Wednesday, January 11, 2017

40 at 40 - My All-Time Favorite Movies

It started as a lark. On my 30th birthday, I was bored, so I figured out my 30 favorite movies of all time and wrote about them – actually on my birthday – and shared them online.

This started so many good conversations that I knew I would need to do another list when I was 35. I worked for weeks leading up to my birthday – listing all of my favorite movies, then shortening that list to 35, and then writing an epic post (clearly I had WAY too much time on my hands), complete with links to other reviews and essays and clips of the various movies.

And now that I’m turning the big 4-0, it’s time again to think through all of my favorite movies (so many more than 40), and select my all-time favorites. Fortunately, though, I do not have nearly so much free time on my hands when I was a carefree bachelor at 35, so this will not be quite such an epic post. (For fun, though, I will share all three lists for comparison in a few days.)

It was particularly challenging to narrow the list to 40 this year. Some of my go-to favorites, that I have watched numerous times, are ranked between #41 and #50, including My Fair Lady, the Back to the Future trilogy, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and How Green Was My Valley, which I think is an amazing and beautiful film even though most people are confounded that it was named Best Picture of 1941 over Citizen Kane.

Just over half of the movies on my list – 21 – were released before I was born. If my memory can be trusted, I think that I saw five of the movies in the theaters when they were first released. While a dozen of them were released in the 90s, the rest are pretty evenly spread out across the decades. The earliest film on the list was released in the silent era (1928); the most recent in 2012.

According to, 25 can be classified as dramas, 11 as historical or biographical films, and 10 as comedies, plus an assortment of film noirs, musicals, action movies, and romances. They represent the talents of numerous writers and directors, actors and actresses; even the most represented people on the list – writer/director Billy Wilder, James Earl Jones, character actor Bill Paxton and composers Max Steiner and James Horner are credited in just three movies each.

The overwhelming number of these films are well-regarded. 21 appear on the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. 25 of them were nominated as Best Picture; 8 of those won the Academy Award as the best film of the year. Perhaps not surprisingly, given my passion for music, 25 of them were also nominated for Best Score; 9 of them were awarded Oscars. In all, these 40 films received 97 Academy Awards from 252 nominations.

So here are the movies I love to watch again and again: my favorite 40 movies of all time.

#40 Lincoln (2012)

When I was in college, Steven Spielberg optioned the movie rights for a yet-to-be-published biography of Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin. It took fifteen years before that project became a reality, cycling through various actors and screenwriters attached to the project. The finished product was well worth the wait. Tony Kushner’s script evokes the era and key people really well, especially the enigmatic Abraham Lincoln, whose personality is drawn out in several ways. And Daniel Day-Lewis’ performance earned a well-deserved Oscar, breathing life, humor and even a little bit of oddness into the president better known as a larger than life marble statue than as a man.

#39 To Kill a Mockingbird (1962)

It’s a beautiful and lyrical story of childhood, even if the normal issues of playmates and creepy neighbors play out against much more serious issues of racism and the struggle for justice. Also, I gained a renewed appreciation for the movie when I reread the book as an adult, which is a wonderful love story between a daughter and her father.

#38 Victor/Victoria (1982)

I don’t quite know why I like it better than so many musicals – though it does have great music and a stellar cast. Each time I watch it, I seem to focus on a different character, and love it each time, which I guess is a testament to Blake Edwards’ genius for comedic timing.

#37 Sunset Boulevard (1950)

This great film noir, told almost entirely in flashback, is a haunting tale of misguided ambition and self-deception. Watching it now is an extension of the subtext of the story about the fading glory of a previous age in Hollywood. And, like so many of Billy Wilder’s movies, it has a great last line.

#36 Auntie Mame (1958)

It’s so ridiculous, but also so wonderful. Rosalind Russell’s Mame is so much larger than life, and so exasperatingly eccentric, that you can’t help but be amazed. And she shares the screen with a number of fantastic character actors, which makes the entire experience a joyful romp.

#35 The Fugitive (1993)

A gripping action movie featuring dueling chases – a US Marshal seeking an escaped convict and the wrongfully condemned fugitive hunting the man who killed his wife. It combines wonderfully action-movie know-how, including the famous scene where they actually derailed a real locomotive, and layered performances, including Tommy Lee Jones’ Oscar-winning turn. It’s a fun popcorn movie that can be watched over and over.

