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I like watching inspirational movies. Movies like “Field of Dreams,” “It’s a Wonderful Life,” “The Pursuit of Happyness,” “Chariots of Fire,” “Gandhi,” “Arrival,” etc., offer us an opportunity to rise above the ordinary into a different world of faith, hope and courage. I sometimes use these movies to explain some complex, hard-to-understand theological concepts.
In our Sunday Sermons on the “Living Hope of Christmas” - Matthew 1 &2, we came across Matthew’s use of Jeremiah’s prophecy using the metaphor of “Rachel’s Tears” -Jeremiah 31:15-17. When New Testament Biblical writers use prophecy as a pathway to process pain and suffering, they are suggesting that we enter God’s world of “Olam Haba,” a world in which past, present, and future blends into a single, intensely powerful messianic existence. A world in which everything you ever were, or will be – you now experience in a unified kind of way by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. The Gospel accounts of the “Transfiguration” (ex: Matthew 17) suggests that in-Christ there is a world where time isn’t a straight line at all. There is NO segmentation of past, present and future. Time is eternal in Christ. I see time as “Circular” - beginning and ending in the Trinity, the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit - the never ending source of life, light and liberty.
What would it mean to enter a world like that? A circular concept of time?
The movie “Arrival” offers an artistic thought provoking journey into that question. It is about looking at time and our experience of time in a different way. To me, this movie is like a fable. It offers us a kind of “thought experiment” to chew on, in the form of a question the main character Louise actually puts directly to the man who will become her husband. How will he respond? And why is she willing to marry this man and have this child; why is she willing to accept this path of joy and pain wholeheartedly, despite knowing everything – all the moments of unavoidable pain and anguish in her future?
To me, something more is going on in Louise's decision. I happen to look at this movie it thru my Christ-lens. It has to do with the ideas expressed in Jeremiah 31:15-17. In this movie, the main character Louise sees her life no longer as discrete, separate events lying along a linear straight line conveniently packaged with signposts, ‘past,' ‘present,' and ‘future.' Thru her experience with the extraterrestrials she has tasted what it is to experience time and life as a CIRCLE. She has glimpsed what it is like to experience ‘past, present and future‘ all at once.
Now as you extend concept of “Circular Time” to a place where past, present and future converge in Christ as seen in the Scriptures in Hebrews 12:1-2: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”...
...you will find that despite the pain, loss, uncertainties, contradictions, etc., that the Lord is always IMMANUEL in our time and space - always with us, never to forsake us or to leave us. He is Lord over our pain and our joy (2 Corinthians 1:3-10). He is is with us all the time, everywhere and in all circumstances. Thru this hope we will have the courage to look up beyond the clouds from our devastations to find faith and love. Hebrews 12:3 encourages us to not grow weary...”Consider Him (Christ) who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.”
So, during this COVID influenced year, in this Christmas season, I am asking you NOT to be limited by the linear-straight timelines of this world. Remember that He is the Lord of our time and timelines. Time works very differently in Christ. He is the Lord of your Sabbath and your salvation. So, be strong and of good courage.
My intention for showing you this movie clip fronm the movie Arrival was to encourage you. With our Savior and Lord Christ, past anguish must not be hidden from His grace – neither should we fear future anguish. Which is to say: We shouldn’t let the possibility of future sorrow intimidate us. We should not shrink away from life with a sense of fear, born from fear that ‘evil and pain’ may lie somewhere ahead on this linear path we call time. Yes, pain, anguish and sorrow feels awful when we encounter it. But there is more to life than a linear path through it. We can enter God’s world of “Olam Haba,”(Hebrew) a world in which past, present, and future blends into a single, intensely powerful Christ-experience existence. A world in which everything you ever were, or will be in Christ – you now experience in a unified kind of way by the power of the Holy Spirit. There is a circular time path in Christ were your hope and victory lies in His life (See Matthew 17:1-23). And knowing that, perhaps you too, can summon the courage to lean on His Holy Word and Holy Spirit, embrace life more fully, not fearing the future.
Merry Christmas 🎁🎄
On March-17 Governor Baker issued an emergency order limiting gatherings to 25 individuals and prohibiting on-premises consumption of food or drink at bars and restaurants.See Official MA Website: https://www.mass.gov/info-
Martin Luther, the primary leader of the Reformation, lived in Germany during the era of the deadly Bubonic Plague. Regarding that time of crisis, he wrote: "I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, he will surely find me and I have done what he has expected of me and so I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See, this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God." (Luther's Works, Volume 43, p.132).
Martin Luther was not a perfect man by any means, but he was obviously gifted with extraordinary wisdom for an unspeakably difficult time.
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