Film Friday: Red Joan

When Joan Stanley gets a knock at the door one day she opens it to find a huddle of cops on the doorstep. She is under arrest. For spying. Surely not. Not this quiet unassuming lady in this quiet unassuming house. And so we follow her back in time to Cambridge, and her days as a brilliant student, befriended by the mysterious and impassioned Sonya and Leo. As times go by she becomes a Government civil servant, and part of the team developing the science for the atomic bomb. But Sonya and Leo keep reappearing in her life, bringing pressure to bear on her about ‘sharing information’. Joan gets increasingly caught up in events beyond her control.

Do spies ever see themselves as spies? Obviously James Bond does, because in his world spies are suave and sophisticated. In real life, one would imagine, the more ordinary they look the better. They need to blend in, go unnoticed. The bible features a couple of spies in the book of Joshua (chapter 2), they sneak over the wall into the Promised Land to check things out. But trouble comes their way, there is a mole who rats on them (to mix my furry creature metaphors for a moment), soon they are in grave danger, and it takes an unexpected hero to rescue them. Rahab hides the spies and provides a cover story for them in return for the promise of safety for her family in the coming days. She doesn’t realise it but her brief moment in the spotlight is going down in history. In two ways. Rahab is listed in Hebrews chapter 11 verse 31 as being a woman of faith because of her courage and trust here. But also, her son Boaz grows up to marry another hero – Ruth. And as such Rahab will be the great, great, great, great, great, great etc… grandmother of Jesus himself. How about that? The woman who brought rescue to two spies, became part of the family of the son who would rescue the world. We never know how our actions, how our kindness, encouragement and courage, might help others.

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