Posts Tagged ‘Academy Awards’

Ash Wednesday 2017: “The Reason for Lent”

March 2, 2017
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Jordan Horowitz handing over his trophy.

The following manuscript is adapted from last night’s Ash Wednesday sermon. For the complete sermon, listen to the audio file below.

Even if you didn’t watch the Academy Awards, you likely heard about the terrible mix-up that occurred last Sunday night when Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty—otherwise known as “Bonnie and Clyde”—announced the year’s Best Picture Oscar. They announced the wrong movie: They said that La La Land won best picture, when in reality the movie Moonlight won the award.

Whoops! The producers of La La Land were nearly finished with their acceptance speeches before they found out what happened. My son Townshend was watching the show with me, and he said, “You know who the happiest man in America is right now? Steve Harvey!” And I’m sure he was right. In 2015, Steve Harvey announced the wrong winner of the Miss Universe Pageant, but the Academy Awards are a much bigger deal than Miss Universe.

But… It was almost worth the mix-up in order to see how at least one of the producers of La La Land responded. And for that reason, Jordan Horowitz is a hero to me. Shortly after giving his acceptance speech—while he was holding the Oscar in his hand—he went to the microphone and said, “There’s a mistake. Moonlight, you won best picture. This is not a joke.” And then, as the producers of Moonlight were taking the stage, he said, “I’m going to be really proud to hand this to my friends from Moonlight.” And he handed over his trophy. And to his great credit, he didn’t even seem disappointed. He seemed perfectly O.K. with it.

And I thought, “This is a fitting symbol for this season of Lent, which begins today.” Lent is about learning to give trophies that don’t belong to us to their rightful owner. Lent is about learning to step away from the spotlight that’s shining on us so that it can shine on the One who deserves the spotlight. Lent is about learning to be O.K. with the idea that we’re not entitled to a single iota of glory for ourselves; rather, the glory belongs entirely to God alone.

Lent is about learning to say with John the Baptist, “[Christ] must become greater; I must become less.” Read the rest of this entry »

Sermon 02-22-15: “The Meaning of Christ’s Death”

March 3, 2015

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In today’s scripture, Jesus sheds light on the meaning of his death when he says he came not to serve, but to serve and to “give his life as a ransom for many.” What does it mean that Christ was our ransom for sin? The answer gets to the heart of what we mean when we talk about atonement: how the cross reconciles us to God. My prayer is that this sermon will help us fall in love with Jesus all over again.

Sermon Text: Mark 10:32-45

The following is my original sermon manuscript with footnotes.

Tonight is Oscar night, which means all the biggest stars of Hollywood will turn out to walk the red carpet, and one of them will surely be actor Will Smith, one of the most successful leading men of all time. In an interview this month, Smith was talking about his biggest box office flop, a 2013 science fiction film called After Earth. No, I didn’t see it, either. The weekend after it opened—and he got word how disappointing the box office returns were—he was crushed. He had never failed like that before. But, after a 90-minute workout on his treadmill, he said he had an epiphany: He realized that he was trying to fill a hole in his life with worldly success. He said that for years he had strived to be a bigger star than anyone, and if he achieved that, then and only then would he would have the love his heart yearned for. But after this movie flopped, he realized how shallow this goal was.

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So he realized something. He said, “Only love is going to fill that hole. You can’t win enough, you can’t have enough money, you can’t succeed enough. There is not enough. The only thing that will ever satiate that existential thirst is love.” On that day, he said, “I made the shift from wanting to be a winner to wanting to have the most powerful, deep, and beautiful relationships I could possibly have.”

In today’s scripture, James and John aren’t so different from Will Smith. They want glory and power and worldly success. They want to be on top. They want to be winners. And they thought that once Jesus became king—which they knew would happen soon—he could give them all that! Read the rest of this entry »