I wonder if you were asked “where would I find the Gospel message?”, where would you direct people? I guess first it would be to the Bible and then maybe to church. So if you were then asked ‘so is that the only place where I would find the Gospel message?’, now how would you respond?
In 2008 I completed my four years ministerial training at Northern College, gaining an honours degree in Contextual Theology. The degree course was academic and very practical and it encouraged me to look for God everywhere [a theme I continually come back to] and hence see the Gospel message in many things. You only have to watch some of the soaps and there are messages of love, of forgiveness, of redemption, of salvation etc.
However, during my time at college I read ‘The Gospel in Disney’ by Rev Philip Longfellow Anderson. We have all grown up with Disney and some of us will love some of the classic Disney films. Disney was a trail blazer in animation and the Disney theme parks have a reputation for excellence. Wouldn’t it be good if that is what folk said about Bilton Grange URC, that we are a trail blazing church always striving for excellence in how we portray the Gospel message.
Bagheera, the panther in The Jungle Book says;
“Greater love hath no one than he who lays down his life for his friend.”
This could have come direct from John 15.13 and clearly sends a Gospel message to those watching the film whether they are aware of it or not.
Anderson likens the story of the serpent and the forbidden fruit in Genesis 3 to the Queen and the apple in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The ‘serpent’ Queen is willing to deceive, poison and destroy the innocent for her own selfish aims. With recent nerve agent events in Salisbury and Amesbury we can see this Genesis story still played out today, hence even more reason, if we needed it, for us to speak and act out the Gospel to counteract evil.
The story of Pinocchio becoming a real human being through proving himself to be brave, truthful and unselfish carries a strong Gospel Message into a world that is becoming more and more self obsessed and less bothered about honesty. We only need to hear conversations about worship in churches where members say I got nothing out of that service. As if worshiping God is all about what we get out of it!
The book has twenty chapters and covers many of the earlier Disney films and I have found it informative and it continued to open my thinking further to seeing God in so many places that I had not previously done. Surely seeing the Gospel Message in many more things than the Bible and church must help us in our own thinking and in the way we engage with others in getting the Gospel Message across today.