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Believe the Very Best - some comments on The Lion King

Can you feel the love tonight

[I played the start of Can you feel the love tonight from the Lion King movie and asked the class "Who recognises this?"]

Written by Elton John and Tim Rice

When we watched The Lion King last week, it seemed very popular. Why do you like it so much? What's your favourite scene?

There are a lot of great parts, aren't there?

  • Funny parts with Timon and Pumbaa
  • All sorts of feelings we all understand, like love, happiness, sadness, jealousy, guilt, fear.
  • Fun songs
  • But something tell me that the real power of this movie is something far deeper than a good story about lions and meerkats and warthogs.

We wish ...

The Lion King is a story about how treachery can destroy something good, about choosing to take responsibility, and about how goodness and friendship can take something that's horribly broken and restore it. The reason that affects us so deeply is that we wish, almost more than anything we could wish for, that this story was true.

  • We wish that traitors like Scar got their just deserts. But often they don't.
  • We wish we could find true love (like the love between Sarabi and Mufasa, and between Simba and Nala).
  • We wish that our fathers were like Mufasa: strong and wise and playful and protective. But they aren't. Some are mean and selfish and abusive. Even the best fathers let us down.
  • We wish that friends stuck by us even when it was really risky, like Timon and Pumbaa. But they don't.
  • We wish that good would overcome evil.
  • We wish that someone would come and sort out the mess the world is in.
  • We wish for a happy ending.
  • We wish that the very best were really possible.

These are not just shallow wishes, but very deep yearnings shared by all humanity. If only there really was someone who loved us like Mufasa. If only we could be like Simba, or like Nala.

If you think of any of your favourite stories, I can almost guarantee that the reason you like them is because they touch these same deep yearnings. From Cinderella, to Dragon Booster, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, to The Matrix.

More on the song

[We listened to the whole song and read the words]

"Can you feel the love tonight / It is where we are”

Not just the warm comfort of Simba and Nala snuggling together in the happy ending, but ...

  • The joy of a new baby
  • The faithfulness of friends
  • The wonder of the stars
  • Here and now
  • The presence of God at the Mass
  • The music we hear
  • the sport we play
  • the friends around us
  • the pets waiting for us at home

Can you feel the love, right where we are?

“It's enough for this wide-eyed wanderer / That we got this far”

We are all like wanderers trying to find our way through life. God's love is shown through the world around us. Most of the time we take it for granted. But in some magic moments you've probably felt it.

  • You might feel it when out in the bush looking up at the Milky Way.
  • You might feel it when you see a huge waterfall with a rainbow slung across the mist
  • You might feel it on a quite night at the end of a busy day
  • You might feel it lying in your mother's arms

In those times, you experience a great sense of wonder, a wide-eyed amazement and a peace that re-assures you that everything is alright. At times like these we are touched by an enormous love that comes from God.

I think that's what the last line of the chorus is about...

“It's enough to make kings and vagabonds / Believe the very best”

It doesn't matter if you're a king in a palace or homeless on the streets, when we are touched by love, we realise that the best is possible.

That's why The Lion King is so moving. It touches us deep inside with a belief in what is good and right.

The real story

But The Lion King is, in the end, just a story. Once it's over we know it isn't real and we are left with an unfulfilled yearning. That desire for the very best goes unanswered.

There is an older and deeper story, however, that does answer our most heart-felt desire. At the very core, this yearning to believe in the very best is a desire for God. When we are touched by God's love, we realise that the very best is actually true. That there is a rhyme and reason to the way the world works. That our hearts can beat as one: a complex rhythm of live that's driven by the beat of God's own heart.

Can you feel that magic?

In some enchanted moments we can feel the love of God.

  • We can feel our deepest yearnings come true.
  • We can sense how the conflicts around us can be laid to rest. We can glimpse how the story ends.
  • We can believe the very best:
    • that God loves us more than any human father
    • that he sacrificed himself like Mufasa to save Simba – to save us
    • and that even though we might feel guilty and fearful and a failure – like Simba when he ran away – God has a place for us in his story, a place for us in his heart.