This week at Scargill House I saw, for the first time, the film The Shack. I found it deeply moving in places and insightful in others. It has left me with much to think on. Stories do that for me, they challenge me, make me laugh and cry, make me think, and give me room to manoeuvre. It;’ why I love film. and I think it’s why Jesus used stories to help folks encounter God and his kingdom.
So far this year my top 3 favourite films are Oceans 8, 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri and Mamma Mia, Here We Go Again. (I realise how dangerous it is to nail your colours to the mast so publicly like this, one person’s epic is another’s turgid endurance test.) But I mention these as examples of three very different tales which have left me thinking, made me laugh, cry, thrill, wonder, question and ponder. One is an all-action heist where seven women pool their gifts, wits and resources to scam their way to rather a lot of cash. Another is an all-singing, all-dancing number, a happy story laced with sadness. And the third is a raw, unbridled cry for justice, a woman wronged, like the biblical Rizpah, losing family and refusing to shut up about it until some kind of justice prevails. I leave you to work out which film is which.
The story of Rizpah, in 2 Samuel verses 1-14, is a heart-rending tale, and one that reminds me that the Bible does not offer trite answers to life’s awful, as well as joyful, events. King David, (you know the dude who wrote 73 honest and helpful songs in the book we now call Psalms) gave up Rizpah’s two sons to the Gibeonites for execution, as a kind of revenge killing. When her boys were left to rot on a mountain, exposed to vultures and wild animals, Rizpah refused to let things lie. She went up the mountain and refused to leave her beloved sons, protecting their bodies from the ravages of nature and predators. The news of her actions filtered back to David, and he eventually did something about it and gave the men a decent burial. Rizpah reminds me of the hard-bitten MIldred in 3 Billboards, she may not have been a very likeable character, but her unbridled cries for justice eventually brought a change in the life of a previously uncaring cop. Justice is ranked alongside humility and a love for mercy in the prophet Micah’s description of worshipful living. These things matter to God, and when we seek them, in small or larger ways, we honour him. (Have a look at Micah 6 verses 7 and 8.)
I wonder what your favourite film is, and why you might like it?