The Credits
Acts 8:26-40

I want everyone to stand up, if you are able to.  Now, remain standing if when you watch a movie you sometimes stay and watch the credits, if not you can sit down now.  Next I want you to sit down if you only stay to see if there are any bloopers or surprises at the end of the credits.  Is there anyone left standing?  Tell my why you stay around?

Why do so many of us not stay and pay the people involved in the production of the movies the courtesy of reading their names as they scroll through?

As I was writing this my nephew in Perth came online, he is involved in the industry so I asked him his opinion on those of us who don’t watch the credits.

He said to start with that he is the guy that the projectionists at the movie theatres hate because he does stay in the chair until the last credit has rolled through.  When I asked him if he was bothered by those who didn’t stay around for the credits he said, “[t]hey've already shown their appreciation by witnessing their tireless work on the screen - that's the real benefit.”

Then he gave an interesting insight into why he stays to watch until the very end, “Credits are hidden code for someone like me, it's fun to see how many departments were hired for certain jobs, or how many assistants were needed for two action sequences in a drama...credits reveal all these things.  You can tell a lot about a production by the roles of the people that worked on it.”

So if we take that line of thinking and look at some ‘productions’ that are close to our line of sight today it might give us some unique insights.  Are you ready to give it a try?

Over the last few weeks we’ve been looking closely at the Apostle’s creed, today’s no exception.  Let’s think about the second article that we covered last week, who are some of the people involved in that ‘production’?  Firstly, of course is Jesus, he is the subject of the article after all.  Then we have the Holy Spirit who was in charge of the conception of Jesus, the Spirit planted Jesus in human form, within the next character, the Virgin Mary.  She is as we know the mother of Jesus, today we are celebrating Mother’s Day, so we are allowed to take a bit of special notice of her role today.

Her role was crucial in the whole thing, yes, the Father could have chosen any woman, but he chose her and she took up the challenge.  Then we hear of the role Pontius Pilate took, he followed through, perhaps reluctantly with the demands of the chief priests and the people to have Jesus crucified, once again a pivotal role, important enough to get a mention in the credits within the creed.  I’ve already mentioned the Father, but the second article finishes with Jesus sitting at his right hand.

All of these characters were important to the events that took place in order for scripture to be fulfilled, for Jesus to be born, suffer and die for our sake.  We give them ‘credit’ every time we confess the creed together.

Our Gospel reading today has fewer characters credited but some familiar ones appear.  Once again we have Jesus, this time as the true vine and the Father as the vinegrower, removing any branch that doesn’t bear fruit.  The only other character in this sequence is YOU, who have already been cleansed by the word spoken to you.  We can see the roles of the people that worked in this production and when we say the creed we reiterate the importance of those roles too.

Then we come to the first reading of the day, from Acts.  Who can tell me the characters that should be credited in this ‘production’?

First in order of appearance is the angel of the Lord, who speaks to the next character, Philip.  Then comes the Ethiopian eunuch who is an official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians.  Isaiah makes a cameo appearance in the form of his words recorded in scripture.  Finally the familiar character that appears throughout scripture, the Holy Spirit has an unspoken part following the baptism of the eunuch as he snatches Philip away.

Now I want you to quietly think of the characters in your life that have brought you to this point.  Let me help you get started.  No matter who we are or where we’ve come from, we all have a mother, we may have been orphaned, or our mother may have died, or maybe you were adopted, but we all had a mother who gave birth to us.  Their role in our lives has hopefully been a positive one, as Mary was to Jesus.

Are there any other significant others involved?  Maybe a grandmother or grandfather, teacher, pastor, coach, friend or spouse?  Are there some people behind the scenes that maybe don’t have speaking parts but that have been intrinsically a part of your life, a key grip, or caterer, maybe a first assistant director?  My nephew said “I always take special note of the first credit given at the end of every film - it is always the FIRST ASSISTANT DIRECTOR.  This person is the backbone of every film production. They get top billing post-feature for a reason!”

Who gets your billing for first assistant director?  Not the person who gets pre-feature billing like the producer or director, but that helper, guide, comforter that has helped everything come together for you to reach this point in your life.  I’d like to think that Jesus or the Holy Spirit would get that sort of credit in my life.  Maybe that’s who it is for you too.  Maybe your mother gets that credit, even if it is just one day a year on mother’s day!  A special mother’s day set of credits that we bring out once a year.  It would be nice if we didn’t have to wait until one special day a year to give thanks and credit to those significant others in our lives wouldn’t it.

Sometimes the credits don’t come until someone is reading the obituary at our funeral and lists the things that have happened in our lives and the people involved.  I think we should regularly run through the credits in our lives and give the credit where it is due. 

But don’t forget to be thankful and show appreciation to those people who have bothered to hang around and experience YOUR production.  That is the people who are a viewing your life as it unfolds, in life it is probably more likely that those people are characters in the production as well as the audience, but I reckon that’s a good thing.

We say the Apostle’s creed regularly to remind us of what we believe and in doing so we run through the credits of those involved in it all.  In the creed we confess that all three persons of the Trinity are an integral part of the credits in our lives too. 

The Father who created us and calls us to worship him through the power of the Holy Spirit and of course the son, who suffered and died in order for us to be restored to full relationship with the Father.  Let’s not leave it until our production is over and the popcorn is strewn all over the floor to give credit, let’s give credit and thanks throughout our lives to the God that is worthy of our thanks and praise.

Amen