#34 The King’s Speech (2010)

I was not surprised that I enjoyed this movie when I first saw it, but I was unprepared for how much I would love it. In some ways, it’s a basic underdog story, where someone overcomes obstacles to do something amazing at the end of the movie. But this underdog was the king of England, thrust into a position he never expected, requiring abilities that he did not naturally have. It is, at once, inspirational and humbling.

#33 The Rock (1996)

Yes, this movie is utterly preposterous. No, I’m not embarrassed. Sometimes you just want cheesy action with juiced-up one-liners… and Sean Connery.

#32 Life with Father (1947)

I feel like this movie would be mostly forgotten except for two things – it is one of several featuring William Powell and Irene Dunne (Nick and Nora Charles in The Thin Man series, among other things), plus it features a young Elizabeth Taylor. It also is the film adaptation of the longest-running straight play in Broadway history, which ran for some 7 ½ years. Clearly dated and incredibly paternalistic, it still has plenty of warmth and humor.

#31 La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (The Passion of Joan of Arc) (1928)

“We didn’t need words; we had faces,” said Norma Desmond of silent films in Sunset Boulevard. This silent film has both. Maria Falconetti’s face, and especially her eyes, are mesmerizing in her portrayal of the woman tried for heresy. And the words on title cards are taken verbatim from transcripts of that religious trial. Plus the wonderful score, “Voices of Light,” written for the film by Richard Einhorn in 1994, meant to be performed live by orchestra and chorus (which I saw once), adds even more emotional power to this brilliant film.

#30 The Blues Brothers (1980)

It’s a musical comedy for men. It has a car chase ballet (shot in an abandoned mall), and Illinois Nazis, and wonderful music throughout – backed by the greatest blues band ever. And it is a postcard of Chicago, with so many locations from around the city.

#29 Pollyanna (1960)

The older I get, the more I appreciate the deeper message of this movie. In some ways, it is a prototypical Disney product (even if it was one of the first to take this approach): a young girl changes the world around her with the force of her personality and persistence. However, it seems like a wonderfully accessible story about the ways we each impact the community around us, however old, young, rich, poor, educated, influential we are, or not; some impacts are positive and some are less so. Hope and joy can change people – even us – if we’ll let them.

#28 Sleepless in Seattle (1993)

This is clearly a very dated romantic comedy in our Internet age. While there are still a few radio call-in shows hanging on, it’s hard to imagine Meg Ryan meeting Tom Hanks through the radio today. Still, this attempt to update the classic movie romances of the previous generation has a timeless quality, due to Nora Ephron’s stellar writing and the likeability of almost every actor in the cast.

#27 Tombstone (1993)

This is such a stylish Western that is elevated by its amazing acting, especially Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday, its sweeping score, and the beautifully-filmed centerpiece of the movie – the famous shootout at the OK Corral. (And I remain convinced that it would be an Oscar-winning film, and a much better remembered one, if Disney had screened it for the critics before it opened on Christmas that year. What a terrible, terrible mistake.)

#26 Field of Dreams (1989)

If its a bit sentimental, so what. While the movie is about the emotional power of baseball – per James Earl Jones’ wonderful soliloquy at the climax of the film – it really is about the effects that our broken dreams can have on our relationships.

#25 Fargo (1996)

Many people have favorite dark comedies, and this is mine. It’s incredibly gruesome (though perhaps not as much as the wonderful TV series that has taken its name and sensibility), featuring crimes that are committed by people who are respectively, surprisingly intelligent and surprisingly stupid. Despite that, the intrepid pregnant police officer solves the crime and justice prevails in the end.

#24 Tootsie (1982)

For a long time, actors have found comedy gold impersonating women. (You could argue that Tyler Perry has made an entire company based on it.) None have gone to quite the extreme as Dustin Hoffman in Tootsie, though. Playing a frustrated actor who can only find work by impersonating a woman, he becomes convinced that “I feel I have something to say to women.” It is elegant farce.

#23 Vertigo (1958)

It can be a fun game to try to decide which Alfred Hitchcock movie is the best, especially his psychological thrillers – Rear Window, Psycho, The Birds, North by Northwest – but I’ve always liked Vertigo the most. Jimmy Stewart is compelling as a man who becomes convinced that he cannot believe his own senses and nearly becomes unhinged by a man trying to get away with murder.

