When I was growing up my family would regularly go to my grandparent’s house for lunch on Sundays. My grandmother always had a big spread – roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops with potatoes and vegetables and salad and always two or more kinds of desert (my grandmother had a real sweet tooth!). It got to be such a routine that I hardly knew anything different.
About the same time as my grandmother’s health was beginning to affect her ability to continue this tradition, our lives were getting more complicated and we were less able to make the weekly commitment. But I remember those Sunday meals with great fondness.
It was more than just a meal. Oh sure, the food was always good, but it was the company and the conversation that was the most rewarding. I was too young to fully appreciate it at the time, but time spent sitting around that table or around the living room afterwards was formative. It was there that I heard stories of my parent’s and grandparent’s lives; it was there that I heard about people who had passed away and people who passed through our family; it was there that I learned what being a part of this family meant; it was there I learned who I am.
Some of the stories I first heard around that table have become legends in our family, they are a part of the family lore, full of strange names that I don’t recognize and places that I would have difficulty finding on a map.
Over time, some of the details were forgotten and others have morphed, but the stories still remain and so does the reason for telling the stories – to remind us of who we are. Whether they happened exactly as they are re-told is unimportant, the point of the story is much bigger than the details of story.
I find it quite fascinating that there have been a number of recent major motion pictures based on Biblical stories. This year alone there was “Noah”, starring Russell Crowe, and “Son of God” produced by Mark Burnett. Ten years ago it was Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” and there is talk of at least two more coming down the pike, both by director Ridley Scott, one based on the story of the Exodus and one based on the story of David.
Why the sudden interest in bringing Bible stories to the big screen? Has there been a sudden rise in the level of religious devotion among North American audiences (or movie directors and producers)? I don’t think so. I suspect it has to do with the nature of these stories – these are stories that remind us of who we are. And they are stories that are much larger than any of the details of the story.
The stories found in the Bible are about more than just historical people and events. At their core, these are stories that are about the nature of human beings and the world we live in. They are about the way things are, not about the way things were. Noah, David, Moses, Esther, Mary, all of them are all of us, their stories are our stories.
Reading these stories (or watching them) is like spending time with family, sitting around the dining room table or the living room, hearing about who we are. There’s a little of us in each one of them. And a little of them in each one of us.
Reverend Brian Krushel is pastor at the Church of St Paul in Barriere, and the United Church in Clearwater.