Do you remember E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial? It is
one of the best science-fiction movies ever made and, surpassing Star Wars in
revenue, ET became the highest grossing movie at the time. This past week in our
Chapel service, I asked the students if they’ve seen the movie. More than 80%
raised their hands, which was good because I was about to preach on the
In the movie, ET is left behind from his science exploring
space ship and takes cover in an outdoor shed at the home of Elliot, a lonely
10-year old boy. In order to make a friend, Elliot places small piles of Reese’s
Pieces and lures ET out of the tool shed. He then leads ET into the house, up
the stairs, and into his room. Later on, ET uses Reese’s Pieces to find his way
The virtue this month at Saint John’s is love. We will be
talking about love in our classes and at Chapel. To start off the month, we read
from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Chapter 13, where the well-known
phrase, “Love is patient, love is kind, it isn’t jealous, rude or keeps a record
of complaints,” can be found. Our students know a lot about love. Their families
and their teachers love them; and they realize it. But what is love as a virtue?
Well, for one thing it is a lot more than a feeling or an emotion. The Apostle
Paul seems to be telling us something entirely different about love from what
anyone can feel. This week, I focused on the phrase, “Love is patient”.
The relationship between Elliot and ET took time,
nurturing, trust and yellow, orange and black candy. Elliot took a few Pieces
and placed them on the ground. He waited for ET to build up sufficient trust to
take a chance at eating them. He then repeated the slow process over and over
again. As time went on, they slowly discovered how different they were and then
how similar they had become. Love IS patient.
I showed the kids a large bag of Reese’s Pieces. They all
got very excited – probably thinking that I was going to give them candy. But,
that was not a part of this lesson. Instead, they had to look at the bag, hear
me shake it every once in a while, and then listen to how love is patient. At
the end of the message, I set the unopened bag down and invited everyone to
stand and say the Nicene Creed together.
This message complements our sex ed program. Outside the
doors of our school and church our students are going to meet people who will
tell them that love is something other than patient. Our kids are already seeing
sexualized images that represent anything but patience. What they’re being sold
is that love is a feeling and when you get it you have to get it all, and all at
once. Christian Scripture tells us something different about love – starting
with patience. Our children will likely be told at some point in their life, “If
you love me, you will …” Scripture teaches us that love does not insist on its
own way and that love endures all things. ET didn’t demand the whole bag of
Reese’s Pieces, nor did Elliot immediately dump the whole bag into a pile
outside the shed. They found that love is patient and kind. The movie shows love
as not being rude, or self-seeking; rather, love is happy with the truth and
puts up with all things.
At the tearful ending of the movie, Elliot looks at ET’s
plastic covered corpse and says, “I’ll believe in you all my life, every day.
ET, I love you.” A short time later, the newly-revived ET is about to board the
spacecraft that came back to retrieve him. Before he goes home, however, ET
says, “Come” and Elliot replies, “Stay.” ET then reaches forward and touches
Elliot’s forehead and says, “I’ll be right here.”
Love is patient, it endures all things, and love will
never, ever, end.