Video Reviews are published three times a year: January / February, March / April, and September / October.
Learning Luke: The Apostolic Gospel
Two DVDs plus a CD-ROM containing a leader's guide (PDF compatible), MP3 spoken word file of the book of Luke and bonus material (2009); $89.95 from Select Multimedia Resources, phone: (877) 675-6275; order online: www.selectlearning.org.
Learning Luke: The Apostolic Gospel is impressive in scope, and effective in execution. The depth of the study's scholarship and its commitment to equipping the faithful to carry this Gospel out into the world is profound. It offers extensive, detailed guidance and support for leaders and learners alike.
The broad scope of the audiences that will benefit from using Learning Luke is one characteristic that sets this DVD apart. Congregations who use it for Bible study, especially as part of the Book of Faith Initiative, will begin to "fall in love with the gospel of Luke," as study host and leader David L. Tiede puts it.
Learning Luke's modular design offers depth and challenge aplenty to make it useful for laity and clergy, too. The modularity is based on a dynamic fourfold structure of movement through the Gospel: Dwelling (in the Word), Exploring (the evangelist's story), Searching (the Scriptures) and Living (the gospel truth).
One very cool resource for fostering this scriptural intimacy is the MP3 file of the Gospel of Luke (copyright free) provided on the CD-ROM. As Tiede emphasizes repeatedly, there really is no substitute for hearing the Gospel of Luke read aloud (or reading it aloud yourself) in its entirety.
The support materials for student and leader alike are substantive, yet easy to read. And the discussions among a diverse group of laity and clergy that make up much of the DVD are informative and helpful.
I strongly recommended this resource, especially in this lectionary year of Luke.
Modern Parables: Living in the Kingdom of God (Volume 1)
Three DVDs (twelve parables and application lessons); one audio CD (leader prep lessons); plus a leader's guide and student book included (2009); $129.00; additional leader guides ($12.95) and student books ($6). Produced by Compass Cinema. EcuFilm, United Methodist Communications, 810 12th Ave., P.O. Box 320, Nashville, TN 37202-0320; phone: (888) 346.3862; order online: www.ecufilm.org.
Parables are notoriously difficult to teach and often frustrating for the learner. But these 12 short films and their supporting application videos offer a truly innovative approach to connecting with the parables in ways that touch and transform.
Thomas Purifoy Jr., the producer of Modern Parables, has succeeded in artfully integrating the visual storytelling power of film with the narrative richness of the parables of Jesus.
Purifoy acknowledges the key influence of director Frank Capra in his work — and it shows not only in the engaging cinematic storytelling but also in the use of music and character development that add a powerful depth and clarity to the narrative. The result is a breathtakingly fresh encounter with these well-known Gospel texts — and the One who is telling them.
Take the parable of the prodigal son. Here, the story is told in flashback by the older brother. He arrives at what he thinks is a party for his recent success in the family business only to find that it has been turned into a celebration of his loser brother's return.
Purifoy shoots the older brother's narration scenes in dim light, shadow, even darkness that communicate his resentment, anger, and hurt in a way even action or dialogue could not convey. This surprising depth pushes viewers of the parable into the heart of the characters and the challenges posed by the kingdom that is breaking in upon them.
The acting in each film is first rate. The music, some of it specially created and played for the films, subtly adds to telling of the story. Each parable is also accompanied by an application video for reflection and use with the study materials. A student book is recommended for each participant.
In a very nice addition, each film also comes with a 30-second trailer, which makes an excellent resource for creating interest and promoting participation in the studies. Other volumes are planned for release. Strongly recommended.
The Star of Bethlehem
One-disc DVD, 65 minutes (2009); $12.95. Closed caption and Spanish subtitle options included. To order online and for more information go to www.TheStarofBethlehemMovie.com or www.Seizoom.com.
This film is an engaging look at the star of Bethlehem from the twin perspectives of Scripture and science. It would make a great resource for a wide range of ages in virtually any church venue.
Through a fascinating chain of events, detailed in the opening scenes, we see presenter Rick Larson, a lawyer by training, become fascinated by the astronomical realities of the night sky at the time of Jesus' birth. How, and to what extent, Larson wondered, is the birth narrative in Matthew supported by the witness of the stars and planets themselves?
The result is a dynamic presentation drawing on Scripture as well as sophisticated computer images and animation that literally take the viewer back to the skies above Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth. Having presented this talk to thousands of people in the United States and Europe, Larson's delivery is polished and easy to follow. Clearly, this topic is a labor of love for Larson; it is well researched — scientifically and biblically.
Geoffrey Scott, Lutheran Partners video review editor, is pastor of Christ Lutheran Church, Menomonie, Wisconsin.
This article appeared in the January / February 2010 issue of Lutheran Partners (vol. 26, no. 1).