I'm going to be honest: I wrestled with over whether the new Star Wars movie was going to make it into these devotionals. There's a part of me that feels like Episode VII has sort of hijacked the Christmas season. I mean, if you asked a lot of people what they were waiting for during these days of Advent, many would enthusiastically answer The Force Awakens.
Yet part my aim in this was to look at the things in the world around me that have shaded my thoughts on Advent and Christmas. And I think that the thoughts and conversations that I have had with others since this movie was announced actually has something substantial to say about the anticipation of Advent and the idea of Christian lives telling a story.
I am super pumped about The Force Awakens. I grew up watching the original trilogy (the OT, if you will). I remember when the trilogy came out on VHS in the 90s, we would watch those movies over and over again. I was also initially excited about the prequel trilogy. Then I was less excited. Whereas I have watched Star Wars, The Empire Strike Back, and Return of the Jedi numerous times, I could probably count my combined viewings of the prequel trilogy on one hand.
So when Disney announced that they were buying Lucasfilm and starting work on Episode VII, the first reaction was surprise. After that, it was a potent mixture of hope and dread. Part of me hoped that these sequels could re-capture the magic of the OT, but then there was that other part that knew the disappointment of the prequels. It was like there was a 7 year old me on one should yelling, "YEEEEAAAAHHHHHHHH!" then making lightsaber noises, while an older, more jaded version of me was whispering, "This is a total cash grab."
That's the thing about anticipation isn't it? It is a battle between hope and fear. We hope that this is going to be a very merry Christmas. We fear it's going to be stressful or it will go by in a blur and we'll completely miss it. The more cosmic waiting of Advent deals with this duality as well. We hope that God is going to make all things right one day. We fear, as years and tragedies pile up, that might not be the case. It is a battle that goes on inside of us.
The message of Advent is that we choose hope. Even though it is easy to fall prey to fear, we choose to trust God. We look at what God has done through Jesus and we look forward to a new chapter with hope.
Switching gears, the other conversation that I remember having with friends about new Star Wars movies was "Should they even do this?" Is it a good idea to go forward and keep telling the story? What if they screw this up? What if it's underwhelming to fans of the OT like the prequels were?
I don't remember who I was talking to, but a friend of mine said if you think there are good stories in there, you have to try. You have to tell new stories and move forward. Of course, he also said you have to keep finding new stories even outside of the Star Wars universe. But you can't be frozen by fear of messing up what has come before. You tell the new stories as best you can as you honor the older, beloved stories.
I think Christians sometimes don't know what to do in the world because we are worried about screwing up the beautiful story found in our origins. We are well aware of other stories told after the originals that diminished the saga in the eyes of many. As a result, we kind of spin our wheels and yearn for the good old days (when those days were varies from person to person and whether they were actually good also varies greatly). But if our lives are stories and if faith in God really does change us, then we have to try. We have to risk ourselves by going out there and telling good stories with our lives all while we honor the stories that came before us.
Peter and John were once told to stop telling their stories. Peter, who knew a thing or two about a dramatic character arc, refused. He said that they could not help telling what they had seen and heard. They had to tell the story. They had to keep pushing the tale forward. There is much bravery in that perspective. It's the kind of hope that can awaken people (Sorry, I couldn't resist).
So I think that it's worth the risk. Not only the new Star Wars movie, but living out our lives without fear that we're going to somehow screw up the Christian faith. We will mess up. But we have to live, we have to keep telling the story.