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Familiar faces in the script

For more commentary on this week's readings, see the Reflections on the Lectionary page, which includes Howard's current Living by the Word column as well as past magazine and blog content. For full-text access to all articles, subscribe to the Century.

I would not make a good Jeopardy contestant, and I seldom win at Trivia Pursuit. I do, however, tend to remember unusual things about movies. Things stick in my mind: where the movie was made, whether it was based on a book I’ve read, who appeared in the starring role.

I also remember a few movies in which a lead actor played more than one role. I’s easy to recognize a face when one actor plays a pair of twins, as Lindsey Lohan did in the remake of The Parent Trap. Eddie Murphy’s face appears prominently in The Nutty Professor, a movie in which Murphy played seven different characters. Less obvious is the face that appears in dual roles in Forrest Gump: Sally Field plays a leading role as Forrest’s mother, but also a minor role as a reporter who asks Forrest a question during his cross-country run.

While channel surfing recently, I paused to watch a little of Back to the Future II. (I was nostalgic and curious, especially since the future date that Marty Mcfly travels to in the movie is coming up in 2015.) What I had forgotten about the movie was that the young Michael J. Fox played three different family members: Marty McFly, Marty McFly Jr. and Marlene Mcfly.

In the biblical drama, perhaps God also engages in the simultaneous roles of Father, Son, and Spirit. And in each of those roles, which were in the script prior to creation, God gradually appears on the stage of history. 

If the voice of God sounds familiar, perhaps you’ve heard it before in a whirlwind or in a whisper. Or if the face of God seems familiar, perhaps you’ve seen it before in a garden called Eden, on a mount called Sinai, or on a cross called Calvary. And if neither the voice nor the face is familiar, maybe it would be worth your time to explore the biblical story again.

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