President's Blog

The Movie ARRIVAL and the Advent Season

I love movies. I studied film-making while in Art College before I was persuaded, by God’s call into the ministry. Other than the inspirational power of a single extraordinary communicator speaking live and passionately to a crowd, I believe film is the second most powerful communication medium in our world. I’m convinced of its emotive, cerebral, transcendent power.

I watched a movie a year ago which I watched again recently. It was even more inspiring the second time. The movie, Arrival, by French Canadian director Denis Villeneuve, explores so many cool questions about life. WARNING: it’s a Sci-Fi flick, but I encourage you to watch it anyway.

He delves into eternal themes as we “terra firma” creatures grasp our time-bound world. The film got me asking, “How does the majority of our society, as professing secularists, deal with the transcendent and supernatural as they listen to “Joy to the World, the Lord has Come!” while Christmas shopping in their local shopping mall?”

Villeneuve touches on diverse themes such as time, sanctity of life, foreknowledge, and free will. Is reality predetermined? And if I could know the future, would that be helpful or make life a drudgery as I walk, step by step, toward the end?

This is the Advent season. Jesus arrived in a cradle, and played out His role on earth knowing His future. How hard would that be?—forever showing compassion, and kindness to the same ungrateful creatures who would one day nail you to a cross.

There are no Christ-figures in the movie Arrival, but there is Christlikeness. The main character (played by Amy Adams) chooses to sacrifice and love even though she sees the pain ahead. She chooses suffering ahead. In some small infinitesimal way the film alludes to the agonies Jesus must have felt in His incarnation; knowing His suffering awaited, but choosing to show up anyway “for the joy set before Him” (Hebrew 12:2).

Brett McCracken, “Christianity Today” magazine film critic, writes:

“Arrival is a perfect film for Advent, the season when we contemplate the mystery of an eternal God taking on temporal form “in the fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4). It’s a film that helps us approach the incarnation with fresh insight and appreciation, an invitation to revisit a familiar story and consider again the mysteries the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us, a beckoning to go back to Bethlehem and see it with fresh eyes. Who knows? Perhaps, in the words of Eliot, “to arrive where we started / and know the place for the first time.”

I encourage you to read McCracken’s critique of the movie, “Arrival” by clicking here.