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The Force reawakens; can you feel it?

From The Pastor's Desk


Have you been to see the newest Star Wars sequel yet? I can’t wait. I was blown away when these movies made their debut. The action and images were entrancing, and there was something so simple yet important about the plot…a small bunch of righteous “rebels” against a huge monstrous mega-power with the likelihood of success slim at best. Who doesn’t love a courageous, impossible, underdog story? That’s a classic as old as time, yet still relevant today.

We continue to cheer for ancient biblical heroes that took on Goliath empires in the Hebrew bible. Christians, too, enthusiastically welcome the birth of a baby savior who gathered outcasts and went up against the incredible powers of Rome, unarmed. Today, many of us hope for “good guys” who will come along to defeat the spread of a radically violent Islamic caliphate. Is that story unfolding somewhere in distant sands? I hope so. I want to see that premier sooner rather than later. Do they have a wise Obi-Wan or Yoda guiding them? Who will be our Luke, Leia, and Han to save the fate of our people and our planet? And, is Jesus with us?

In ancient times, the Apostle Paul traveled far and wide, to what may have seemed like galaxies far, far away, to spread good news that the Emperor was not God after all. He proclaimed that God loved us so much that he became incarnate to pay us a visit and give us an example of how we should treat one another.

Paul’s life was not easy. He was imprisoned on occasion, suffered beatings, and is believed to have been executed in Rome. Yet, his prison letters to new believers are filled with encouragement and confidence in God’s ultimate success. He wrote to Christ-followers in Philippi, who were themselves terrorized by persecutions, telling them to “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” (Philippians 4:4-5) Paul instructed people not to lose their joy or the virtues of the faith they were coming to know. Especially in tough times, he instructed them to hang on to their gentleness, affection, love, caring, sharing, and loyalties to one another, as Christ modeled. Their behaviors would demonstrate their faith.

In some ways, not that much has changed. There has always been great temptation to lay aside one’s faith and values in times of crisis, justifying non-virtuous behavior as “justice” or today, against being “politically correct.” You know, however, that the Star Wars rebel alliance could never have defeated the Empire by giving in to the Dark Side. “The Force” gave them added power to do impossible things. We either “use the Force” - ethical force or, for some of us, divine force - or we don’t. One side leads to success, more love, hope, peace, and integrity, even if we lose much, while the other side creates the Darth Vaders we become, forever enslaved by imperial powers.

God be with you, Pastor Nancy


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