Over the last few years, the 4th of May has become known as Star
Wars Day. At Christmas we say, “Merry Christmas!”, at New Year
we say, “Happy New Year!”, on a birthday some of us say (and
some of us even sing!), “Happy Birthday!” and now, on the 4th of
May we say, “May the Fourth be with you!” – it is from Star Wars
(a cultural phenomenon, with at least three films out of 10 or
perhaps 11 or perhaps even more, depending on how you feel
about Solo and Rogue One). Some people like Star Wars, I guess
some people don’t (personally I cannot imagine this but I guess it
might be true). However, everyone has heard of Star Wars!
THE SPIRIT OF GOD The most obvious place to start in our knowledge of Star Wars is with The Force (“The Force is what gives the Jedi his powers. It’s an energy field created in all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together” – Obi-Wan Kenobi, Episode IV: A New Hope). It is an easy comparison with the Power and Spirit of God and “The Force” (“One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”) Ephesians Chapter 4 verse 6). Both are ever present. Both allow for a deeper level of interconnection. Both God and The Force can be drawn on in times of need. However, The Force, unlike God, is not an entity and the lack of ‘personality’ limits the Force.
GOOD VS. EVIL The next most obvious comparison is with the Jedis (the
good guys!). Jedi Knights are always fighting for good. Jedis lead selfless lives.
Their purpose is to protect and care for all other life. They dedicate their
entire lives to fighting evil in order to keep the universe at peace. Whilst Jedi
fight on a physical plane using physical weapons, Christians are called to fight
on a spiritual level with spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6 verses 11 to 18 . . .
The Armour of God!). Christians are called, by God, to live a life of
selflessness, as a living sacrifice! On the other hand, the Sith (the bad guys!)
lead a selfish life.
TEMPTATION Anakin (spoiler alert) who becomes Darth Vader and (major spoiler alert) his son, Luke, are both tempted by The Dark Side of the Force. Anakin gave in to the dark side, Luke, on the other hand (pun intended!), resists both attempts. Luke eventually brings balance to the force and to the world in which he exists. In overcoming Satan, Christ qualified to replace him on the throne of the earth. As King of Kings, Christ will bring peace to earth, not ‘balance to the force’.
THE BLESSING Throughout the series of movies the phrase “May the Force be with you” cannot be heard by Christian ears without echoes an old Christian one of “May God be with you.” In addition, the Jedi Master Obi-Wan proclaims to young Luke Skywalker, “Remember, the Force will be with you always”, reflects Jesus’ comforting of His disciples: “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
(Matthew Chapter 28 verse 20)
No matter where we go, God goes with us – He telling us, from all corners of the
earth, “I am your Father”.
STORIES There is much more that can be discussed when we start to compare
stories, TV and film. Is it possible to try to read too much into a film? Of course (I may even be slightly guilty of it on occasions)! However, it is through the telling of stories that we can allow our minds to wander, to open and to glimpse truths that exist beyond our simple understanding (“For now we see through a glass, darkly” 1 Corinthians Chapter 13 verse 12 KJV). Jesus Christ described Heaven and Hell through stories, He explained the majesty, judgement, wrath and love of God through stories. They are the perfect way to allow us access into something greater. George Lucas, the creator of Star Wars, once said, “All I was trying to say in a very simple and straightforward way, is that there is a God and there is a good side and a bad side.” From C3PO, “Thank the maker”, to Darth Vader and Yoda, “The Force is strong with this one”, Star Wars has unquestionable parallels with the stories of the Bible and with Christianity. An epic tale of good versus evil; a story of virtue, patience, peace, self-control and love; a story where individuals are bestowed with supernatural powers; where their faith is put to the test; where, importantly and vitally, good wins – Star Wars or the story of Christianity!? One is a made- up story set in space with robots, lightsabers and wookies, the other is a universal truth, in which good triumphs over evil and we, the loyal Christian soldiers, have the honour, privilege and responsibility to share this truth!
Prayers contributed by Rebecca
Last week was Christian Aid week, with a focus on poverty caused by the Global Climate Crisis. Christian Aid have a real emphasis on prayer, and the following prayer is from their website and reflects the need in Israel and Gaza, and surrounding countries, at the present moment.
God of peace, encourage those who seek to establish a fair and just peace in the Middle East. Bless their efforts as they work to end conflict. Lead those who engage in violence to put down their weapons and to live in peace with one another.
God of justice, bless those who work for peace through justice. Strengthen their resolve in the face of seemingly endless violence. Guide the leaders of the peoples of the Middle East to know your will and to support a just peace for all of your children. God of love, lifting up the holy land for all humankind, breathe love and compassion into our prayers with a desire for nothing other than peace: peace in our hearts, peace for all creation, and especially peace in the land that is called holy.
God of mercy, even as we long to understand that which is often beyond our comprehension, we lay before you the hearts, minds and bodies of all those suffering from conflict in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel, and from the ongoing occupation. Shower upon all the people of this holy land the spirit of justice and reconciliation.
God of the nations, give to all our people the blessings of well-being, freedom, and harmony, and, above all things, give us faith in you that we may be strengthened to care for all those in need until the coming of your son, our Saviour and Lord.
We pray for the torn and divided peoples of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq; for refugees and uprooted families; for all living in camps and for those who assist them, and for all who have been bereaved, injured and traumatized.
Especially at this time, we pray for all who suffer in the midst of renewed conflict and attack.
We pray for Israelis living with the threat of rocket fire, for Palestinians in the West Bank subjected to the violation of their civil liberties and human rights and living under the constraints of military occupation and settler harassment. We pray for the people of Gaza, living under blockade and repeated military bombardment, adding fear to the misery of poverty and want.
In particular we pray for children and young people caught up in terror beyond their understanding or control.
We pray for those who have been killed, maimed, bereaved; those who have had their future torn away from them; those whose lives are bleak, lacking opportunity, mobility and hope. We repent of our complicity in silence, our closing our eyes to the needs and wellbeing of the children and our failure to reject the ways of violence, threat and injustice.
We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our peace and our hope. Amen
I’m sure that many of us are also confronting a lot of feelings this week as restrictions due to Covid-19 are lifted further: excitement, anxiety, hope and more.
God, we acknowledge your sovereignty over our lives and our plans. We know that although our feelings, ideas, and desires seem so large to us, we are so small. Thank you that you care for us, and that you are working in the world for our good.
As the church, and the country, enters a new phase as we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, please give us wisdom, patience, and compassion in our relationships with others and in the decisions that we make.