The Gospel and Gone with the Wind by the Rev. Will Compton

When some were speaking about the temple, how it was adorned with beautiful stones and gifts dedicated to God, Jesus said, “As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.”

A month or so ago, I received a text message from a friend. “Have you ever seen Gone with the Wind,” it read. “Oh gosh, I thought. Has she been talking with my Mother?” There is only one person in the world who has ever asked me if I have seen Gone with the Wind. There is only one person in the world who even cares if I have seen Gone with the Wind: my mother.

For some years now, my Mother has asked me, no…no asked is not the right word. My Mother has encouraged me…and yet encouraged does not seem to be the right word either. For years now, my Mother has hounded me to watch Gone with the Wind. It somehow comes up casually enough in innocent conversation from time to time. I usually get reprimanded for not having watched it yet, although the reprimand comes from a place of love and concern that I am somehow missing out on the greatest movie ever made. And perhaps I am.

This past summer, we had our first installment of Pub Quiz here at the Chapel. I encourage you to come to the next installment of Pub Quiz. It is lively and spirited. A good time for sure with friendly competition. As an aside, my team won the first Pub Quiz. Though that is neither here nor there, it begs mentioning. One of the questions asked was “Taking into account inflation, what is the highest grossing film of all time.” The Star Wars fervor was still strong and not to mention the host of Pub Quiz is a die-hard fan, so that was our answer which I thought was a very good answer. Wrong…It was Gone with the Wind.

Of course it was Gone with the Wind. The movie I had not seen. The movie that my Mother had asked me many times why I had not seen. That Pub Quiz question galvanized my desire to finally see it and make Momma happy. However, I am one of those persons who has to read the book before seeing the movie, so right now I am reading Gone with the Wind which is very long; over a thousand pages, and I am only half way through it. At this rate, I will finish it in two years and then I will watch Gone with the Wind. When the time comes we may just have to have movie night at the Chapel and watch it together.

Our gospel lesson reminds me of Gone with the Wind or at least what I have read so far. Jesus is teaching in the temple. The poor widow has just put her two, small copper coins into the temple treasury and Jesus compares what she gives to the rich gifts the more affluent members of society were placing in the treasury. The people placing their gifts into the treasury leads those around Jesus to admire the beauty and magnificence of the temple. Jesus, probably looking around at the same beauty and magnificence, tells them that what they see will not last. There will come a day when it will no longer be.

Material things do not last. Just ask Scarlett O’Hara whose world is turned upside down by the Civil War. The beauty and magnificence of the Georgia mansions and the plantations they overlook are no more after Sherman’s march to the sea. Their white columns are turned to ash and along with it, the safety, security, and comforts of Scarlett O’Hara’s life. The material possessions she once took for granted have all but disappeared and with them, her identity. Her life was a temple built around her which was thrown down stone by stone. What she knew to be true, what she held dear, her old way of life was Gone with the Wind in the storm of the Civil War.

The temple with its beauty, splendor, and magnificence is held dear to those who are around Jesus. He is speaking to a mixed crowd of Jews that includes his own disciples, the Pharisees, and the Sadduccees. Though it is a mixed crowd in regards to class and status they were all Jews. The one thing they held in common was the temple. For Jews, it was the center of life. It was their identity. It was a place where the presence of God dwelt. For Jesus to speak of such horrid things as the temple being thrown down; as the temple being dismantled beautiful stone by beautiful stone was too much to hear. How can the dwelling place of God ever be destroyed? Immediately they demand an answer. “When will these things take place and how do we know they are about to take place? To hear Jesus speaking quite candidly about the destruction of the temple is unnerving to the ears around him. It is quite unbelievable. As unbelievable as Sherman’s army ever invading Georgia.

When Jesus tells of the temples destruction, he is not making a divine revelation. This is not a great prophecy foretold, even though, by the time the Gospel of Luke was written, the temple had been destroyed. He was not telling them anything they should not know. Even in their surprise and fear, they should know the temple would not last forever, just as Scarlett O’Hara should know that those beautiful Georgian mansions would not last forever. Material possessions do not last. This we know. Material possessions are the old way of life. WE are called by Jesus to a new way of life. As Scarlett O’Hara’s old way of life died with the Civil War, the old way of life for the Jews, for all of us, died with Jesus Christ and this is the divine revelation in this gospel lesson.

The temple will be thrown down, but Jesus will be raised up and will stand forever. Jesus is the new temple. Jesus is the new life. Though things come to pass. Though things change. Jesus is constant. When we have nothing left, when all of our possessions are gone, we have Jesus. Like the temple, the days will come when our bodies will be thrown down to the grave. The temple of our bodies will be destroyed. Though we are in the grave, though not one bone will be left to another, we still make our song Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! because we have Jesus and because we will be raised up as he has been.

In Gone with the Wind, when Mammy tries to impart her wisdom and assert her authority upon others, she often uses the phrase, “I have told you and I have told you…” to get her point across. Folks, let’s trust in Jesus, not wealth. Let’s rely on Jesus, not material possessions. Let’s serve Jesus, not power or fame.

Because I have told you and told you that Jesus loves you!

AMEN!