A Masters’ New Year Tradition

For maybe 4 or 5 years now, Annie and I have a tradition for New Years Eve.  Together, the two of us find every snack that is bad for us, find a groove in the couch to nest into, and together we welcome the new year in by gorging ourselves on sweets while watching movie after movie.   Hopefully, this is a tradition that Annie looks to continue for a long time to come.

The movies we choose for these nights, are typically not what we watch as a family, and as  of today, only Annie and I have interest in watching them.    One year we watched some of M. Night Shyamalan movies.  If you are unfamiliar; his works are typically horror or psychological thrillers in the mold of Six Sense (the “I see dead people” movie).

Someday, we will certainly invite Sophie to join us in this mix, but I think I would end up scarring the child, more than I have already done, if I expose her to our film choices.  Annie and I are beyond correction already.

Anyways, I think we are going to choose a tamer collection of films this year; maybe “The Pirates of the Caribbean” or something similar.   Maybe this is a good year to introduce Sophie to the tradition.    We’ll leave that up to her.

We certainly have a great time each year.  Last year, the two of us watched the full Lord of the Rings Triology.   We watched all three of the movies, and it certainly was no small feat.    This is a long time of movie playing, and staying awake required a great deal of sugar and mutual encouragement, but we did it.  The only interruption to the Masters Family Film Festival was an 11:55PM pause to watch the ball drop.

If you haven’t watched the Lord of the Rings, this is certainly a must see.  There is a scene in that movie that I would like to talk about today.   It came across my desk this past week, in the form of a sermon helps email.   But before we begin, and in the way of some needed back story, we must outline the story if you are not familiar.

It centers around a character named Frodo.  Frodo is a creature called a Hobbit, and he finds himself in the possession of a magical ring, which is the source of a great evil.

Realizing the possession of this wizardly ring has put his live and his hometown in jeopardy, Frodo decides to leave town with his best friend, another hobbit named Sam.

As Frodo and Sam are leaving their beloved village home, a land of streams and valleys and meadows and forests (a proverbial land flowing with milk and honey) they are filled with anticipation.   Not knowing exactly what’s in store, their apprehension increases with each step. As they cross a field, Sam stops. As a result, Frodo stops too..

“What’s the matter, Sam?” asks Frodo.

“If I take one more step,” Sam says looking a bit nervous, “I’ll have gone further than I’ve been before.”

Frodo considers the words of his best friend, smiles, walks back to him, puts his arm around him and delivers the perfect line.

He says “it’s a dangerous thing, just going out your front door, you never know what will sweep you up”

And, together, they take the first step, and the next, and then on and on and on.

There was a time, when faith came with a very visible risk and an enormous cost.   It was in your face and unavoidable.  

Believing in Jesus meant you very well could have burned at the stake, fed to lions in the coliseum, sent to the Middle East on a crusade, or even, if you were a peasant, told to work 23hours a day until you dropped dead from exhaustion.  Faith was costly.

Today, things have changed; at least in the United States.  

Turn on the news and you will hear likely hear about stories that talk of a different type of persecution.  

I heard just recently that Tim Tebow, the young up and coming Denver Bronco’s quarterback, according to many is “persecuted for his faith” because he is often so visibly in prayer on the sidelines..    I chuckle because he is a multi-million dollar professional, who gets to earn a living playing a game.   That is far from persecution.     Persecution is what we see in Iran, China, and parts of the globe where your faith can get you killed.

As I say this, I don’t want you to believe that there is no cost to our faith.   There is, but I am not sure we can call in persecution.   People may think we are naïve or simple minded, but odds are they are not going to come rushing through our church doors and kill us on the spot.

If it’s not persecution in the likes of the persecuted believers across the globe, what is our cost?  Does our faith come with great cost?

Yes, but our cost is more personal.    Our cost is seen when all of a sudden what we thought was important becomes trivial.   Our cost is in the relationships we allow to die because they don’t support the kind of people we are called to be.    Our cost is seen in changing our priorities and choosing a more difficult way, all in service to God.   Our cost is offering our life, our heart, and our trust to not only God, but his church, and to his children.    That is not without cost, impact, or risk.

I believe the hardest part of our faith, is opening ourselves up to others.  Its about coming to this place, and realizing that you are called to not only be willing to be a part of the life of the stranger next to you, but you are called to have them be part of yours.    I often say that the passing of the peace sometimes is the hardest part of our worship.   Extending your hand in fellowship and faith is costly and it’s risky.

As we do just that, I want you to remember Frodo‘s words to his friend Sam; “it’s a dangerous thing, just going out your front door, you never know what will sweep you up”

I say, that it can be a dangerous thing going through the church’s doors, because there is not telling what will sweep you up.    In that reality, we see not only our cost, but the excitement and the power of our faith.


(The illustration was referenced as:  Colorado Springs: Multnomah Publishers, 2006), pp. 33-34, the LOTR pic of Frodo and Sam is from the film itself and found at http://www.lordoftherings.net/, Tim Tebow’s Pic was accessed from Steve Higginbotham (2011) )
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