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One of my all-time favorite scenes out of Hollywood. (They are few and far between for me...) It’s a scene from one of the Star Trek TV series. Worf, the Klingon, is captured by the evil Dominion. They intend to use him as a practice dummy in hand-to-hand combat for their lethal ground troops, and so they do. They bring out soldier after soldier to take Worf on and they go at it. It’s never very long before the bad guys get tired of getting beat up, and they "tap out" and quit. So, after Worf’s been taking on all comers for most of the day, they finally bring out their biggest and baddest, the one warrior they know will be able to win. They begin to battle, and Worf is just too weak from the day’s struggles. He is little more than a punching bag for the bad guy to work out on. But Worf will not "tap out" like all the other beaten soldiers. He keeps getting up, no matter how many times he is knocked down, no matter how injured he is. He simply will not quit. It is obvious that this valiant warrior has won the respect and admiration of all the Dominion troops, including the one now beating him up. They all begin to beg him to tap out and quit, but he will not. Finally, out of sheer exhasperation, the warrior who is beating him stops and "taps out" himself. When asked by his enraged commander why he has done this, he says, resigned, "I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him."
Think about that for a moment. I cannot defeat this man. I can only kill him. I don’t know about you, but my goal is to hear the devil himself say those words about me some day. I will not tap out. How about you?
A. Todd Coget
["Mr. Holland’s Opus": Leaving a Legacy, Citation: Mr. Holland’s Opus, (Hollywood Pictures, 1995), rated PG, written by Patrick Sheane Duncan, directed by Stephen Herek; submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois]
Mr. Holland’s Opus is a movie about a frustrated composer in Portland, Oregon, who takes a job as a high school band teacher in the 1960s.
Although diverted from his lifelong goal of achieving critical fame as a classical musician, Glenn Holland (played by Richard Dreyfuss) believes his school job is only temporary.
At first he maintains his determination to write an opus or a concerto by composing at his piano after putting in a full day with his students.
But, as family demands increase (including discovery that his infant son is deaf) and the pressures of his job multiply, Mr. Holland recognizes that his dream of leaving a lasting musical legacy is merely a dream.
At the end of the movie we find an aged Mr. Holland fighting in vain to keep his job.
The board has decided to reduce the operating budget by cutting the music and drama program.
No longer a reluctant band teacher, Mr. Holland believes in what he does and passionately defends the role of the arts in public education.
What began as a career detour became a 35-year mission, pouring his heart into the lives of young people.
Mr. Holland returns to his classroom to retrieve his belongings a few days after school has let out for summer vacation.
He has taught his final class.
With regret and sorrow, he fills a box with artifacts that represent the tools of his trade and memories of many meaningful classes.
His wife and son arrive to give him a hand.
As they leave the room and walk down the hall, Mr. Holland hears some noise in the auditorium.
Because school is out, he opens the door to see what the commotion is.
To his amazement he sees a capacity audience of former students and teaching colleagues and a banner that reads "Goodbye, Mr. Holland."
Those in attendance greet Mr. Holland with a standing ovation while a band (consisting of past and present members) plays songs they learned at his hand.
His wife, who was in on the surprise reception, approaches the podium and makes small talk until the master of ceremonies, the governor of Oregon, arrives.
The governor is none other than a student Mr. Holland helped to believe in herself his first year of teaching.
As she addresses the room of well-wishers, she speaks for the hundreds who fill the auditorium:
"Mr. Holland had a profound influence in my life (on a lot of lives, I know), and yet I get the feeling that he considers a great part of his life misspent.
Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his, and this was going to make him famous and rich (probably both).
But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous.
At least not outside our little town.
So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure, but he’d be wrong.
Because I think he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame."
Looking at her former teacher the governor gestures with a sweeping hand and continues, "Look around you.
There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each one of us is a better person because of you.
We are your symphony, Mr. Holland.
We are the melodies and the notes of your opus.
And we are the music of your life."
Several years ago in the movie Hoosiers, Gene Hackman played the part of Norman Dale, a former college coach with a tainted past who was hired to coach a rural high-school basketball team from Hickory, Indiana. Coach Dale leads the team all the way to the state finals. On the day of the semifinals, the team arrives at Butler Field House, the huge inner-city arena where they will play in just a couple of hours. When the players enter the arena, their jaws fall slack and their eyes open wide. Gawking at the seats, the stand-alone goals, the suspended scoreboard, and the lights, they are awestruck and intimidated.
Coach Dale instructs one of his players to take a tape measure and determine the distance between the free-throw line and the goal.
