Have you ever noticed that most big blockbuster movie hits are stories of social change? From superhero sagas to epic sci-fi adventures, our favorite fictional heroes aren’t just “super.” They are focused on larger issues. They lead the resistance against corrupt leaders and systems. They fight against the powers of darkness. They mobilize communities to work for justice and the greater good.
We may see movies as an escape, but deep down, I think we love these movies—to the tune of approximately a bajillion dollars a year—because we desperately want to see this kind of resistance take shape in real time. In this divisive and often toxic political climate, people are hungry for leaders who will help transform our communities in the way of racial and economic justice; LGBT equality; environmental protection; and compassion for refugees and immigrants.
The good news is this: those realities are possible beyond the screen. Maybe the main characters of our favorite movies have something to teach us about leading meaningful social change in our own time. We might even know some biblical characters who model those same values. With that in mind, I’m working with my folks on a really fun fall worship series that we’re calling Resist: Justice Heroes from the Bible to the Big Screen. It’s going to be—this word gets overused a lot, but I mean it—epic.
I’m telling you this because I’m going to share some themes here from our weekly messages. I’ll also try and post some scripture notes, discussion questions, and (if we’re really on our game) pictures of what we’re doing with the worship space.
I’m also telling you because I hope we can have some ongoing conversation about this in the weeks to come. I know that I’m not the only theology nerd out there who totally ruins The Hunger Games by turning Katniss into a biblical prophet; or who can’t just, for the love, enjoy Harry Potter without extrapolating the themes of sacrificial atonement. Who’s with me? Nerd up, and let’s talk.
Let’s talk, for instance, about how Kirk and Spock are like Moses and Aaron; how Wonder Woman is like the Woman at the Well; or how hard it is to distinguish a Yoda quote from Proverbs.We might be kicking our series off with a study in Avengers discipleship (talk about #SquadGoals) but I’m aware not all heroes come with capes. I want to hear about what my church people are doing, out there in their neighborhoods and work places and schools and statehouses, to make our world a more just place. I want to hear what you and your people are doing too: tell me about some justice heroes you know. Talk to me about the real powers of transformation at work all around us.
On the one hand, I’m shamelessly asking you to preach this thing for me, because I know many voices together are more powerful than any one. But more than that, I recognize that we are living through a critical time of transition right now. We are bearing witness to seismic shifts in our collective identity. We’re struggling with ideas of what it is to be Americans, what it means to be Christian, and how we live faithfully at the intersection of those values. We are revisiting some basic human rights that we thought to be self-evident; and finding that we might still need to fight for these things after all.
In light of all these turnings, it seems like a good time to offer each other some practical inspiration, and share some good stories for the journey. In the preaching life, I always deeply value the thin lines between what is sacred and secular, and how we draw meaning from each. Some narratives, though not entirely based in reality, can be deeply true. The more we can identify and dwell in those places, the more fully we live; and the more faithfully we can lead our own justice movements, in real time.
One more thing: if you live in the Kansas City area and want to really be part of this conversation, come visit us at Saint Andrew. If you don’t live here but know people who do, send them on over. We need all the help we can get. Because in our house:
We Boldly Go
We Lasso Truth
The Force is With Us
The Odds are Ever in Our Favor
We Solemnly Swear that We Are Up to No Good