In 1994, three students from Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, invented a new game. One evening, during a heavy snowstorm, Craig Fass, Brian Turtle and Mike Ginelli, watched the movie Footloose starring Kevin Bacon. When the movie was over, they put in another video, The Air Up There, which also happened to feature Kevin Bacon.
They began to speculate about how many movies Kevin Bacon had appeared in and how many actors had worked with him. That snowy evening in Reading, Pennsylvania, the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon was born.
The game is simple. A random actor is named and the players need to try and connect that actor with Kevin Bacon through other actors and the roles they played in movies. The person with the fewest degrees of separation wins.
For example: Elvis Presley. Elvis Presley starred in the movie Change of Heart in 1969 with Ed Asner. Ed Asner starred in the movie JFK with Kevin Bacon in 1991. Elvis Presley can be connected to Kevin Bacon in just two degrees. The premise of the game is that Kevin Bacon can be connected to every actor in Hollywood by less than six degrees of separation.
I was thinking about the game Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon this afternoon as I sat with some ladies from our congregation. They asked me about a young lady whom they saw in church on Sunday. It took me a moment to explain who she was and how she ended up in our church.
You see, a little over a year ago, we had a work day at church. A man from our church named Bobby was outside trimming trees and hauling branches. A ten year old from the neighborhood named Matthew rolled up on his bike and asked if he could help.
Bobby told him, “Sure!” and put him to work. When they were finished, Bobby told Matthew that if he wanted, he could come to church and Sunday School the next day. Sure enough, Matthew showed up for Sunday School. The next week, he brought his grandma, Karen. She enjoyed it and brought her other grandchildren the next Sunday. Karen, Matthew and the other grandchildren are now members of our congregation.
The young woman who came to church last Sunday was Matthew’s aunt from California whom Karen had invited. If you’re counting, that’s four degrees from Bobby.
On Sunday mornings, as I look out over our church, I see degrees of separation. One person came to our church through this person and that person through another person and so on and so forth.
That’s how the Christian faith works. It is shared from parent to child, friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor. You are a believer because another person took you by the hand and led you to your Savior. You are a believer because someone else shared with you the good news about Jesus and the heaven he won for you. You are believer because someone else first shared it with the person who shared it with you.
You are connected to a long chain of believers which can be traced back to the apostles and Jesus, to the prophets and Abraham, all the way back to Adam and Eve.
Sometimes we think it a small thing when we invite someone to church or teach our children to pray. The lives you touch and the seeds you plant as you tell others of God’s great love may be the beginning of a chain reaction, fanning out many degrees of separation from you.
So be Kevin Bacon. Make those connections. Keep that chain going. Share Jesus to the nth degree.