At the Movies – week 2


Hi everyone and happy Friday!

I hope you have been able to enjoy the beautiful weather if you are here in the midwest, but our hearts and prayers go out to all along the southeast coast of the U.S. as the hurricane and storm surges have wreaked havoc. We were so sad this morning watching the news and seeing familiar places so damaged and destroyed. May God pour out his grace and mercy on the areas where homes and lives have been lost. 

As I mentioned last week, we are going to revisit the At the Movies series each Friday for the next few weeks. I had a good question asked by one young mom after last week’s sermon based on “Back to the Future/“ She wanted to know where we found a “clean” version of the movie. She thought we watched the whole thing.


I confess I watched this movie back in the day and only remembered the good parts. Sadly, I did not remember the colorful language. So I want to make sure anyone who doesn’t attend FCC knows that there is a big caveat at the beginning of each week’s sermon that says the entirety of each movie is not necessarily “endorsed” by the church – ie, watch with caution and check ratings The sermon series pulls out a thread that has Truth in it. I remember a pastor who often refers to this as even the world recognizes TRUTH. 

I have to briefly share a funny story from our own family room many years ago. Our kids were older teens and we had somehow rented a movie that was just full of all manor of dicey worldliness. After it was over, I cleared my throat and began to expound on a Biblical truth that was woven in the plot. Our three were used to having this done with every single movie we ever watched and before I could get too far into my teachable moment, our Sarah burst out in exasperation and basically said – DO NOT tell me you saw something about the Bible in that mess. But I did. 

And that is how it is with our “At the Movies” – it is highly suggested that children (while the clips are not ever inappropriate) should be enjoying the children’s programming except for THIS coming Sunday when it is a family affair in the worship services. I think the nature of the films and the fact that they would not be okay for kids to watch in entirety is the reason for the warning 

Well, that was probably clear as mud…so let’s look at the movie from last week before I completely lose you. 

The sermon text last Sunday was worked around a film called “Bridge of Spies” with Tom Hanks in the starring role as a lawyer who was given the the challenge to defend a Soviet spy caught passing along stolen information to the enemy during the Cold War. Hanks character, James Donavan, is reluctant to take this case as it will put him and his family in a very difficult position. The country, at large, considered the spy, Abel, to be public enemy number one and being his defender would place Donavan and his family squarely in the camp of being traitors. 

But James Donavan does take the case because, while he knows his client did steal information for his home country, he also firmly believes in the right of anyone in America to receive a fair trial. The court system does not agree, nor does the public, so Donovan makes a big decision to do the right thing, even though he and his family will pay a high cost. 

Abel is found guilty and sentenced to death, but Donovan once again advocates for this man. Throughout the clips, he repeatedly points out that the man is not a U. S. Citizen and thus, not a “traitor” by definition. He is doing what spies do; gathering and transferring information about the country he is spying on. Donovan convinces the court to let Abel live and perhaps as a prisoner of this Cold War, he might be useful at some point.

Donovan is proven correct when some time later two Americans are taken as prisoners, one in East Germany (Abel’s home country) and one in Russia. Donovan is sent to Russia to negotiate a trade; Abel in return for the two Americans. 

Again, doing the right thing, Donovan meets several trials with both his own government and the Russians. America is willing to settle for just one prisoner, but Donovan, now aided by Abel, refuses to compromise. The exchange scene is tense and successful, bringing somewhat of a happy ending although both Donovan and Abel know that as Abel’s future as he returns home is anything but a guaranteed happy ending. 

Brian used several comparisons from Scripture to point out that grace and salvation are as complicated as this defense and exchange of prisoners of war is. 

Using John 8: 1- 11, he shared how Jesus defended a woman caught in adultery.I think the key to this as a comparison was the last verse of the passage where Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you, now go and sin no more.” In other words, the woman had sinned/ Abel was a spy…but both deserved a chance. The point is that every person matters and deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. 

He added Philippians 2:3-8 where Paul urged his hearers (including us) to value others above ourselves. We are to advocate for people that God calls us to stand in the gap for. I love how Brian worded it, and I hope I got it correctly but this is what I jotted down:

“We would be amazed at what God can do through us when we put others before us.”

My two big takeaways were this:

1. Decency won’t always make sense to the world around us. Doing the right thing is always the right thing, even if it doesn’t seem like it to the general public opinion poll. 

2. The visual of Abel crossing the bridge in exchange for the American prisoner to return home was so impactful as I realized Christ crossed such a bridge in exchange for me. As I watched them welcome the soldier with open arms, while Abel disappeared into the dark of East Germany, I thought how Christ crossed over and entered enemy territory so I could live free. Only the beautiful part of it all is that he didn’t stay there. He is alive and He reigns. Forever. 

Best. Ending. Ever. 

Love and blessings, 


This week’s At the Movies will be aired Saturday 5:00 PM, Sunday 9:00 and 10:30 AM and Wednesday at 7:00 PM only on Church on line (available here https://www.firstdecatur.org/movies/ )


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