Sunday, 1 September 2013

The familiar stairway

Up a few hairpin turns and then spread out below
The valley appeared with the sun
Like Elysium

Elysium by Mary Chapin Carpenter.

It's been a summer of Science Fiction about us and our world.

First up was Oblivion, a post-apocalyptic story with a twist with regards to why the earth has been ravaged and why an act of redemption (sacrifice to save what remains of actual humanity) is required to set things straight.

Then there was After Earth, which explores a future where humanity has been off-world for a thousand years, but when a ship crash-lands, a Father and Son have to confront the realities of what has happened to a realm devoid of humanity.

Finally, there is Elysium. Set half way though the next century, it explores a divided society, where earth has become an overpopulated and ruined ghetto, so the rich and powerful live in orbit on a vast station where virtual immortality is in reach. The story examines questions of inhumanity and injustice, and what it truly means to be part of our world.

What is interesting about all these films is the underlying theme - that a crucial element of our future as people is intrinsically related to our connection to this world - to the inherent 'rightness' of being creatures born from and united to this place.

This is an essential theme in Christianity.
In the very chapter which talks about the transforming nature of faith (Hebrews 11), which uncouples us from the present darkness of this realm (vs 13), it's fascinating to unpack the examples the writer focuses upon and what these state about our relationship to our home.

After using the examples of Abel and Enoch to show that what will truly matter is unaffected by death (which seems such a hurdle for us!), the passage looks at Abraham, who left one place to establish roots in another, knowing by God's promises that this would be the basis of something which would last forever (vs 12). Then, after briefly looking at resurrection in the establishing of a nation (vs 17-22), we are guided to look at Moses, who leads the people out of their present slavery back into the land promised to Abraham (vs 23-32). Such faith allowed these men to know that what they sought amidst this world was the appearance of a better homeland (vs 16) - a fulfillment of the promises made by the one who framed and filled creation by His living word (vs 3), which brings such light and life even amidst a broken world, and thereby redeems it. It is just such a city - creation underpinned and regained by a full redemption - that was their hope, and ours (12:28), and it could not really be otherwise. Our deepest desires, as this summer's movies remind us, is to see the far-too-near overhanging rock-face of eternity encountered in every sunrise, or moment of profound experience answered by the knowledge that all will be well on earth because it has been made so by the man from heaven, and that the day approaches when that truth will forever establish and resonate through all things (Colossians 1:15-20).

Christianity is not an 'after death escape route for souls deemed of merit', as some would have us believe. It is God loving all He has made, seeking to renew all, through the coming of Jesus Christ. The day Christ returns is the day of that renewal.

Perhaps we can take a fresh look at some of these recent films and reflect they are 'saying' something that resides at the very core of God's promises - His work, His world, matters, and He's totally engaged in its future.

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