NEWSFLASH: I have kids and they enjoy Disney movies. Especially Pixar movies. Anna loves “The Incredibles” and “Inside Out.” When I took Anna to “Inside Out” in the theater, things got a little dusty when Bing Bong fell back into the Memory Dump (if you’ve seen it, you know what I am talking about and don’t try to tell me you didn’t get misty too!). When Anna realized how I was reacting to the scene, she yelled, “Dad! You are so embarrassing!” I’m only getting started kid.
Henry loves “A Bug’s Life” and “Cars.” My favorite is Toy Story 2, especially the outtakes which still cause me to roll on the floor with laughter. Toy Story 3 was awful. But these are just kids’ movies – I only take them / watch them because I am such a good father.
In keeping with the old Hollywood tradition of a cartoon before the feature, Pixar produces a short film to be shown before each movie and included in the extras if you buy or rent it. The most recent Pixar film’s, “Cars 3,” short was “Lou.” Check out the YouTube preview. I scoured the interwebs for the full version, but I couldn’t find one to post without breaking copyright law. Dang law.
Anyway, “Lou” is a thought-provoking story of a playground bully who steals his classmates’ footballs and toys, and a mysterious creature, a.k.a. Lou, that lives in the Lost and Found box determined to teach the bully a lesson. I will attempt to summarize, but find and watch “Lou” if you can. Lou takes back the other kids’ effects from the bully, along with the bully’s backpack. In order to get his backpack back, the bully has to distribute all of the items he stole, along with all of the items in the lost and found, to their rightful owners. As the bully gives back, his demeanor changes from gruff and indignant to friendly and joyful. And, in a final twist, after all of the belongings have been returns, the bully discovers, at the bottom of the lost and found bin, his own long-lost teddy bear, taken from him years ago by an older bully. Things get misty again as the bully is redeemed and runs off to join his new friends.’
We can learn many lessons from this story. Certainly it is a cautionary tale about bullying, and how bullying can beget more bullying. But as I rewatched “Lou” recently, I realized that it could also be story of giving. While taking, the bully caused fleeting, evil amusement for himself and great sadness for others. But while giving back, especially the lost items, he spread joy. Moreover, as he gave more and more, he gained more friends and the activity around the playground increased as kids played catch or skipped double dutch. And finally, when the giving was over, he received in an unexpected, generous, and life-changing way. The bully may have initially assumed that returning the other kids’ stuff was a frustrating chore, but in the end he was transformed.
We too can be transformed. We may not be the schoolyard bully, but all of us are broken creatures, living in a difficult world. But when we give, transformation happens. When we give we become more of the person God made us to be. The nature of our transformation may be unexpected or challenging to discern, but we were made to give, to each other and to the world. As we live into this stewardship season at the Chapel, pray for God’s guidance as you and your family make your pledge. I know that your gift will be a transformative one, and I pray that you will be transformed in the giving.