Like many of you in this room, I grew up watching, playing, living, and breathing Star Wars. Though I was born in 1981, in between the theatrical release of The Empire Strikes Back and The Return of the Jedi, these stories were a formative part of my child hood imagination. I was building Star Wars Lego sets long before they were marketable. And not a sick day home from school went by without watching the original trilogy – without all the graphic enhancement – at least once, if not more. No doubt we could each share similar memories of joy and delight, imagination and wonder, the captivating music of John Williams and the endearing characters around the galaxy far, far away.
And here lies a deeper, hidden truth. Stories bring us together. Star Wars is one story and many stories all at once. And even though it is a fictional story (yes, sorry to burst your bubbles), it does not cease to be a vehicle for truth. Far more than bringing people together, the best stories among us have the ability to delight and teach, to bring stabs of joy and a glimpses of truth, to be thrilling science fiction and yet give us foggy pictures of the greatest story of all time, the Gospel. After all this is both full of meaning and yet it is true.
For Jesus was not born in a galaxy far, far away, but in Bethlehem of Judea, in the days of Caesar Augustus, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. History and Story all at once.
So, here are just a few ways the good story of Star Wars, leads us the greatest story of all time.
Despite all the talk of balancing the Force, the movies tell a cosmic tale a battle between good and evil. In Star Wars this battle is fought and won but the war is never over. In our world, the real world, this battle is won, accomplished and fulfilled and in the most unexpected way – Jesus, the Light of the World is swallowed in darkness to save us.
In Episode IV, Obi Wan Kenobi lays down his life for his friends. Jesus lays down his life, not only for his disciples, but for rebels and enemies of God. For while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Many brave rebel pilots sacrificed themselves to save the universe from the tyranny of the empire and the threat of the dark side. Jesus sacrificed himself for the life of the world, to save us from sin, death, and darkness.
Yoda taught us the famous phrase, “Do or do not, there is no try”, a reminder that the Law cannot be done halfway and though we have done it not, saved we are. Jesus, done it for you he has.
The light and the dark contend for power and balance in the force, while Jesus the true Light of the World casts out the darkness by his death and resurrection for us.
Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon taught us not to overlook the things that look weak and foolish in the world for they are often the source of great victory.
The Jedi serve the galaxy with honor, justice, and on behalf of peace. They lived to serve others not themselves. And in this they are a picture of Jesus, who came not to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.
Luke’s unrelenting quest to save his father Darth Vader is also a foggy picture of God’s unrelenting love for us, despite the fact that there was no good in us.
The Sith Lords promise deathlessness. Even the Jedi have a spirit-like resurrection. But neither can deliver what they promise. True defeat of death, and true resurrection of the body are given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus. And even though that story took place a long time ago, it was not in a galaxy far, far away, but this one. Jesus was crucified under Pontius Pilate for you. Jesus is the true Light of the World for you. Jesus does all this for you, not by the force by through his love.
And lastly, as good Lutheran nerds, Star Wars gave us yet another semi-liturgical response. May the Force be with you…