Editing People Out of Stories

Spoiler alert: If you don’t want to know the end of Return of the Jedi, don’t read this. (But seriously, that was released in the 80’s.  If you were going to watch it, you would have watched it by now!)

So I was watching Return of the Jedi before going to see the latest Star Wars film, and I gets to the end – the bit were everyone is celebrating.  Then you have that funny little moment with the dead people glowing.  And I noticed that they had changed that bit.  When I was a kid, David Prowse’s face was there as the actor who played Darth Vader.  However, the new “enhanced” version that I have on DVD has the actor who played Anakin Skywalker (aka Darth Vader) in the newer film Revenge of the Sith.  That younger bloke – Hayden Christensen.

Now, I am sure Hayden’s probably a nice bloke, but he is no David Prowse (who may or may not be a nice bloke.  I don’t know the man.  To be fair, I can’t really vouch for either.)  The whole David v Hayden thing doesn’t concern me.

What bothers me is – in the space of 25 years, a person was written out of a story and replaced with a different one.

Does it matter? I hear you ask.  Still Anakin/Vader, right?  May not matter to the viewer, but it may matter to the person written out of cinematic history.  It’s too easy with all our technology to drop bits, unfriend people, selectively edit things out.  Which I suppose is fine if we are talking digitally enhancing movies or remaking films.

What about things that really matter?  Like history, science, and scripture?  (Oh my!)

The churches are considering changing the date of Easter, so we can celebrate Easter all together for a change.  Which would be rather nice.  However, is anyone talking about putting it back with the Jewish festival of Passover?  When Good Friday and Resurrection Day (aka Easter) happened in the first place?  Why not?
What are we at risk of editing out?

So what are we editing out?

At the moment, I am following the lectionary, and I have noticed that the lectionary likes to skip over uncomfortable bits of scripture. I read them anyway, because I’m uncomfortable selectively leaving the uncomfortable bits out.  For example, one of the lectionary readings for 23 July 2017 is Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24.
Why are churches being encouraged to skip verses 13-22?  Well, I’ve read it anyway, and I’ve written a prayer that focuses on the omitted verses 13-22.

God,

Show us what we omit. Reveal what we would rather not think about.

God, it is easier to ask you to search us. Suss us out, God. Sort us out and lead us. It’s much more difficult to read the passages that don’t fit easily into our various worldviews. Much easier to omit them. Easier not to wrestle with our complexities.

We skip over scripture that speaks of our bodies being formed by you even before we were born. Passages that make conversations about abortion and transgendered realities difficult. Scripture that challenges our changing notions of identity and embodied-ness. We care for the unborn child and the need for women to decide what happens to their own bodies. We care for what you designed and created as well as understand how alien some people feel within the bodies their souls were born into. For some, bodies serve as a painful reminder of what can no longer be done or experienced. These bodies can fail us. They break.

God, You lived in a body. John recognised you from within Elizabeth’s womb. Angels fought for your mum to be cared for in her pre-married pregnancy. God, you lived in a body. A body that carried the painful humiliation of being human and yet still God. A body that enjoyed the joyful celebration of humanity, yet still divine. God, you lived in a body. A body that suffered torturous pain, broken bones, wounds and scars. A body that was cradled, kissed and fed. God, help us to understand what our bodies mean to you.  

We skip over scripture that speaks of our human anger, hate and aggression.  We see that hate exists in humanity.  God, help us to deal with this hate that we have, this hate that we all too often attribute to you. Help us to understand your hatred for sin, for unrighteousness, for injustice, but prevent us from hating your creation: planet and people.

In body and spirit, through love and hate – suss us and sort us out, God, we pray.

Amen

You see the dark side of humanity needs dealing with.  The light of Christ exposes the dark side of each one of us.  We can try to edit it out ourselves, but ultimately Jesus Christ has the final say on all editing decisions.
Because it is His story.  All of it.
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