“Confession, I have read Pride and Prejudice two hundred times. I get lost in the language, words like ‘Thither. Mischance. Felicity.’ I’m always in agony over whether Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are really going to get together. Ah! Read it. I know you’ll love it!” – Kathleen Kelly (a character in “You’ve Got Mail”)
Like Kathleen Kelly, I’ve got a confession to make: I’ve seen “You’ve Got Mail” at least 200 times since it came out in 1998. Like Kathleen worrying about her beloved characters Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth, I worry whether Kathleen, the owner of an independent children’s book store, and Joe F-O-X the owner of the big bad Fox bookstore will ever get together. The last scene always warms my heart when they finally get together by setting aside all of the things that could have kept them apart.
There’s just something about watching a movie you know this well. I can easily pick up the story midstream knowing all of the important moments that have already happened (as I did this afternoon), and can anticipate what will happen next. I can even sing along with the music in the movie, and am grateful that “You’ve Got Mail” has a great soundtrack.
There is also a problem with knowing a movie or story this well. I know when something has been edited out for the “allotted time” as it was this afternoon. I understand why television companies make choices to edit movies to fit a two hour time frame. I even understand the choice made today with “You’ve Got Mail.” The scene is an awkward one in which Joe is stuck on an elevator with his soon to be ex-girlfriend. It’s uncomfortable to watch so it is easy to edit, but I also feel that it is an important one for helping us understand why Joe chooses not to be in a relationship with this woman any longer. As a fan of the movie I already know why but, by chance, if there was someone watching for the first time, they are missing a significant moment in his life. In this case they are missing the complete story.
From time to time we do the same thing with the story of Jesus Christ. Once in a while we do this to fit Jesus’ story into a certain amount of time much like a television station edits movies. At other times we make choices to edit the story because we are uncomfortable with certain aspects of what is taking place. Sometimes we might edit the story based on what we feel we can explain to another person. However, it is the entire story of Jesus Christ, His Life, His Death, and His Resurrection, that our faith is based on. And, it should be part of the story we tell.
That’s why I am grateful for the Christian year. It provides us a way to remember the entire story of Jesus Christ that it might become more meaningful to us each time. During Advent we remember why we need a savior, and during Christmas we celebrate his birth into this world! During the season of Lent we prepare ourselves to understand Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross, and on Easter we proclaim his victory over death! And, during other times of the year we tell more stories about Jesus, his disciples, and other great people of our faith. It is this cycle of storytelling that helps us to grow and incorporate God’s story into our own, and to be better prepared to be challenged by it again.
We are truly blessed to have these stories. May we be careful how we edit them so that these stories may continue to be a blessing to those who have not yet heard them!
Also, if you haven’t read or heard the full story of Jesus Christ in a while, “Ah! Read it. I know you’ll love it!”
Rev. John Embrey