I wanted to find 10 great movie sermons. But most of them are too preachy or campy or anti-religion or pro-religion. So I’m going with three.
The three I picked might not be “sermons” as taught in the many fine SoCal seminaries in my neighboring Bible colleges, but are from scenes that I believe honestly show what it’s like to experience religion. Or, at least they honestly remind me of moments of my own religious experience.
(click on movie titles for youtube vids)
1) There Will Be Blood. Daniel Day Lewis does an amazing job here. Something touches a nerve in him, and for a second, he’s really experiencing something. But the preacher’s work breaks him from his sorrowful realization and he snaps back into his sociopathic persona.
2) The Apostle. So many gripping sermon scenes in this film. I love the lines from the “I’ll Fly Away” sermon. Even now I find myself randomly shouting “get out the way moon, get out the way stars, I’m going to heaven!” But I think the most powerful bit of preaching is when Billy Bob Thornton comes to knock the church down and The Apostle E.F. brings him to Christ.
3) Synecdoche New York. This mindbending movie is filled with moments of straightforward emotional truth. The preacher’s funeral sermon is one of them. Damn, I so wish to some day hear a real preacher preach this from a real pulpit (and not just a movie preacher, preaching from the set of a scene within a scene within a scene…).
Bonus: The final scene from Higher Ground is awesome, but I couldn’t find a youtube clip to share. This is the scene where the main character, Corinne, takes the pulpit and talks about god. It’s beautiful, and actually the whole movie is worth seeing.
This is how much I love this scene: I sat down and transcribed it. And if you know anything about me and transcribing, you know this is no small task:
The children have the voice of angels don’t they, do I hear an amen? He walks with me and he talks with me and he tells me I am his own. What more could anyone want, right? Taking a stroll with god in the garden, having a chat with the creator of the universe, asking him questions and getting the answers, I mean you couldn’t be any more safe or secure.
There is no higher ground.
Call upon the name of the lord and you shall be saved. We call him so many things, El Shaddai, Lord, Father God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Heavenly Father, Adonai, Jehovah Jireh.
The ancient Hebrew alphabet contained no vowels, so god’s name was rendered only in consonants. And the vowels had to be provided orally, when a word was spoken. But the rabbis never wanted to take god’s name in vain, so his name was never spoken. So all we’re really left with is this string of consonants, an unspeakable name.
When I was a little girl, my pastor told me that Jesus was knocking on the door of my heart. And so I listened real hard and I thought I heard him. I raised my hand and I told everyone that Jesus was standing there and he wanted me. He wanted me. Tap tap tap. So I invited him in. Welcome, I said, and I gave my heart, out right.
And I’m standing here today and I’m telling you today, that I’m still waiting for him to make himself at home. You know, I call and I call, and there have been times when I’m sure he’s answered, times when I’m sure of it. But other times, I’ve got the porch light on and he doesn’t come, and I feel like I live in an empty place.
And I told god, I told him, I’m not gonna let go until he blesses me. But I’m wrestling something nameless, you know, without form and void. And I just want it to be solid so bad. I need all this to be real, but I don’t know how to make it real.
Forgive me. I admire your faith. I admire your faith, I really do.