Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Gospel According To PIXAR pt 4, "Control verses Trust", By Rev Steven R Mitchell

The Gospel According To PIXAR pt 4

“Control verses Trust”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora, CO 7/28/2013

Based on Mark 8:34-37, Mark 10:13-21 and movie Finding Nemo


        In the movie Finding Nemo, we observe three main characters: Marlin the dad, Nemo the son, and Dory the absent-minded.  The film begins with Nemo preparing for his first day of school.  Nemo’s father, Marlin is worried that Nemo might not yet be ready for school.  The reason for this was when Nemo was just an egg, a barracuda, attacked his home, killing his mother and all the other ninety-nine brothers and sisters, only he and his dad survived the attack.  Wracked with guilt, Marlin promised never to let anything happen to Nemo.  This overprotection leads to a conflict with Nemo, which results in Nemo’s capture by a diver.

        This film is a story of humanity told through the lives of fish.  As humans we wish to be in control, directing our outcomes, yet we find the reality is counterproductive, for we generally fail to achieve the outcome that we want.  What we ultimately need often turns out to be the very opposite of what we initially pursued. The Gospel According to PIXAR, pg 31

        Marlin wasn’t always an overprotective parent.  At the beginning of the film, Marlin was a happy go lucky, everything in the world is going his way type of guy.  But after the fatal attack on his home and family, Marlin’s perception of the world became adversarial, “it’s the world against me!” type of thinking.  Nemo had suffered an injury to one of his fins in that attack, making him somewhat handicapped in his dad’s eyes, thus heightening Marlin’s over protectiveness; the major theme that Marlin teachings Nemo is that the Ocean is not safe.   Marlin is a parent motivated by fear.  He seeks to minimize every risk and prevent every foreseeable negative outcome.  Every new situation provides new opportunities for danger.  Marlin lives in a perpetual state of anxiety, yet the feeling of being in control provides for Marlin the only possibility of peace and security. The Gospel According to PIXAR, pg 32

        Out of defiance to his dad, Nemo takes the dare of his school buddies and swims off the reef only to be captured by a human diver.  This is one of the worst fears a parent could have.  Determined to find his son, Marlin ventures out into this world that he views as hostile.  Along the way, he meets a very absent minded Dory, who has the ability to read and speak Whale!  Together they go looking for Nemo.  On a personal note, Dory’s outlook on life is totally opposite of that of Marlin’s.  Dory see’s life as a total venture (maybe because she is able to forget the past.) 

        At every turn, these two sojourners encounter danger, such as meeting up with sharks who are members of a “Fish are not food” anonymous group, some sort of deep sea monster, and a whale that swallows them.  It is while inside the whale that Marlin has to learn to trust in something beyond his personal instincts of fear, which hasn’t been providing him with security all that well to this point.  Holding onto the tonsil of the whale, Dory insists that the whale says to let go.  For Marlin, it looks like letting go seems to be certain death, but his alternative of hanging on didn’t promise anything better.  Turning loose, he and Dory are blown out of the whale through his blowhole to safety.  Marlin then has the opportunity to practice this newly found trust when Nemo asks his dad trust him as he helps the fish caught in a fishing net to escape.  At the end of the movie we see where Marlin has learned to let go of his fear, becoming a person who other fish enjoy being around, and develops a healthy relationship between he and Nemo.

        How we view life is very closely related to our experiences in life.  If we have never encountered much resistance in our goals or have had very little exposure to violence, we would tend to be less fearful of our environment.  If on the other hand we have known violence or have been taught the world is an unsafe place in which to live in, then we would tend to view life more like Marlin. 

        A true story:  I was in San Francisco some years ago staying at a B&B in the Mission district.  A district that was at that time a rather rough place to be even in the daytime let along being on the streets after dark.  I had been at a bar about three miles from my B&B.  Come closing time, I couldn’t caught a cab so I decided to hoof the three miles hoping to catch a cab along the way.  At one point a cab did stop for me, but once he saw how I was dressed, wearing a torn T-shirt and ripped jeans, drove off leaving me on the street to continue my moonlit walk.  