#22 The Third Man (1949)

World War II inspired a bunch of heroic and inspiring pictures, along with some zany comedies. The Third Man shows the dark side of that global conflict and its harrowing aftermath through the devious war profiteer, Harry Lime, impishly portrayed by Orson Welles in one of his greatest performances, coupled with perfectly unsettling cinematography and zither music.

#21 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962)

Someone told me that Roger Ebert gave a series of lectures on this movie for a conference, devoting one hour entirely to the opening few seconds of this movie, a train chugging down the tracks. Such trains ultimately brought civilization that tamed the “Wild West” and set the chronological end of Westerns. This movie is completely about that tension which shaped the future of the American west, and the legends that were formed as the foundations of its history. It’s simply brilliant.

#20 The Hunt for Red October (1990)

A cat-and-mouse thriller set during the final years of the Cold War may seem dated, but I still find it wonderfully entertaining. In fact, when I can’t sleep and don’t want to watch anything serious, this has been my go-to film for years.

#19 Gone with the Wind (1939)

Yes, it’s a long movie; often I cannot watch it in one sitting. But it’s also a sweeping epic that accounts for the Civil War and its aftermath in ways that demonstrate the possibilities and blind spots of the new south. Of course, that’s simply the background context for the romantic entanglements that drive the plot and give everyone in the audience someone to root for.

#18 All the President’s Men (1976)

Investigative journalism is a wonderful means of creating drama in movies, allowing intrepid reporters to follow leads and clues. Even so, All the President’s Men exceeds all of these movies with its amazing cast and its sense that the story is not about only the reporters, but the entire newspaper’s role – consider how The Washington Post newsroom is such a powerful visual character in the story and how the most dominant character is the editor, rather than the reporters. It’s simply fascinating drama.

#17 The Caine Mutiny (1954)

This is a wonderful character study of men under pressure, raising the important question of when a person of integrity should stand up against a seemingly incompetent authority. At points it almost strains credulity, and yet it is always believable because of the great acting and the subtle character traits given to all of the main figures, especially to the unanticipated villain, which are all too true to life.

#16 To Be or Not to Be (1942)

Against the dark backdrop of Nazi aggression, great comedy was mined from a troupe of Polish actors trying to resist the Nazi occupation of Warsaw. The ability to find joy, life, and hope in the midst of horrors is the best example of the famous Lubitsch Touch – director Ernst Lubitsch’s inimitable way of making movies out of seemingly impossible storylines. It is brilliant and original farce.

#15 The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

At the same time terrifying and fascinating, Anthony Hopkins’ first appearance as the brilliant serial killer Hannibal Lecter is mesmerizing. And Jodie Foster finds equal parts vulnerability and guile to serve as a perfect foil.

#14 The Wizard of Oz (1939)

This movie is equal parts idyllic fantasy and sheer terror. Looking back, I wonder how I watched it so often as a kid: the wicked witch and her army of flying monkeys are the stuff of nightmares. Still, The Wizard of Oz is filled with so many unforgettable things – the vibrant colors of Oz, the camaraderie of the band of misfits, the memorable songs and music (the Wicked Witch’s theme), and a sense of the magic of discovery.

#13 Patton (1970)

I saw a wonderful 70mm print of this film at the Music Box Theatre in Chicago. The visual was so clear that the opening of the film looked like George Patton walked into the room in person to address everyone. The rest of the epic war biography simply dramatizes how much Patton believes his own opening speech, while showing both his shortcomings and his tactical brilliance as a general.

#12 Some Like It Hot (1959)

You’d have to be almost legally blind to mistake Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis as women in this movie, but it doesn’t matter. Billy Wilder spun comedy gold from the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre (of all things) by creating a love triangle between Marilyn Monroe and two men masquerading as women to hide from gangsters, complete with the funniest last line in movie history.

#11 Star Wars (1977)

How good is this movie that was basically meant to imagine a serial Western in space? It has created its own universe, filled with unforgettable characters that have made billions of dollars through multiple movies, books, action figures, home products, and one very misguided TV Christmas special. It required special visual and sound effects that were so innovative, the departments became their own studios – Industrial Light and Magic and Skywalker Sound – which have added their expertise and ingenuity to hundreds of movies since. It solidified John Williams as the greatest movie composer of the last 50 years. And it captured the imaginations of millions of people, including me when I first saw it as a boy.

