Jason C. Stanley

ponderings of a dad walking humbly & seeking justice

Tag: hope (page 1 of 3)

“Believe” and the Meaning of Christmas

believe_keyart_49bEmmy-nominated director Billy Dickson has written an endless number of family-based, faith-based scripts. Most them, however, have only collected dust.  Dickson told Jacob Sahms for ChristianCinema.com, “I had been writing family-based, faith-based scripts but they were collecting dust because people wouldn’t take a look at them. They were too soft; there weren’t enough gun fights.” His new project, Believe, seeks to be the faith-based film that crosses barriers. It has a little bit of everything. And promises to be a new Christmas classic.

The small town of Grundy, Virginia looks forward to one thing every year – the annual Christian pageant provided by the Peyton family. Matthew Peyton (Ryan O’Quinn) has inherited his family’s business, and the responsibility for the Christmas pageant. The family business, however, has fallen on financial hardship, with implications of the same happening to the whole town.

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“Pete’s Dragon” and the Magic of Believing

The little boy wanders through the forest, alone and scared. Unsure what to do or where to go, he clings to a book about Elliot the dog. It is the only source of comfort he has. There is a wide range of dangers lurking in the darkness. Among them  lurks a little magic.

This is how Disney’s new Pete’s Dragon begins. It is gripping, demanding the audience to settle in to their seats and throw a few more pieces of popcorn in their mouths. Before the title appears on the screen, we have been introduced to the main character, a little boy named Pete, and met the mysterious creature in the woods. This magical creature shines compassion, erasing any fears we may have.

Pete_Elliot

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Yellow Butterflies

“Happiness is like a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but, if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.” -Nathaniel Hawthrone

Photo by Alan Emery on Unsplash

As I was preparing worship and a sermon for what would be my last Sunday at Peakland United Methodist as their Associate Minister, the communications coordinator, Kim, shared with me the bulletin cover she designed. It had a key verse from one of the scriptures I was using and a picture of a butterfly. It was perfect on all sorts of levels.

I hesitated to ask her to change anything. Finally, I asked if it would be possible to make the orange butterfly a yellow butterfly.  She gave me one of those, “that’s an odd request” look, and then said, “Sure.”

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Watching Squirrels

Our favorite spot in the new house is quickly becoming the sunroom. This enclosed porch with sliding doors all around, gives us a postcard perfect glimpse of our backyard. It is more perfect when birds, squirrels, rabbits, and other friendly critters occupy the space.

It is a peace-filled space.

squirrel_8152cnThe other day while eating lunch on the sunroom, Toddler J and I watched as a squirrel hopped through the yard. As the squirrel started climbing the tree, Toddler J’s eyes lit up and a broad smile spread across her little face. She pointed up as the squirrel climbed the tree. When the squirrel was long out of sight, she was still pointing with excitement and mumbling what I believe was her attempt at saying,”squirrel.”

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Jesus Said: Be Shalom


Happy are people who make peace because they will be called God’s children. (Matthew 5:9, Common English Bible)

There have been a lot of troubling images out of the city of Baltimore.

These images of violence fill our TV and computer screens. And let’s be honest, they are a bit more than we can handle. The tension in our society over justice for all people seems to have collided in the streets.

Questions are being raised by many, especially those in the church, as to how we should respond. What does justice look like? What role does the church play in such discussions? Where is God calling us to be a part of this?

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