        As I entered into the Mission District I was using my very best defensive “this is how you stay safe walking alone in an unknown, unsafe neighborhood at 3 a.m.” strategy.  As I came upon a group of people that I couldn’t avoid, and one lady screamed out, “Oh my goodness baby, did you get mugged?”  I quickened my pace and answered politely, “Yes I did.”  About two blocks further down the street, I passed a guy who looked at me and asked, “Is that a costume or was I in a fight?”  I answered, “it’s my costume.”   The questions that these two different people asked had a lot to do with how they perceive life.  For the one, life was seen through the lens of danger and violence, for the other, maybe one goes somewhere intentionally dressed looking ragged.

        This morning’s readings from Mark provide some parallels with Finding Nemo specifically that of “letting go”, knowing that we cannot control events around us and through this knowledge we can only live by trusting in a power that is greater than we are, God.  I continually have to come back as a comparison to that of the simple trust in God that my mother possess to that of the more complicated way of viewing God that I have; mom is more like a Dory and I am more like Marlin.  So much of my life, I work at trying to control and manipulate things so they will come out the way that I envision them to be.        

It really takes up a lot of energy, trying to be in total control of things going on around you.  And then when things do not play out the way that I am working toward, I have to fall back onto my mother’s understanding of God, that it is God who is in control.  There are two theological worlds at play here; my mother’s theological world is a world 5, things are as they will be, so why worry about it, just have “trust.”  This is as far away from my world 1 view, I’m not sure God really is out there working for me, therefore I need to make sure that I’m doing everything that I can to make what I want to be, work – total control.

        In the story about Jesus saying we need to come to God as children, I am most struck by the verse, “What good would it do to get everything you want and lose you, the real you?  Too often the idea of picking up one’s cross and following Jesus is understood as, denying yourself and trying to become just like Jesus.  I think what Jesus was truly trying to tell us was, we need to work at becoming who we truly are, that child full of expectancy, of adventure, and inquisitiveness, of trust.  Even in the story of the young man that Jesus asked of him to sell all that he had, then come follow him, isn’t about taking a vow of poverty, but letting go of those things that give us false security, things that keep us from actually trusting in God’s love, power, and ultimate life giving.  For me, it’s a constant struggle to not be like Marlin, for Jesus says we need to be a Dory in order to find ourselves, and it is in finding ourselves that we find life, true and full.  Amen

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Gospel According to PIXAR pt 3, "The Gift of Affirmation", by Rev Steven R Mitchell, Mountain View United Church, Aurora, CO

The Gospel According to PIXAR pt 3

“The Gift of Affirmation”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora 7-21-2013

Isaiah 65:16-17, John 21:15-17,



        “What do you want to be when you grow up?”  “What do you want to do in your life?”  “What adventures do you most dream of doing?”  Life is an amazing gift.  When we are young there seems to be every possibility available; there’s nothing that can stop us from doing whatever we wish to do.  But as we grow older, life seems to get in the way and some of those possibilities become dreams of the past, never attempted, never achieved. As Alan Jackson’s song, “Remember When” so vividly expresses, we remember not only those things that we have done, but also those dreams and promises that we for whatever reason have not kept, either to ourselves and others. 

When I was a child, I wanted to be a Bell Telephone operator like my mother.   When I got a little older, I thought I’d like to be a fireman like my dad.  Later I thought I wished to become an architect, but when I learned that I would have to take calculus, I changed my mind.  As a young adult I made a few demo recordings thinking I wanted to become a world famous performer, but when I became married, I switched to become an accountant, because life as a performer didn’t guarantee a steady income.  Life is full of possibilities and it is also filled with stuff that gets in the way of those possibilities.  At differing stages of our lives, we find ourselves assessing what our life has been and depending on how our achievements weigh against what our expectations where, we find ourselves either satisfied or feeling regretful.

In the movie “UP!” we meet Carl and Elle, Russell a wilderness scout, Dug a talking dog, and Kevin a female prehistoric bird.  The relationship between Carl and Elle is what creates the story, even though Elle is only in the first 15 minutes of the movie.  Carl and Elle meet as children and become lifelong companions.  Elle is depicted as a round faced, very adventurous person who is the driving force behind Carl.  Carl has a very square face, wears square glasses, and tends not to take risks. 

