In the Jewish tradition, a midrash refers to the ouevre of stories used by rabbis to explain the Hebrew Bible. They are stories that fill in the gaps left behind by the Scriptures.
If there were a midrash that took us into the New Testament, and if that midrash examined the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:13 and Mark 10:15, passages about having faith like children, I think it would look a lot like Home Alone.
Home Alone has several scenes related to prayer and the church–Kevin hiding in the nativity scene, Old Man Marley’s niece singing with the choir–but the small prayer he offers up one night before dinner is one of my favorites:
“Bless this highly nutritious microwavable macaroni and cheese dinner and the people who sold it on sale. Amen.”
By the time the last word of the prayer has escaped his lips, Kevin McAllister (Macaulay Culkin) hears the “Wet Bandits” Harry (Joe Pesci) and Marv (Daniel Stern) roaming outside his family’s Chicago home, blows out his candles, and never returns to the highly nutritious macaroni and cheese dinner he was about to eat. This youngest child has to grow up, and quick, in order to execute a plan that will bring Harry and Marv to their knees.
The last thing Kevin does before the burglary begins is pray. He wasn’t a particularly religious character, and the film wasn’t a particularly religious film–the church scenes are mostly about the importance of family and reconciliation during the holidays. But Kevin has had to grow up in the course of the movie; part kid, part adult. This scene is where we see that already-not yet as he prays. Part of the reason this scene is both funny and endearing is his use of words like “bless,” and “highly nutritious.” It’s a small moment, but it’s a fantastic prayer–concrete, aspirational, grounded in reality and, most importantly when praying before a meal, brief. The perfect prayer of a child, and all those who should be like children.