It’s the big day for so many people across the globe. The day they have been waiting for. This long anticipated day has finally arrived. There has been much anticipation and preparation.
In a way it sound a awful lot like Advent and Christmas doesn’t it? But of course I am talking about the new Star Wars movie.
How churches use Star Wars or not is a hot debate within the church right now.
You have some who seem to use it effectively. A pastor friend of mine used the anticipation for the Star Wars movie and weaved it into his sermon for the first week of Advent. It worked out really well.
And then there is such a thing as taking it too far. There’s one church that has transformed itself, literally, into the Star Wars universe complete with a Star Wars themed manger scene. If you click over, make sure you watch the video – it’s a Q and A with the pastor explaining the whole thing. I think he’s had a little too much caffeine for my personal taste, but whatever.
Here’s my take on it. Star Wars and Christianity actually go together very well. But not in the way you might think.
It starts with our understanding that Christ came to institute a new kingdom during the time of one of the most epic empires that humanity has ever known – the Roman Empire. If you think the idea of Rome died centuries ago, think again. It seems like every kingdom and civilization in Europe since Rome collapsed has tried to take up the mantle of being the true inheritor of Rome. Rome is idealized. Rome was the ultimate in empire – complete domination of the “known” world, military might, economic wealth, millions of citizens, order and control and hierarchy.
We see kingdoms that rise up out of Rome that try to take on Rome’s mantle – the Goths, the Visigoths. We see Charlemagne try to re-establish the glory of the empire. We read about Napoleon. We know the story of the British Empire. And even in our modern times we have examples. Hitler and the Nazis. More recent we know that the Russian leadership sees itself as the heir to Rome. And given the politicians leading both political parties presidential nominations in the US, it isn’t a far stretch to think that these people might be more interested in empire and power.
The Gospel message is counter cultural. It is a message that calls to us in the face of empire – saying that empires are faulty and they eventually die, but God is instituting a different kind of kingdom. A kingdom based on love, not force. A kingdom of innocence, not manipulation. A kingdom of peace, not war and violence. A kingdom of empowerment, not acquisition of power.
This year it seems as though the Christmas message hits a bit closer to home – against an empire that surrounds us and envelopes up. Against an empire of consumerism where gold is valued, not people. An empire of military might where we can bomb our enemies indiscriminately and wonder why they fight back.
This Christmas, it is my hope that we hear the Christmas story with new ears and eyes. That we see the empire around us – the empire that demands our loyalty, our wealth and our might – and we reject it for a different type of kingdom. A kingdom where we swear allegiance to a different king. And if we can use a popular movie to help us convey that message, then I say use it. Just don’t change church into the Star Wars pantheon. Please.