epiphany 5: tangled baskets and hags

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Gospels / Lectionary / New Testament

We recently took our daughters to see the movie “Tangled.”

Now, having two little ones, we don’t get out much. My wife and I don’t see a lot of movies that aren’t animated and involve princesses, if you know what I mean.

So, I went to see Tangled with my kids, hoping for an hour and a half of mindless oblivion, and not much more.

But, “much more” is what I found.

I was startled by the subtle Christian motifs woven through the story. The interplay between light and darkness, and the infinite power of love, and the beautiful sting of sacrifice.

(My wife, the social worker, also found powerful themes of an abusive parental relationship. So, maybe like any work of art, we see our own reflection in it… But, I digress.)

At the beginning of the movie we’re told that a pure drop of sunshine (pure Light?) fell to earth and created a flower with the power of life, healing, and immortality. (Uh, see what I mean!?) This flower is found by an old woman who uses it to keep her forever young.

But, instead of sharing this gift of light and life, she hordes it.

And, literally, she hides it under a bushel basket.

And, I literally gasped when it happened.

I was so startled because this is a direct reference to Matthew 5, when Jesus (still in the sermon on the mount) proclaims that we are ‘the light of the world’ and that we aren’t to hide our light under a basket, but put it on a lamp stand for all to see by.

The movie highlighted something about Jesus’ words that I hadn’t previously thought.

From the days I sang the words in Sunday School, “Hide it under a bushel – NO! I’m gonna let it shine!,” I’ve always interpreted this sentiment to be about getting past the fear and shyness of telling others about our faith.

What the evil ‘mother’ in Tangled taught me is that hiding the Light and Life of God under a basket is also an act of selfishness.

It’s a hoarding of God.

In this day and age we’re all about sharing ideas. We’ll tell people about a new diet, a great book, a sale that’s going on, or a new restaurant. We’ll do that in person, over the phone, or via Facebook. Entire companies – billion dollar companies – are springing up around the premise of sharing with others.

We don’t let a shoe-sale, a good movie, or a decent restaurant go by without telling someone else about it.

We don’t put those things under a basket.

We let them shine.

Let’s let Jesus shine too.

I mean, who wants to be like the wicked old hag?