Pastor’s Message – March 30, 2021

The Gospel According to Palmer

I recently watched the movie, Palmer, on Apple TV, and was very touched by the redemption story at the heart of it. Justin Timberlake plays the title character, and he has recently returned to his small hometown in Louisiana after being released from jail. He moves in with his grandmother, Vivian, who raised him, and begins searching for a job. Everywhere he goes, eyes cut toward him in judgment and question. At home, Vivian’s eyes tell a very different story of love.

In an early scene in the movie, Palmer accompanies Vivian to church, where he unfortunately encounters the same glances of curiosity and condescension. Shame is the furthest thing from his grandmother Vivian’s mind. As soon as they are seated, she happily introduces him to a woman named Dot seated next to her. If it were not for Dot’s scowl and Palmer’s sullenness, this would have been any other grandmother proudly introducing her grandson to an acquaintance. She never mentions prison. She doesn’t make excuses for him. She doesn’t even bring up his need for a job. She simply says, “This is my grandson.”

She claims him as her own when he feels unworthy of being claimed by anything other than his past.

This week we remember that when we were unworthy, Christ claimed us as his own by giving his life for us. Like Palmer, all of us have been in prison— to sin. Like the eyes cutting towards him, we are also guilty of judging rather than loving each other. Vivian sets a Christ-like example for us as we walk towards Easter: she calls him her beloved not because of anything he has done but because of who he is to her.

This Easter, may we all experience the freedom that comes with being loved by our Heavenly Father. Let us release the shame of our past and embrace the hope of a new beginning together!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

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