Sunday Devotional: Luke 24:1-9

“But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared.  And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.  While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men stood by them in dazzling apparel.  And as they were frightened and bowed their faces to the ground, the men said to them, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?  He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise.”  And they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb they told all these things to the eleven and to all the rest.” (Luke 24:1-9)

Resurrection Sunday.  A day where we as followers of Jesus get to celebrate what happened that Sunday morning that followed the crucifixion of Jesus a few days earlier.  It is the culmination of the great work that started when Jesus paid for our sins by dying on the cross on Good Friday (that’s what makes Good Friday so good).  Sunday was the resurrection to new life.  Jesus is alive and well.  And He is the example that we as believers have that we die that we will have new life in new bodies.  Death and sin don’t have dominion over the world.  That all ended because of Jesus.  Resurrection Sunday is about hope and celebration.  He is Risen.  He is Risen indeed.

Thursday Quote Day: Tom Hansen

For this week’s Thursday Quote Day, thought I’d go with a fun movie quote.  Given that it seems like every day now has become “National Something Day” or “International Something Else Day”, here’s a quote from the movie (500) Days of Summer:

“Every day you make me proud, but today you get a card.”  (Tom Hansen (500) Days of Summer)

Miyazaki Mondays: Whisper of the Heart

For this week’s Miyazaki Monday, the film featured is from1995 called Whisper of the Heart.

The film centers around Shizuku Tsukishima, a 14 year old girl living in present day Tokyo.  She is like any normal teenage girl, goes to school, hangs out with her best friend and comes home to her family.  She is also a huge fan of books and loves to write as well.

Over the course of the movie, she meets a boy named Seiji Amasawa.  Initially, she finds him annoying but later her feelings change.  This is due in large part to finding out that he is the boy who had previously checked out a lot of the books she would find at the library.  He loves violins and leaves for two months for Italy to study how to make them.  He encourages her to pursue writing during that time he is away.

Shizuku finds inspiration in a cat statue that she found in an antique shop (ironicially she was led to the antique shop by a real cat she saw on the train).  She called the cat in the story “The Baron” and in the story he was looking for his lost love Louise.  She poured her life into wanting to finish the story.  When she completed it, she was encouraged by the antique shop owner Shiro Nishi to learn more in school so that her skills as a writer will develop and grow.

The film released in Japan on July 15, 1995.  It was the highest grossing film in Japan that year.  Miyazaki was the producer and writer of the film.  The director was Yoshifumi Kondo.  It was the first Studio Ghibli film to not be directed by one of the co-founders of the studio.  Kondo was looked at to be the successor but tragically he died in 1998 and this would be the only film he directed.

There is some English spoken in the original Japanese version.  The song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was featured prominently in the story line of the film and a version done by Olivia Newton-John plays during the opening credits of the film.  An English dubbing done by Disney was released in the U.S. in 2006.  The voice actors featured in that dubbing include Brittany Snow, David Gallagher, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Jean Smart, Cary Elwes, and Ashley Tisdale.

To close out, here’s another intro from 2006 done by John Lasseter as a part of TCM’s month long celebration of Miyazaki films:

Sunday Devotional: John 12:12-19

“The next day the large crowd that had come to the feast heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem.  So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!”  And Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it, just as it is written,

“Fear not, daughter of Zion;
behold, your king is coming,
    sitting on a donkey’s colt!”

His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written about him and had been done to him.  The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness.  The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign.  So the Pharisees said to one another, “You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him.”  (John 12-12-19)

Today is Palm Sunday, the day in which we celebrate and remember Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem.  It is also the start of “Holy Week”, the remembrance of Jesus’ last days before his death and resurrection.  When Jesus was entering the city, he was celebrated by the crowd.  There was a parade of people marching in with him and shouting and cheering.  At the time, only Jesus knew what was to happen in only a few days.  Yet, he did not shy away from coming to Jerusalem.  He knew what was before him and yet he welcomed it.

As we enter a time of reflection on Jesus’ death and celebration of His resurrection, may we be mindful this week that He knows what we are going through and is there to face it with us.  May that be a reminder and a comfort this week.

Reflecting on the Ultimate Warrior

I am a pro wrestling fan.  I have been since I was a kid.  I am one today.  Granted there have been some seasons where I didn’t follow as much but I enjoy watching it, especially old matches.  Being a child from the 1980s, I was a Hulkamaniac.  I rooted for Hulk Hogan big time.  But, in the late 80s/early 90s there was another wrestler that I was a huge fan of and his name was the Ultimate Warrior.

