May ‘the Force’ be with you…
Whilst on holiday in Great Yarmouth with my parents in 1978 when I was 14 years old, I watched the first Star Wars movie at the cinema there one afternoon and was deeply inspired by it. I was fascinated by the concept of ‘the Force’, a mysterious energy that binds everything together and can be used for good or evil. I wondered if there was something similar in my own life, something that could guide me, empower me, and help me overcome the ‘dark side’ so prevalent in our world and use that ‘Force’ for good like the Jedi Knights, such as Luke Skywalker, tried to do.
As a young adult, as I learned more about Christianity, I discovered that there is indeed a force that is with us, always. It is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Trinity, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. The Holy Spirit is God's presence and power in our lives, who teaches us, comforts us, convicts us, and transforms us. The Holy Spirit is the source of our spiritual gifts, special abilities given to all Christians by the Holy Spirit to give them power both to represent Christ and to be a channel of God's goodness for people. which enable us to serve God and others.
‘The Force’ and the Holy Spirit have some similarities, but also some important differences. ‘The Force’ is impersonal, while the Holy Spirit is personal. The Force can be manipulated by anyone who learns its ways, like Anakin Skywalker – Luke Skywalker’s father, a powerful yet tormented Jedi who turned to the ‘Dark Side’ and became the evil Darth Vader, while the Holy Spirit is a gift of grace that cannot be controlled or earned. ‘The Force’ has a light side and a dark side, while the Holy Spirit is holy and good. ‘The Force’ is part of creation, while the Holy Spirit is the Creator.
The Star Wars movies are not inherently Christian, but they can inspire us to reflect on our Christian faith. They can remind us that we are in a spiritual battle between good and evil, that we have a destiny to fulfil, and that we need to trust in a higher power. They can also challenge us to examine our motives, choices, and actions, and to seek forgiveness and redemption when we fall.
It's been quite a journey since that 14-year-old boy first came across ‘the Force’ in the first Star Wars movie and quite a journey since coming to faith and receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.
May ‘the Force’ be with you? No, may the Holy Spirit be with you!
With every blessing this September.
The Revd Paul Wilson
Rector of the Epworth Benefice
Priest-in-Charge of the Belton Benefice
Assistant Curate of the Haxey and Owston Ferry Plurality
Rural Dean of the Isle of Axholme Deanery