#10 Beauty and the Beast (1991)

I love animated movies, and this is, without question, my all-time favorite. At the same time, it feels timeless and original, from the opening narration to the rousing production number of candles, plates, cups singing “Be Our Guest,” to the jaw-dropping beauty of the animation when the title couple dance in the ballroom.

#9 Double Indemnity (1944)

This classic film noir just seems to get better and better with age. Fred MacMurray plays against type (as he did in The Caine Mutiny, oddly enough) as a scheming insurance salesman smitten with Barbara Stanwyck’s seductively conniving housewife. As they hatch a plan to collect double on a life insurance policy, MacMurray tries to stay ahead of his boss, Edward G. Robinson. Among the twists and turns in the plot is an even more intriguing and ambiguous question – how much awareness do each of these three have in the motivations and schemes of the others?

#8 The American President (1995)

After the political turmoil of the past generation, this certainly seems like a fairy tale. But the writing is crisp, informative, and optimistic as we peel back the curtain into the balance of private and public lives for our presidents. It also has countless memorable lines, including one of my all-time favorites: when the widowed president’s daughter meets his date, he talks about her current history class project – at the same time he’s trying to impress his date as an attentive father and get his daughter more interested in US History. His daughter responds, “This is a nightmare. This is a social studies nightmare.” On a certain level, there’s amazing awareness, truth, and humor in that sentiment.

#7 The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

I still marvel that this movie was ever made. It seems like a ridiculous pitch, but it’s an amazing achievement. The search for redemption – in a variety of forms – in a corrupt prison can be heart-wrenching and depressing; ironically, though, this movie is fundamentally about hope. Sometimes, I feel we need more movies that don’t just distract us from our challenges, but actually provide glimpses of true, unabashed hope.

#6 Apollo 13 (1995)

In this well-known life-or-death situation in space, Ron Howard found so much to celebrate in the human spirit – ingenuity, calm under pressure, teamwork, and the fruits of rigorous preparation and training. It was a huge scientific achievement to send astronauts to the moon, but it was likely a larger achievement to have created a system, partially by design and partially by consequence and luck, that could effectively react to a crisis in a space mission. This film is a rousing affirmation of all of those things.

#5 Lawrence of Arabia (1962)

On a certain level, I could simply watch this movie with a 70mm print and the score; it is probably the most beautiful movie ever filmed and the music enhances that beauty and the rich variety of the desert it features. The epic story romanticizes history, but it also provides glimpses of ways that people of different cultures can positively impact each others’ lives and work together.

#4 Titanic (1997)

I had read a lot about the fated voyage long before the movie began shooting, and followed with fascination Robert Ballard’s ultimately successful search for the wrecked line on the ocean floor in the ’80s. Even so, I ended up going to this movie on opening night mostly because some friends were going and I had nothing to do; frankly, I was afraid they would minimize the history. Instead, over 195 minutes (and it certainly didn’t seem nearly that long) I watched history revealed before my eyes, able to identify various actual passengers even when they didn’t have speaking lines, and watching in wonder as parts of the ship appeared before my eyes. The love story served an admirable goal – to help us see as much of this famous ship as possible; and the action-movie director’s eye allowed the almost real-time sinking a cold-eyed realism. I’ve seen this movie more times in the theater than any other, and I still gasp each time when the ship sets sail.

#3 Ben-Hur (1959)

The subtitle of Lew Wallace’s novel is “A Tale of the Christ.” If the theme is less prominent in the movie than in the book, it still drives the story. While we glimpse Jesus at a couple of points (but are never able to see his face), we gain a greater appreciation for his time and his culture through the experiences of the Jewish prince, Judah Ben-Hur. I cannot help but watch it through the eyes of faith, and I’ve always found it a helpful meditation on faith. Plus, the chariot race is simply great, heart-stopping movie-making.

#2 The Sting (1973)

I’ve said this many times – this may be a perfect movie in every way. The acting is superb; the directing spot-on. The production aspects are all excellent. The story is crafted with exacting detail and an abundance of wit, which is matched by the ragtime score. If I start watching the movie at any point, I will stop and watch it to the end. I cannot help it – nor do I want to.

