October 2009

The Soloist

THE SOLOIST is the kind of film which members of the Activate Your Life community could go and see with a group of friends and then, over a drink afterwards, find lots of interesting issues to talk about which would easily link into the important areas of life and faith. And when the film is released on DVD – a Film Night in your home could provide a great evening of entertainment and discussion.

The following article has come from LICC (London Institute for Contemporary Christianity – www.licc.org.uk)and it gives an overview of this brilliant new film.

Whether it’s the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle we’re completing, or the flavour lacking in the meal we’re preparing, all of us are familiar with the anxious sense that something is missing. Frequently, our anxiety stems from not being able to place exactly what it is that’s missing – that one thing without which the whole seems incomplete. It’s a feeling that many experience about life in general – why, when everything seems to be present, are we still conscious of a, sometimes gaping, hole?

This is the question explored in the recent film, The Soloist.

An adaptation of a true story, originally recorded in LA journalist Steve Lopez’s award-winning book, the film records the relationship between Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers, a homeless man he encounters after hearing him playing Beethoven on a beaten-up, two-stringed violin in a city subway. Ayers clearly has plenty of holes in his life; a childhood musical prodigy, he was robbed of a promising career, and almost everything else besides, by schizophrenia. Lopez, on the other hand, being celebrated and successful, seems to be much more complete.

Near the beginning of their relationship, Lopez asks Ayers to tell of his greatest desire. ‘To find my other two strings’ is his answer, and that search sets up the remainder of the film. What might they be, those things that would enable him to play to his full potential once again, and where on earth might he find them?

Christian imagery abounds. Large illuminated crosses adorn the premises of the homeless charity. As Nathaniel struggles with the chaos of city life, he recites the Lord’s Prayer. A professional musician tries, unsuccessfully, to exert his evangelical influence, yet in a flashback, Nathaniel’s mother affirms that when she listens to him play, she hears ‘the voice of God’. All of this serves as a backdrop to an evolving friendship that is seen as being transformative in itself. At one point Lopez tries to explain to his ex-wife the influence that Ayers and his music is having on him. ‘It’s grace’, she whispers in his ear.

At the conclusion of the film, Ayers is off the streets, but any recovery is acknowledged as very fragile. Lopez, though, is profoundly changed; he seems to have found what he didn’t know was missing.

What were those strings, that which was missing yet proved to be so profoundly life-enhancing? Not so much the obvious things: the provision of an apartment, simple recourse to medication, or the trite slogans of religion; but friendship and faith, community and beauty…

Something like grace?


The Soloist Read More »

October Devotional – Secure in the Spirit

As my children go back to school, my youngest starting secondary, I know that troubles will come and go for them as they do for all of us. My prayer is that when troubles come, my children will be strengthened by the love of God in their lives and in the lives of others.

‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ: Shall trouble or hardship or persecution of famine or nakedness or danger or sword? …nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord’. Romans 8:35,39 NIV.

We can all be vulnerable in our earthly existence but hope can be strengthened, by remembering the death of Jesus and the sovereignty of God. Paul wrote that ‘All true believers are the objects of God’s love’, and because of that, neither people nor circumstances can revoke our salvation. Paul asked ‘What can make Christ stop loving us?’ The answer: Nothing. He goes on to describe the various adversities that we the believer might experience – pressure, temptation, suffering, hunger, poverty, danger and death. Not one of these can separate us from Christ’s love.
Paul himself experienced much adversity in serving Christ. Those trials never broke the bond of Christ’s love for him, and no adversity will ever separate us from Christ’s love either.
Perseverance during adversity marks us as true believers because adversity refines us by increasing our love for righteousness and our hatred of sin. We are secure in life through our perseverance and confidence.
As Christians, we have every reason to be optimistic. If we don’t allow adversity to obscure God’s promise that all things will ultimately work out for good, we can believe that the Word of God will help bring joy and hope to all our lives.

October Devotional – Secure in the Spirit Read More »

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