Contemplating Oz

Life Notes—September 19, 2013 

  “Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Ephesians 6:23

“Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!”  Dorothy Gale

There was a once-a-year event when I was a child that was not to be missed.  It was the annual showing of The Wizard of Oz.  In the days before VCR, DVD and Blu-Ray players, movies that were no longer in theatres could only be seen on television.  My family planned around the showing of The Wizard of Oz so as not to miss it.  I have vivid memories of Dorothy on her colorless Kansas farm, living with her Auntie Em and Uncle Henry.  I cowered in fear of the Wicked Witch and her flying monkeys.  The Wizard’s voice was haunting, echoing through his chambers, and sounded like power personified.

The Wizard of Oz, filmed in 1939, remains popular nearly 75 years later.  I believe the movie has an appeal that extends beyond a well-told story.  Specifically, it contains elements that connect deep within our being.  Some say Dorothy represents humankind and the Scarecrow, Lion, and Tin man symbolize the plant, animal, and mineral worlds.  Others see the film as a classic good vs. evil drama, as Dorothy and her companions seek to outwit the more powerful Wicked Witch.  Still others frame the story as a class struggle, where the working poor, like the Gales, battle against the rich, like Miss Gulch.

For me, The Wizard of Oz is a story of community.  Dorothy, caught in a storm, finds herself in a different world.  We are familiar with those types of storms.  A home burns to the ground; a loved one passes away; the doctor calls and wants to discuss our test results—today.  All of a sudden, we are not in Kansas anymore.  We find ourselves in unfamiliar territory.  This new land resembles the old in some respects, but it is clearly foreign.  Like Dorothy, we begin an unexpected and unplanned journey feeling confused, alone, and frightened.  We discover the only way out of the storm is to go through it.  On her way through, Dorothy finds a community to help her get back home.  Like Dorothy, we need a community to help us through our storms. We need the gifts and graces of friends and family to help meet the challenges of each next step.  The next few Life Notes will look at a few of the familiar characters from The Wizard of Oz.  The Scarecrow, Tin Man, and Cowardly Lion provide crucial elements of community for Dorothy, in spite of their individual shortcomings.  Her community carries her back; changed from the journey, but home.  After all, there is no place like home.

Tom will be preaching downtown where Life worship is at 10:00 in Brady Hall and traditional worship is at 8:30 and 11:00 in the sanctuary.  Mitch is preaching at the west campus where contemporary worship is at 9:00 and 11:00.

Come home to church this Sunday.  Follow the Yellow Brick Road…

Greg Hildenbrand, Life Music Coordinator

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