(Paramount Pictures, 1998)
Main Point of Discussion:
Don’t wait until it’s too late to forgive.
The Movie Clip:
Memories of a Perfect Day
Deep Impact is a 1998 disaster film about an impending comet headed for earth that will cause a planet killing tsunami. Throughout the movie, Jenny (Tea Leoni's character) and her father (Maximilian Schell) have had a lot of tension between them because of Jenny’s resentment and unforgiveness toward him. At this point in the movie, Jenny sacrificed a helicopter ride to safety to be with her father at the end. The clip we are using for this particular discussion features a moving reconciliation scene on the beach as they are together when the wave from the tsunami comes.
Introducing the Clip:
Today I want to show you a clip from the movie Deep Impact. This scene is towards the end of the movie when one of the main characters named Jenny willingly sacrifices a chance for survival so she can be with her father. Throughout the movie, there has been serious tension and unforgiving attitudes, so let’s take a look at this scene to see what happens.
BEGIN CLIP about 30 seconds into DVD Scene 26: Memories of a Perfect Day.
Jenny Lerner: When I was 11, I took $32 from your wallet.
Jason Lerner: When you were a baby, I once dropped you on your head.
Jenny Lerner: When you came to the studio and you brought those pictures, I lied when I said I didn’t remember. I remember everything. I remember that we were right over there and that’s when Mom got that picture of the house. It was a perfect, happy day. I came down here to let you know that.
Jason Lerner: Thank you.
Jenny Lerner: I’ve missed you since then.
Jason Lerner: (He pulls her close and hugs her.) I’ve missed you too.
You can stop the clip after they embrace for a few seconds or continue as the camera shows the comet rushing toward earth. The scene cuts to other people momentarily, then back to the beach. Father and daughter are still embracing as they watch the comet plunge into the ocean which begins the tsunami wave that kills them. Just before it hits them, Jenny presses into her father and cries, “Daddy.”
This scene is a powerful picture of forgiveness and reconciliation that in many ways I think we can all relate to, because it is nearly impossible to be in a relationship and not have conflicts from time to time. As well, since all of us are somebody’s children, we can also relate to difficulties with our parents as well.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE: Before we begin, tell everyone your name if you’ve ever seen a comet or something weird in the sky?
- ASK A FEW: How do you think the world is going to end?
- ASK A FEW: In the scene we watched, Jenny decided to sacrifice her survival to see her dad. Why do you think she did that?
- ASK A FEW: Did you think she knew that her dad would respond to her efforts to reconcile the relationship? Why or why not?
- ASK A FEW: Why were they able to get past years of hurt and disappointment in such a short space of time?
- ASK A FEW: Why was reconciliation more important than life itself to Jenny?
Read the following passages:
ASK SOMEONE: According to this passage, what is our forgiveness from God dependent on?
ASK A FEW: Why is forgiveness so important to God?
ASK A FEW: Do you think it’s OK to hold on to a grudge over time? Why or why not?
ASK A FEW: The Bible passages we read gave us two clear directives about forgiveness. One was the critical nature of forgiving others each time we pray, and the other is the urgency of forgiving others even before we go to church. What is the connection between these two concepts and God’s love? (Youth Leader: the main idea here is that God loves us too much to let us linger in unforgiveness, hence the commands to keep very short accounts with people)
ASK A FEW: What are the negative consequences of withholding forgiveness from those who wronged us?
ASK A FEW: What are the positive benefits?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: In the movie clip, we saw that it took the end of the world to motivate Jenny to forgive, but do we have any guarantees about tomorrow?
ASK A FEW: Since there really are no guarantees about tomorrow, how should that motivate us to forgive today?
Matthew 6:9-14 (NLT)
Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
10 May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today the food we need,[a]
12 and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
13 And don’t let us yield to temptation,[b]
but rescue us from the evil one.[c]
14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT)
23 So if you are presenting a gift at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, 24 leave your gift there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.
Listen to this amazing quote by Lewis Smedes:
“To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.”
Let’s bow our heads so we can think about ourselves and not those around us. As you sit there with your eyes closed and your head bowed, I want you to think about your relationships, and especially if you are a prisoner that needs to be set free tonight. If you are holding a grudge against anyone, I want you to imagine this being one of your last opportunities to forgive and, like Jenny in the movie, realize that making things right is even more important than life itself. That’s why it is so important to God, and so important for our future.
Allow students a few minutes to think of someone they need to forgive and ask Jesus to help them let go of their grudge.
Close in Prayer.
By Lane Plamer