#1 Citizen Kane (1941)

Often identified by film critics as the greatest movie of all time, the first movie effort by writer-director-actor Orson Welles is audacious in many ways, from a storyline that mocked real-life media tycoon William Hearst in countless ways to the deep-focus photography by Gregg Toland that mimicked a live theatre experience more than a movie. I appreciate many of these aspects of the movie, but it’s my favorite for a very simple reason – each time I watch it, I see and experience new things in it. How many movies can you say that about?

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Summer Blockbuster Sermon - "Finding Dory"

On Sunday, I preached the first of this year's sermons on religious themes in new summer movies, considering the deeper lessons of the new animated film, "Finding Dory."  This is the sequel to the very popular movie, "Finding Nemo."  In the new movie, Dory, a blue tang fish with short term memory loss, relies on friends to help her look for her parents.  Because she can quickly forget things, Dory needs to rely on the help of others.

In large ways, the search in the movie is not just for Dory's parents, but for Dory herself.  What is it that makes her unique?  Were these qualities she was born with?  Or some that she was taught.

This reminded me of the education of Moses, the Hebrew boy who was raised by the daughter of the Egyptian pharaoh.  During the course of his life, Moses had many defining encounters with others who shaped him, including with God in the burning bush and on Mt. Sinai; but there also was a part of Moses that seems to have been born in him.

Sorting out some of these threads in both the adventure of Dory in the movie and the life of Moses described in the Bible, I realized that there was a deeper story here about discovering one's core identity.  For Dory, it is something much more than a fish with short term memory loss.  For Moses and the Hebrews he lead out of slavery in Egypt, it was about understanding that they were not slaves, but God's chosen people.  And for us today, it is about learning that we are not disappointments or failures, but that we are each a precious and loved child of God.  Without recognizing these core identities, it is difficult to understand the rest of who were are.

Click here to listen to the sermon.  In addition you can listen to the Communion meditation and closing benediction.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

This Week's "Summer Blockbuster" Sermon

On Sunday, I will continue this year's "Summer Blockbuster Sermon Series" by considering theological lessons in Aloha.  This is a flop -- a movie from a well-known writer-director, Cameron Crowe (who wrote and directed Jerry Maguire) with an all-star cast that has fallen flat at the box office.

This, sadly, is deserved.  The movie is a mess.  It feels like it was a 3 hour movie that has been drastically edited into the released form.  Often scenes appear from nowhere and make little sense.  (On the other hand, the movie is extremely well-acted, so it's not a total loss.  Just a mess.)

Still, the theme of secrets, which undergirds the movie, offers an interesting way to consider the way that secrets are presented in the Bible, particularly in the life of Jesus.  You can catch a glimpse of this (at least in the form of a love triangle) in the official movie trailer for Aloha:

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

"The Nature of Love"

While we continued our journey along Godsway 66 with the Jewish wisdom literature during Lent, we also considered "The Nature of Love" during Wednesday evening services and Holy Week.  (Happily, this is also a theme in some of the wisdom literature, especially the Song of Solomon and many Psalms.)

Here, in one place, you can listen to all of the meditations from this series, lasting from Ash Wednesday through Easter Sunday.

The titles were all inspired by the description of love written by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:
Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude.  It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  Love never ends.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Book Review: "Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul"

Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul by John M. Barry (Viking, 2012), hardcover, 480 pages

The relationship between religion and the political state in the United States is a complex issue.  While some cite a line from a Thomas Jefferson letter advocating a 'wall between church and state' as a guiding (and amusingly, sacred) text, the issues consistently overlap in American life.  However, the legal protection for freedom of religion that developed in the United States was a radical departure from the government control of religion in Europe over the preceding centuries.

So, how did the idea of religious liberty become so influential in the United States?  Many probably imagine that it came with the Puritans, who saw the ways that both government and the church could become corrupted and emigrated to New England in search of freedom.  Less well known, however, is that they wanted the freedom to create a similar system where the government could legally uphold the orthodox church -- political ways to preserve the purity of their envisioned "City on a Hill."  Instead, it was dissidents to these Puritans, including Baptists, Presbyterians, and Quakers, who sought legal protections for religious liberty so they could practice their faith without fear of punishment.

Ironically, a few Puritans themselves sought religious liberty too when their ideas were deemed unorthodox -- and thus illegal -- by officials in the Massachusetts colony.  The most famous of these was Roger Williams, a Puritan theologian who, after refusing to recant some of his teaching, was banished from Massachusetts and ended up founding Rhode Island.  Throughout his life, he would not only practically seek religious liberty for himself, but he would provide the theoretical and theological argument endorsing such liberty.

