The Gospel in Disney

During the month of June each year, we celebrate "Children's Month" with a kid-themed, kid-friendly sermon series. This past year, our theme was "The Gospel in Disney." There were many excellent Disney movies to choose from. In making the final selection, I turned to a website that, believe it or not, rates the popularity of Disney movies on a daily basis. I chose four movies from the Top Ten with gospel-sharing potential.

Each week included a trailer or clip from the movie and a summary of the plot for those who might not be familiar with the movie. These films provided excellent platforms from which to introduce important biblical lessons.

1. Beauty and the Beast—Acts 9:1-22

Everyone loves a good before-and-after story. Beast’s monstrous exterior was a reflection of the cruelty in his heart, but he was made human again by experiencing Belle’s love. Saul of Tarsus was a “beastly” figure transformed into a saint by the love of Christ, and the Holy Spirit still works in us today to soften our hearts and help us embody the love of Christ in a hurting world.

2. The Little Mermaid—Psalm 8:3-4

Ariel is fascinated with humans. After falling in love with Prince Eric, she wants to become a human, and gets the chance to be human for three days. What’s so special about being human? The Psalmist asks it this way: “What is man that thou art mindful of him?” God, apparently, is also fascinated with humans, giving Jesus the chance to be human for about 30 years. Jesus not only shows us who God is, Jesus shows us what God wishes humans to be. Becoming human was the way Jesus affirmed God’s love for us, and our lasting value.

3. Tangled—Judges 16:16-20

From the time Rapunzel is born, people believe that the magical power of healing and age-reversal is contained in her beautiful hair. In the Book of Judges, we read about Samson, whose unusual powers were also associated with his hair. But is the power really in the hair? We have all been created in the image of God and we all have powers. We call them “gifts.” James 1:17 reminds us: “Every good gift, every perfect gift, comes from above. These gifts come down from the Father, the creator of the heavenly lights…” Our Creator has given us powers so that we may participate in God’s healing plan for all of creation. (We used the song, “I See the Light,” from the movie.)

4. UP—Ruth 1:16-17.

Carl wants nothing more than to be left alone; but then the doorbell rings, and there stands an 8-year-old Wilderness Scout by the name of Russell. Sometimes Jesus looks like the person who won’t let us go—who rings our doorbell when we think we are forgotten and all alone. In the Book of Ruth, Naomi asks to be left alone in her bitterness, but Ruth embraces her and takes her back to Judah. Ruth rings the doorbell for Naomi like Russell rings the doorbell for Carl. In both cases, God brings unlikely people together (older and younger). When it is all said and done, God rings the doorbell, finds us, and helps us find each other.

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