Preaching Connection: Redemption

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Movies for Preaching

Star Wars: Episode VI–The Return of the Jedi (1983) – 2

Star Wars: Episode VI–The Return of the Jedi (1983).  Written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas.  Directed by Richard Marquand.  Starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and James Earl Jones.  PG.  131 mins.  Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. Nobody guessed it, and I mean nobody: exactly who was the Jedi that was to return?  Princess Leia…

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Star Wars: Episode VI–The Return of the Jedi (1983) – 1

Star Wars: Episode VI–The Return of the Jedi (1983).  Written by Lawrence Kasdan and George Lucas.  Directed by Richard Marquand.  Starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, and James Earl Jones.  PG.  131 mins.  Rotten Tomatoes: 80%. If the self-sacrificial death and redemption of Darth Vader comes as a surprise in the last moments of…

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Babette’s Feast (1987) – 2

Babette’s Feast (1987).  Written by Karen Blixen (short story) and Gabriel Axel (screenplay).  Directed by Gabriel Axel.  Starring Stéphane Audran, Bodil Kjer, Bergitte Federspiel, Jarl Kulle, and Jean-Philippe Lafont.  Music: Per Nørgaard.  Cinematography: Henning Kristiansen.  Rated G; 102 mins. Rotten Tomatoes 100%. Gabriel Axel’s Babette’s Feast (1987) is a remarkable film of many pleasures, and…

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A Man Called Ove (2015) – 1

Written and Directed by Hannes Holm (based on novel by Fredrik Bachman).  Starring Rolf Lassgård, Filip Berg, Bahar Paris, and Ida Engvoll. 116 minutes. Rated PG-13. Ove is an ornery, rather embittered old so-and-so, or so it seems.  Recently widowed, he lives alone in a small Swedish condo complex over which, as its one-time association…

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The Godfather: Part III (1990) – 2

The Godfather: Part III (1990).  Written by Mario Puzo and Francis Ford Coppola.  Directed by Francis Ford Coppola.  Starring Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia, and Sofia Coppola.  162 mins.  Rated R. Redemption So at last, after decades of dire criminality, including the murder of his inept, needy brother Fredo (John Cazale), Michael Corleone (the…

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The Tree of Life (2011) – 1

Written and directed by Terrence Malick. 139 mins. PG-13. Starring Jessica Chastain, Brad Pitt, Sean Penn, Hunter McCracken. Hugely successful architect, Jack O’Brien (Sean Penn) slogs through his life in a trough of despair. Through the center of his soul runs a crevasse cut by contention with his harsh father and, even more so, lasting…

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994) – 1

Story by Stephen King, screenplay by Frank Darabont. 142 minutes, rated R. Starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. The first question of The Shawshank Redemption (1994) asks how in the world could this film—full of blasphemy, rancor, obscenity, and violence, though most of the last occurs off-screen—ever find its way onto a list of religiously…

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Additional content related to Redemption

Isaiah 55:1-9

The Year C Revised Common Lectionary would have us stop reading and thinking about Isaiah 55 at the 9th verse.  But to me that’s rather like singing just the first two stanzas of “By the Sea of Crystal” but being told you can’t sing stanza 3.  But since stanza 2 ends with “Hark the heavenly…

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Ephesians 1:3-14

Few Scripture passages are theologically weightier than this Sunday’s Epistolary Lesson. In fact, in an earlier commentary on it, Scott Hoezee remembers once asking the congregation he served about how it would feel if he were from then to on base every sermon on Ephesians 1:3-14. He notes that while most would call it a…

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Psalm 126

Some of us might remember that another version/translation of Psalm 126:1 mentions specifically the time when “the captives” were brought back to Jerusalem.  That framing of this psalm places this on the far side of the seventy-year exile in Babylon as the people of Israel slowly returned from captivity after Persia conquered Babylon and the…

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Job 42:1-6, 10-17

And they lived happily ever after . . .  Really?  Is it really possible that the Bible’s most troubled (and at times most torturous) book has the proverbial “happy ending”?  Did Disney take over this project at some point?!  At first glance you might think so. Job replies to God that in the wake of…

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Psalm 92:1-4,12-15

What’s in verses 5-11?  This lection from Psalm 92 is one of many RCL texts that clearly skips a certain section of a passage, forcing the curious Bible student to wonder why a chunk gets leapfrogged over.  Psalm 92 is hardly too long for a single reading or sermon.  Yet the Lectionary deletes almost exactly…

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1 Samuel 15:34-16:13

This old story about God’s choice of David as the new king of Israel fairly bubbles with contemporary relevance, especially in America.  I wrote the first draft of this Sermon Commentary just a few weeks after the inauguration of the Biden/Harris team.  The words of Shakespeare’s witches of Eastwick described the national mood perfectly: “Double,…

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Isaiah 40:1-11

Advent began last week with a lament filled with longing for the coming of God (Isaiah 64).  On this Second Sunday of Advent, the mood changes dramatically with the Good News that God is coming soon. That shift of mood parallels the radical shift between Isaiah 39 and Isaiah 40.  Even the most casual reader…

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Isaiah 64:1-9

Sometimes I scratch my head over the Lectionary choices for a particular day or season, but not today.  These words from Isaiah 64 are absolutely perfect for this First Sunday of Advent. I mean, it has all these famous verses, each of which would make for a great sermon text all by itself: verse 1,…

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Joshua 5:9-12

Why in the world would you preach on this text, when the Lectionary offers you the options of Jesus’ dramatic Parable of the Prodigal (Luke 15) and Paul’s magnificent doctrine of new creation in Christ (II Corinthians 5:15-21).  I mean, this text from Joshua seem so small and insignificant.  Plus, preaching on it will make…

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Job 42:1-6, 10-17

After surviving a blizzard of words (some from Job, many from his friends, and a few from God), we come to the end of the book of Job with this short chapter which reports on Job’s last words and last days.  It is a surprising and, for many readers, controversial ending to a surprising and…

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Joshua 5:9-12

Few of us like new beginnings any more than we enjoy the change that precedes them. A new neighborhood. A new school. A new job. Old circumstances often produce old headaches. Yet new circumstances also produce new headaches. Since Joshua 9’s Israelites have just crossed the Jordan River on dry land, their feet are neither…

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Isaiah 55:1-9

“Come and get it!” is a phrase that traditionally resonated with hungry North Americans. After all, we generally link it with an invitation to eat what someone has prepared. So when we hear “Come and get it!” we may think of Mom, standing on the front steps, hollering for us to come home for supper….

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Job 42:1-6, 10-17

Comments, Observations, and Questions And they lived happily ever after . . .  Really?  Is it really possible that the Bible’s most troubled (and at times most torturous) book has the proverbial “happy ending”?  Did Disney take over this project at some point?! At first glance you might think so.  Job replies to God that…

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