Posts Tagged ‘Monsters University’

Sermon 08-07-16: “The Gospel According to Monsters University

August 17, 2016


As I’ve done the past couple of summers, I’m preaching a sermon series using clips from Disney movies. This week’s sermon is based on the Pixar’s Monsters University. The movie is mostly about Mike Wazowski’s efforts to be someone he’s not. His struggle, as I discuss in this sermon, is not unlike our own. The good news is that God loves “losers” like us.

Sermon Text: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

[To listen on the go, right-click here to download an MP3.]

The movie is set in a world inhabited by monsters, some of whom cross over into our human world at night and scare children as they sleep. In the opening clip, we see one aspiring “scarer,” Mike Wazowski, start his college career in the prestigious Scare School of Monsters University. Although Mike is a great student, he isn’t naturally scary, and we see him struggle for acceptance by his classmates.


As someone who is already plagued with nightmares of being back in school—of not fitting in, of failing to make the grade, of being embarrassed and humiliated in front of my classmates—I confess that this first clip hits rather close to home.

I remember, for example, my first day of high school. The year before, I played Pop Warner football, and I earned the nickname “Mad Dog” for my toughness, for my persistence. And one of my high school classmates on that first day of high school, Jonathan Pearson, was also on my football team back then—so he knew that my nickname was Mad Dog.

And on the first day of high school he proceeded to tell everyone—people who hadn’t yet even met me, who otherwise had no idea who I was, including all these cute girls—he said to them, “Hey, look, there’s Mad Dog. Hey, Mad Dog!” And pretty soon complete strangers were passing me in the hall, “Hey, Mad Dog!”

So my efforts to be cool on that first day of high school were doomed from the start.

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Sermon 06-30-13: “Summer Vacation, Part 1: Lifeguard on Duty”

July 4, 2013

Summer Vacation

One of the most interesting aspects of today’s text is that Jesus sent his disciples into this frightening storm, one in which their little boat was battered by wind and waves. What about the storms of life that we face? Do we believe that the Lord may send us into them for a reason? Do we believe that the Lord has something to teach us to make us better people and more faithful disciples? If so—if we learn to see God’s hand in the challenges we face—won’t that help us face them with greater courage and strength?

Sermon Text: Matthew 14:22-33

The following is my original sermon manuscript.

I took my kids to see Monsters University last week. It’s a prequel to Monsters, Inc. The premise is that monsters are real but mostly harmless. They live in another dimension. But the really scary monsters get to cross over into our world and frighten little children as they lay in bed trying to sleep. The movie tells the story of a monster named Mike Wazowski and his monster-friends in college. They want to earn a degree in “scaring,” so they can become professional scarers. To be accepted into “scare” school, however, Mike and his fraternity of misfit monsters has to win a scare competition against other monsters in the school. And to everyone’s surprise, his team makes it to the final round of the competition… And it all comes down to Mike. If Mike scores really well on a “scare simulator,” his team will win.

The problem is, despite Mike’s best efforts, he’s just not very scary. He’s too cute, too small, too unintimidating to be scary. Yet somehow he scores off the charts on the simulator. His team wins. He finds out later, however, that his friend Sulley rigged the machine so that Mike couldn’t fail.

When we read today’s scripture about Peter walking on water, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that if only we had enough faith in Jesus, then our life would be rigged so that we couldn’t fail. “After all,” we preachers sometimes say, “if only Peter hadn’t doubted or taken his eyes off Jesus or let himself become frightened by the wind and waves, he could have simply walked across the lake to dry land, to shelter, to safety. And if Peter could do that, then so could we! If only we had enough faith…” Read the rest of this entry »