Sermon for January 20th, 2019
1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. 4 These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created. In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, 5 when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; 6 but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— 7 then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 8 And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. 9 Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
1 Corinthians 15:45-49
45 Thus it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. 49 Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.
Faith and Film VII: Christopher Robin
Three Minute Film Summary
Christopher Robin is a film based on writer A. A. Milne's classic children stories, and the subsequent Disney cartoons about a young boy named Christopher Robin, his stuffed bear Winnie the Pooh (and Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, Owl), and their adventures in the 100 Acre Wood.
This film begins in the 100 Acre Wood with Pooh, Piglet and company holding a going-away-party for young Christopher Robin, who is about to be sent away to boarding school. It is a bittersweet parting, but we see the love they all have for each other, and Christopher Robin promises never to forget them, or the Hundred Acre Wood.
As the opening credits continue, we are then taken through a montage of Christopher's young adulthood: as he goes to boarding school, as he loses his father and is told he must now be the "man of the house," as he studies hard in college, falls in love and marries, then leaves to fight in World War I, as his daughter is born and grows, and finally as he returns to England to become a responsible and hard working manager at a company that manufactures luggage. In fact, the adult Christopher Robin becomes a little bit of a workaholic, stern and serious with his daughter, who is herself about to be sent away to boarding school and desperately yearns for her father's attention.
And then one day, Christopher Robin's childhood friend, Winnie the Pooh, reappears, luring Christopher Robin back to his childhood home and back to the 100 Acre Wood, where he re-encounters, then rescues all of his childhood friends, in the process also rediscovering much about himself. He then leaves the 100 Acre Wood to go rescue his company and the employees who work for him, whereupon Winnie the Pooh and friends (with help from Christopher's daughter Madeline) embark upon an "expotishun" to follow behind and rescue him!
I won't give away any spoilers about the ending, but as you can imagine (it is a Disney film) all are rescued in the end, including Christopher Robin's relationship with his family and his newly reunited stuffed animal friends.
The 100 Acre Garden of Eden
Winnie the Pooh (and all of his animal friends) live in the 100 Acre Wood, which is beautifully portrayed in this film through shady forests, stunning vistas, and quiet brooks. It is a paradise, and as such, should remind us of the original paradise in the Book of Genesis -- the Garden of Eden.
In today's scripture passage, Genesis 2, we read how God created the garden especially for Adam, where you could find "every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food." Here Adam named all of the plants and animals, just as Christopher Robin names all of the places and animals in the 100 Acre Wood.
Young Christopher Robin is a type of Adam, and just like Adam, his time in the garden comes to an end. Adam must leave his paradise for the world outside, where death is a reality, and where he must work and toil by the sweat of his brow. Likewise, Christopher Robin leaves his paradise behind for the world of adulthood, where parents die, and where work becomes an all consuming task. Incidentally, Christopher Robin's wife is named Evelyn, which, when shortened, becomes "Eve."
The New Adam
The boy Christopher Robin is a type of Adam, but the grownup Christopher Robin becomes something more. At first, he is still Adam, hardworking, and (as he tells Pooh at one point in the story) lost. His wife remarks at one point that she hasn't seen him smile in years.
But when Christopher Robin returns to the 100 Acre Wood with Winnie the Pooh, he begins to slowly transform into another character from the biblical story. Here is the key moment, when he first reencounters Eeyore, who doesn't recognize him at first, mistaking him for an evil Heffalump.
Christopher Robin "saves" Eeyore, in the process laughing for the first time! He goes on to encounter his other childhood friends, who also don't recognize him, and demand that he "prove" he is really Christopher Robin. Watch for the moment in this clip when Eeyore actually recognizes him:
It is when Christopher Robin "plays" that he is finally recognized. It is also when he is fighting to "save" his friends, even if it is against an imaginary Heffalump.
Who is it, in our Christian story, that saves us? It is, of course, Jesus Christ, who is described in our scripture reading from Corinthians (and elsewhere in the New Testament) as the Second Adam, the one who leads us back into paradise, back into the Garden of Eden. And of course, if you shorten Christopher Robin's first name, it is Christ.
Something From Nothing
There's a lot this film has in common with the one we discussed last week, Mary Poppins Returns. Both are films about childhood lost and regained, about family and discovering what is truly important. But there's another message in this film that we really need to hear--one that is timely, and also hearkens back to the Genesis story.
Winnie the Pooh, despite the fact that he is a "bear of little brain" is the voice of wisdom and truth in this film. In the following film clip, the actor who plays Christopher Robin (Ewan MacGregor) talks about Pooh, but also about the key message of the film--which is, in a word, "nothing."
Many times in the film, various characters (representing the grown-up world) will say "Nothing comes from nothing." To which Pooh often replies, "Doing nothing often leads to the very best something."
When I hear this, I'm first reminded of how God created the very best something (the universe, the world, and us) out of nothing. But I'm also reminded of what God does right after he has created the universe, the world and everything we know. He did...nothing. Genesis 2:1-3:
"Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. 2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. 3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation."
In Judaism and in Christianity, we call this "Sabbath." It literally means "seventh" but it also means a time of rest, a time of not working, a time of doing...nothing.
As grownups (and sometimes even as children) we need to hear this reminder, from scripture, and from film, that as important as all of our work and toil and business in this life can be...sometimes we just need to let it go: To embrace and appreciate the beauty around us, to spend meaningful time with the people we love, to seek out, make time for--and hold onto--those quiet moments in God's creation, those deep conversations with a friend, the fleeting beauty of this life.
We need those times of "doing nothing" so that we can truly hear God's voice, so that we can truly hear each other, so that we can truly remember who we are, and to whom we belong. And I believe that if we can do this, if we can make Sabbath a truly meaningful part of our lives and routines, that from out of those "nothings" will come our very best "somethings."
I'll let our film have the final word. The last clip is from the closing scenes of the film, as the new Adam, Christopher Robin, brings his family back to Eden, back to the 100 Acre Wood. There is something very satisfying, very "heavenly" about the very last scene.