Monday, April 25, 2011
I placed my green "He is Risen!" paper cross that I'd crafted on the outside of my apartment door then I raced to make it to church. I was late due to detours along Hollywood (commemorating the Armenian genocide) but I finally made it.
I entered the church in extremely high spirits as today was my first Resurrection Sunday (Easter) service at Ecclesia church and what beautiful service it was! The wooden cross was back in its place near the rafters and Pastor Joseph finished up the Tougher Love series by read various scriptures. He also gave his personal testimony about his struggles and his coming to faith or as he said it “coming from death and bondage in to life”. He invited all of us to choose to do the same.
He made the lovely analogy that Baptism is a public statement that you have chosen to follow Christ almost like a wedding ring shows to all that the person is married. Pastor then called for anyone wanting to be baptised to join the others lining up for baptism and/or prayer. Pastor Joseph also joked that so many people were baptised in the earlier service that he was now soaking wet.
They had a new baptismal tank draped in black and surrounded by a line of potted white lilies of the valley flowersin pots which were wrapped with a deep magenta colored metallic paper. The base of the stage and the foyer also had matching potted flowers.
Greg and the praise team lead us in singing wonderful praise and worship songs and the baptisms began. The were 5 initially scheduled then another 5-6 more made the choice to be baptised just that morning. So at least 11 people came to Christ! Some were new to Christ while others were long time Christians who were baptised as infants but all are welcomed to the body of Christ. As usual, I could not contain myself and I stood and clapped, whooped, cried and yelled “Hallelujah!” for everyone single one.
So many people were queueing up for baptism that Pastor Joseph asked the praise band to play more music for us to sing to as the pre-baptised changed into their baptism clothed. Pastor eventually had to ask us to sit because we had been standing so long during the baptisms. It was so beyond lovely and a blessing
to be there to see these baptisms and the Holy Spirit was definitely present there.
Christ is Lord and He is Risen!
Mon 4-18-11 Passover
I spent Passover reading about the First Passover with Moses, the Israelites and the blood of the Passover Lamb in the Book of Exodus . I also spent some time reviewing Jewish Passover (Pasach) traditions (bitter herbs etc.) and how they are related to the First Passover.
4-21-11 Good Thursday
I spent Good Thursday reading the accounts of the Last Supper and Christ's Crucifixion in the books of the Gospels. I found many gospel programs on TV that were also reviewing the scriptures so it was a good study. I looked up the meaning of Maundy Thursday (another name for Holy Thursday) and fell in love with some of the Medieval traditions associated with it.
As a result, I couldn't resist watching to see if Queen Elizabeth of England would keep with tradition and hand out gifts to the poor or washing their feet. She did meet with some of her lesser (commoner) subjects but there was no gift giving or foot washing done. As it was the Queen's birthday, too I decided to let her slide (plus , she is planning a Royal Wedding-lol).
I also started my 3 day pulse fast and did more soul searching and praying. I had already given up chips and salty snacks for the entire season of Lent but it seemed right to avoid all meat and dairy for those 3 days that Christ was on The Cross.
4-22-11 Good Friday
Tonight's Good Friday service was amazing! Ecclesia's The large wooden cross that usually hangs high in the ceiling of the theater was now on the floor and leaning against the foot of the stage. The stage lights were down and the cross was back lit with floor lights and lighted candles were placed on a small table in front of it.
Pastor Joseph, the elders and the prayer team read from the scriptures about Christ's Crucifixion. The Gospels of Luke, John, Mark and Matthew were all read. Psalm 22 and Isaiah Chap 53 (by his stripes we are healed) were read also and one candle was put out after each reading. In between the readings, we confessed that we are sinners and not worthy but that Christ is our only hope.
Soon all the candles were extinguished and the room was dark. As an elder, Kevin, read the scripture and said "Crucify him! Crucify him!" with a booming voice I actually felt chills (boy does the theater have wonderful acoustics and Ecclesia has a wonderful production staff). A female from the prayer team read the scriptures describing how Christ's body was broken on The Cross and I again
felt physically affected.
I was already holding back tears when Pastor Joseph announced that we should consider that we are at a funeral then 4 men picked up the cross like if it was a casket. They placed the cross on their shoulders and bore it outside like if they were mourning pallbearers.
Then we sang praise and worsip songs about the Cross like Jesus Paid It All with heartbreaking lyrics “sin has left a crimson stain but He washed me white as snow” www.youtube.com/watch?v=ix7LNWzfFKU and Oh, the Wonderful Cross with lyrics “Oh, the wonderful cross! Bids me come and die, And find that I may truly live” www.youtube.com/watch?v=_sKcw9_PQYA
Pastor Joseph prayed over us then he encouraged us to spend Saturday in seclusion, as the Disciples did after the cruxifiction. Seclusion not out of fear as they did but out of sacrifice like secluding yourself from Facebook etc. Pastor Joseph also asked us to exit mindful of the solemness of the night.
We exited the room solemnly, some like myself, in tears. We passed vases of flowers at the entrance (almost like sympathy flowers), just as someone attending a funeral would. There was great grief at our loss, with reflection of the life of our passed loved one and with the hope and confidence of us meeting again. It was all wonderful and soul inspiring!
To God be the glory that He gave His only begotten Son for us on The Cross and may Ecclesia and its leadership and members always be blessed for the amazing job they did tonight!
