faith and family
Easter and Star Wars
by Marcus J. Carlson
I grew up on Star Wars as a child. I still love Star Wars. I am proud of the fact I have the Chewbacca mask that makes noise (like the one from the fun lady on the internet). I loved the movies and the characters, and as a kid much of what I enjoyed revolved around Star Wars. As an adult, I have seen every one of the movies made, though like a purest, for years I delayed watching the second set of movies (prequels) that came out because I did not think they were quite worth it.
As the new lms have come out in the past couple years, I have watched and enjoyed them, reliving a little bit of my childhood along the way. When the new lms came out, I also introduced my children to the entire Star Wars series, because we love exposing our children to the things from our childhood we enjoyed. We have taken them to see both lms, the most recent one on opening night, because that’s just good parenting. It has been fun to watch them absorb, enjoy and embrace things that we too enjoyed at their age.
Like many movies, shows and book series, Star Wars has a lot of Gospel undertones. So often, the art in our culture that is not at all faith-based, communicates principles of faith in a powerful way if we are willing to look for it. I have found this to be encouraging and a reminder that God’s truth can be found anywhere. It also has become a great tool in communicating the truth of God to those who do not have church experience or those who may have a negative image of faith, church or Christianity.
It is also a phenomenal tool for communicating faith in a unique and relevant way with children and youth as well. Using Star Wars references in my Christmas Eve sermon this past year actually helped those in the sanctuary understand in a deeper way what I was trying to share from the Bible.
For some, this idea is unconventional, but it is not at all new. Jesus used cultural references all the time to communicate the truth of God, because He knew that would help them understand his message. Jesus used story (we call them parables) to communicate the truth of God over and over again. Children love stories. Youth love stories. Adults love stories. One of the things I often tell people when doing training for children’s ministry is, ‘just tell the story over and over again and let it speak for itself.’ The truth is that as we help our children know the story of God, it will remain in their heart and as they grow older, they will be able to better understand and apply the truth in the story.
Watching the most recent Star Wars lm, Rogue One, I was struck by an important truth communicated in the movie multiple times. As I heard a phrase uttered, two thoughts came to mind. First, this phrase was a theme of many of the Star Wars lms, a consistent theme in the overall Star Wars story. Secondly, it struck me that this phrase communicated the truth of God, the story of Jesus in a powerful way that I needed to leverage and use as I communicated the truth of the Gospel with others. The phrase is “All rebellions are built on hope.”
Jesus started a rebellion, and it was built on hope. We desperately need another rebellion in our world to counter this culture of fear that has been forced on us. We need to live in a world of hope. We need a hope rebellion, and the good news is that all rebellions are built on hope. Hope abounds in spite of what others might tell us, in spite of what we might think, in spite of what we might feel. In the midst of di culty, challenges and fear, Jesus is renewing people and circumstances. Jesus is the author of hope, and it is hope that should rule our lives, not fear. The world has one story to sell us: fear. It is a lie.
I love the Easter story, even in the midst of the pain of the death of Jesus. It is a unique, one time, earth-changing moment, but there is also something that happens in this moment that happens frequently in the Bible and even in our world today. The people see something supernatural, and they are scared. I get that. Seems right, seems true, seems healthy, seems normal. In fact, every time we see a supernatural encounter with God, we see this same comment: “Do not be afraid.” Encounters with angels, encounters with Jesus, encounters with burning bushes, encounters on the mountain. Over and over and over again, every time God shows up, the dialogue begins with, “Do not be afraid.” In fact, some form of do not be afraid appears in the Bible a countless number of times, the conservative estimate being 30, some 365, and the generous one noting that this idea of not being afraid appears over 500 times.
We live in a world driven by fear. Our media sells fear. Businesses market with fear. Our government runs on fear. Fear dictates our words, actions, feelings and relationships. This is unhealthy, false and not at all what God wants for us. Fear has far too much power in our lives, and Jesus has far too little. Easter is all about hope. Our world is all about fear. As parents, grandparents and signi cant adults in the lives of our children and adolescents, we have a call and obligation to care for, minister to, protect and raise our children. We have a call as a church to raise our children and youth up in the faith. Far too often, we embrace the false message of this world, the message of fear, and in turn our children embrace this same message.
The message of fear ignores the message of Easter. It denies the power of Easter, the value of the death of Jesus for us. It denies the power of the resurrection. You see, the Gospel, Jesus, the death and resurrection of Jesus point not to fear, but something more powerful: hope.
When we look to how Jesus viewed children, we cannot deny that they held a special place in his heart. In fact, Jesus called adults to have “faith like a child.”There is something pure, innocent and beautiful about childlike faith. One of the things about childlike faith that makes it so beautiful is that it is based on hope and not on fear.
In Easter, in his death and resurrection, Jesus brought an end to a world driven by fear, and we have become so familiar with the story, we have forgotten that. We have forgotten how to let the story of Jesus and our story dictate how we operate. Instead we let the story of fear that surrounds us, rule us. That is not the life Jesus wants for us; it is not the life we have to live. It is not the story, the life or the message God has for our children and youth.
Do not be afraid: for there is hope, and His name is Jesus.