Thanksgiving Weekend

Thanksgiving Weekend

Liturgy Lesson: Thanksgiving Weekend, 2019

“Do not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds.”
– Romans 12:2

“May the church not be formed by the world in which it lives,
but by the narrative to which it belongs, the story of God.”

– Robert Webber

Do you have a favorite movie? What movies will you be watching this holiday season? Last week I put together a concert of Academy award-winning songs. The show was entitled “A Night at the Oscars,” and included some of the most beloved ballads from the big screen. While preparing for the gig, I was reminded over and over again of the central place that movie music has in our culture. So many of these irresistibly familiar melodies are embedded in our memory. Just a mere fragment of the tune can conjure up a host of emotions and bring to mind the character and story that birthed the song. These are indeed Hollywood’s hymns.

So many of these songs, particularly the classics from the Golden Age, ask questions or make suggestions that allude to deeper spiritual realities.

“Somewhere over the rainbow, way up high, there’s a land that I’ve heard of once in a lullaby.”

Or this:

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows, and what’s on the other side?”

In their own way, both Dorothy and Kermit are hinting at heaven. Can’t you hear them reaching for the strong grasp of our Savior’s right arm? Unfortunately, the land that these characters find in their films is pure fantasy or mere puppet theater.

Our culture, and in particular the movies, have profound influence over our imaginations, our affections, our memories. Our constant love affair with the big screen is, in effect, a cultural liturgy. These stories and songs mold our minds and shape our hearts. Yes, DreamWorks can re-work our dreams. Sometimes these narratives contain the beautiful, good, and true things of life. They surprise us by illuminating transcendent realities in creative ways. However, as our culture has pulled up the anchor of faith and drifted farther out into the dark waters, the compass spins and confusion reigns. Our art forms become untethered from their true purpose, and they begin to express things that are wrong. With such a dominant and persuasive medium we need to be vigilant and prayerful, lest we wander and fall in love with lesser things. Christ is our true north, but there is so much in our culture that can magnetize that needle in other directions.

Songs and stories have always been primary identity markers of a culture. We pass them on to our children, and re-tell them in countless ways. The songs and stories of our contemporary American life are dominated more and more by pop culture and film. So many of these pictures are literally Universal and Paramount. Mass entertainment always crowds out traditional folk culture. That means that we have generations of Christians who can quote lines from movies, but nothing from the Bible. They can sing all the lyrics to their favorite pop songs, but they don’t know any hymns. They may be hearing the gospel on Sunday, but during the week their imaginations are being enchanted by other messengers and morality tales, some of which are at odds with the Christian narrative. Sometimes the warm glow of the screen is just a yellow brick road that leads to nowhere real.

In such a day of entertainment glut, it is imperative that churches and families keep alive the Christian stories and songs that we have inherited. These are inestimable gifts from the past, and they remind us of the Great Story. They are our indispensable cultural treasures. But they can easily be lost, or rather replaced by other rival cultural products that may or may not be of equal nourishment to our souls. My hope is that our gathered worship, and in particular our songs, will be powerful tools that the Spirit uses to reform our minds and recalibrate our hearts.

Full disclosure: I’m writing this mostly as a reminder to myself. I confess that during my leisure time I have far too often opened up my laptop more than my Bible. Perhaps you have often felt the craving for Netflix instead of the sweet honey of God’s word. Feet up on the couch is a more comfortable position than on the knees in prayer. Our technology has provided us with endless entertainment and distraction. In and of itself, much of this is not bad. However, when the chatter of talking heads on the screen is interrupting the dialogue that needs to happen between my soul and its Savior, then something is twisted and bent. My desire is that my heart be shaped more by the Holy Word than by Hollywood. But I love movies, and I love being entertained because…well…I’m an American living in 2019. So, since we have a bit of extra leisure time over Thanksgiving weekend, let’s take stock of where we are at, shall we?

This week’s lesson is a way for us to take inventory of which stories or songs have deposited more into our memories. Below are two lists that I’ve compiled. One is a list of famous movie quotes and the other list contains excerpted lyrics from beloved hymns. Most (if not all) of these should be films that are widely known, and the hymns are ones that we sing regularly at our church.

Here’s the game: Name the movie based on the quote, and then name the hymn based on the lyric. Answer keys are at the bottom. One point for each right answer.

My hope, of course, is that we score better on the second list (hymns), but there’s no shame here. It’s just a fun and guilt-free way to spend your holiday weekend, and playfully consider how all of our liturgies (both church and culture) form us.

Oh, and I’ll be collecting your scores next week. No pressure, but anyone who doesn’t score at least 20 on the hymn list will be encouraged to participate in a “liturgical catechesis” class, and forced to carry their hymnal at all times. Enjoy!

Name the Movie!
1. “Here’s looking at you, kid.”
2. “May the Force be with you.”
3. “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!”
4. “Are you not entertained?”
5. “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.”
6. “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.”
7. “I’m going to make him an offer he can’t refuse.”
8. “It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.”
9. “Yo, Adrian!”
10. “Wax on, wax off.”
11.“That’ll do, pig. That’ll do.”
12. “There’s no place like home.”
13. “Show me the money!”
14. “I’m walking here! I’m walking here!”
15. “You can’t handle the truth!”
16. “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
17. “My name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die.”
18. “I’ll be back.”
19. “If you build it, he will come.”
20. “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
21. “I see dead people.”
22. “I can’t put my arms down! I can’t put my arms down!”
23. “Roads? Where we’re going we don’t need roads.”
24. “To infinity and beyond!”
25. “Luke, I’m your father!”
26. “My mouth’s bleeding, Bert! My mouth’s bleeding! Zuzu’s petals..Zuzu’s petals!”
27. “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel his pleasure!”
28. “Houston, we have a problem.”
29. “You’ve got to ask yourself one question: ‘Do I feel lucky?’ Well, do ya, punk?”
30. “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.”
31. “There’s no crying in baseball!”
32. “When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad, I simply remember…”
33. “When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are…”
34. “Just a spoon full of sugar helps the medicine go down.”
35. “Here’s Johnny!”
36. “Hasta la vista, baby!”
37. “My precious.”
38. “A martini. Shaken, not stirred.”
39. “I feel the need – the need for speed!”
40. “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”
41. “Phone…Home. Phone…Home.”
42. “I’m king of the world!”

