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Encanto and the Church

Yesterday we watched Encanto, the new Disney movie... you know I love Disney. As I watched this though I was struck at it's message for the church. Not wanting to ruin the story - if you don't want any spoilers don't read on, I can't guarantee I won't give the story away!

The story begins with one man, sacrificially giving his life for those he loved and from that came a miracle - a gift of light.

"But in our darkest moment, we were given a miracle. The candle became a magical flame that could never go out. And it blessed us with refuge in which to live. A place of wonder."

The candle created a home, a place where the family dwelt and grew, surrounded by hills and forming the heart of a community that was safe, the refuge. Much like Christ's incarnation brought a place for believers to dwell, grow and be through the Church. Each person in the family gained a gift that was there to bless and serve the community and whether it was strength, beauty, healing, connecting to nature, they were to use their skills to bless the people in the town. And they did - feeding people and seeing healing, practical gifts of building, moving, adding beauty through plants and flowers - whatever people needed they went and they solved the problems.

The problem was they went to solve the problems, they would invite people into the house for festivals and celebrations, for marriages and birthdays but otherwise the house stood grand, beautiful a figurehead in the community, exclusive. I love that the family were given gifts to serve their community and went out and helped others but the story goes on to show the problem with this and possibly the church.

The head of the family (Abuelo) focussed on the gifts and not the individuals and we find Bruno (no one talks about Bruno) the outcast of the family, he was odd, he saw visions and prophecies and so he was forced out. We discover though that Bruno loved the family too much, he set himself a place at the table beyond the walls, wanting to be a part of the shared meals and peering through cracks. Bruno was pushed to the edges, his visions were weird, people didn't like them and so they did not like him.

I wonder how many of the prophets are welcomed in your church?

Mirabel was not given a gift (so it seemed) and she tried to fit in, to be a part, to serve the family but was never good enough. No one seemed to notice how precious her friendship, encouragement was, the children following her and being near to her - this was not a recognised gift. She saw the cracks in the house though and was the one who was determined that the light would not go out - she found Bruno, she sought his vision, saw how it could fit. She challenged those in power and ultimately was outcast, beyond the walls, beyond the town and place of refuge. I wonder how often those without titles or 'gifts' are encouraged to share their voice, to see beyond the usual list of roles in the church the importance of friendship, hospitality, kindness and connection?

The salvation came when those in power went back to the story of the light, what it was all about, drew again into the emotions of the story and relived that lost love from the man who gave the ultimate sacrifice. The man with visions came and took back the outcast and the leader to the devastated house. Now the family began to work together, they accepted their weaknesses as well as their strengths, they humbled themselves to imperfection and now the community came to them - "we may not have the gifts but we are many." Now the community was able to be a part of the house, to share together working side by side and using their own skills, talents and 'gifts' to rebuild that which looked demolished.

Muddy Church has never been against buildings, but about each person being valued, heard, encouraged to see and bring themselves into the spaces we inhabit. We encourage people not to have 'experts' or 'leaders' but for all to be a part, to be equal and to share in wonder together.

It is uncomfortable to think of our precious home (the Church) as having cracks, of beginning to fall apart or have weaknesses. We look to those within with recognised gifts and positions to carry the weight, to be perfect and those who don't fit in are pushed beyond the walls and not spoken about. But this story reminds us that all are welcome to dine at the table, our role is to go and serve the community but also to invite them to be a part of all that we are, to be a part of the miracle. Each person is valuable, with titles or without, the light has shone and we are invited to not just hold it within a building but for it to be in all places, offering safety, refuge, hope and miracles.

Even in our darkest moments there is light where you least expect it
Darkest moments

Even in our darkest moments, there’s light where you least expect it. – Mirabel

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