The Most


 

So last night, I found myself watching a DVD, and it was just as moving as the first time I saw it. The movie is a mere twenty nine minutes, and Asbury Church is in the process of obtaining several copies of it for our library. It is on my top ten list of all time favorite movies. Apparently, many of us feel the same way as there appears to be several foreign movies of the same name, retelling the same story.

The following was a sermon I delivered after seeing it for the first time:

I can be labeled a lot of things. Some good and some bad.

But one thing is for certain, I am not one of those overly sensitive weepy types.

There has been a whole movement in our society today, where men have been urged to get back in touch with their inner emotions.They say we are unhealthy because we don’t show emotion as easily as our female counterparts. We don’t cry.Science says that this is exactly the reason why women live longer then men. They can let it out.

Men, they keep it inside. We are human beings and we experience sadness…but instead of letting the waterworks flow, we get ulcers and high blood pressure.Maybe more of us, just need to break down more often.

I heard about this seminar group, designed to get men in a group and to teach them to cry.They are very popular out west in California. That seems to fit for me, because all types of crazy comes from out there.

But I actually stumbled on their website, and there was a video introducing the seminar.Men from all over the state would gather in a hotel conference room for three days, with the sole intention of learning to release the tears. They even provided manuals so you could practice a home.

As I was thinking about this, I thought to myself,…maybe a tear or two wouldn’t hurt. I don’t want high blood pressure, or ulcers, or some other stress condition.

Maybe I could cry too. So I said to myself, Scott why don’t you give this a try.

Now this is no small task. I grew up with a very strong Italian father, and this was just not an acceptable way to be… But heck, I am a renaissance man,…I can do this.

So that night, after the kids have gone to bed, I pull up some sad music on my laptop,…like the soundtrack to the Godfather….and I grab a box of Kleenex,… I pull up a chair and get to business.

I sit down,..listen to the music and wait.

And wait…. And wait… Nothing.

I figure maybe I need to really gear myself up.

So I start thinking of some really sad things…

Extreme Makeover Home Edition:

Gets me everytime. Seeing the looks on an incredibly deserving family when they realize they have a new home, built out of the rubble.

Sure that gets me….. I wait,…. But nothing….

I think about some of those long distance television commercials, that were popular five or six years ago.
They get me too….but nothing…

I ask myself,…what is it that will really get me? Then it comes to me.

Superbowl Sunday 2008. The Patriots were supposed to win it.

I remember the images of Tom Brady getting sacked,…the crazy catch the Giant receiver makes over the back of his head… The missed balls…

I feel the ache in my stomach like it was February 3, 2008 all over again.

But the water works don’t come.

Maybe I am not trying hard enough.

I get myself comfortable all over again, and grab the arm rests of the chair and I get in the zone.

I try to force them out…

After about five minutes, an image pops into my head….

I wonder if Stacey bought Doritos when she went shopping.

The next thing I know the great experiment is over, and I am standing wide eyed, and dry eyed in front of the pantry…searching for junk food.

As I munch away on chips, watching Sports Center on ESPN, I realize us men have a long way to go, before we can experience the healing graces of a good cry.

And the great tear experiment comes to a close.

Okay, maybe I am not being completely honest with you. The truth is there is some things, beyond commercials and football that get me misty eyed.

Annie and Sophie,…they can get me. Usually its when they are on stage, or when I am spying on them from a distance.

So rest assured that your pastor is not made of a heart of stone.

This Thursday, I found myself sitting alone on my couch at 11:30pm, with tears flowing down my face.

I had the opportunity to watch a Czech film on my laptop, that was so moving, so incredible, that I spent thirty dollars on the spot to order a copy for myself.

It was called “Most”. Most is the Czechoslovakian word for bridge.

This movie was nominated for best short movie.

And short it was,…less than a half an hour.

The movie told the story of a bridge master. A bridge master is the engineer responsible for the opening and closing of bridges for trains to pass.

The movie started with the bridge master and his son. They were laughing and playing.

The father just worshiped the son. The love between the two is clearly evident from just the first two minutes of the film.

The boy would look up at the father with idolizing eyes and mimic his every step and strut.

The boy would beg and plead to follow the father to work…and the father wanted nothing more than to have him by his side each day, as he tended his lonely bridge.

The movie cuts quickly to a train leaving a station several hours away. In brief snippets you get a look at many of the travelers.
There is a soldier, who has a rage at his very center.

There is a mother, who selfishness knows no comparison.

There is sadness, hurt, and loneliness in the faces of the passengers.

There is an addict who we watch shoot up heroin in the bathroom on the train.

