The local film club watched the Academy Award winning movie Moonlight this week. I admit that I was not looking forward to seeing it since the trailers had led me to believe it would be a sad look at man’s inhumanity to man. The movie surprised me on many levels. It was sad but not in the way I expected. The themes of poverty, race, drugs, and orientation were all considered with maturity and depth.The cinematography helped to tell the story more than I have ever seen accomplished before. But when all is said and done, from a faith perspective the question I was left with was, “what does salvation look like for the characters involved?”
I need to back up and explain something here. I have been reading a lot of Paul lately and the issue of salvation has been on my mind. In the bible salvation is not about who gets into heaven, it is a more earthly concern. Salvation is about being saved from oppression or evil or illness. Salvation is what you need if you are a slave in Egypt or an exile in Babylon or a leper in Jesus’ day. So in watch the movie I was not thinking of salvation in terms of getting the people into heaven, I was thinking of salvation from poverty, from drug culture, from violence. Usually, in my liberal arrogance, I look at poverty and think the answer is a higher minimum wage or a guaranteed income but this movie made my usual quick answers seem inadequate. It would take an act of deep transformation to bring salvation to the characters. It would take an act of God.
It is always good when something makes me back up from my usual answers. It is always good when I am humbled and have to acknowledge dependency on God. Fortunately it happens often. I am now thankful that Moonlight won its awards and I would encourage you to watch it. I am hopeful that as God chose Moses to lead people to freedom, as God had Jeremiah write the exiles, as God sent Jesus to heal so God will find a way to save us from poverty, racism, hatred and all the other evils the film explored. May we be open to God’s lead.