The Gospel According to Richard Linklater: Miracles

As the 2015 Academy Awards’ ceremony nears, a talked-about nominee for Best Picture is


. Director Richard Linklater spent twelve years filming the fictitious story of a boy named Mason. For a few weeks out of each year, the same cast and crew would gather to shoot scenes for the movie. As the actors age and mature, so do the characters. There are endless articles and reflections online that praise what this film accomplishes--among them, capturing the sacredness of a family's everyday moments and depicting the passage of time.

I watched the film recently and agree with all of these lessons. Richard Roeper, film critic and columnist for the

Chicago Sun-Times

, describes it as “one of the most remarkable movie-going experiences I’ve ever had.” That is how I felt when the end credits rolled. There is nothing overly dramatic or stylized about the plot. There are no million-dollar special effects. *

Simply put,


tells a story—and tells it well.

The film begins when Mason is six years old. Around the two-hour mark, he is 17 years old and travels with his girlfriend to visit college friends. As they listen to a live band in a bar, Mason puts his arm around the girl’s shoulders and draws her closer to himself.


I literally yelled at the screen.


I surprised myself with such a vocal reaction to a quiet moment. This was not like yelling at a sports team that made a bad play or telling the detectives on

Law & Order

not to go down a dark alley.

I reacted because I cared about Mason. When I looked at 17-year-old Mason, I still saw 6-year-old Mason from two hours earlier: an innocent, vulnerable little boy with a big heart. I felt like I’d known him long enough to give him advice!

The filmmakers tell the story so well that we forget it’s a story. What we see are not a script with actors. We see real people. We unconsciously develop concern for them.

The Word became flesh and blood,

And moved into the neighborhood.

We saw the glory with our own eyes,

The one-of-a-kind glory

Like Father, like Son,

Generous inside and out

True from start to finish.

(John 1:14, The Message)

I love the way John describes the Messiah’s birth. I especially love Eugene Peterson’s translation of John’s story. It reminds me of the way a movie like


begins. We meet people for the first time when they move into the house next door. We learn their names. We make small talk. Only with time do we “see with our own eyes” the “glory” in one another. Jesus’ disciples may not have realized immediately how glorious he was. They came to know him as generous and as true by spending time with him.

Eventually, they cared deeply. And they realized how deeply the Father had cared about them all along.

What John describes is a miracle.

Miracles are not only events where the blind see, the dead rise, and a virgin conceives. Miracles also happen when compassion forms in our heart’s crevices over time.


is a one-of-a-kind movie for many reasons. I am grateful for the way it reveals "one-of-a-kind glory" that moved into our neighborhood 2,000 years ago.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian

* To watch Richard Roeper’s review of the film, click on this link: