In the midst of gift-wrapping, cookie baking, company, and all the trappings of Christmas, thousands of people stood in line for the opening of the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. Even before the movie was released theaters had sold out early for showings as a result of the enthusiasm for the return of our favorite characters.
Many times movie sequels don’t live up to our expectations or hopes, but as all box office records for this movie are shattered, there is little doubt that viewers everywhere are once again caught up in the exploits of Hans Solo, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO.
It has been a bit more than thirty-eight years since we first met these characters and now a whole new generation is flocking to theaters to see it while their parents and grandparents talk about the excitement that the first movie generated.
Yes, I saw the movie, as did my children and grandchildren. Yes, we talked about May 1977 when we waited in line for an hour to see the first movie.
This is the seventh movie produced by George Lucas and enriched by the musical score of John Williams. By summer of 2017, an eighth movie in the series will be released. We’ll need to wait to see how the response goes for that one.
You may not be a fan of the movie and may not have seen it. I am okay with that and won’t spoil anything for those of you still planning to see it.
What captures our hearts in the stories we love best?
There can be many reasons any one of us might give, but as I revisited this historic series with children and grandchildren I think we love it because of the major theme that is played out through each of the movies in the series: the battle between good and evil, light and dark.
For as long as stories have been told, such stories have become some of the best loved stories. In another era, we saw the theme play out in numerous movies and TV series where cowboys and outlaws rode across the big and small screen alike. Even though that era is long gone, theme songs from some of those still live on. (Ask my grandchildren about The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly and you will hear an immediate rendition of the familiar theme.)
Somewhere inside of us we have a strong desire to see justice served, to see good triumph over evil, and light to prevail over darkness.
It may not be as obvious as it once was when times may have appeared simpler, but if you look for it you will see it still exists.
My youngest grandson has his eleventh birthday today and there is a story about him that immediately comes to mind to illustrate.
A number of years ago, he, his two sisters, and older brother were out for a walk in their neighborhood. Suddenly, some neighborhood boys began to shoot hard berries through their Nerf guns at his sisters. None of them had resulted in damage, but this grandson was none too happy about what was happening. He believed immediately that something should be done and told his older brother so. His older brother assured him all would be well if they simply ignored these bullies.
That did not sit well with this grandson. Even though he was the youngest and smallest, he took off running and chasing the neighborhood boys and yelling that they had better not hurt his sisters. It was a moment of triumph! The very boys creating the trouble fled before his ire. Justice was served.
It isn’t the first story where the youngest and smallest defeated an enemy. We all love the story of David and Goliath and the courage and resolve David exhibited as he launched a stone into Goliath’s head to fell the powerful giant.
One of the reasons we have had so many movies made of Bible stories is their depiction of epic stories of battles between good and evil, darkness and light, quests for justice, and desire for a hero to emerge. Perhaps it is that echo within us that draws us to other stories with such themes played out on large and small screens over many seasons and years.
What we forget too often is that every day of our lives we are caught up in just such a story! We have a role in an epic war and battle-by-battle we inch our way closer to the closing scene, the final battle, where the King of Kings brings ultimate justice to those who have resisted His love, mercy, and grace for thousands of years.