During the early days of summer at Virginia-Highland Church, we are listening to our still-speaking God through the assigned lectionary readings and through movies. The congregation suggested the movies, and I have never seen a lot of their recommendations. I was speaking at a conference this past weekend and didn’t get to preach on one of the movies I have seen: The Blind Side.
The film, of course, is based on the true story of Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy who take in a homeless African-American teenager named Michael “Big Mike” Oher. Michael has no idea who his father is, and his mother is a drug addict. Michael has had little formal education and few skills to help him learn. Leigh Anne soon takes charge, as is her nature, ensuring that the young man has every opportunity to succeed. When he expresses an interest in football, she goes all out to help him, including giving the coach a few ideas on how best to use Michael’s skills. They not only provide him with a loving home, but also hire a tutor to help him improve his grades so he will be eligible for an NCAA Division I athletic scholarship. Ultimately, Michael Oher was taken in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft by the Baltimore Ravens. (adapted from http://www.imdb.com/title/
Parts of the movie were filmed in our neighborhood in Atlanta, including a scene at The Shed, the restaurant where we eat dinner most Sunday nights. We love The Shed for lots of reasons. The owners are great people who love wine as much as we do, and we now consider them friends. As far as they were concerned, we were their friends the second time we ate there. It is how they treat everyone. Every time we go, the crowd is about as diverse as our church: black/white/Hispanic; gay/lesbian/straight/unclear; young/old. People who work there know our names, and we know theirs. When someone leaves we miss them as though they are family.
That was the point of The Blind Side: family is more than the people to whom you are biologically related or to whom you are married. They can be people you eat dinner with every Sunday night … or maybe every Sunday morning. When you aren’t present you are missed because the family is incomplete.
Rev. Michael Piazza