Difference between revisions of "Sermon for February 9th, 2020"
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====Love Your Enemies====
====Love Your Enemies====
Revision as of 20:15, 7 February 2020
11 You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12 so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever.
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Faith & Film VIII: Jojo Rabbit
Three Minute Film Synopsis
This is a movie that people either love or hate. Which is ironic, since the entire premise of the film is about love overcoming hate. I have to admit, I wanted to see this film mostly because it's about a 10 year old boy named Jojo. My 8 year old son, Jonah, has been nicknamed "Jojo" since he was a baby, and as he will tell you, he is the original Jojo Rabbit since he was born in the Chinese year of the Rabbit. I see a lot of him in the film's main character, Jojo Bexler -- a good-natured boy who passionately wants to belong to a group--that wears uniforms, goes camping, and looks up to a dynamic leader. Unfortunately, in Jojo Rabbit, that group is the "Hitler's Youth" in the final years of World War II, and the dynamic leader that Jojo looks up to is none other than Adolf Hitler, who in the film is also Jojo's imaginary friend, seen through the impressionable eyes of a 10 year old boy. Jojo is a passionate young Nazi, but through the course of the film begins to question his blind allegiance to the Fuhrer, especially when he befriends (and then falls in love with) a young Jewish girl that his mother (who is part of the German resistance movement) is hiding in the attic. The film is a satire, and pokes fun at some Nazi ideologies that have, unfortunately, been making a comeback in our own time. Many people, which watching this film, are initially unsure whether or not it's appropriate to laugh at the humor, which can be very campy, over the top, and borderline offensive at times--but I think this is a film with great heart, and a great message. Laughing at absurdity, and even laughing at ourselves sometimes, is actually a great way to change the world. Of all the films we've talked about this year, Jojo Rabbit remains my favorite.
Heil me, man!
In the opening sequence, as he is about to join the ranks of Hitler's Youth, Jojo pledges his allegiance to Hitler, whom he calls the "savior" of his country.
You might recognize the song that was playing at the end of that clip, even though it's a bit anachronistic. It's the Beatles' "I want to hold your hand." The song is intentional, designed to juxtapose the popularity of "Bealtemania" with the massive popularity of Hitler in Germany at the outset of the war. Only, the song is sung in German, and instead of "I want to hold your hand," the German translation of the song is literally, "Come give me your hand," which takes on a whole new meaning in light of the typical Nazi greeting, as portrayed in this clip:
The German word "heil" or it's English equivalent, "hail" is etymologically related to the older Germanic word "heilig" which, in English, means "holy." It is a term of reverence, a term of worship, and the way in which young Jojo worships his hero, Adolf Hitler is certainly worshipful. His mother, and other characters in the film are portrayed with having a problem with this kind of "blind reverence," and in fact they weren't the only ones.
When Hitler attempted to take over the churches in Germany during World War II, a small group of Reformed pastors banded together and produced a document known as the Barmen Declaration. Today, it is part of the constitution of the Presbyterian Church, and it speaks strongly against the notion that we, as Christians, owe allegiance to any earthly ruler who seeks to put himself in the place of (or above) God, and God's commandments.
To whom do we lift our hands? To whom do we give our allegiance? Both the film and our own Reformed tradition call into question what happens when we put our political and party affiliations over and above our faith, and our obligation to love and care for all of God's children, of any race or nationality.
Love Your Enemies
Do What You Can
As much as this film is a comedy, it doesn't shy away from the brutality of Nazi cruelty during the war. In the following clip, Jojo sees some people who have been executed, and asks his mother what they did. Her answer is telling, and likely not what Jojo expects.
They did what they could.