I heard a loud voice from the throne say, “Look! God’s dwelling is here with humankind. He will dwell with them, and they will be his peoples. God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more. There will be no mourning, crying, or pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” – Revelation 21:3-4
Tuesday evening Rebekah and I set aside some time to enjoy this week’s “date-night.” Sometimes, especially after a crazy-busy few days where work is intense and exhausting, doing something special together means staying home.
So Rebekah serenaded me with her ukulele while I cooked something extra good, and then we made ourselves comfortable on the sofa to settle in for a movie treat. When you’re as far behind on new releases as we are it’s not difficult to find something. We quickly agreed on “Judy,” Renée Zellweger’s Oscar-winning depiction of Judy Garland at the end of her tragic life.
The performance was powerful, emotional, pitch-perfect, inspirational, and sad with the kind of poignancy that is both beautiful and heart-wrenching at the same time.
The film’s greatest achievement, for me, was that – regardless of the pain, the devastation of abuse and alcohol and drugs, and the inevitability of the tragic end – anyone who was paying any kind of attention to the story had to have been left with a sense of hope, and promise, and redemption, and the possible.
I think it was the spirit of the closing scene, when Judy Garland talks her way back onto the stage after another devastating series of events had led her to the brink of the abyss. She sings a showstopper, then makes her way to the front of the stage and introduces her signature song, Somewhere Over the Rainbow. And she talks about possibility the resiliency of hope, and you can’t help but believe her – even though the evidence of despair is staring you square in the face and you know that she is not coming back from this one…
Why is that? Is it just good storytelling? Is it acting? Is it the magic of the Big Screen? Well, yes, it is all of that but then it is so much more. All a great movie does is to tap into themes that are real and stories that are already true. When we hear Judy Garland – or Renée Zellweger – sing “the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true” it touches a place in our hearts because hope is a million miles away from wishful thinking, and promise has everything to do with the good news.
Nobody ever has to give the final word to despair, because the door to hope and promise was opened permanently two thousand years ago and is open today, and the invitation remains in effect in perpetuity.
Now that is good theology! – DEREK
Somewhere over the rainbow way up high
There’s a land that I heard of once in a lullaby
Somewhere over the rainbow skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream really do come true…