And there are the countless other passengers who stories remain unsaid, and are lost in the crowd.

That morning, the father has agreed to take his son to work, because the bridge will be closed for maintenance. It will be a carefree day, and perfect for the father to spend some time with his son.

Throughout the day, the father and son work together on the general repairs of the draw bridge.

Come lunch time the two wander off the tracks to have a picnic in a field a little bit away from the control room.

They laugh, they joke, they tell stories. They talk in the way that only a father and a 6 year old son can.

As they eat, the father hears the telephone go off in the control box, and scurries up to answer it, still smiling from the fun the are sharing on the blanket in the field.

His face changes as he hears the voice on the other end of the phone.

The train was supposed to be detoured around his bridge, but somewhere along the way, a switching station failed to make the switch. This train was speeding towards his bridge, and the engineer needed to release the bridge manually.

With the phone to his ear, he looks up and sees the train come full speed ahead. His mind races,…he’s got to get that bridge back down, and he starts furiously working to do so.

The way the train is barreling down at the station he hasn’t a moment to loose.

He starts cranking like made, and he reaches up to pull the final lever,…when he glimpses an figure on the bridge.

Its his son.

He had wandered on the track back to the spot where they had spent the morning working together.

He looks up at the train, and back at his son, and he screams.

The son doesn’t hear, and jumps down into a recessed mechanical area, and the father’s heart break.

For what seemed like an eternity, the father screams with tears shooting across his face.

If he pulls that lever, his son would be crushed by the retracting bridge.

If he doesn’t the passengers on the train will surely die….all of them.

What does he do?

Does he save the life of his six year old son… or the hundreds on the train.

With a scream of agony, like a wounded animal, he lowers the lever.

Crushing his son.

He stands wailing in sadness as the train passes by.

The faces of the passengers shooting by him. All of them unaware of the incredible sacrifice this man just made,…to save their lives….

An incredible sacrifice that many of them would never ever realize or could ever imagine.

The train passes without a single passenger aware of what happen, or how close their fate had been.

That is with the exception of one passenger. The addict. She was in the bathroom fighting through the desire to quit her drug with a needle in one hand, when she saw the see unfold before her.

The train seemed to slow to next to nothing as the her car passed the father in such incredible agony. Their eyes lock and tears from both side are clearly seen. We see the spoon she was using to freebase her drug fall to the floor of car.

Years go by until the addict, now clean and healthy, with a child of her own sees the engineer across a crowd. Broken hearted, he seems less tall, with a sadness in his eyes.

There eyes meet, and the father sees the child in her mothers arms, and he realizes. He remembers.

And a smile grows on his face, and his tears flow again as he turns and walks away.

A terrible, heartbreaking decision by a loving father.

The terrible heartbreaking decision to sacrifice his son, for the lives of those who may never know.

Does that sound familiar?

A father, with his hand on the lever, choosing to do the unimaginable, the unthinkable, the unfathomable, so others can live. So others can have a chance.

Brothers and sisters, that is our God. That is the gift that our God gave to us. The agony of the man on the tracks, is his agony. The pain and the heartbreak of the engineer, is his pain. Its his broken heart. The gift is for us.

We are the addicts, the lonely, the hurting, the scared, the oblivious.

We are the ones who travel this life oblivious to the wondrous thing that was done for us.

If there can be any image or any picture that is branded into your minds eye let it be the image of the father, choosing you over his son.
That’s our faith, and it should change and challenge each of us.

None of us had to do a single thing.

We wander around Sunday through Sunday, We wander around thinking that we are too old or messed up. We wander around oblivious to what has been provided for us. We are too scared to grab a hold of it. Instead we pretend. We pretend that we have it all figured out, and put our Bibles away on the shelf. We pretend that we have it all figured out, and make excuses why we cant step up or out; that’s for our pastors, or for missionaries not for us. We pretend that by sitting in our pew each Sunday, we are getting our cosmic dance cards punched so that we will be good at judgment day.

Its not enough. Someone from my Church sent me an email that said,…coming to church each week makes you a Christian as much as going to Burger King makes you a Cheeseburger.

We need to embrace the gift…. We need to embrace the sacrifice.

We need to realize that we were given an opportunity, and we need to make something of it.
Each of us needs to take a look at our gifts, and claim our ministries. Ask yourself what is your ministry. God gave us gifts, and he will give us the means to use them.

We need to ask why am I afraid to give more, do more, pray more, or why am I afraid to tell others.

Why am I afraid to take a stand.

Where is my trust?

What am I willing to sacrifice?

Commit today to taking a new course, commit today to changing your life from this moment on forward. Commit to yourself and those around you.

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