Faith, Hope and The Force
I still remember the first time I saw Star Wars. I was ten years old and it was one of the most exciting, compelling things I’d ever seen. I wanted more and went back to see it four times before it eventually left the theaters. I then read the book.
I remember waiting anxiously for the next movies in the series to come out. And, like many (most), I remember being disappointed when the three movies of the “prequel” never lived up to the hype of the first three.
And now, its back. One could argue that it never really went away. This story that captivated me as a boy, is now something that I can take my kids to, and have them be enraptured by the story. I love that this is a story in which the entire family can find meaning. My mom recently told her grandkids about taking their father to see the original in the theater. I don’t recall a movie with a more intergenerational audience than The Force Awakens.
Recently, with the hype of the new movie and with some prodding of some friends and colleagues that I started to think more about the Star Wars universe as a way of understanding theology. One of the hazards of being a preacher is always asking yourself, “Is there a sermon here?” In the Star Wars story, I discovered a whole series.
The story of Star Wars, of course, is the epic battle between good and evil. This is the story of the human race from the very beginning. We’ve found that darkness and light are in conflict with one another; that there is inside of every one of us this same battle. Each of us has this tendency towards the light, this sense that we should walk in the light and do what is right. And yet at the same time there is this part of us that leans towards darkness; that finds it easy to hate, gossip, to have indifference to the suffering of others, to give into fear so we don’t do what we know is right. In every one of us there is this battle going on.
I love the idea that in the Star Wars films this idea of the Force is present. The Force is this force that is at work in the world, trying to head human beings into doing what is right, good, and just and encourages and empowers the knights to fight for what is right. Could Obi Won Kenobi’s description of the Force be more appropriate for God? “The Force surrounds each and everyone of us.”
Issues we face today such as the struggle between good and evil, sacrifice, self-denial, the greater good, and embracing mystery are all present. Both the Bible and Star Wars have much to say about these parts of life.
I’m looking forward to working with friends on this new sermon series that begins this Sunday, January 10. All of our scriptures come from Jesus’ early life and ministry in the Gospel of Luke (what other Gospel would you use?). You can read a little more about this series by clicking here.
My hope and prayer is that we can see our hearts captured by an old story that’s just as meaningful and relevant today as when it was first written, and that we can see just how God surrounds all of us.