Popcorn Parables: Invictus

is the story of South Africa from Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994 through the South Africa’s Rugby World Cup quest in 1995.
In June 2009 Arlene Getz, who covered South Africa as a journalist, wrote a Newsweek article about the accuracy of the movie. While the movie is “Hollywood,” she declared Clint Eastwood’s story/directing and Morgan Freeman’s portrayal of Nelson Mandela as essentially accurate. It was an amazing time in South Africa, and Mandela was an inspired leader who partnered with Francois Pienaar, the captain of the Springboks, South Africa’s beloved and hated rugby team that won the 1995 Rugby World Cup. Getz concluded the story was as much about the difference great leadership can make as it was about apartheid and rugby.

I know Rugby is an odd game for most of us, with the exception of my friends Ken Blackwood and Bob Rogers who both played Rugby in college. I’ve been to one rugby match and hope to attend many more as the Cal bears won yet another NCAA championship in May of this year. It’s quite a game! But in South Africa, it approached a sports religion. Mandela’s decision to embrace the Springboks was astonishing and counterintuitive. Apartheid was “out,” the black dominated African National Congress was in power. For most of the blacks who had suffered so much for so long, that meant they were on the right side of Murphy’s Golden rule: “The one with the gold makes the rules.” This was their chance to get revenge on their white oppressors by attacking one of their most precious symbols.

The scene I’m going to show from Invictus, is Mandela challenging a decision by the new ANC sports governing body to abolish the Springbok team and ban their “anthem.” It was the kind of decision winners make over losers. But Mandela saw a much bigger picture than winners and losers—whites and blacks. He saw the BIG picture that required one and all to come together if South Africa was going to emerge from the nightmare of apartheid and thrive as a nation. It was not “us” against “them”—it was “we.”

I’m reminded of the kind of leadership John Maxwell advocates: Rather than focusing on differences, finding those places of agreement and giving our common interest 101% of our effort. That is the kind of thinking that flows from abundance not scarcity. If I hoard power, resources, love, believing there is not enough to go around, there won’t be enough to go around. But if I am willing to connect with others, even those with whom I might disagree, and then find ways to work toward common goals, something amazing happens, and that something is often a “God” moment.

Consider Jesus, the hungry crowd, and a boy’s simple lunch, as told in the gospel of John 6:1-13:

After this, Jesus went across Lake Galilee (or, Lake Tiberias, as it is also called).  A large crowd followed him, because they had seen his miracles of healing the sick.  Jesus went up a hill and sat down with his disciples.  The time for the Passover Festival was near.  Jesus looked around and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, so he asked Philip, “Where can we buy enough food to feed all these people?” (He said this to test Philip; actually he already knew what he would do.)  Philip answered, “For everyone to have even a little, it would take more than two hundred silver coins to buy enough bread.” Another one of his disciples, Andrew, who was Simon Peter’s brother, said,  “There is a boy here who has five loaves of barley bread and two fish. But they will certainly not be enough for all these people.”  “Make the people sit down,” Jesus told them. (There was a lot of grass there.) So all the people sat down; there were about five thousand men.  Jesus took the bread, gave thanks to God, and distributed it to the people who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, and they all had as much as they wanted.  When they were all full, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces left over; let us not waste a bit.” So they gathered them all and filled twelve baskets with the pieces left over from the five barley loaves which the people had eaten.

Whether we operate from scarcity or abundance is a fundamental question that pushes us one of two directions.  We either trust God’s abundance, and consequently are willing to find ways to connect with others and pool resources for the “greater good,” or we go “tribal,” and hoard resources.  an early church father, John Chrysostom (c. 347-407), wrote:  “This is the rule of most perfect Christianity, its most exact definition, its highest point, namely, the seeking of the common good, for nothing can so make a person and imitator of Christ as caring for his neighbors.”

Sadly, the legacy Mandela and Pienaar, and many others is being squandered. Unfortunately, in many ways I believe our country would be a different place if Abraham Lincoln had lived to guide us through the more difficult reconstruction period following our civil war. Fighting is easy; it’s what we humans do. Cooperating and finding ways to come together—that’s the more difficult way and requires and even greater miracle.

I’ll also be talking about “broken” maps on Sunday, and then see how the Holy Spirit speaks among us. Can God’s Spirit use a Clint Eastwood movie to convey His truth…wouldn’t that be a real miracle?

POPCORN PARABLES begin this Sunday!

Films we will be watching this Summer:


Inside Out

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

August: Osage County

Gran Torino

More Sunday…Here’s what I have on my desk…



Sunday, July 3

—Set-up on the Sonoma Plaza (pick-up trucks needed)

Monday, July 4

—Clean-up on the Sonoma Plaza (pick-up trucks needed)


1,000 BOTTLED WATERS (people are making more healthy choices – we sell a lot of water)

NAME-BRAND SODAS—Pepsi, Coke, Sprite, A&W Root Beer and Orange Soda.

CHIPS: 1 oz. bags (individual servings)

Join st. Andrew’s Relay for Life team! Relay for Life will be held at the Presentation School on August 27-28th. We are looking for a St. Andrew Team Co-Leader to assist Eileen Haflich with fundraising and participating at the event. If interested, please contact Eileen at [email protected]


Now you know what I know…

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