“A Long, Long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away”…in a time of civil war, the rebels won a victory against the evil Galactic Empire, but victory is always temporary – the fight must go on – the forces of darkness are strong and we must be brave.
“A long, long time ago,” so began the Star Wars Saga over forty years ago. So began a journey that has shaped my life from my mid-twenties to raising a boy who raced around the house with his Light Saber to reliving these films today with my grandsons as they imagine their own epic adventures. (You know your life is an adventure, don’t you? Who knows what will happen next when you try to do the right thing?)
I believe you can hear the Gospel anywhere. The Gospel is simply “good news” – good news of love, friendship, and healing…good news brings “a new hope” as proclaimed by the first Star Wars film in 1977.
In a world that’s too busy, with too much conflict, and life coming at us fast, even for kids, we need Good News and that good news can come to us from Dr. Suess, Paw Patrol, Harry Potter, and Star Wars – the stories of our lives, if we’re a certain age, show us how to be brave, make a difference, and stand on the side of goodness, the side of God.
Star Wars tells is about the adventure of a group of friends – do you know their names?
Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and later Rey and Finn, and the wise ones who guide them, Yoda and Obi Wan Kanobi. There is an African saying “it takes a village,” and in tough times, we know that’s true. We need other people to be our best and summon the courage to confront the dark side, and these friends are a village to each other, supporting each other and challenging each other to be better and stronger persons.
Do you have a village? Who are your friends and loved ones – like Luke, Leia, Han, Chewie, Finn and Rey – who will be with you when the going gets tough… when you confront the Evil Empire? I hope the church is your village, too!
There’s another word from Africa, “ubuntu” – it means “I am because of you.” It means that none of us makes it on our own. That the people who love us and whom we love make us what we are and help us become what we will be.
I wouldn’t be here without “ubuntu”: my mom and dad who loved me and first taught me about God; two pastors, who saw something special in me, something of the Force,that I could be a minister and teacher, and helped me become that; I wouldn’t be here without Kate, who’s been my companion and trusted advisor, like Leia or Rey.
Star Wars tells us about the good news of adventure. In “Toy Story,” Buzz Lightyear shouts, “infinity and beyond” and that’s what happens in Star Wars. The characters find the Force’s infinity in themselves – teenage Luke discovers he’s a Jedi, a spiritual warrior who learns how to use the power of the Force for good. Han discovers he’s a hero and not just out to money. Leia discovers she is a leader, and that she can guide the Rebel force as good as any man. (Remember that, girls.) Youthful and inexperienced, Rey begins the adventure toward becoming a Jedi, feeling the power of the Force within her; just trying to survive, Finn finds his true self, not as a pawn of the Empire but as fighter for freedom. And, Darth Vader, once Anakin Skywalker, who chose evil over good, once more discovers the power of love to heal the pain of the past. Vader discovers there is sliver of good in him and uses his goodness to save his son Luke.
There is a Force that runs through everything. A power that gives life to us one breath at a time. In the bible, this is the Energy “in whom we live and move and have our being.” It is the light of God, that creates from something smaller than a fingernail, a ball of energy, the whole universe; it is the light within you that gives you the power to love, and to have courage when you’re afraid.
Even in the smallest one of us, there is an Energy, the Energy of Love, and though some might use this energy to hurt, when we trust God with our energy and listen to the deep whispers of Goodness, the Force moving in us changes the world – it changes us so that we make the right choices and bring peace and goodness to the world.
The Good News is also that we have teachers. We have our own Yodas, even here at church, who bless us and show us the path to loving power. As Yoda says, “truly wonderful the mind of a child is.” Or, “luminous beings are we,” we are children of light, touched by the holy… this little light of ours can shine! And when we look at people different from us, or even look at ourselves and think how small we are, Yoda reminds us – as he did Luke, when Luke mistook him for a servant, “Judge me by my size, do you?” We are large even when others see us as small, and when we do small things with love, they become great.
In every moment, the Force calls us – the force of love, the force of courage, the force of discovering your own beauty, and that you really matter. In the time in which we live, conflict abounds, and we can choose to be on the side of Goodness and Love. We can choose the Good Force, to bring Life and Light to the World. The Force is with you. It is strong within you. Thanks be to God.