them even strangers, and in the end they all end up helping him. It is not so much that they help him financially because he has helped them all far more than they could probably ever repay. But, rather, they helped him in being present in his darkest time.

It was in that dark time that George realized what angels they all were. It was when he thought no one knew him, when he felt the lack of everyone’s presence, that he realized that he had been entertaining angels his whole life. It is in that moment that he realized that he had neglected to see those angels for who they were; he had neglected to appreciate them and value them. Even in his selflessness he had been blinded by himself. But because he had been entertaining angels, they appeared before him in his darkest hour, when he needed them most. That is the beauty of Christmas! That is the heart of Christmas: recognizing that we are not alone in this world. If we recognize that we too have been entertaining angels, we might look up and see them standing all around us.

Merry Christmas! May God bless you with the wisdom to recognize the angels in your life.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“The golden moments in the stream of life rush past us, and we see nothing but sand; the angels come to visit us, and we only know them when they are gone.” – George Elliot

PRAYER
Lord, help me to recognize the angels who are in my life, and humble me enough to realize the angel I am in the lives of others. Amen.