“What’s the distance?” he asks.
“Fifteen feet,” the player says.
The coach then tells the smallest player on the team to climb on the shoulders of the taller player so they can measure the goal. “How high is it?” he asks.
“Ten feet,” the player says.
Coach Dale says, “I believe you’ll find these are the exact same measurements as our gym back in Hickory.”
The team members nervously laugh and everybody begins to relax. As they exit the gym, Coach Dale turns to his assistant and whispers, “Sure is big isn’t it!”
The challenges that lay ahead for the church in the 21st century are big as well.
It is important to remember that when measured by the rule of God’s Word, weather in a large metropolitan city or a small rural community the ministry and purpose of the church has not changed.
Several years ago, I watched a PBS Special that covered the events leading up to the "Battle of the Bulge" during WWII.
It was the autumn of 1944 and Germany had been beaten back behind its borders. The Nazi war machine was in tatters and the repeated bombing raids of the Allies all but assured that Hitler’s forces would never rise again.
Around the perimeter of Germany’s borders, the Allies spread a thin line of forces. One person observed that Allied forces were was so scattered that a man could slip between its lines without being observed.
All across Europe, there was celebration. Parties, dances, speeches all rejoicing in Germany’s defeat. The war was effectively over. The only problem was (pause) somebody forgot to tell Germany.
Even as his forces were being shattered and driven back Hitler was devising a plan for one last onslaught. Underground factories churned out more weapons, armament and ammunition. More of Germany’s young and old men were conscripted and trained for war. And as Europe rejoiced, Hitler planned.
His goal was not to drive back the Allies into the sea, as much as it was to divide the British to the North and Americans to the South, so demoralizing...
Have you ever seen the Walt Disney movie, Hercules? It’s a great movie. Zeus was the father of all the gods. That is god with a small “g.” Zeus had a son named Hercules. Hades who was the ruler of the underworld was angry with Zeus so he devised a plan to overthrow the gods and take over Mt. Olympus where they lived. He went to see a sorceress to see if there was anyone who could foil his plan. The sorceress told him that Hercules was the only one who stood between him and his goal. Hades sent two of his henchmen to steal the baby Hercules and feed him poison so that he would die. They abducted Hercules but their mission was interrupted and they did not make sure that Hercules drank all the poison. One drop was left so he didn’t die. He became a mortal but with extreme strength. Hercules was found by a human couple and raised as their own.
Many years later, Hercules was in the temple to Zeus when Zeus came to Hercules and let him know that he was his son. Zeus let him know that he could become a god again and come back to Mt. Olympus but he would have to become a true hero. So Hercules went into strict training to become a hero. After several years of training, Hercules finally got the chance to start proving his heroism. One day, the evil centaur Nessos was bugging a young lady named Megara, or Meg. Hercules took a few lumps but defeated Nessos. He went on to win numerous battles and go all over the world defeating innumerable enemies and saving many people. However, Hercules’ title of hero still eluded him, his heroism had not yet been stretched to its limits.
Finally, one day Hades unleashed his evil plan to take over Mt. Olympus but Hercules came and saved the day. In the melee, Meg, who Hercules had grown quite fond of, died. Hercules stormed through the gates of the underworld and made a deal with Hades. He said,
”You can get your revenge on my father, Zeus, by keeping me here in the underworld but you have to let Meg go.” Hades jumped at the chance but by that act of selflessness, Hercules was deemed a true hero and since gods can’t stay in the underworld, he too was allowed to go free. When Meg asked him why he did it he said, “People always do crazy things when they’re in love.”
We can become distracted and look away from the goal of becoming like Christ. If you saw the movie Chariots of Fire, then maybe you remember the great runner Abraham. He had won so many races. His coach held up such discipline. But he finally lost one of the races because he looked to the side. Just as he was about to finish the race he looked to see where the competitor was. His coach said to him, that look cost you the race. He was not single minded on the finish and the prize that lay ahead.
That is similar to what Paul is calling our attention to here. He is calling us to be single minded toward the goal of becoming like Christ. Yes there are many things that are good. But there is only one thing that is really best. Those are the things that count for eternity. We make our lives more like Jesus.
The movie ‘Shrek 2,’ includes an obnoxious, for lack of a better word, but faithful donkey by the name of ‘donkey.’ The movie is a humorous and satirical take on our favorite childhood fairy tales and includes a trip to that magical place of ‘Far Far Away’ complete with a Hollywood type sign which announces that you have arrived!
It is the home of Fiona’s parents. Fiona was the beautiful princess of story who has a problem. Her problem is that due to one of those spells that all childhood fairy tales seem to have, she turns ugly at night. In fact, she turns ogre ugly!
