Pastoral Perspectives

Rise Of The Guardians

    I was on a flight from Singapore to Sydney when I watched the film “Rise of the Guardians”. I asked myself what has our Church retreat theme got to do with this film? The Retreat committee must have borrowed this idea but after finishing this film, I began to make some connections.

            Rise of the Guardians is a 2012 American 3Dcomputer-animatedfantasyadventure film based on William Joyce‘s The Guardians of Childhood book series and The Man in the Moon. Set about 300 years after the book series, the film tells a story about the Guardians (North or Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Bunnymund or the Easter Bunny, and the Sandman), who enlist Jack Frost to stop Pitch Black from engulfing the world in darkness. Pitch Black, the Bogeyman has returned and is threatening childhood with fear. After summoning fellow Guardians the Tooth Fairy/Tooth, the Easter Bunny/E. Aster Bunnymund the Sandman/Sandy, North learns from the Man in the Moon that they are to induct Jack as their new member. Jack is brought to North’s headquarters and they attempt to swear him in. Jack, frustrated by centuries of isolation caused by children’s disbelief in him, declines to join. North persuades him to cooperate by explaining their mission and the looming threat of Pitch.  The Guardians and Pitch learn there is only one believing child left: Jamie. Jack races to the boy first and not only confirms Jamie’s faith in the Guardians, but also instills a belief in Jack Frost, enabling Jamie to finally see him and to Jack’s own delighted surprise. The diminished and weakened Guardians arrive to join him as they confront Pitch, while Jamie gathers his friends to support them. Pitch’s seemingly overwhelming power of nightmare proves no match against the children’s faith, which restores the Guardians’ full power to battle the Bogeyman. Sandman is resurrected by this belief, and joins the fight, leaving Pitch defeated and children’s faith restored, as well as in Jack Frost. Pitch is taken down by his own fear and is dragged back under the bed.

            With this victory, Jack finally accepts his responsibilities as a Guardian and resolves to protect the world’s children with his new friends. The truth is, many a time, we believers have lost our cutting edge, much like the children in this film that were threatened with fear. As is so often the case when we are sharing Christ with someone, it didn’t happen in an instant.  In this film, Jack may have wanted to be a guardian, he may have wanted to believe that Manny (the Leader) had a purpose for his life, but nonetheless, he needed a little convincing.  Jack didn’t think he was cut out to be a guardian any more than the other guardians did and his primary concern was what becoming a Guardian would cost him.  What if becoming a guardian meant a boring life–all seriousness and work and no play?  It took quite a few challenges and hard times before Jack began to embrace his calling and become the guardian Manny (the Leader) intended him to be, but in the end, Jack joined the other guardians in following Manny (the Leader) and protecting mankind. Aren’t we like in some ways similar to Jack?

            What were they protecting mankind from?  In this story it was Pitch, Pitch Black, aka the Boogie Man.  Pitch has striking similarities to Satan in the way he operated.  Both deal in fear, lies and manipulation.  This film provides a wealth of opportunity for families to safely and clearly discuss about the enemy and how he works in our lives. Pitch is defeated when the kids resist the temptation to fear, replacing fear with hope and joy – done in a beautiful manner!  Resist the devil and he will flee!

            Let me emphasize that our Gospel is even better than this.  It’s a great film and it provides an opportunity to get our kids or friends to be even more in love with Jesus, when they see how much better He is. The guardians question why Jack was chosen.  They keep thinking that Manny must see something in Jack that they don’t see.  While this is true – God sees in us who He intended us to be, no matter how far from that we may be – I think it’s important to note that God doesn’t choose us because of what we have to offer to Him.  We are never chosen because of our gifts or our abilities.  We are chosen in our absolute and utter poverty.  God needs nothing from us and we have nothing we can give to him (except our love and worship).  God chooses us because He loves us. The Bible says that But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;” (1 Cor. 1:27).  God sees more in us—He sees who He intended us to be with His help—but we are not chosen because we are special or because He gave us special gifts.  It’s just the opposite. He chose us and He equips us.  What a glorious concept!

            I like Jack’s comment to Jamie (the only one believing child left):  “Do you stop believing in the moon when it goes away, or in the sun when clouds block it?  Besides, we’ll be here [points to Jamie’s heart]…” It’s a great point.  Just because clouds block the sun, doesn’t mean it is gone.  The thing is, the guardians only promise to be real and to be near. Jesus did it so much better than the guardians did.  He left for our benefit, that He could send us a Helper, the Holy Spirit…so that He could be even more present with us by indwelling us with His presence.   HE is ever present, Emmanuel, GOD WITH US.

            Some of you may be wondering if I’m promoting this film. Not really. My purpose is that “Rise of the Guardians” may be a tool that you can use to help your children understand Biblical truths. What I’m trying to do is to point us to the very fact that as believers in Christ, even if we are the only left, we should be defending our faith. Just as the Apostle Peter reminded us in 1 Peter 3:5 always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you…” For those of you who have signed up for the Church retreat, my prayer is that we will be like Jack to finally embrace our calling and become the guardian. For those of you who have missed to sign up for this Retreat for whatever reasons, you may have missed the excitement and fun but you can still ask those who have been there and done that to share their experiences with you. So don’t miss out in the next Retreat!

Pastor Cheng Huat

May 5, 2013