Elle has a life dream of moving to Paradise Falls in South America (it’s like America, but South!)  She makes Carl promise to take her there, where they can live and find all sorts of unexplored adventures.  The club house that Carl meets Elle at is an old abandoned Victorian house that she has named “Spirit of Adventure”.  When they marry, they buy this old house, fix it up and live their entire married life in this house, saving money for their big adventure to Paradise Falls.  But life gets in the way; they have to use their savings for things like flat tires, broken legs, trees falling on the house.  One day Carl realizes that he has never fulfilled his promise to Elle about taking her to Paradise Falls.  Carl purchases tickets so the two of them can finally make the trip, but Elle’s health fails and she dies, never making that trip.  Carl is left with the guilt of not keeping his promise to his beloved.  When forced with the option of going to a rest home, he decides to keep his promise to Elle and equips their house with enough balloons that will fly the house to Paradise Falls.

To Carl’s dismay he is continuously being challenged in achieving his goal by the unwanted companionship of a little boy named Russell, Dug a talking dog, and Kevin a female bird.   Once Carl does get the house to Paradise Falls, he realizes that it is unsatisfying; he still has that feeling of not keeping his promise to Elle – of giving her the adventure she had always dreamed of.   As Carl sits in his chair, he laments his failure to Elle as he looks through her “book of adventures”, when to his amazement, he finds it full of photographs of their life together.  On the last page of her book she hand writes a note to Carl, “Thanks for the adventure of my life, now go have a new one! Love Elle.”  With this Carl is finally freed from his guilt and can now focus on living in the present.

Scripture says, “All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  Just what does that mean?   Sin is one of those words that I generally don’t like to use, because I’m never sure what “images” it brings to mind to the person that I am chatting with.  The movie “UP!” deals with the topic of “atonement” and “absolution”, church words that the general public don’t often use.  But in order to have “atonement” and “absolution”, you have to have something to be “atoned” of, which the church calls “sin.”  I think this movie has a great message in looking at what “sin” might be.  Carl was a person who seemed to need to be pushed, specifically by Elle, to take on the adventures of life.  Once he didn’t have Elle in his life, he became a crusty “old” fart, shutting himself off from the world around him.  But once he found out that Elle’s life was one of completeness with him, Carl was once again able to re-enter life and all the challenges it has to offer.

There are many people who wouldn’t buy into the scripture that “all have sinned” as the church has come to explain sin.  But what if we were to define sin more broadly with the statement that, “sin is not living up to your potential.  Would this not make the scripture more applicable to all of us?  I think that if you take a moment to examine your life honestly and ask the question, “Have I lived up to my potential?” you would most likely find at least one area that you haven’t.  Sometimes these can prevent us from truly becoming who we know we should be.  For some, they just become gnawing things in the back of our minds that become small regrets in our senior years, not allowing us to fully appreciate all that we have become.

The Apostle Peter is a great story about what can happen when filled with guilt and regret.  Peter was a man who loved his teacher, Jesus, and promised to stand beside Jesus no matter what might come.  But when push came to shove denied ever knowing Jesus.  In shame Peter gives up and decides to return to his former life, giving up on his potential that Jesus had been cultivating.   In the final chapter of John, Jesus comes once again to Peter and asks him, “Do you love me?”, and then absolves him by saying, “Feed my sheep”, this happens three times, the same amount of times Peter had denied knowing Jesus.  Once Peter is freed from his guilt, he then becomes the leader of the new movement “The Way.”  In essence, Peter is able to continue to develop his potential. 

If we can look at “sin” as “not living up to our potential” then the only way that we are able to live up to our potential is to overcome what it is that is stopping us in doing that.  Usually these barriers are expressed in words like “regret” or “guilt”, which are restrictions that we place on ourselves.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The only way someone can put you down is if you allow them to do so.” (Paraphrased)  More often than not, we put ourselves down.  Absolution is that coming to terms with ourselves and removing those barriers in order to start living up to our potential.  Carl did this when he got rid of all the stuff in the house that had been memories of his and Elle’s life in order to allow the house to fly again and rescue Russell and Kevin.  For Peter, it was Jesus asking him to remember who Peter was and his love for Jesus and giving him permission to carry on the work.  What is needed in your life to bring “absolution” so that you can live up to your potential?  We all have the opportunity, we just need to be willing to let go of what holds up back and receive the gift of affirmation.  Amen


Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Gospel According to PIXAR pt 2, "The Power of Love", by Rev Steven R Mitchell

The Gospel According to PIXAR, pt 2

“The Power of Love”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora 7-14-2013


        This past Thursday, the new Resilience Center of Aurora, the first in the nation, was dedicated.  It is a counseling center designed to help communities such as ours to cope with sever trauma and was inspired by last year’s tragic shootings at the Cineplex 16 theater where 12 people were killed and more than 50 injured and of the hundreds of people who have lost their homes these past two years from forest fires.  At the actual dedication, a sister of one of the young men killed spoke of hope with the cutting of the red ribbon.  A little later there was an amazing young man, his name is Marcus, spoke to Aurora faith leaders about his experience of being shoot twice in his arm and the death of his girlfriend and how that experience has challenged him to go into many communities and share his story of faith and deepened commitment to God’s message of love.

        I was once again reminded about how God’s presence is found in the most threatening of circumstances such as that evening last July 20th, as well as in the peace and tranquility of my office as I prepare weekly to share about God’s teachings that give us direction, hope, strength, and wonderment on our journey in life.  Almost a month ago I had decided upon the summer series of “The Gospel According to Pixar” as a way of helping us understand secular societies language that speaks the words of God and of the human condition in a non-church vocabulary.  Over a month ago, I had decided upon which dates each PIXAR movie that I’m going to talk about would be presented in Worship, as well as which films would be shown at our family movie nights, and here this week I was being nurtured through amazing events such as Marcus’ story at the Resilience Center. 

Even this past Saturday morning in the simple act of passing out breakfast burrito’s to “day laborers” provided more stories of hope and the opportunity of providing a presence of Christ to men who live in fear of not being able to provide an adequate living for themselves and their families, or living in fear of being visible to ICE, which is the governmental police that arrest non-documented people living in our country.  On this particular Saturday there seemed to be more men opening up to us in conversation, sharing their stories.  We also feed a number of homeless folks near Colfax and Dayton, where we were asked to provide prayer for one man who was filled with anger over becoming homeless.  The love that this church provided through our being there that morning through our passing out breakfast burrito’s is an act of giving without expecting anything in return.  We do not go out and try to convert the people we are serving, we are just providing food that says in our presence, “we are here because God asks us to share what we have with you.”  It is an act of unconditional love.  It is telling these men and women who are now recognizing our faces that we are there for them with no strings attached.  That my dear brothers and sisters is a strong message in sharing God’s love.

This week the story from “Monsters, Inc” is our topic.  It’s a topic dealing with life that is running on fear verses life that is operating on love.  It is a story about two monsters, Sully and Mike, who work at a factory of the Monsters, Inc Company.  Together, with a host of other monsters, Sully, Mike, and one of the villains, Randall, work to collect “screams” from children by visiting their rooms at night.  The louder the screams, the more energy they collect.  These screams are converted to energy which powers the city of Monstropolis.  One day at the factory, Sully and Mike encounter a little girl, “Boo,” who has snuck into the monster world from the human world via her closet door.  In Monstropolis, human children are considered a possible fatal health risk.  (We would say, bio hazard.)  Sully and Mike discover this is false, and subsequently develop affection for Boo.  They then spend the rest of the movie trying to get her back to her world, keeping her safe from the evil intentions of Randall and Mr Waternoose, CEO of Monsters, Inc.  During the process of trying to get Boo home safely, Sully discovers Boo’s laughter is ten times more powerful than her screams.  After Sully and Mike defeat Randall and Mr. Waternoose, Monsters, Inc, changes from a “scare” factory to a “laugh factory.”

There are many directions with respect to social justice that this movie can direct discussion on, such as immigration, abortion, death penalty, gay marriage, prison reform, inner city crime, misuse of our world’s resources and the list goes on, but the primary focus of this movies message is the relationship between love and fear.   I’m speaking about the one directional love that we understand within scripture, but out of fear, are usually not able to really wrap our heads around, because God’s message generally requires more change within us than what we are willing to do.

