As has been previously mentioned, maybe way more than I should, I like fantasy and science fiction literature and film. I’ve watched a lot of it through the years starting with the original Star Wars films as a kid and to more recent and nuanced films, television, and books in more recent days. One thing which seems to happen frequently is the speech. The speech is the pivotal moment just before the epic battle, epic quest, epic whatever, when the hero or the hero’s mentor gives a great, rousing speech to fire everyone up and inspire them to finish the job. It might a single word, a single line or it might be a full-on state of the moment in history speech.
One of the best/worst depending on your perspective, is the President Whitmore speech from Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day. The late Bill Pullman as Whitmore stands in the back of a military truck and gives a rousing speech to a group of fighter pilots preparing to save the world complete with swelling patriotic movie music in the background. He ends the speech saying, “We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight! We’re going to live on! We’re going to survive!” Today, we celebrate our Independence Day!” it’s exactly what you would expect from the moment including Whitmore, whose character was a fighter pilot before being elected president, getting into the cockpit of an F-16 and joining the fray.
The moments are the moments when the heroes hear what they need to hear to get the job done. As a minister, I have the privilege/responsibility of being the one to say these words on a weekly basis. At times, the words are comforting, soothing those who are hurting and needing to know things will turn out okay. At other times, they are a kick in the seat of the pants, a get off your keester and do something kind of message. In every case, they are the words I feel led by the spirit to say for the moment.
Despite this, I cannot do anything but point the way. If Whitmore, in Independence Day, gives his speech and runs to the plane and takes off to fight the aliens and no one goes with him, it’s a short battle. Pastors can preach good sermons, sermons congregations need, but if the congregation simply says, Great job pastor, you really told us, and they go home to do nothing, the pastor may as well have been reciting the alphabet or babbling in a foreign language. Hearing what you need to hear is great. But if you don’t follow through, if you don’t respond and act on what you hear the Spirit of God leading you to do in response, you may as well not hear it.
The Epistle of James puts it best, “You must be doers of the word and not only hearers who mislead themselves.”
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