HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
October 16, 2006, Herald Journal
Pastor's Column

Friday night at the movies

Rev. Ingrid Bloom, United Methodist Church, Montrose

Montrose United Methodist Church has begun movie nights the first Friday of the month at 7 p.m., with a faith and values discussion afterwards.

Our first movie was “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.” In this fictional movie (also a book), Eddie, in his early 80s, is killed trying to save the life of a little girl. Our first faith and values discussion question is, what would you want to be doing the last day you die?

Eddie meets five people in heaven with whom he has unfinished business. C.S. Lewis (who wrote the Narnia Chronicles) also wrote a book about heaven called, “The Great Divorce” in which he describes how people just getting to heaven have to let go of hang-ups and sins that keep them from growing more visible to God.

In the movie, “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” Eddie meets five people who will help him experience forgiveness.

The first man he meets is someone that sacrificed his life to save him from being run over when he was a little boy, but Eddie didn’t know about this. He was a stranger for whom to give thanks. The man tells Eddie, “Strangers are just family you are here to come to know.”

How do you get to know strangers? There are many people through whom God has blessed us and yet we are unaware of these incidents. It is good to give thanks for the many ways God is working through others to save us and bless us, even though we aren’t even aware about many of these blessings.

The second person Eddie meets is a captain with whom he served during the war. Eddie had felt a lot of bitterness throughout his life because of a leg injury. He did not know that the captain had caused the leg injury in order to save his life.

In learning the truth about his leg injury, Eddie was able to let go of his bitterness, and forgive the captain who was looking out for him and even sacrificed his life for the men he was serving. The captain points out that if people stop sacrificing they lose what makes them human. And when you think you are losing something, you are passing it on to someone else.

The question that came up in our faith and values discussion was, did anyone ever sacrifice something for you? And have you made a sacrifice for someone else? How has that affected you?

The third person Eddie meets is a woman whose husband started the amusement park for which he worked his whole life as a mechanic helping keep children safe and caring for all the children he could. Eddie felt that he should have moved on to something better than this job, and that he had failed by staying at this job his whole life.

This woman helps him see his workplace in a whole new way. Her husband had envisioned it as a place of joy for children, and invites Eddy to see the park as a place of celebration and joy.

Eddie also resented his father because he had been very abusive, and blamed his father for Eddie not leaving his job at the amusement park. The woman tells him, hatred is a curved blade. The harm we do to others we do to ourselves. This woman he meets in heaven shows him a positive side of his father he hadn’t seen, that included loyalty.

Eddie is finally able to forgive his father and release his resentment about not getting a bigger and better job. He discovers the good in the job he had.

The faith and values reflection question is; in your life, is there anything that you feel is someone’s fault? Is there anything you resent and keep remembering? How do you keep bringing this to prayer and asking God for help?

The fourth person Eddie meets is his wife, Marguerite whom he always loved, but missed so much because she died early. He realizes she continued to love him even after her death as he did her, and that nothing can diminish love. Who are the people you love, and for whom that love has eternal value?

Eddie tells his wife, “I was hiding from God, but he knew I existed.” Have you ever felt like you were hiding from God? How?

The fifth person Eddie meets is a little girl that he burned and killed unknowingly during the war. It is her forgiveness that Eddie needs and that helps him get to heaven. And in accepting her forgiveness Eddie is healed from his terrible nightmares and regrets.

Movies and books are a reflection of our culture, and our psyche. It is important to have a critical mind when we see movies and read books, and learn to ask the questions about what we see, read and hear, that helps us in our spiritual growth and adds to our faith.

Come join us during our next free movie night, Friday, Nov. 3, 7 p.m. at Montrose United Methodist Church, when we will be watching “Emmanuelle’s Gift” followed by a faith and values discussion.

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