By Joel Hess –
I loved the latest Star Wars episode. Of course it’s hard to mess up something played on Imax in 3D. Even the Democrat presidential debate would be exciting. Back to Star Wars. The latest offering rekindled my foolish love for the saga. So, like many other suckers, my family and I just had to rent the old ones. We began with The Empire Strikes Back because that was all that was at the rental. I buy only the greatest movies. Star Wars doesn’t quite make the cut. Though J.J. Abrams is brilliant.
Quickly into the movie I was reminded of how much I hate Luke Skywalker. He is a buffoon, really. He just bumbles and fumbles around. This is especially evident when he first meets Yoda and begins his instruction in the ways of the force. Unfortunately, within a day he quickly discovers that his friends are in trouble and Darth Vader is going to kill them. Yoda tells him he needs to stay and complete his instruction. But Luke can’t wait, and he leaves. 30 years later I’m still yelling “just stay!” dumbass. How can George Lucas give us such a nitwit for a hero? I would listen to Yoda the Jedi Master. After all, he’s a Jedi Master.
But aren’t we all like Luke Skywalker in our walk in and with Christ? We don’t like to be instructed, we want to do more than that, we want to do great things. Especially during Christmas of all times! We even manage to refocus it upon ourselves. We call it the season of giving!
Yet the angels announce to the shepherds what Isaiah announced long ago, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born TO YOU!” Christmas is not the season of giving. It’s the season of receiving!!! It’s all about God giving us a savior. He even comes wrapped up like a Christmas present and is laid in a FEED TROUGH! As if he is the main course!!
Yet just like Luke Skywalker, who can’t just enjoy what Yoda has to give, we quickly turn our discipleship into our own heroics.
The fact is, we hate receiving gifts. (And I mean gifts not gift EXCHANGES!) Don’t you feel guilty when someone gives you something far greater than you expected, far greater than what you gave them, if anything? I immediately feel indebted and there is nothing worse than that. I like to think I can handle things myself. I don’t need help. Oh, but I’ll help someone else. That makes me feel really good, and powerful, and in control.
On a side note, many conservative Christians balked at Hillary when she said, “It takes a village,” or the president when he said, “You didn’t build that.” We are rugged individualists, pull ourselves up by our bootstraps sort of people. Some of us even laugh at Trump who was given a million dollars by his dad. Sorry; on this one, Hillary and Obama are right. I digress.
Yet we are completely helpless on Christmas. Christmas is only for the completely and utterly helpless! As my congregation gathered this past Christmas Day singing cheerful songs, I noted how odd it was to confess our sick perverted words and actions, even tainting our generous giving. How embarrassing on a day when we wear our best and put out our best and expect everyone to be on their best behavior. Yet once again, on Christmas day of all days, we are encouraged to open our crammed dirty closets and spread our shit all over the floor before our beautiful savior.
But the gift of righteousness and eternal life is only for those who have absolutely nothing. Thank you Jesus.
Ok! So now can we go and give and do good works and improve ourselves and change the world!!!!????
Oh please die Luke Skywalker. In the waters of baptism, of course.
Look to Mary, a far better Jedi. St. Luke pointed out something about Mary that he wants us, Luke Skywalkers, to note. While everyone was running around and freaking out about the whole amazing birth of God, Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
In other words, she just enjoyed the Gift. Salvation in such a strange package. Angels and mangers. Redneck shepherds and kings. Sinners and Righteousness, side by side.
Even for Mary who gave birth, the first Christmas began a spirit of receiving.
May you follow her footsteps this coming week. Don’t tear down the tree, hide the decorations, start planning for the next thing. But instead, sit down and read the good news again. Let it swirl around in your mouth like the tastiest of mince meat pies. Enjoy the Gift that is Christ. Don’t feel guilty about it at all. You don’t have to pay it back (as if you could). You don’t have to run off and fight Darth Vader; Christ has already defeated him, after all. Just stay right there. Enjoy your prize. It’s free. Forgiveness, eternal life, the love of God. Ponder it. Hold it tightly. Stare at it. Play with it. Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again.