I Spent Saturday mostly in seclusion as I continued my praying and fasting. I was also commercial TV free and almost Facebook free but I'm not that into Facebook so that wasn't that hard :D
The Palm Sunday service at Ecclesia was lovely and all about the work of the cross. Ecclesia's regular guest speaker Bryan Belknap, did the sermon and he drove home the point that as good as some of us are (good boys like himself and good girls like me :D), we are still undeserving of Christ's work on the cross. We sinners are all in the same boat because we (and all of scuzzy Hollywood) are all seeped in sin and unworthy of His sacrifice. Bryan asked the question, “Will we (the body of Christ at Ecclesia) give up our fleshly ways and take up our cross (whatever that cross may be) and follow Jesus? We've read in the scriptures how the apostles, disciples and 1st century Christians did it but would we really do it in these modern times when some view God as irrelevant?” My own flesh wars with me constantly about this but we must tame the flesh man within us and do what Christ would have us do.
Bryan put this in a personal perspective as it was announced that he would be leaving to serve in another state. He told us that he would miss Ecclesia terribly but that the Lord had put it in his heart to do this. He even joked that the Lord did everything but appeared in his living room to confirm it. I myself had a similar experience so it was funny that he shared his moment.
Bryan has been a writer here in L.A. for years with some level of success, so moving to another state outside of the entertainment biz and L.A. might affect his career. He shared that he was also lead by God to move to LA 15 years ago and he prayed to find a good church here. God blessed him with the fellowship of Christians at Ecclesia for nearly 7 years and I know God will bless Bryan for choosing to follow Him once more.
Bryan was one of the first people that I met at Ecclesia and I found him to be an easy-going open and approachable type of guy. And I talked to him a lot usually after church service, faith in film events or at the community meetings on Thursday. We'd talk about everything from the Bible scriptures he quoted in his guest sermons to children and child care (he was in charge of child care services at Ecclesia). We also talked a bit about the craft and business of writing movies (he arranged the Re-Imagine series for writers etc).
We also talked about writing books( he's an author of the Blockbuster Movie Illustrations series (3 books) and each of these books include over 100 movie clips used to help illustrate Biblical principles to teens). And we talked a lot about movies, films and the interaction of faith as he was in charge of the Cinemiklings group at the church. So you can tell that I'll really miss him.
Pastor Joseph had us say our good-byes to Bryan at the send of the service. Bryan got choked up a bit then joked that he had promised not to cry. We all laughed but I must admit that I shed a few tears myself and I saw some others tearing up, too.
Go with God, Bryan, and we wish you and yours the best!
Sat April 9th 2011
I attended a conference at Ecclesia called Re-Imagining Hope with theologian, author and film buff Dr. Johnston from Fuller Theological Seminary. He is the author of 3 books on faith and film, (Reel Spirituality, Useless Beauty etc.) and he does many seminars on the Christian faith as it is depicted in Hollywood films. He encouraged us faithful writers, entertainers and artists to keep our faith by showing clips of pivotal and hopeful scenes in many notable films (like the nun's letter scene in About Schmidt), so that we could re-imagine hope For Hollywood not only for ourselves as entertainers but for our viewers, too.
He used quotes from the hopeful book of Ecclesiastes and how it relates to us today. Then he encouraged us to seek the hope of the Lord that results from the drama and the reality in our performances and products. After that he did a Q&A where I confessed that I like to write escapism films because drama and reality is just too real(lol). Many actors asked how to keep hope alive as a Christian in Hollywood when you are asked to play parts and do certain things on film that are contrary to your faith. Fuller gave the example of Renee Russo (a born-again Christian) and how she handled her role and its required nudity in the movie, The Thomas Crown Affair.
Then we grabbed lunch and we attended break out sessions with other Christian writers, directors, producers, actors and comedians in our respective disciplines. My first choice was the writer's group but the visual artist group was my second choice but everyone got their first choices.
The writer's group had paid TV staff writers and novelists and it was very informative. Then we had a wrap up session with Dr. Johnston and any last questions or concerns were addressed. Johnston announced the Reel Spirituality conference for 2011 called Death Of The Critic with a panel of 8 film critics, producers, ministers and professor Johnston, all weighing in on faith and the rise of millions of film critics via the internet and what it means to the industry. They will also provide lunch and screen an award winning short.
Reel Spirituality Conference
Sat April 2nd 2011
Fuller Theological Seminary
Time: 8 - 2:30 pm
Monday, April 18, 2011
I'm so sad to hear about Sidney Lumet's passing last week. His movies really spoke to me and he was one of the people who stoked my desire to be in the movie industry. 12 Angry Men, Murder On The Orient Express (I had a copy of this on VHS that I played often - spectacular cast!), Serpico (my first glimpse of Al Pacino – amazing!) and Dogs Day Afternoon. And how about Network? It was so intense and (dare I say) prophetic. And yes, I did go to the porch as kids and scream that classic Peter Finch line, " I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it any more!!!!". And then there's, The Wiz, (a classic in black cinema) known for MJ's first film role . Wow. I can literally tell you where I was and who I was with when I saw his movies.
I'm now brushing off my copy of Lumet's book, 'Making Movies', which is a great chronicling of how his movies were made, movie by movie and set by set (including camera angles and number of takes). The book was a hard read at first because I knew nothing about making movies but now it's all sinking in. I also didn't know that he started his career as an actor, which explains his touch with the talented casts he directed. He'll be greatly missed but it's encouraging that his daughters are in the industry, too.
R.I.P. Mr. Lumet and may God bless you.