May the Force Be With You

As part of their cultural upbringing, I think my children at least should have seen The Sound of Music, Forrest Gump and Dead Poets Society. These films are not necessarily the favorite genre of my Love, so when he suggested that we should now also should watch Star Wars together, I couldn’t say ‘no’. This Corona time is ideal for long movie nights. At this moment, we have seen six episodes.

While my family members laugh at the strange creatures, I have to fight disgust while their laughter sounds like music to my ears. Yet I also find these films very interesting. This morning, while we were watching our online church service (I’d rather say participating in, but an online church service on the couch at home is really more labor-intensive for parents than letting them join peers in a regular service), I thought I now understand why our Star Wars fan pastor keeps saying: “I am not going to say: ‘may the force be with you’, but: ‘may the Spirit guide and keep you’” With this he always refers to Star Wars, giving me the impression that these movies might teach me something about the Holy Spirit.

Today it is Pentecost, the celebration of the Holy Spirit. I think you can better compare the Holy Spirit with Obi Wan Kenobi than with the force and that Yoda gives some deep insights into what faith is. Still, saying ‘may the Spirit be with you’ with a nod to the force from Star Wars is not that bad, because just like Anakin, Obi Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke fight with their lightsabers and pull out of the force, Christians thus come to know the Bible as the sword of the Spirit and we try to ‘live by the Spirit’, which means you learn to listen to the voice in your heart that shows you the way, in a way as Obi Wan Kenobi Luke at crucial moments provides the wisdom and ideas he needs in his fight against evil.

Obi Wan Kenobi assists, coaches and helps Luke to see and do the right things. I don’t believe it’s okay to summon ghosts. But in how this spirit of Obi Wan Kenobi is portrayed, I can see a parallel to how the Holy Spirit works in my faith. He guides, comforts, gives you ideas, warns, sometimes tells you something about the future. Very personal. Not as a force, a power, but as a person, very intimate.

While Obi Wan Kenobi and the force show something of the work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian, Yoda to me seems like a model Christian. There is a scene where Luke has to use the force to lift his spaceship out of the water. He believes it’s impossible, so it’s not happening. Yoda ends up paternally sighing and lovingly demonstrating how it should be done and, like the Bible, teaches that nothing is impossible for those who believe. I think it’s a confronting scene. Because it is true. When I pray without doubt and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me and then speak in faith, impossible things happen. I’ve seen fevers disappear, ears heal, people calm down and sleep peacefully, people who were fearing death, die in peace. Now that I think about it and try to sum it up, there is quite a lot that the Holy Spirit has done in my life.

But there are also many people who don’t heal, who die. There are things that go wrong. And in that light Yoda’s relaxed view of those ‘casualties’ was striking to me. He says that death is part of life and it is not always the most important thing to prevent someone from dying, but that it is more important that someone will find his ‘destiny’. I believe you will find it in following Jesus and being guided by the Holy Spirit. Yoda is vague about that and when he dies, he goes to sleep forever. That’s not how I see it. If I die, I will surely live.

Of course a movie is just a movie, but after seeing these Star Wars movies I am celebrating Pentecost with a fresh view today and I would like to say to you: May the Spirit be with you. I wish you peace, love, comfort, courage, faith and strength. Tonight we’ll watch Star Wars Part 7 I think.

First Published in Dutch on May 31, 2020

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