Tag Archives: the embrace of the Father

The Importance of Benediction at the Movies

17 Jul

A few years ago I heard a talk by Ron Reed, Artistic Director of Pacific Theatre, on how movies can feed our souls. And one of the thing I remember his saying was that staying for the credits was like staying for the benediction at the end of a worship service. For many people today going to the movies is like going to church: it a communual/public activity in which the people participating share together an experience that touches their emotions. And the best movies speak to the truth of our human condition and reality and can sometimes even communicate a form of transendence.

At the end of the “service” the credits give us time to reflect and pause on what we have just seen/experienced. It gives us a a pause before we rush back into “normal” everyday life.

From another angle, it also gives us a chance to honour all the people who have helped in putting the movie together. From this point of view, to sit through the credits and acknowledge the names is an act of respect.

Usually there a couple of songs that play during the credits and these songs can play an important role in the experience of “benediction” – often summing up the “feeling” of the movie or sending the people who a specific sense of what has just been experienced.

So… just as no-one at church would thinking about walking out the middle of the benediction, it seems strange to walk out of a movie while the credits are still rolling. It’s not just something tagged on at the end – it’s part of the “whole” experience. But yet, in our consumer driven culture, there is little time for rest and reflection and there is so much peer pressure to leave after the main “consumable” action has been consumed.

Anyways… all of this came to mind at the end of the credits for “Away We Go” (see my previous post). Perhaps only six out of a congregation of 100 stayed for the benediction… but it was well worth holding out.

The music/score was such a key part of the movie. There was a mixture between some classic well known songs (from the likes of George Harrison, The Stranglers, The Velvet Underground and Bob Dylan) and songs from Alexi Murdoch – a London-born, Scottish bred, indie-acoustic musician who has made huge ways with his music but has refused to sign with a majot music label. His music has been used on countless mainstream American TV shows.

Alexi MurdochAs the credits role we were treated to another two “soft warm blanket” Alexi Murdoch tunes. And it was totally benedictory. As I sat there, with all the emotion (laughter and tears) from this movie about this idealistic couple searching for “home” without any real idea of what they were looking for, I heard “Orange Sky” – a song sung from the perspective of someone returning “home” realizing that their “salvation” lies in receiving the love of the family members who they have somehow turned their backs on – kind of like the Prodigal in the story of the Prodigal son who returns home to experience the embrace of his Father.

The lines of the repeated chorus were particularly poignant and as I heard them I heard the confession of the Christian…

My salvation is in your love.

What an amazing benediction – and all those who had left didn’t get the chance to savour it. As for me, once again I was in tears.

Here’s the song with the full words below. Listen for all the “Prodigal Son” references. Enjoy.

Well I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
Yes I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my brother standing by
With my brother standing by
I said brother, you know you know
It’s a long road we’ve been walking on
Brother you know it is, you know it is
Such a long road we’ve been walking on

And I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my sister standing by
With my sister standing by
I said sister, here is what I know now
Here is what I know now
Goes like this
In your love, my salvation lies
In your love, my salvation lies
In your love, my salvation lies
In your love, in your love, in your love

But sister you know I’m so weary
And you know sister
My hearts been broken
Sometimes, sometimes
My mind is too strong to carry on
Too strong to carry on

When I am alone
When I’ve thrown off the weight of this crazy stone
When I’ve lost all care for the things I own
That’s when I miss you, that’s when I miss you, that’s when I miss you
You who are my home
You who are my home
And here is what I know now
Here is what I know now
Goes like this
In your love, my salvation lies
In your love, my salvation lies (etc)
In your love, in your love, in your love

Well I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
Yes I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my brother and my sister standing by

Away We Go

14 Jul

A week ago Sunday morning I was preaching at church (Point Grey Community Church) and spoke on Jacob coming home 20 years after he has fled from his brother Esau whom he has cheated out of his father’s blessing. Coming home can be hard and scary.

The night before (Saturday) Karis and Alana, our two daughters were on a sleepover, so Ruth and I had the chance to have a date night. So we went to the movies and saw “Away We Go”.

Here’s how I opened my sermon…

“Away We Go a movie about a couple (Burt and Verona) traveling across the US in search of the best place to raise their family. And… on their journey they meet a variety of sad, tragic and embarrassing friends and family.

It’s a movie that has got a lot of mixed reviews, but… I have to say we really liked it. I don’t think I have literally cried so much and laughed so much during one movie. The crying was partly because there was something that resonated in me… watching this idealistic couple journey together through life and wondering where they should call home.

 And in the movie we find that both of Verona’s parents died when she was 22… and this was obviously a huge loss for her. In fact, she refuses to marry Burt, because she will not be able to have her parents at the wedding. We also find that this loss is very hard for her to talk about. And in a conversation with here sister we find that they still haven’t sold their parents home. It’s something in the past that she doesn’t want to face, but… but it obviously affects how she lives in the present.

 And one of the things tjat is really neat about the movie is that… in the end, Burt and Verona decide that they should return to Verona’s parents place and settle there. And so at the end of the movie Verona finds that in order to find a sense of home, she actually has to return home… even though it will be a very painful process and and will mean she will have to deal with grief which she has kept beneath the surface.

 And so as I came away from the movie I thought about Jacob, and his returning home. And an event in his life which means he must face up to the past, and deal, not so much with his hurt and grief, but the hurt and grief that he has caused others through his scheming and manipulating. Returning home for many of us is a difficult thing… but it’s often something we need to do in order to find ourselves and enter into the difficult work of our own growth.”

Ultimately, the “home” that we need to return to is the embrace of God the Father. That is the place that we find ourselves “wandering” to find even though we might not know it. But there is so much that we keep us from returning home. Mainly, I think, the pain it causes us to face up to who we really are, our failures, our sin, our need, our hurts, our inner lostness. And even when we take steps towards home, most of us take these steps tentatively…. unsure… perhaps a bit afraid of what will happen. Like Adam and Eve, most of prefer to remain in hiding than return home.

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