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July 14, 2016

Dear Hyde Park Family,

Back in the summer of 1991, I read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and couldn’t put it down. He was one of the foremost authors of “hard science fiction,” which is a kind of science fiction based on realistic scientific principles. True, we are a long way from being able to reproduce dinosaurs, but the fact that I read the book wondering if it was possible was no small thing.

Twenty-five years later, my older daughter Grace has had a similar reading experience. Andy Weir’s book The Martian is one of the best-selling science fiction books of the past few years, and is based on Weir’s years of interest in relativistic physics, orbital mechanics, and the history of space travel. If you’ve ever read the book, you know it is chock full of hardcore science and mathematical puzzles.

Theatrical release poster; The Martian and its characters are copyright 20th Century Fox

Theatrical release poster; The Martian and its characters are copyright 20th Century Fox

Mostly, it is just a well-told tale of human determination in the face of adversity, and the lengths to which we would go to rescue a person who is lost, even 249 million miles away. And by the time Grace finished reading it, it instantly became one of her all-time favorite books. Many nights, she tells me, when she has trouble falling asleep, she’ll pick up the book and read portions of it all over again.

Last summer, the book was the basis for one of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies, starring Matt Damon as the main character Mark Watney. He and his team of NASA astronauts suffer a tragic accident, and Watney is presumed dead by the rest of his team. They blast off for an early return trip to Earth, leaving a wounded but living Watney stranded on the red planet, up to himself to survive.

If you saw the film, you know why it was so popular, and why it makes such a fine addition to our current worship series “Hyde Park at the Movies.” It will be the basis of our sermons this Sunday, as we make connections between The Martian and Luke’s “Lost and Found” parables in Luke 15.

And as a reminder, if you haven’t seen the film, consider watching it for free at a special screening for this church at Britton 8 movie theater on S. Dale Mabry. The showing is at 11 a.m. this Saturday, and it is rated PG-13 for strong language and images of injury. (For a parent’s guide regarding the appropriateness of this film for you child, click here.

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To prepare for this Sunday, consider the following questions as you view the film:

1. What films or novels have you watched or read that involve someone who is lost? What films or novels have you watched or read that involve finding someone who is lost?

2. What qualities about Mark Watney do you admire? Do you think his desire to be found tells you something about the human condition?

3. Which characters on earth do you most relate to? As they wrestle over the complexities of trying to rescue Mark Watney, do you sympathize more with NASA chief Teddy Sanders (Jeff Daniels) or Flight Director Mitch Henderson (Sean Bean)?

4. Read the lost-and-found parables in Luke 15. Which of the parables are more about seeking that which is lost? And which parable is more about a lost person wanting to be found?

5. What do these parables tell you about a God who seeks the lost? And what do they tell you about the need for our repentance and an openness to God’s grace?

See you at the movies!

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

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