So her parents put her in a secure location, a tower, I think, with the goal of having her Prince Charming (capital P, capital C) come and break the spell. Unfortunately, he does not get there in time and an ogre named Shrek, rescues her, takes her away, and they get married.
Now, they are headed to visit and meet her parents for the first time since they were married. It is quite a journey and as they slowly make their way to ‘Far, Far Away,’ the donkey starts asking the question that all children ask their parents on trips, ‘Are we there yet?’
He asks it at almost every mile they take much to the increasing frustration of Shrek and Fiona who finally tell him to ‘shut up!’ This causes him to start making an irritating sound which does not help the situation.
I think that this same question, ‘Are we there yet?’ is being asked a great deal by many believers when it comes to current events in the news and the return of Christ. But I think that Jesus tells us in the text that has been read for this morning there is a more important question, implied in the command to ‘be ready all the time,’ ‘Are you ready?’ Jim Kane
Last year (2002), A&E produced a made-for-TV movie entitled Shackleton: The Greatest Survival Story of All Time. It is the account of the British explorer Ernest Shackleton and the 27 men with him who attempted to cross the continent of Antarctica. Temperatures around the South Pole can reach as low as 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Shackleton advertized for men to join him on the expedition with these words: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.” But one problem after another plagued them. Their ship , the Endurance, was caught in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea for ten months. With extraordinary endurance and great suffering from the cold and hunger, they left the ship and finally reached Elephant Island. With all hope gone of accomplishing their goal, Shackleton set his mind to the greater challenge before him — bringing his men home alive. Shackleton and two other men endured a hazardous journey in an open boat across the world’s worst seas, and a hazardous three day climb over an arctic mountain range in order to reach a whaling camp and find help to rescue his men. In his absence, the men had made a crude hut of rocks with the life boats on top as a roof. For months they waited in that squalid hovel waiting for their leade...
I would like to bring in here the story of the film “Chocolate” directed by Lasse Hallström [Heinrich Jacob, Der Prediger und Katechet, 6/2002. pages. 849-851]. A small, sleepy, and quiet french city. The inhabitants are lower-middle class, strictly moralistic, tied to tradtion, scrupulous and totally unfree internally and externally. No one dares to be different. Everyone goes to church. The mayor runs the city within the framework of rigid rules. He even corrects the Sunday sermons of the parish priest.
A young mother with her little daughter moves into this city and opens a chocolate shop at the time of Lent. She makes delicious chocolates of different types, which once tasted, no one could resist. This lady is energetic, charming, goal-oriented, sensitive and empathetic. She knows well to sell her chocolates. And she captivates the attention of the entire city.
This shop, the lady and the chocolates disturb the people, that too, at a time of fasting. People, starting with someone daring, begin to buy the chocolates. The established, ordered and the regulated life of the city is disturbed. The chocolate shop becomes the meeting point of the people of the city. There is encounter, conversation, friendship, joy and laughter. But there is also opposition. The lady is even threatened in order to leave the city. But the openness and the trust of the people for the joy and hope she brought into their lives overcome all opposition. And we see the mayor himself quietly climbing a tree to have a look at the chocolates in the shop-window. Finally all come to the shop, mayor and the priest alike. And the priest was ever after free to preach the sermons he prepared.
This story has a deeper symbolic meaning. This lady and the medium of chocolate stand for healing and happiness, for transformation and rebirth, for resurrection and for salvation. Everything in the city changes. There is a new life, a new city and a new world for the people. There begin to show up all the signs of a truly christian community: accepting others, open for friendship with strangers, giving and taking, a communicative relationship with one another and gratitude as a response to the gift of life and togetherness.
Each of us has our own definition of what it takes to make us whole. If wholeness doesn’t make sense to you try the idea of fulfillment, contentment, satisfied, at peace, centered. A great desire of the human heart ever since Genesis 3 is, in the words of CSNY, “to get back to the garden”. Our entire culture is driven toward this Christian and non-Christian. And if you don’t believe me consider how the movies we have watched over the decades are aimed at seeking after an elusive sense of wholeness.
· “African Queen” Katherine Hepburn’s character believes in getting even with the Germans who have killed her brother
· “Gone With the Wind” we have Scarlet declaring her goal to “never be hungry again”
· “Charades” you have a search for money left behind by a murder victim.
· “Star Wars” involved us in the goal of justice and the salvation of Darth Vader by his Son.
· “The Green Mile” has healing itself as its goal. Healing for individuals and for a community.