Film Friday: The Keeper

When German prisoner of war Bert Trautman turns out to be a rather handy goalkeeper he is invited to help out the local team, St Helens Town. However this does not go down well with the other players and with the fans. The war is only just coming to an ended and Bert is still seen as very much the enemy. Here’s the trailer…

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However, after a series of great performances which enable the side to avoid relegation, little by little Bert the goalkeeper is accepted. And, after the war ends he falls for, and later marries, local girl Margaret Friar. Then he is spotted by Manchester City manager and invited to join the team. The outsider does not get an easy ride when interviewed by the national press, especially when they discover he has been awarded the Iron Cross for his endeavours in the war, but Bert battles on and little by little, match by match, he is accepted.

Jesus refused to box people or label them as others did. When a group of folks with leprosy asked for his help he reached out and healed all of them, including one who was a Samaritan, an enemy as far Jesus’s friends were considered. He also reached out to – shock horror – Romans! The brutal invaders who would go on to beat, ridicule and crucify him. Yet to Jesus these folks were all people. He would not add the kind of tags that enable us to hold folks at bay or blame them because they are not ‘us’. There is no us and them to Jesus.

After Jesus had returned to his heavenly father, one of his closest mates Peter, received a vision in which he was invited to eat all kinds of strange food. Food he normally would avoid to keep himself ritually clean. Not long after there was a knock at the door, and a stranger invited him round for a meal and a chat. Peter went to a place where he was offered just the kind of food he would normally have avoided. But here he was breaking bread with a bunch of folks who had previously been his enemy. I once wrote a little dialogue about that, to finish, here it is…

‘Well that’s really kind of you to invite me to stay for dinner Cornelius, I have to say I’ve never seen a spread like this before… at least, not on a dining table anyway! I mean those things there… what are they called? Really? No joke? And what you do with them? Rolled up in a… with ketchup? Fascinating. And these brown strips of streaky stuff… really? And those things there that are the spitting image of snails… what do you call them? Oh! Snails. I see, so you call them that because they really are sna…. I get it. And those things with eyes that keep staring right at me, you know following me round the room… Aha. And that black stuff, surely that’s not edible? What do you call it? Marmite!! It’s quite a zoo… I mean menagerie isn’t it? Why do those thing keep moving, you know as if they are alive… because… they ARE… ali…. Right. What do you call that one? Beef surprise? Oh I like beef, that sounds great, what’s the surprise? It’s not really beef. Ah. Clever. And that pie, what’s in that? Snake and kidney. Mmm. Sound yuk…. I mean Yummy! Mmm… can’t wait to try it. Oh, I don’t mean right now… of dear, thanks, that is a very large slice isn’t it? So I really can eat this? All of it? So not just the pastry then? Hmm, I see. You know I had a dream earlier…. about all this food actually. I saw a whole blanket full of it… a picnic blanket actually… squirming and squiggling and seething… and a voice told me to eat it, and not be afraid of stuff I woudn’t normally touch with a five-mile-long barge pole. I’ll be honest Cornelius, I don’t normally try and swallow stuff that keeps trying to wriggle off my plate. But then I wouldn’t normally eat… here… with you. It’s tough this isn’t it? Oh no I don’t mean the lizard, you’ve braised it perfectly, slips down like a… well… braised lizard in white wine sauce. It’s just I’m out of my comfort zone. When you knocked on my door today everything changed. I’ll be honest, I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t had that dream. But I can see God’s doing something, crossing boundaries you know, pushing down walls, and I promised that I would follow him. You see he gave me a whole new start Cornelius, after I abandoned him, after I’d promised I never would. But he picked me up out of the dust, helped me start again. And I guess that’s what he’s doing here. Giving us both another new start. It’s disconcerting for me, not the easiest of picnics I’ve ever been on. But if he can make the journey he made, leave the safety of heaven to live and sweat and laugh and cry with me, to end up rejected on a barbaric cross so you and I could get a new start, well, I’d better do my best to not get in the way of that… this is a strange day Cornelius, but a very good one. Pass me that cup of gecko juice and let’s drink to a new start. For both of us.’

Acts chapter 10

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