The ways that life, education, experience, and a confluence of significant historical events shaped Williams and his thinking about religious liberty is the subject of John M. Barry's Roger Williams and the Creation of the American Soul: Church, State, and the Birth of Liberty.  Barry, a historian who has written well regarded accounts of the 1917 influenza outbreak and the 1927 Mississippi River flood, argues that Williams is the central character in shaping America's unique relationship of church and state, with its protection of religious freedom.  While such an argument is an oversimplification of a very complex story that has evolved over four centuries, the biography of Williams certainly highlights almost all of the main parts of that larger story.

In some ways, Williams is a tragic and inspiring figure.  Despite his influence, he sacrificed an easy life to live out his beliefs about government and religion, and he passed opportunities for financial gain for the sake of the larger good.  Through his connections in British government, he was able to attain British protection of the nascent Rhode Island colony and its unique religious liberty; through his careful leadership in Rhode Island, he turned a rather rag-tag group of inhabitants into a group who, by majority rule, would uphold religious liberty even in trying circumstances.

Barry writes the story of how Williams came to espouse such beliefs and how he lived them out in his life in an overlapping account.  The early sections detail his education -- both formal and informal education -- in his native England, making particular note of the influence of Edward Coke on Williams' thinking.  Roger Williams was a stenographer for the brilliant jurist who famously opposed Francis Bacon.  Coke's arguments about the importance of the law itself, as opposed to the whims of the rulers, greatly shaped Williams ideas not only about the limits of rulers and the authority of laws properly enacted, enforced, and adjudicated but also about the nature and limits of religious authority.

In time, Williams would trade on his influence with such leaders in Oliver Cromwell's era to gain British sanction for his experimental government in Rhode Island.  He also would write letters, pamphlets, and books espousing his ideas on such matters, which likely influenced the key political philosopher just coming of age during that period, John Locke (who in turn would greatly influence the key generation of America's founders, especially Thomas Jefferson).

More exciting, though, was Williams life in New England, first through his efforts to be part of the Massachusetts colony and then, after his banishment, through his formation and protection of the Rhode Island settlements.  Barry details episode after episode where Massachusetts leaders try to undercut Williams, force him to change, and then, after he established Rhode Island, try to wrest control of the land away from him.  Barry also recounts some of the key internal challenges that the nascent colony faced, including the influence of some people more interested in personal profit than religious liberty or any of Williams' other ideas about government and law.

Occasionally, Barry is repetitive, and some might tire from his sometimes lengthy explorations of the philosophical and legal strands of Williams' thought (though I certainly did not), but otherwise this is a fine volume in which a single biography becomes the means for teaching about a larger historical narrative.  Williams was an influential figure who lived in a tumultuous time, shaping life around him and leaving an outsize legacy.  Most readers will be amazed at how eventful Williams' life was and how meaningful it was for the United States.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Lenten Prayer, Wednesday, February 25

During Lent, we are having special prayer services on Wednesday evenings.  The scriptures and music for these prayer services follows the theme "The Nature of Love," which is also the theme of this year's Holy Week services.  The titles of each service are taken from the phrases of Paul's famous description of love in 1 Corinthians.

This week's focus was "Love Is Kind," which I briefly reflected on in the Communion meditation, drawing on some words of Jesus recorded in Luke.

Click here to listen to the meditation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 22 Worship - "Job - Born to Suffer?"

After a pause for Lincoln Sunday, we resumed the journey along Godsway 66 this week.  We also celebrated the ongoing ministry of Week of Compassion through the collection of an annual special offering.

We turned our attention to the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible, beginning with the challenging book of Job.  In its exploration of suffering, it raises the significant question of whether all human beings are "Born to Suffer?"  Through a dramatic exchange of speeches and questions, it also explores issues of justice.  Surprisingly, it also has deep themes that defend the purity of human faith and share a deep sense in ultimate salvation.  Still, it is a thorny book that offers few definitive or easy answers (unfortunately for those of us who would like answers to the questions about human suffering).

If you missed Sunday's sermon, if you'd like to listen to it again, or if you'd like to share it with others, you can find an audio recording here.

You can also listen to Sunday's Communion meditation.