Film Friday: On Chesil Beach

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When Edward and Florence first meet, at a CND meeting (not the most romantic of places!) it is love at first sight. They fall deeply for each other, embark on a heady romance and before too long end up as man and wife. However, on arriving at their honeymoon hotel, it is not long before it becomes clear that consummating the marriage is not going to be straightforward. They struggle to be intimate with one another as the past casts a haunting and difficult shadow.

There are moments in this film when you long for the characters to communicate with each other, yet at the same time understand why it’s so difficult for them to do that. It is after all 1962, and talking about past problems is not perhaps as easy as today. Yet even today we still struggle with difficulties and weaknesses and often have to put on a front to feel accepted. Others may misunderstand and misuse the truths we tell them. Jesus described himself as ‘the truth’. The truth about life, about people, about the past, the future and the present. It feels risky even to talk to him about who we are, but he encourages us to do it because his ways are good and his view of us is kind. When he met a woman who was deeply embarrassed about her past and her life, in Mark 5 vv 25-34, he called her out of the crowd, not so that he could shame her and make her feel small, but so he could help her start again. So he could lift her up, look into her eyes and enable her to know that she was loved and precious, a human being made in the image of God.

Life is harsh, it ambushes us, knocks us about, mistreats us. It mistreated Jesus too, on a daily basis as folks came at him again and again. Ultimately it took him to the end of everything, humilition, embarrassment, loss and despair. But for us he submitted to the lot, faced and fought through it and came out the other side to forgiveness, healing, hope and a new dawn. He cares. He understands, he knows life has knocked us about, and he is able to help us.

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