Isn’t it interesting when you have a thought then a dear friend expresses that similar thought a day later? My thought: “What is it about Sister Act that keeps bringing me back over and over again?” My mother’s thought: “What is one book, poem, or movie that you find yourself returning to again and again?” She wrote her thoughts on a book series by Penelope Wilcock, “The Hawk and the Dove,” read her thoughts here, while I find myself returning to a favorite movie.
Have you ever visited some work of art— be it written, spoken, sung, drawn, or acted— and find yourself returning to it when you find you need that little bit of something extra? This movie is one of mine. At first it called to my soul through music. (I am a theater junky. Get with it or get over it.) Then it became an unspoken tradition to watch it with my grandparents. Now, after having seen it easily a hundred times— and that is a conservative estimate, I have realized that there are parts of who I am because of this film.
I can still hear my Grandfather and Grandmother chuckle when Sister Mary Lazarus raps the table with her knuckle while talking about her convent with no running water in Canada and says, “It was hell on earth. I loved it!” Here is the truth, life here on earth is hell. There is pain, there is suffering, there is hunger, there is loss. John Milton, in Paradise Lost, wrote, “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.” And this film portrays that very trial gently.
Sister Act is a call to remind ourselves about the hard stuff. It is uncomfortable. It is awkward. It is dysfunctional. A black, Las Vegas show woman sees a murder and is hidden in a white washed, sequestered convent from her mob boss ex-boyfriend. And it is hilarious.
It is a poignant reflection of the church. One that has been sitting here for almost three decades now. One that we joke about understanding, but clearly do not. Make church more accessible— put in the coffee shop, brighten up the music, I don’t need to go on as you have heard it all before. But we miss the point!!!! When was the last time you saw a non- Christian speak from the pulpit of a church? When was the last time you saw a non-Christian have value outside of needing to be “saved” inside the church? When was the last time you went out into the community, just to serve the community? Btw, doing this in hopes of increasing your church numbers doesn’t count.
In many ways, it reminds me of the final song in Encanto where Abuela apologizes for holding on to tight. She sings, “The miracle is not, some magic that you’ve got, the miracle is you. The miracle is you, not some gift, just you. The miracle is you. All of you, all of you.”
This seems counter to what church teaching has been for thousands of years. But why not welcome everyone? Towards the end of the film, the nuns have taken down the chain link fences, started a soup line, created a kids playground, and at the very end, the choir performed for the Pope. The people that they served in the community showed up in all of their jewelry, leathers, and raucous applause. Quit worrying about whether they change or not… maybe they aren’t the ones that need to. After all isn’t it God’s job to separate the goats from the sheep, the weeds from the grain?
Ps: I am a huge fan girl to both Whoopi Goldberg and Maggie Smith. ❤️❤️❤️ okay. I’m done. 😬😁