Name the Hymn!
1. “I once was lost but now I’m found, was blind but now I see”
2. “Little ones to him belong, they are weak but he is strong”
3. “Radiant beams from thy holy face, with the dawn of redeeming grace”
4. “I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, thy power throughout the universe displayed”
5. “Here I raise my Ebenezer”
6. “Awake my soul and sing of him who died for thee”
7. “Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise”
8. “My sin, o the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin, not in part, but the whole, is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more”
9. “Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with his goodness, lost in his love”
10. “Great things he has taught us, great things he has done”
11. “Soar we now where Christ has led, following our exalted head”
12. “Casting down their golden crowns around the glassy sea”
13. “Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, to him all majesty ascribe…”
14. “Thou burning sun with golden beam, thou silver moon with softer gleam, o praise him”
15. “What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer”
16. “Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise”
17. “Thee will I cherish, thee will I honor, thou my soul’s glory, joy, and crown”
18. “Perverse and foolish oft I strayed, but yet in love he sought me”
19. “Fatherlike he tends and spares us, well our feeble frame he knows”
20. “All ye who hear, now to his temple draw near, join me in glad adoration”
21. “Lift up your heart! Lift up your voice, rejoice! Again, I say, rejoice!”
22. “Hark those bursts of acclamation! Hark, those loud triumphant chords!”
23. “Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed, thy hand hath provided”
24. “Our shield and defender, the ancient of days”
25. “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also”
26. “The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose, I will not, I will not desert to its foes”
27. “To the great one in three, eternal praises be, hence evermore”
28. “Jesus who died shall be satisfied, and earth and heaven be one.”
29. “He is Alpha and Omega. He the source, the ending, He.”
30. “Mild he lays his glory by, born that man no more may die.”
31. “Yea, Lord, we greet thee, born this happy morning”
32. “Shepherds, why this jubilee?”
33. “Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call thee mine.”
34. “O precious is the flow that makes me white as snow”
35. “With his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died”
36. “No condemnation now I dread. Jesus, and all in him, is mine.”
37. “All other ground is sinking sand”
38. “Born thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a king”
39. “Sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow”
40. “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my life, my soul, my all”
41. “Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more”
42. “He comes to make his blessings flow far as the curse is found”

1. Casablanca, 1942
2. Star Wars, 1977
3. Braveheart, 1995
4. Gladiator, 2000
5. Cool Hand Luke, 1967
6. Gone With the Wind, 1939
7. The Godfather, 1972
8. Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981
9. Rocky, 1976
10. The Karate Kid, 1984
11. Babe, 1995
12. The Wizard of Oz, 1939
13. Jerry Maguire, 1996
14. Midnight Cowboy, 1969
15. A Few Good Men, 1992
16. Jaws, 1975
17. Princess Bride, 1987
18. The Terminator, 1984
19. Field of Dreams, 1989
20. Forrest Gump, 1994
21. The Sixth Sense, 1999
22. A Christmas Story, 1983
23. Back to the Future, 1985
24. Toy Story, 1995
25. Empire Strikes Back, 1980
26. A Wonderful Life, 1946
27. Chariots of Fire, 1981
28. Apollo 13, 1995
29. Dirty Harry, 1971
30. Elf, 2003
31. A League of Their Own, 1992
32. The Sound of Music, 1959
33. Pinocchio, 1940
34. Mary Poppins, 1964
35. The Shining, 1980
36. Terminator 2: Judgment Day, 1991​​​​​
37. The Lord of the Rings: Two Towers, 2002
38. Goldfinger, 1964
39. Top Gun, 1986
40. Dead Poets Society, 1989
41. E.T., 1982
42. Titanic, 1997

1. Amazing Grace
2. Jesus Loves Me
3. Silent Night
4. How Great Thou Art
5. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
6. Crown Him with many Crowns
7. Be Thou My Vision
8. It is Well with my soul
9. Blessed Assurance
10. To God be the Glory
11. Christ the Lord is Risen Today
12. Holy, Holy, Holy
13. All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name
14. All Creatures of our God and King
15. What a Friend we have in Jesus
16. Take my Life
17. Fairest Lord Jesus
18. The King of Love My Shepherd Is
19. Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven
20. Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
21. Rejoice! The Lord is King!
22. Look, Ye Saints, the Sight is Glorious!
23. Great is Thy Faithfulness
24. O Worship the King
25. A Mighty Fortress
26. How Firm a Foundation
27. Come Thou Almighty King
28. This is my Father’s World
29. Of the Father’s Love Begotten
30. Hark! The Herald Angels sing
31. O Come, All Ye Faithful
32. Angels We Have Heard on High
33. O Sacred Head Now Wounded
34. Nothing But the Blood of Jesus
35. The Church’s One Foundation
36. And Can it Be?
37. My Hope is Built on Nothing Less (The Solid Rock)
38. Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus
39. Jesus Paid it All
40. When I Survey the Wondrous Cross
41. Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
42. Joy to the Word!