In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other.Romans 12:5
Rebekah and I very much enjoy our adopted church home at Hudson Memorial Presbyterian Church. But it is taking me much longer than anticipated to move from “place where I worship” to “nurturing church family.”
This is, admittedly, all on me. Quite simply, we live in a different community; the church and its people are out of reach from the natural rhythms of our everyday life. It takes particular effort to “be there;” and – other than worship – we’re not.
So it was a landmark moment this week when I participated in my first men’s ministry event, the “Presbyterian Pint.”
The group meets every other week, usually at a Raleigh brewery, for fellowship and discussion. This week – and this was part of the reason I tried hard to make it – the group met at pastor Mac’s home. The plan was to watch a movie and then talk about it.
The Banshees of Inisherin
When Mac announced the agenda I had never heard of this movie. Over the past few days, however, this dark story has made a lot of Hollywood noise, showing well at the Golden Globes and generating considerable Oscar buzz.
As a photographer I was immediately taken by the magnificent framing. The Irish island landscape is hauntingly – and breathtakingly – beautiful.
The story itself – rich and deeply layered – is poignantly, heart-wrenchingly sad. It is also simple, straightforward, and tragic.
“You may not have ever thought about a movie from a faith perspective,” pastor Mac said before we started, “but try to use that lens this evening.”
For me, that lens is never optional.
But this post is not a review of The Banshees of Inisherin, and I won’t offer any spoilers. I don’t even necessarily recommend viewing the movie. It’s a dark, brooding study of the human condition that is brilliantly directed and acted. Edgar Allan Poe would have loved this tale.
What I am doing is commenting on my big takeaway. From my perspective the big picture of The Banshees of Inisherin in the context of watching with the men’s group, is so extraordinarily meta I have to conclude pastor Mac was thinking just that when he planned the evening.
I don’t believe this is giving too much away, but one of my main points during the group discussion was this: “If ever there was a community that needed an active men’s ministry, then it is the one where this story unfolds!”
If we are people who claim the name “Christian” then we do not have the option of not knowing one another. This is especially apropos for men (and more specifically North American men), who eschew vulnerability, cultivate emotional distance, and own a cultural proclivity toward individualism, self isolation, and obduracy.
The church has the potential to offer community and authentic relationships according to the intention of our Creator. Yet even here so many of us hide.
It was good to be in a community of men who are committed to following Jesus. If there is one thing that will effectively heal the deep divisions in our culture, I have to believe it is the invitation of Jesus into authentic community, into relationships, into vulnerability, into grace and mercy, into the wide-open Heart of God.
In love, and because of love – DEREK