This is what happens inside my brain when a moment of co-illumination hits me. I had just finished writing the bulk of my sermon on the film, The King’s Speech. All that remained was to preview the closing video clip; that amazing final speech from the end of the movie. In my message I had already wrote about the innate human capacity of voice; how we’re made for this means of self expression, and made to be heard. Then I talked about how we’re all, to some degree, disabled in our capacity to speak; some stammer, some are paralyzed by fear, and others have lost their voices via other means (I mentioned Moses and the disciples fears here). Next I paralleled all of the supportive, voice enabling friends in the film to God’s Holy Spirit. Even as all those people came around the king to help him, so too the Spirit is our advocate and helper. Then I went in a direction that surprised me, quoting from Isaiah 55. This happens all the time in sermon writing. A leading of God’s Spirit I trust.
“As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
Isaiah 55:10-11, TNIV
I made the point that even as God’s words have such power and efficacy, so too are our words meant to have the same impact. We are, after all, made in God’s image. Plus, if we believe that God’s words speak through us, then surely our words are meant to be empowered as well.
Then I set up that closing clip by taking about how we’re all meant to find our words through the words of Another. “People do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus in Matthew 4:4, TNIV
And then I played the clip… weeping the whole way through… even as I realized that all that I had written to that point was now coming together in that compelling scene. Through the persons and hearts of Lionel, Liz and others I saw the person and heart of God’s helping Spirit. Through the King’s courageous and powerful words I felt the power of words well written and authoritatively delivered, and through this kingly character heard a back-voice, the voice of God! And then, through all the cutaways to all of those distant faces and ears, people of the Commonwealth so desperately hanging on every word, I saw what it means that people do not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. I felt our desperation for God’s words.
And even as all this is playing out, with the film co-illumining all of the biblical truth I had recalled, an overarching sense of God’s word is also persoanlly enveloping me. For weeks now I’ve been questioning and doubting the ‘two book’ co-illumining calling he’s given me, and then in this weepy moment God affirms the truth that his word will not come back to him empty via this very film itself. By revealing himself through the film, God said, “Keep going!” And even as that was happening I was convinced that God wasn’t just speaking to me through this story/film. I believe that God quite intentionally released this film for such a time as this… to help free the voices and hearts of many.
And as all of this is happening in my brain, Beethoven’s beautiful allegretto from symphony no. 7 (from the soundtrack) is movingly playing out. Wagner called the piece the “apotheosis of dance itself.” That whole co-illumining moment felt like a dance itself. Father, Son and Holy Spirit… God and his people… God leading me.