Summer At The Movies Part 5:
On Sunday 21st August at our morning service, we continued our Summer series 'Summer At The Movies'. In this blog you will find a summary of the talk and then some questions and reflections for you to think through on your own or to discuss in your small group.
To listen to the talk on-line, please click here.
To download the talk to listen to off line, please click here.
We started our service by watching a Youtube clip with the trailer for How To Train Your Dragon. You can watch that by clicking here.
In this part of our “Summer at the Movies” series, we used the film “How to train your dragon” to illustrate our theme, “Trust”. Hiccup is the son of the Viking chieftain, Stoic. The island they live on is regularly attacked by dragons that steal their sheep. Everyone is focussed on fighting the dragons and, especially for Stoic, finding where they come from to destroy them. However, Hiccup doesn’t fit the mould, often wandering off on his own and getting into scrapes, the butt of the humour of his peers.
Trying to become a good dragon-slaying Viking, Hiccup invents a weapon to bring down a dragon called a “Night Fury”, something no one else has done. During one attack, Hiccup succeeds but when he eventually finds his victim, he hasn’t the heart to kill him and releases him. When Hiccup finds the dragon, each is nervous of the other. He also realises that, despite its name, it doesn’t match the stereotype either and they both begin to learn to trust each other. Hiccup makes a new tail fin for the injured dragon (called Toothless) and they learn to fly together, the trust building. As the film develops, other people, including Stoic, learn about trusting, too.
In the film, Hiccup faces ferocious dragons and tames them. In the Old Testament part of the Bible there is a story often called “Daniel in the Lion’s Den”, where a character called Daniel has to face a den full of hungry lions (a rather grim method of execution). You can find it in the Book of Daniel, Chapter 6 and you can read that by clicking here.The story of Daniel has something to teach us about trust and although he lived nearly 2500 years ago, is surprisingly relevant today.
Daniel was born into the royal family in Jerusalem but taken captive to Babylon, when the city was sacked by Nebuchadnezzar. He proved himself to be an able civil servant, was rapidly promoted and through various adventures learned that God could be trusted. Partly through his God-given gift to interpret dreams, Daniel survived the developing madness of the king and the decadence of his son to continue in office and be considered by their conqueror, Darius the Mede, for promotion to the highest post in the land. But this provoked jealousy among those who worked with and for him.
I wonder why? If he was so good at his job, why should they object? He was a foreigner, an immigrant – perhaps prejudice played a part. The story also suggests that they got where they were by bribery, cheating and corruption and were negligent in their work. Daniel was a threat because in overall charge could force them to mend their ways or even sack them. Daniel’s whole way of working and living was a challenge to those around him.
In verses 4 and 5 we read: “… the administrators and the satraps tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, “because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent.”
Looking for something to trap him, his enemies’ only option was to exploit Daniel’s faith. They gang up to persuade Darius to issue an irreversible edict that no one is to pray to anyone for a month. But Daniel continues his regular pattern and prays for help. He is discovered and ends up in the Lion’s den. Something of Daniel’s faith had rubbed off on Darius, whose parting words were "May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!". After a sleepless night, King goes to the execution chamber and calls out in the vain hope that Daniel might have survived. He has, proclaiming his innocence, and we read in verse 23 “The king was overjoyed… …And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.”
Trust is two-way: Daniel is known to be trustworthy and he trusted in God. That didn’t stop the problems but it did mean that a good outcome eventually ensued. Daniel provides a great model but the ultimate example is Jesus. When he went to the Cross, he trusted that he would rise again and because he gave himself, we can trust him with our lives. Trusting in Jesus, trusting in God, can transform us into people that can be trusted, too.
Just before his crucifixion, Jesus talked to his disciples about the future and John, who was there, tells us in chapter 14 of his account of Jesus’ life) that Jesus said "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.”
That is our challenge.
Questions and Reflections (for you to think about on your own or to discuss in your small group)
1 If we profess to be Christians (or even if we don’t but still aspire to high moral standards) we should let God’s ways and standards rule in our daily lives and work. Do you find it easier to succumb to the pressures around you and slip into dubious practices? How might trusting in God help you to keep his standards under conflicting pressures?
2 How difficult do you find it to trust people? Maybe you can’t match up to their expectations or perhaps you have been badly let down and that colours your thinking. Maybe you are afraid of how they might react to you. How might trusting God help you?
3 Ask yourself, can people trust you? Can you think of any areas of your life where you might not have proved trustworthy?
4 Are you able to trust God? If you find that difficult, why is that?
5 Can you think of a time when you had to trust God and He proved he could be trusted?
6 What is your response to Jesus’ words "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me.” ?