Ultimate Warrior was like a comic book character come to life.  His face was painted and he had this huge rocking theme music and run down to the ring and shake the ropes and beat his opponent in like no time.  I thought he was awesome.  The first ever wrestling event I went to as a kid, he was on the card.  I don’t remember much but the energy I do remember.

I always remember the main event match of Wrestlemania VI between WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan verses WWF Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior in the “Ultimate Challenge” title for title match.  I remember as soon as that pay per view came out on VHS I rented it from the local video store and would watch that over and over.  And seeing Ultimate Warrior win that match was such a cool sight that I wished I was in Toronto to see it in person.

As I was checking twitter tonight, I saw it come across that he had passed away.  I was shocked.  For those that don’t know, he was just this past weekend inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and appeared at Wrestlemania XXX.  He was just on Monday Night Raw last night.  Those three events seemed like an impossible thing for years.  The Warrior had a rough relationship at times with the owner of the WWE Vince McMahon and left the company several times in the early to mid 90s and hadn’t been with the company since 1996.  The relationship was so bad that the WWE put out a DVD in 2005 called “The Self Destruction of the Ultimate Warrior” that was basically a way to say a bunch of bad stuff about the career of the Ultimate Warrior.  Both sides were angry at each other for years upon years.

Then last year, the Ultimate Warrior did a commercial promoting the latest WWE video game WWE 2K14.  He was going to be a character in the game.  Then in January, it was announced that he was going to be a part of the 2014 class of the WWE Hall of Fame and the headlining member on top of that.  It was really cool to hear that things had patched up.  Then just a week ago, the WWE released a DVD/Blu-Ray set called “Ultimate Warrior:  The Ultimate Collection” where Ultimate Warrior spoke on his life and career in wrestling and was a balance to the previous DVD release.  Then of course was this past weekend and celebrating the career of the Ultimate Warrior.

It is sad to hear of his passing.  He left a wife and two daughters.  As I think about his life, one thing that comes to mind right now is the reconciliation that took place between him and Vince McMahon.  It was good that the both of them reconciled and worked things out.  It’s a testament to all of us that it should be something we all could take notice of and do our best to reconcile those relationships where we’ve been hurt or where we’ve hurt others.

I’ll remember the Ultimate Warrior and I’ll still remember that 10 year old version of me that shakes those imaginary ropes and slams those imaginary opponents.  And I hope that the man Jim Hellwig had a true and personal relationship with the greatest warrior, Jesus Christ.

Miyazaki Mondays: Porco Rosso

For this week’s “Miyazaki Monday”, the film to focus on will be 1992’s Porco Rosso.

Porco Rosso is based on a manga (Japanese graphic novel) written by Miyazaki himself.  It is the story of Porco Rosso, an ex-fighter pilot from Italy.  The time period is between World War I and World War II and set near the Adriatic Sea.  He makes his living as a freelance bounty hunter.  Oh, and he’s been cursed too.  He looks like an anthropomorphic pig, hence the name Porco Rosso or “Red Pig”.

Porco has to deal with pirates (air pirates) as well as the government because he deserted the army.  He also has to deal with his rival in the skies, Curtis, an arrogant fighter pilot from America who sides with the pirates.  Curtis is also vying for the attention of Gina, who runs the Hotel Adriano.  She however is in love with Porco.

Porco also has a friend in Flo, who is the granddaughter of his former mechanic Piccolo.  She becomes his mechanic and helps  to keep his plane in the skies.  Porco in the end must meet Curtis in a duel in the skies for the heart of Gina.

The film released in Japan in theaters on July 18, 1992.  It initially was to be a short film to be shown on Japan Airlines flights but grew into a theatrical length film.  The airlines ended up being a major investor in the film and would show it on flights even before it’s theatrical release.  The film went on to be the number one film in Japan in 1992.  Disney would have a English dubbing that would be released in the States in 2003 that featured such voices as Michael Keeton, Kimberly Williams-Paisley, Cary Elwes, Brad Garrett, Susan Egan and David Ogden Stiers.

To close out, here’s another clip featuring John Lasseter from 2006 when he co-hosted the celebration of Miyazaki films up to that point.  Here he is talking about Porco Rosso.