READINGOld Testament: Exodus 2:1-22
Psalms: Psalms 102, 107:1-32
New Testament: 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:3
Gospel: Mark 9:2-13
Evening Psalms: 107:1-32
DEVOTIONALI am an unabashed film nerd – not “film buff” – I don’t like that term. I am a Nerd—a movie-nut! I tend to relate to things through that prism. When I read the passage from Corinthians, the movie The Magnificent Seven immediately came to mind -- the 1960 film starring Yul Brynner and Steve McQueen, which itself was an American adaptation of the Japanese film, The Seven Samurai, directed by the legendary Akira Kurosawa. I told you – Film Nerd. So, why this movie?
The movie is about a group of loners who come together to protect a poor farming village from a bandit gang that is exploiting them. While they are mercenaries, each one of the Seven brings a unique skill to the group. In 1 Corinthians, Paul lets us know that we may fit into the body of Christ’s church through our own gifts. A person may be a healer, or a prophet, or a preacher, or a teacher. I know through Paul’s writing that I don’t have to do it all; I just have to “eagerly” strive to find my own gifts to bring to the church, to contribute to our magnificent ministry.
Paul’s message is also about how Love should be the focus of using our gifts. Toward the end of the movie (SPOILER ALERT!), the Seven are betrayed by the villagers they have come to protect. Out of fear, the villagers strike a deal with the bandits, and they send away the Seven. They reject them, turning their backs on their protectors. But the Seven come back to save them anyway, defeating the bandits. As the bandit leader, the great Eli Wallach, lies dying, he says to Yul Brynner: “You came back. For them. Why?” Sound familiar?
It’s a question I ask in my prayers. At those times in my life, after I have turned away from Christ, or away from those in need, He always comes back to save me. And when I ask, “Why?” the answer is simple, yet resounding – Love. That’s why the Seven come back to save the village. Though they don’t express it in that way, it’s the underlying reason. After all, four of the Seven give their lives – ‘no greater love’ – to protect the farmers.
Is it a stretch to see Paul’s message in a 55-year-old, shoot-‘em-up Western? Maybe – but it speaks to this old Film Nerd.