Hotel Transylvania: Get this Body Moving. - Guest Chapter By Tanya Quackenbush
Hotel Transylvania is a family favorite here at the QuackPad. Our girls were at just the right age when it all began, back in 2012, and it’s been fun to revisit every few years when the next installment is released. They are 17 and 15 now, and we have dedicated family time next weekend to watch this year’s release - Hotel Transylvania: Transformania. Do you have teens? Do you know how challenging it is to carve out a 2 hour time chunk when they are both available and willing to spend time with their family? Clearly, this is a big deal.
If you’re not familiar - or, if you have a horrible memory like mine, let me recap briefly. Count Dracula - affectionately known as “Drac” opened a hotel for monsters. A safe place where they could go and just be themselves. In the first movie, Johnny, a human, quite literally stumbles into the hotel. Hilarity ensues. Drac happens to have a daughter, Mavis, who is just coming of age. She and Johnny fall in love, and the second movie starts out with a wedding and a baby. Grandpa Drac is a hot mess. In the third movie, the family - and all their regular monster friends - take a vacation from the hotel, on a cruise ship in the Bermuda Triangle.
This is a super short and shallow spoiler-free summary (except maybe the Johnny and Mavis love match, but come on… the only two youthful souls in a room full of old folks? Who didn’t see that coming?).
The monsters are the protagonists of these stories. We see them supporting and encouraging each other. Having fun together. They are bound together by a common core identity - monster even though they each have their unique personalities.
What a great illustration of the Body of Christ. We, believers, are each unique. We are all joined by a common identity - Christian. Together, we are the church. Christ’s presence here in the world.
The church is Christ's body, the completion of him who himself completes all things everywhere. (Ephesians 1:23, GNT)
That’s how it is with us. There are many of us, but we each are part of the body of Christ, as well as part of one another. (Romans 12:5, CEV) Of course, a good story needs a crisis to move the plot along. When those problems arise, it turns out that each monster at Hotel Transylvania has their own “thing” to contribute to the crisis of the moment. A werewolf helps sniff out a missing person. A giant gets the attention of a crowd. A blob… blobs, and softens the landing of a falling friend. Part of the joy of the movies is seeing how their quirks serve the greater story. Together this gang of monsters is able to do so much more than they can each on their own.
This is also true of the body of Christ. We each have our roles to play. Accepting that is critical to a healthy Christian life. The pastor teaches. The illustrator draws. I write. Someone else sings. Someone else builds devices to support the physically disabled. We each have a part in the work of the Lord.
Yes, the body has many different parts, not just one part. If the foot says, “I am not a part of the body because I am not a hand,” that does not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear says, “I am not part of the body because I am not an eye,” would that make it any less a part of the body? If the whole body were an eye, how would you hear? Or if your whole body were an ear, how would you smell anything? But our bodies have many parts, and God has put each part just where he wants it. How strange a body would be if it had only one part! Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. The eye can never say to the hand, “I don’t need you.” The head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you.” In fact, some parts of the body that seem weakest and least important are actually the most necessary. (1 Cor 12:14-22, NLT)
With Christ as the head, this body is unstoppable.
So, like the monsters in the movies, should we just find a refuge where we can be ourselves? Create a safe place where we can catch up with friends, worship and pray, study scripture, and really rest - all without interference from the outside world?
We have. We call this place church.
Going to church is as important to a healthy Christian life as taking a vacation is to our beloved monsters. God wants us to meet together with other believers. He wants us to rest in Him. He wants us to learn from the Word. He loves seeing us together in fellowship and community. We are meant to “encourage one another and build one another up.” (I Thes 5:11 ESV)
Of course, most of the monsters don’t live at the hotel. They come for a brief visit, and then they go back to their real lives. They have children and school and jobs and responsibilities, just as we do. When they go back to their real lives, they don’t stop being monsters. They live every day a little different from those around them. Anyone who sees them knows what they are. They really stand out from ordinary folks.
Just so, it is important that we take our Christianity out of the church and into our real lives. We can’t follow Christ by staying in the sanctuary. He told us to “go, and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19, NIV). We have to live in this world of work and worry, of sin and darkness. We are meant to bring light and love. We are “Christ’s ambassadors” (2 Cor 5:20). We are meant to stand out.
“You are the light of the world… let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matt 5:14,16 -NIV)
Our lives are our testimony. Sure, we should use words to share the good news of the gospel when and where we can. However, our words won’t mean anything if our lives don’t show the truth. If a monster were to tell you he was friendly, and you didn’t need to be afraid, would you believe him? I wouldn’t. That’s exactly what a bad monster would say.
Consider: My friends, what good is it for one of you to say that you have faith if your actions do not prove it? Can that faith save you? Suppose there are brothers or sisters who need clothes and don't have enough to eat. What good is there in your saying to them, “God bless you! Keep warm and eat well!”—if you don't give them the necessities of life? So it is with faith: if it is alone and includes no actions, then it is dead. [Abraham’s] faith and his actions worked together; his faith was made perfect through his actions. (James 2:14-17, 22 GNT)
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like ignorant people, but like wise people. Make good use of every opportunity you have, because these are evil days. Don’t be fools, then, but try to find out what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
It’s actually not hard to find out what the Lord wants us to do – big picture. Love God. Love our neighbors (Mark 12:30-31). Study the Bible. (Prov 2:1-5, 1Tim 3:16) Share the Gospel. (Mark 13:10, Psalm 96:2-4) Pray. (Phil 4:6-7) Give thanks. (Psalm 9:1, Col 5:2).
The finer details of exactly how He wants each of us to do that… well, those are a little less obvious. That’s where learning our own gifts - our own contribution to the Body of Christ - comes in.
Jesus sought both quietness and service in his earthly life. He went to sanctuary. He sat alone with God. He also hiked across a good chunk of Israel. He was not one for hiding out in the safe zone. He loved us too much for that. Enjoy your time of rest and restoration in the sanctuary. Then, when it is time, get out into the world and move that Body!
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. (John 17:18 ESV) Jesus, praying for his followers.
bout me: I’m a wife, stepmom, dogmom, geek, and child of the 1980’s. I’ve been a Christ-follower for more than half my life. Writing helps me unscramble the thoughts in my very crowded brain, and I’m forever thankful God gave me that gift.