Mia: Maybe I’m not good enough!
Sebastian: Yes, you are.
Mia: Maybe I’m not! It’s like a pipe dream.
Sebastian: This is the dream! It’s conflict and it’s compromise, and it’s very, very exciting!
I really enjoyed La La Land, which was a surprise as feel-good Hollywood musicals are not my genre. But the big surprise was the surprise.
And the surprise had huge theological implications. I can already feel a wonderful quote from Thomas Hardy forming in my brain.
But alas, I will have to stop there. Until the film is broadcast on ITV2 it would be wrong to spoil it for you.
It’s like when we went to watch James Cameron’s Titantic some twenty years ago. The boat hadn’t even left Southampton when Jacqui leant across and said: “It sinks, you know!.”
That was it. Even has Leonardo and Kate fought against the elements, I knew the ship was doomed. Nothing worse is knowing the ending of an oceanic thriller.
Mind you Mark is no better when he penned his gospel, presumably at the behest of the apostle Peter.
Right there at verse one he tells us who Jesus is: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” No spoiler alert here.
Right through the gospel, the disciples are working overtime to try to make sense of Jesus. “Who is this man? they asked. “Even the wind and the waves obey him!’ (Mark 4:41).
And the members of the synagogue in Nazareth thought they knew Jesus better than anyone else but no longer:
“Where did this man get these things?’
‘”What’s this wisdom that has been given him?
“What are these remarkable miracles he is performing?”
Right through to the end, to chapter 16, everyone is trying to work out who Jesus is. But we know – Mark has told us at the very outset. He is no less than the Christ, the Messiah; he – and not Caesar – is the Son of God.
So as we read the Gospels we know what’s happening, something which was not obvious the time.
John says as much in his account of cleansing the temple, especially when Jesus declares “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.”
No one at the time had any idea what he meant. It was only looking back, from beyond the resurrection, did these strange words make sense.
So John writes: “Later, after he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered he had said this. They then put two and two together and believed both what was written in Scripture and what Jesus had said.” (John 2:22 the Message translation)
However, it is one thing to say – especially during tough times – that one day we will understand. But what about now, when we can barely hold on?
This was the dilemma facing the seven churches of Asia, which feature in the last book of the Bible, Revelation. They knew they were about to face the full wrath of Rome; indeed persecution had already started. And they were anxious.
So God gives a vision to John (who was not necessarily the same John who wrote the Gospel) exiled on a Greek island for his witness. He shows him “what must soon take place.”
And so we are taken behind the scenes towards God’s glorious future. Then the wonderful climax 20 chapters later. “Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth,’ for the first heaven and the first earth had passed.”
John continues: “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:1, 4)
So that’s how it finishes. John tells his readers, he tells us: We win.
Therefore, he urges, live your life today knowing how it is all going to end. God is going to heal his entire creation.
Refuse to be intimidated by the power and the glory of Rome. See through their empty threats and stand firm. The reality is that they can’t touch you.
“I am coming soon,” says the risen Christ. “Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.” (Revelation 3:11).
So Mia, this is the dream! And it’s very, very exciting!
Sometimes it helps to know the end.