Sunday, 17 April 2011

Of Gods and Men

Over the weekend I heard the best sermon of the year and it came through a film. 'Of Gods and Men' isn't the sort of film to watch if you're wanting a chilled, stress-free, undemanding Saturday evening. Fast, frenetic, action-thriller it isn't, nor is it remotely like a rom-com, and last weekend's 'Eat, Pray, Love' is about a million miles away! What it is is a luminous, poignant, deeply challenging film based on the true story of a community of brothers in a monastery in Algeria, which in 1995 came to the corporate decision to stay rather than go when threatened by religious fundamentalist terrorists. All but two of them were kidnapped and murdered as a consequence of that decision.

It's slow-paced with almost no music featuring frequent episodes of the brothers at worship. You witness their struggle as they face their fear at the real possibility of martyrdom. You see both their joy and their sorrow as they partake in their last supper together. Interestingly, the trailer has this scene set to the same music used in The King's Speech, the slow movement of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony, while in the film the music is from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Within a nearly silent soundtrack it's effect is devastating.

On Sunday morning I preached on the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and as part of this explored the different expectations of the crowd and Jesus. Jesus was was setting out on the last leg of a journey to his death on a cross. Death would not have the final say, but that's a far too premature conclusion to reach at this stage of the journey in Holy Week. The way of Jesus is to be the way of his followers as he calls them to 'deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me'. It could not have been put more effectively than by 'Of Gods and Men'.


Andy Goodliff said...

Geoff - 'eat, pray, love' how could you? that had crap written all over it ... on the other hand i can;t wait to see 'on gods and monsters' when it arrives at somepoint via lovefilm

Geoff Colmer said...

Ah! 'Eat, Pray, Love' coming back to haunt me!! Actually, I read the first part of the book and found it thoughtful. And Elizabeth Gilbert, the author, is well worth watching on TED Talks. Sadly, it didn't translate well to film, although Rome and the food made the first part an enjoyable watch. From there it went downhill rapidly, although I confess to being able to watch Julia Roberts even in a bad film!