Sunday, February 01, 2009

Sunday Devotion: Carousel

Sunday lectionary verse:

Psalm 111:4 He has caused his wonders to be remembered; the LORD is gracious and compassionate.

I sat and watched one of my favorite movies recently. It stars Shirley Jones and Gordon Macrae. It's the beautiful musical 'Carousel.'

Before I ever saw the movie, I practically knew all of the songs. My Dad loved Oscar & Hammerstein musicals and his record collection was full of them. Every Saturday evening, he would fetch out his albums and play them. On the sleeve of the Carousel album, there was a picture of the characters Julie & Billy. In the background, the lights of the carousel were spinning around.

When Dad played the record album, and others like it, my sister, brothers and I would be sitting on the carpet, drawing carousels and singing the songs. To this day, if ever I feel nostalgic about the good old days, I just have to sit and watch the movie. The great thing is that even my two grown up daughters love it. I guess it's all in the genes.

So what's this got to do with today's lectionary text? In the movie, Billy Bigelow is given the opportunity to come down to earth for one day to help his daughter. The old, wise, Starmaker graciously allows Billy to do this, and he succeeds in his mission. Faith, hope, and love triumph over fear, tragedy, and loneliness. Billy's intervention saves the day and he returns to heaven a changed man.

It's only a story, but the theology it contains is marvelous. You see it’s all about incarnation - that great, holy process where a compassionate and loving God comes to earth to change our lives and set us on the right path to heaven. Only this time, it's not a story, it's His story. The planet we reside in revolves like a carousel in space; and in the midst of all that spinning, Christ comes, Christ cares, and Christ shows us compassion.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, there are times in our lives when things seem to be out of control and we become anxious or depressed, fearful and faithless, helpless and lonesome. During those times, we fully depend upon Your presence and seek Your compassion and deep care. Hear us when we pray to You. Come to us and help us. Heal us and all our loved ones. Guide us and grant us peace. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

(PS - there's a rumor that Hugh Jackman is going to play Billy Bigelow in a remake of the musical to be released in 2010)

John Stuart, aka Stushie, is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to comment on today’s message, please send him an email to

Past devotionals, bible studies, and religious news can be found on John’s blogpage, Heaven’s Highway. You’ll find it at

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