Director Jesse Stone delivered a masterpiece with his documentary, The Overnighters. When I discussed the story of Pastor Jay Reinke with him in November, he hinted at a post script interview with Reinke after the film had been edited. Now, with the film on DVD and digital download, you can unpack the story of Reinke and see what he had to say after the explosive revelation at the end of the film.
In The Overnighters, Reinke serves a church in North Dakota that becomes the lighting rod for an issue of hospitality and church generosity. Hundreds of people flock to the Concordia Lutheran Church, not because of the church itself but because of the way that Reinke welcomes the homeless, those souls seeking work in the oil fields who can’t find a place to stay elsewhere.
Reinke’s story is full of grace: he sees an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus by welcoming in a stranger and caring for the needy. He challenges his church to grow. But Reinke’s story is a cautionary tale, too, because he takes it too far, he crosses too many boundaries, breaks through barriers intended for his own well-being. How, and why, should be left for the masterful work of Moss’ story as told here, but let’s be clear: you’re going to want to see this wrap-up postscript here, too.
I’ve recommended this film to those who love Jesus, who love a documentary, who pastor churches. I’ve recommended it to those who wrestle with church policy questions and the way to live out how to be more like Jesus in the world. But I found the post script interview to confirm what I’d thought all along: that Reinke’s desire to help others heal their brokenness was an honest response to his desire to see his brokenness healed, and any mistakes he’s made were the result of the sin we all succumb to in our fallen humanity.
Grace still exists though, and it works for Reinke. Watching the documentary and its final words, I can only hope Reinke finds peace, like what he offered to so many other people, for himself.