Film and Television sermons
When I watch a film or TV show, I often have an epiphany moment where I think, "this is that!"; Sugarman's resurrection must be what resurrection feels like, Walt's propensity to break bad is just like mine, that moment in the Dark Knight is exactly what God's common grace is all about. It happens all the time (because I really do believe that all good story telling is God's good story telling).
Sherlock - And the God of all Mystery
Human beings are made to pursue, know and understand a God who is mystery. In this message, I investigate the mystery of God through the lens of Sherlock Holmes.
"Every truth about God has an anthropological correlate and every truth about man has a theological correlate."
Theologian Gordon Spykman (94) Reformational Theology
“Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever; wisdom and power are his.He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. He reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”
Daniel in a prayer, after God showed him King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, 2:20-22
“With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
Ephesians 1:8-10, NIV
The Parable of Breaking Bad
What does this hit TV show teach us about who we are? About who God is?
“[Human beings] brought upon themselves blindness, terrible darkness, futility, and distortion of judgment in their minds; perversity, defiance, and hardness in their hearts and wills; and finally impurity in all their emotions.”
Art 1, 3rd Point of 5, Canons of Dort on consequence of The Fall, 1619
“What I think we all realized as we went along is that this guy was surprising us. He wasn’t just responding to circumstances, there was something in him…”
Breaking Bad writer/co-executive producer Thomas Schnauz,
interviewed in Entertainment Weekly July 26, 2013
“What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come—sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and defile a person.”
Jesus in Mark 7:21-23, NIV
The Parable of the Hunger Games
How would you react if you were thrust into the arena?
"[The Hunger Games] depict a world where children are slaughtered for entertainment, power is in the hands of nearly untouchable tyrants, and workers starve as the affluent look on and laugh."
Introduction, The Hunger Games and Philosophy
"We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self destruction."
Plutarch Heavensbee ,Mockingjay, page 379
I"f Cato broke through the trees right now, I wouldn’t flee, I’d shoot.
I find I’m actually anticipating that moment with pleasure."
Katniss, The Hunger Games, page 197
"For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us."
Romans 3:23-24, MSG
"If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
Hugo Cabret and the Divine Watchmaker
This sermon looks at God's redemptive message through the Academy Award winning film Hugo.
“The machine was so intricate, so complicated, that he almost got dizzy looking at it. Even in its sad state of disrepair, it was beautiful”
Hugo reacting to the rusted, broken Automaton, The Invention of Hugo Cabret, p117
“He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones: 'Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!' “God, the Master, told the dry bones, "Watch this: I'm bringing the breath of life to you and you'll come to life. I'll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You'll come alive and you'll realize that I am God!"
Ezekiel 37:5-6, The Message
In this message, I look at the hit TV show Criminal Minds. Why are so many people attracted to this (often) dark program? What does this attraction say about who we are? About who God is?
Ok, this is a throwback... the first sermon I ever preached on a television program. I'll never forget how God used this message to bring a brother of one of our church members to faith. Hearing God's voice through the X-Files!
St. Paul, A Shipwreck and The Adjustment Bureau
What do you think about free will and providence? Do we choose our lives? Or is there some kind of divine plan? Or is it both? (Video and images from the movie "The Adjustment Bureau", Universal Pictures 2010)
In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.
Proverbs 16:9, TNIV
"The Chairman has the plan. We only see part of it."
Team Leader, The Adjustment Bureau
The King's Speech - God's Gift of Voice
We look at God's spoken word in the Academy Award winning film, The King's Speech.
"Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue. The LORD said to him, Who gave human beings their mouths?
Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind?
Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."
Moses talking to God, Exodus 4:10-12
"But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."
Jesus in Matthew 10:19-20, TNIV
Crash - Darkness and Redemption
I've never experienced a film that has exposed my stereotypes like this one did. Crash is unsettlingly true where is exposes the brokenness of our human natures.
“There's nobody living right, not even one,
nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God.
They've all taken the wrong turn; they've all wandered down blind alleys.
No one's living right; I can't find a single one.
Their throats are gaping graves, their tongues slick as mud slides.
Every word they speak is tinged with poison.
They open their mouths and pollute the air.
They race for the honor of sinner-of-the-year, litter the land with heartbreak and ruin, don't know the first thing about living with others.
They never give God the time of day.”
The Apostle Paul in Romans 3:10-18
"Thought you had all the answers to rest your heart upon.
but something happens don't see it coming, now you can't stop yourself.
now you're out there swimming in the deep.
in the deep."
“In the Deep” (from Crash Soundtrack)by Bird York
The Dark Knight - Common Grace
What does this top grossing North American phenomenon have to teach us about the nature of good and evil?
“It happens so regularly that it's predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God's commands, but it's pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I've tried everything and nothing helps. I'm at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me?”
St. Paul in Romans 7:21-24, MSG
“This city just showed you that it is full of people
willing to believe in good."
Batman to the Joker
(Common Grace (defn) - “[The Holy Spirit] restrains for the present the deteriorating and devastating influence of sin in the lives of men and society, and enables men to maintain a certain order and decorum in their communal life, to do what is outwardly good and right in their relations to each other, and to develop the talents with which they were endowed at creation.”
Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p426
This sermon parallels God's saving message as we find it in Clint Eastwood's film Gran Torino with wisdom from Paul's letter to the Romans.
"Kor Khue says that you think you've been disrespected. You do not live your life. Your food has no flavor. You are scared of your past. You stopped living years and years ago. Kor Khue says you're not at peace."
Sue translating Hmong Shaman Kor Khue words to Walt (Clint Eastwood)
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:6-8, NIV
"I confess that I have no desire to confess."
Walt Kowalski (Eastwood)