What E.T. can teach us about the Holy of Holies
I’m teaching a Film Music course this semester. One of the scores that I’ve studied to prepare for this is John Williams’s E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. This 1982 Steven Spielberg movie features a cute, little alien botanist who missed his flight home. Lost and confused on Earth, a young boy named Elliot befriends E.T., and then introduces the alien to his sister, older brother, and bike-riding friends. They all then join together in a quest to help get E.T. home.
For me, one of the most memorable metaphors of the movie is E.T.’s heart. When something reminds E.T. of home or he receives a communication from his planet, we watch his heart turn a passionate, radiant red. Love, usually something we think of as invisible, is actually visible in the little heart of E.T. “E.T. phone home!”
God is love.
Wouldn’t it be great if when you looked at a human being, a brother or sister in Christ and you could actually see love in his or her heart? What if you could see Love, that is God, living in the heart of the soprano who thinks that she’s better than she really is, or the bass player who keeps getting lost, or the drummer who consistently is on the top side of the beat?
God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Easter is the celebration of when Love, that is God’s Spirit, began to live in our hearts, rather than in the Temple of the Hebrews.
God no longer lives in the Temple with all of its layers of Holiness. Each part of the temple became progressively more holy as one travelled inward toward its center, from the outermost area of the Court of the Gentiles, to the part of the Temple that was so holy, the high priest entered it only but once a year, the inner sanctum, the Holy of Holies.
Each year, Easter joyfully reminds us that now, our hearts are the Holy of Holies. The shekinah glory of the presence of God no longer dwells in Israel’s highest and most esteemed place of worship. Now, that same glory, our hope dwells in us. During this Holy Week, we remember, and celebrate, that the curtain in the temple has been torn in two, ripped from the top to the bottom.
Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.
I often wonder to myself if I would treat my brothers and sisters in Christ differently if they had hearts that looked like E.T.’s and I could actually see in them the red, pulsing, passionate love of God. I can’t see that love with my eyes, yet, this is indeed what I believe by faith—that God, the Holy Spirit—whom the earliest members of the church saw as a glowing flame at Pentecost—does indeed indwell the hearth of each heart of those that believe in Him.
I don’t have a heart that looks like E.T.’s, one that emanates a warm, pulsing light into the eyes of those watching me. Yet, there is a way that I can show the love of God. You can too.
…I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
The next time you go to a rehearsal, or a staff meeting with your colleagues, imagine their hearts glowing like E.T.’s. Remember that there is indeed, a very real Holy Spirit living inside of them, the same Spirit that used to live in the Temple of the Hebrews.
Make this Easter, a Happy Easter. Remember that the hearts of those that you minister together with are Holies of Holies.
Let people see your heart.
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