In this movie we see where Boo is playing the part of the lover who is giving consistent “unconditional love” toward the monsters who truly are threatening and create fear, even to the point that she could be killed.  It is in this unconditional love of Boo’s that Sully, who Boo calls “Kitty”, realizes that his self-worth isn’t wrapped up in his ability to scare children, but is found because he is simply being loved.  Hear once again the words of Jesus, 27-30 “To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” 

If we could actually incorporate this one teaching within our personal lives and thus in the life of Mountain View, we would become the talk of Aurora.  We say we are an inclusive church, but how welcome would someone be if we knew that they were a convicted murdere, who has paid their debt to society, comes to worship with us?  Would this person be able to be open about who they are and what their past has been and be truly embraced by the congregation?  That’s the challenge that we have when we are confronted with God’s word about changing ourselves to the point that we can actually act as Jesus acts.

 Little did I know that I would be hearing first hand this week a story of one person’s life who lived minutes of fear that involved physical danger and how he lives day by day with the scripture that comes from 1John 4, “18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…”.   Marcus could easily have become a victim in more than just being shot or losing his girlfriend that night; he could be living day after day in fear, filled with hate toward the man who pulled the trigger on so many, not able to build a life for himself , moving beyond fear and living in the state of forgiveness.  I know of another story where another young man who watched the twin towers of the World Trade Center crumble by terrorist acts twelve years ago is much different. 

What is the difference between these two men that allows one to continue to build his life while the other is paralyzed by fear?  In one story, I heard much discussion about a relationship with God, in the other story I never heard any discussion about a relationship with God.  That is the difference, I believe.  For one young man, life is lived out in fear because there is not a sense that love is present, a love that transcends all normal understanding; after all, that is what terroristic activity tries to instill: a sense of isolation, of no hope, of creating fear so strong that you are unable to understand or recognize love that transcends. 

10 This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us…” 

19 We love because he first loved us.”  In the movie Monsters, Inc, the little girl Boo had this unending love for the scariest monster in Monstropolis, Sully.  It was this love that helped change the life and the focus of Sully; so much so, that he started to risk the loss of his career, of his friends, even to not see little Boo once he returns her safely to her home. 

The power of this story is found in the reality that love is so much stronger than that of fear.  It’s a love that is not requiring anything in return, but by its power can change lives.  It can change a monster like Sully into a lovable kitty; it can change a young man’s life like Marcus into a ambassador for God’s healing power and guiding light.  Let us continue to power our own lives with the power of love.  Amen

Sunday, July 7, 2013

When Love Enters, The Gospel According to PIXAR, pt 1, Rev Steven R Mitchell

The Gospel According to PIXAR series

“When Love Enters”

By Rev Steven R Mitchell

Mountain View United Church, Aurora, CO 7/7/2013

Based on Luke 19:1-10 and movie WALL-E


        Every couple of months the board members of Ecumenical Inc meets.  For those of you who are not familiar with what Ecumenical Inc is, it is the corporation in which Mountain View was formed under.  At the beginning of the 1970’s the Presbyterian Churches of the USA, the United Methodist church, and the United Church of Christ came together and planted three ecumenical churches, The United Church of Montbello in Denver, Columbine United Church in Littleton, and Mountain View United Church in Aurora.  The purpose for these meetings is to check in with each church and give support to each other’s ministries.  One of the topics which arose in this last meeting was that of the “Love language of the culture” and how the majority of today’s churches do not understand that language, which hinders our ability to connect with today’s culture. 

There is a strong sense of frustration within our churches that today’s culture isn’t concerned with “church”.  We don’t understand what people are telling us when they say they are “Spiritual” but not “Religious.”  When we hear this expression we often assume that they are rejecting Jesus or more importantly they are rejecting our basic religious understanding.  This is just one small example of what we mean by the differences in a particular cultures “love” language.  This summer we will be exploring how some of this love language is being told through pop culture, specifically through the media of movies.  We will be exploring through some of the PIXAR movies how our beloved Gospel stories are being retold through a language that is not spoken or overtly used in church.

This week I wish to focus in on the topic of what happens when love enters into a person’s life.  The movie that I want to use as the example of how the love language of the culture is being used is from the movie WALL-E and how One of the Biblical scriptures that can easily be used as a related story is the story of Jesus’ encounter with the tax collector, Zacchaeus as found in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 19.

