#317 – Nerdy Holy Week


This is Holy Week and, as followers of Jesus, it’s a great time to reflect upon the celebration of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Throughout the church’s history there have been different holidays celebrated during Holy Week. I grew up as a good Baptist so we really only focused on Good Friday and Easter. Along with those two days, though, the Holy week is also composed of celebrations for Palm Sunday and Maundy Thursday.

Here are some nerdy viewing options to compliment your Holy Week celebrations.

Tron – Palm Sunday


Before Tron: Legacy came out I re-watched the original Tron. Sadly to say I was a little bored. When the movie was first released I’m sure its visual effects were enough to keep the audience engaged. In an age where apps on my phone have better CGI, though, Tron didn’t hold my attention that well. Its story, though, does parallel that of Palm Sunday. In Tron all the programs are waiting for the one who would come and save them by opening communication with the outside world. On Palm Sunday the masses gathered as Jesus entered Jerusalem and shouted, “Hosanna in the highest”. Hosanna means “God save us”. Both the programs in Tron and the people in Jerusalem were looking to be saved. Unfortunately for Jesus, though, the crowd turned on him by Friday and the shouts of “hosanna” turned into shouts of “crucify him”. Thankfully Tron had a happier, albeit more boring, end.

Battlestar Galactica – Maundy Thursday

Maundy Thursday celebrates the Last Supper. I’ve always wanted to throw a Maundy Thursday party with a traditional Passover meal. It’d be like a Mediterranean dinner party with a holy purpose. And everyone at the party could sit around and watch Battlestar Galactica while eating. I’m sure there are nerdy movies with better parallels to Maundy Thursday but the above image is cemented in my mind. The image was used to promote the final season of Battlestar Galactica. I thought it did an amazing job of telling the characters’ stories as well as speaking to the deeper spiritual themes of Galactica. And even though many at the table are enemies, Maundy Thursday and the Last Supper remind us that Christ’s sacrifice can bring us all together.

The Empire Strikes Back – Good Friday

I know that the perfect Good Friday movie is The Passion of the Christ. While stunningly beautiful and moving, The Passion was hard enough to watch once and I don’t need to make its viewing an annual tradition. However, one of the overarching themes of Good Friday is the despair and darkness mixed with hope and light. The Empire Strikes Back is the perfect movie representation of those themes. The jubilation over the Death Star’s destruction gives way to a desperate escape from Hoth, the capture of Han Solo and the loss of Luke’s hand. In spite of the tragic turn of events, hope remains as the final credits roll with Luke, Leia and the droids staring at a newly formed galaxy. Now I’m thinking I want to use a clip from Empire in my Good Friday sermon this week.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock – Easter Sunday

Star Trek III would not be my first choice in Star Trek movies. The top three are some mix between Star Trek II, Star Trek: First Contact and the reboot. However no other Star Trek movie better communicates the themes of resurrection and rebirth than The Search for Spock. After his tragic death in The Wrath of Khan, Spock is reborn on the Genesis planet. After sacrificing himself for the good of the many, Spock comes back to life. That sounds very similar to the holiday we celebrate this coming Sunday. The truth is there are many movies that deal with the themes of life, death and resurrection. Those themes are so prevalent in our culture because the history of the universe hinges on them.

Even if we don’t celebrate all of the above holidays or watch all of the above movies, we can still make Holy Week a special time. Jesus prepared himself in the week leading up to his crucifixion and resurrection. His crucifixion and resurrection completely changed the history of the universe and they continue to influence our lives today. It might be worth using this week to prepare our hearts for this coming weekend. If we’re expectant and if we’re hopeful, there’s no telling the new thing God might do in our lives.

What other movies could help prepare your heart for Easter?


9 comments on “#317 – Nerdy Holy Week”

  1. This is one of your best posts yet – lots of fun! And lots of good food for thought.

    You know, there are some specific Passion parallels in ESB. When Han is about to be frozen, he tells Chewie not to fight (cf. Jesus to Peter, “Put away your sword!”) and entrusts Leia to Chewie (cf. Jesus entrusts his mother to the beloved disciple).

    Maundy Thursday commemorates Jesus’ instituton of the Lord’s Supper, but it also focuses (at least in some traditions – ymmv, of course!) on Jesus’ washing of his disciples’ feet and the new commandment to love one another (John 13; hence the name, from Latin “mandamus,” command). One genre film that focuses on the theme of loving one another could be “E.T.” (30th anniversary this year, woo hoo!). Both Elliott and E.T. demonstrate deep love “to the end” – and beyond – for one another (John 13, “having loved his own, he loved them to the end”).

    Also, I once preached a Maundy Thursday sermon that used the idea of “bullet time” — super-slow, every motion detailed action — from “The Matrix” to describe the way John the evangelist describes Jesus’ footwashing: he knelt, stripped, took a towel, took a basin, etc. John uses “bullet time” to show us, as “The Matrix” does, that something really important is happening. (“The Matrix” overall, of course, would be another good nerdy choice for Holy Week, what with its themes of an anticipated Savior.)

    I hope your Good Friday preaching goes well. Holy Week blessings to you and yours!

      1. Um…yes. Drop whatever you’re doing and see E.T. again. Theatrical version first, then follow with the 2000 version, a lesson to George Lucas in how to update a classic film tastefully and in a way that serves the story.

  2. Oh, and I just watched Star Trek III again last night. I love that film. It has its issues here and there, but wow is it great. So underrated and, as you say, great Holy Week watching.

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