July 21, 2016

Dear Hyde Park Family,


Over the last several years, Hollywood has had a remake craze. Mad Max. Annie. The Karate Kid. Fantastic Four. Godzilla. Star Trek. And how many Spider-Man and Batman reboots do we really need? Couple this trend with the number of sequels and prequels that are filling the box office, and one might legitimately wonder if Hollywood has any more original stories to tell.

One significant reason for all this repackaged storytelling is nostalgia. As Baby Boomers and Gen Xers continue to age, there is a growing acknowledgement of the formative stories of their youth. Filmmakers are quick to respond: if the story was important to generations in the past, then it might offer the same value to newer generations today. Just take the old story, update the music, add some computer wizardry and some current casting, and you have some old wine in a new wineskin.

It really should be no surprise that of the five films that comprise our “Hyde Park at the Movies” worship series, three of them are film reboots or sequels. The first was Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and the final one is The Peanuts Movie. Who didn’t grow up falling in love with either of these stories and their characters? What movie could possibly rank among them in terms of nostalgia and cultural influence?

Enter Rocky.

I was only three years old when the original Rocky movie came out, but I was able to see it when I was older. Unlike many of you, I did not continue to follow all of the sequels, and from what I understand, some of them weren’t really all that worth watching. But there was no mistaking the impact that Sylvester Stallone’s character had made on our culture.

Stallone wrote the screenplay in just three days’ time after watching a match between a little-known boxer named Chuck Wepner and the great Mohammed Ali in 1975. It took just 28 days to film on a shoestring budget of just over one million dollars. But by the time it debuted in 1976, it grabbed hold of our collective heartstrings and mirrored back to us the kind of hero we most often find endearing: an obscure kid who grew up in the streets with the chips stacked against him, rising against the odds with a steel will and plucky coaching, to conquer his foes and rise to greatness. In a nutshell, it was the great American hero story, and it is no wonder that it garnered ten Oscar nominations and a Best Picture win.


Theatrical release poster; Creed and its characters are property of Warner Brothers Pictures.

Theatrical release poster; Creed and its characters are property of Warner Brothers Pictures.


Forty years later, we have the latest installment of the Rocky franchise, in a remake/sequel that, in my opinion, was a terrific movie going experience. Creed features a much older Rocky Balboa (now retired from boxing and operating an Italian restaurant in Philadelphia) and a very young Adonis “Donny” Johnson (remarkably played by Michael P. Johnson). Donny is a wayward young man trying to find his way when he discovers that he is the forgotten son of Apollo Creed, Rocky’s most famous opponent.

What ensues is a story about inter-generational bonding, as the older Rocky reluctantly agrees to mentor the young Millennial in the ways of the boxing world. Along the way, we see the familiar Rocky narrative played out in the life of his determined protégé, resulting in a satisfying film that was altogether fresh and nostalgic at the same time.

Unfortunately, due to unforeseen construction issues at the Britton Plaza theater, we had to cancel free screenings of our weekly movies. If you haven’t seen it, we invite you to rent the movie to view with family and friends before Sunday. This film is rated PG-13 for adult language, boxing violence, and some sensuality. (For a parent’s guide regarding the appropriateness of this film for your child, click here.)

To prepare you for the sermons this Sunday, you might consider the following questions:

  1. What familiarity do you have with the Rocky films? In what way is Rocky’s essential narrative (a person who beats the odds to rise to greatness) similar to other stories, films, and novels that you have experienced?
  1. Would you consider this narrative a recurrent theme in popular American culture today? Why or why not?
  1. Read Proverbs 3:1-11, this Sunday’s Scripture reading, which is an imparting of wisdom from one generation to the next. Who have been those in your life who have given you important life lessons? Who are the ones in turn that you are mentoring?
  1. In what ways have you either received or given “reverse mentoring,” which is the granting of wisdom from a younger to an older generation? Why is this kind of mentoring important? How was that dynamic evident in the film?

See you at the movies!


The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park Untied Methodist


This Sunday we celebrate Mary Lou Compton, who has worked on staff as our Financial Secretary and Treasurer for eighteen years. She has handled the financial matters of the church with the highest standards of accountability and integrity and we give thanks for her diligence and responsibility. She will continue to serve in our music ministry and in our children’s ministry, where she was recently given the Lockmiller Christian Education Teacher of the Year Award by the Florida United Methodist Foundation. Join us for a reception following the 9:30 and 11:00 worship services in the Harnish Activities Center, where you can add your own personal written tribute to a scrapbook that is being assembled in her honor. Thank you, Mary Lou!

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