As the movie WALL-E opens we quickly learn that humanity has finally managed to make the earth so uninhabitable that everybody had to board a huge space station and live in outer space while robots like WALL-E were left on earth to clean up the debris so that sometime in the future humans could return to mother earth.  One day another robot shows up with a directive to locate any signs that earth might be ready to be re-inhabited, her name is EVA.  WALL-E soon falls in love with Eva (who is totally unaware of his affections because of her total focus of mission or her directive) and offers her a newly found treasure: a green shoot of a plant.  Having found what she is looking for; Eva goes into involuntary shut down.  WALL-E doesn’t understand what has happened to her, but devotes himself to her care during her time of inactivity.  As the original space probe that delivered EVA comes back to collect her, WALL-E follows her by stowing away on the probe which goes back to the human’s space ship.  On board, WALL-E finds a ship full of overweight people driving armchairs, talking to each other only via video screens and eating their food out of giant Slurpee cups.  Computers run the ship, keeping the humans alive and pacified.  When WALL-E arrives, he single mindedly pursues EVA and helps her complete her directive, despite opposition from the head robot, the Autopilot, who seeks to maintain power by preventing the spaceship’s return to Earth. The Gospel According to PIXAR. Chapter 1 pg5-6 

One of the major themes of this story is how everyone who comes in contact with WALL-E has their lives dramatically changed.  WALL-E has a simple love for every person or robot that he meets, giving love and not expecting anything in return.  When WALL-E meets a little robot, MO, charged with clean-up, WALL-E extends a hand of friendship.  WALL-E gives a sense of value to the robots that are considered misfits and needing to be altered.  When WALL-E accidently breaks the video screen on one of the human’s chair, it allowed the human to realize a much larger world outside of their chair, giving new meaning to a very mundane existence.

In the Gospel of Luke, we can read how the life of Jesus also changed the lives of those people he came in contact with.  Jesus and WALL-E portray the same one directional style of love – that of giving without expecting anything in return, which draws people like Zacchaeus to realize that there is more to life than just his prime directive of making money. 

Zacchaeus had heard about Jesus and in order to see who this Jesus was climbed a tree to get a view of him.  When Jesus saw Zacchaeus up in the tree, Jesus told him to come down and invited himself over for dinner.  This may seem very presumptuous to invite yourself over for dinner, yet it is in breaking bread where deeper relationship building can happen.  From that time with Jesus, Zacchaeus came to understand that he had been missing out on living a life that was richer than what he had understood, just like the human in the chair realized a whole world beyond their video screen.

The movie WALL-E gives several examples of what can limit our ability to see life in a much broader picture.  For EVA, she had tunnel vision because she was totally focused on her “directive”, of finding carbon based life on earth; once WALL-E entered into her life, his love for her broke her tunnel vision allowing her to fall in love with WALL-E.  Take just a moment and think about what “directives” are in your life that gives you tunnel vision and curtail your ability to experience life instead of just existing?

With WALL-E’s one way love, people and even robots lives were changed.  Zacchaeus’ life was dramatically changed because of Jesus’ acceptance of him.  When Jesus first met Zacchaeus at the sycamore tree, Jesus didn’t say, “Zacchaeus, I want to eat dinner with you tonight, but first you need to change your ways.”  In fact, the story never shows Jesus confronting Zacchaeuses life style or profession as a tax collector.  Jesus, just simply say’s, “Tonight I dine with you.”  Jesus’ one way love is the same today.  As we come to the table of the great love feast, Jesus doesn’t require anything of you other than to join him in this meal. 

Earlier this week I had an amazing conversation with a member of our faith community and our conversation touched on the “expectations” that too often the church places on those whom we interact with.  We can provide this for you, but we expect…., we will welcome you, but you must act a certain way.  We want you to be a part of the family, but first you must…  The ripple effect of one way love is an amazing thing.  We read it page after page in scripture, we can see it in movies like WALL-E.  When Mountain View talks about our mission, one of the things that we need to continually keep in check is our “motives”.  We need to be like WALL-E was to EVE, giving love with no expectation of receiving it back.  Jesus went to the cross and died, not requiring anything of us, other than an invitation to join him, to become friends with him.  For Zacchaeus, his life changed dramatically once he experienced the love of Jesus.  I believe if we continue to grow into extending “one way” love, like Jesus and WALL-E, we will have a powerful effect on those we meet and help others begin to experience life not just exist in life.  Amen