DCC News

 

Weekly e-newsletter for members and friends of the Dublin Community Church

 

July 18, 2008

                                                           

Evan Almighty

Have you ever noticed how your ability to enjoy a movie depends primarily on your mood on your way into the theater?  Maybe it’s just me.  Maybe that’s why I’m not a movie critic (I’ve also noticed that the movies I love generally get panned by real critics, and I’m usually asleep by the one-hour mark of critically acclaimed films).  On occasion, though, a movie will affect you in such a way that your frame of mind is altered—generally for the better.

Last spring, I was in a particularly stressful time in my seminary studies and rather cranky with God for making me take Theology, which at the time seemed like just a ploy to confuse and befuddle seminarians (I’ll admit that it still seems that way, but less so).  Additionally, I had an interview coming up with the UCC’s local church and ministry committee in which they would decide to approve me as a ministry candidate—or not—based on an hour conversation.  The pessimist in me always looks at the worst-case scenario in a situation like that; my fear was that I’d say the wrong thing and this whole “call to ministry” thing would be derailed before it even started.  That was my mind frame as I sat down to watch the movie Evan Almighty with my family.

Evan Almighty came out last year.  It stars Steve Carell as a recently elected Senator, named Evan Baxter, who unwillingly is called by God to serve as a modern-day Noah.  Lauren Graham of the Gilmore Girls is his wife, Joan Baxter, who is even more unwilling to go along with God’s call.  God is played, convincingly so, by Morgan Freeman.  The movie is full of laughs and my kids could generally follow it.  There are a lot of laughs as Baxter morphs into this Noah figure, with flowing gray hair and beard that he has no control over.  The movie isn’t without its poignant moments.

The pivotal scene occurs about halfway though, as Baxter is ridiculed by all those around him for heeding God’s call.  His wife and children have left him on his own to build the arc.  The scene occurs in a restaurant as God waits on Baxter’s family.  God, being all-knowing, knows that something is bothering Joan.  It’s at that moment that God explains the flood and faith to Joan.  God’s exact words:  “Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does he give them the opportunity to be patient? If he prayed for courage, does God give him courage, or does he give him opportunities to be courageous? If someone prayed for the family to be closer, do you think God zaps them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?”

 

For some reason, those simple words caused my attitude to do a 180 degree turn.  My concerns about what my fate the next day might be disappeared, and things turned out okay as I was placed In-Care by the committee the next day, which means that I am recognized as a person going through the process of becoming an ordained pastor in the UCC.

Beyond my concerns of that week, the theology of Evan Almighty has seemed to shine through in my own life.  If you feel like you are being called to be a pastor, you know that preaching and teaching the Word of God is going to be a part of it, but the idea of standing up in front of so many people has always made me uneasy, nervous, and sweaty.  My experiences in the past year have helped me conquer at least two of those three problems, though.  I realize that maybe the idea was daunting to me simply because I hadn’t had the opportunity to allow those gifts of ministry to shine through.

It’s my feeling that probably some of the 2008 Mission Trippers are feeling that same uneasy feeling that I’ve felt.  They will go and try to do things they haven’t done yet.  If one of them prays, “God, give me the ability to help fix this porch,” God’s answer might be, “I’ve already given you the ability, now I’ll give you the opportunity.”

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This Sunday, at the end of our service, we will bless the Mission Trippers and send them on their way to Harlan County, KY, to work on flooded out houses near the Kentucky-Tennessee border.  There are 12 senior highs and 4 chaperones making the trip.  These folks are worthy of this recognition and I hope you’ll make an effort to come, worship, and see them off.

Peace, Scott Schieber