[Rector]

Places in the heart

 

There was a replay of a film on TV recently which I found very profound. I can't remember any particular line, but the point of the film was quite moving. The film was "Places in the Heart" with Sally Field.

I have to say I've seen the movie a few times before and it always moves me. It's set in the deep South of America, probably around the 1970's. The theme is common enough - the struggle to survive with dignity through the rough-and-tumble of life. The plot is predictable. A young white widow and her children, struggle to keep her farm with the aid of a black American friend, following the death of her husband. Racism flares and the friend is murdered. The fates conspire, but the heroine comes through with dignity. Good wins out in the end, despite the weight of circumstance and the hand of evil.

As I say, predictable. In fact, someone said to me they don't watch "deep South" movies. The Negro-bashing formula wears thin. Still, this movie had an interesting touch to it. In scene after scene there was a background-shot of the local Baptist church. The building was quite amazing, standing out from everything around. Actually, it doesn't look like a church. It really takes some time to work out what it is. It serves to promote an "otherness" about the bitter-sweet events of life. It points to something behind the raw events of the unfolding plot.

The church life of the family is certainly not accentuated. This is not a "Christian" movie. Yet, belief in the goodness of God permeates the film, and the final scene is close to profound. It is set in the church. The town is gathered to share in the Lord's Supper. All the players gather to share the bread and the wine. The racists, the thieves, the fools ...... the good and the bad, the rich and the poor, young and old. The camera pans across the congregation as we watch the sharing of the wine. Each member takes the tray with the cups in it, takes their cup and passes the tray to the person next to them. Suddenly you realize everyone is there, even those who have died. The heroine's husband, all her children and her friend, they are all there with her in church.

This is the church universal, eternal, gathered with Christ. "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in heavenly realms in Christ Jesus", Eph.2:6. For those in Christ Jesus, their gathering with Christ on Sunday in church, is not just limited to those who attend, but includes their intimate fellowship, deceased or far away. In fact, it includes all saints past and future, and even the heavenly host. We never sit alone.