Monday, December 21, 2015

Star Wars 7 - My Theory (SPOILERS)

I have to write this out of my head. Don’t read on if you do not want to read “Star Wars 7, The Force Awakens” spoilers.  

Also, don’t read on if you really don’t care all that much. Like I said, I’m writing to get this out of my brain and onto a page somewhere. I’ve been theorizing with my brother Brad and my son Wesley, and I now just have to write it down, for no other reason than I’m a nerd.

Read it, or don’t. There is no try.

So … (last chance to stop, definite spoilers ahead) …

Luke was calling Rey. This is the core of my theory. And Luke’s call awakened the force within Rey, and ultimately brought them together. This is what the movie is about, as the first line of the crawl indicates: "Luke Skywalker has vanished." (Almost as good an opening line as "The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed." Almost.)

Luke disappeared when Ben Solo turned to the dark side, right? I think, before he disappeared, Luke actually programmed R2-D2 to go into “sleep mode” until a certain time, the time at which Luke was ready to be found. That time was the arrival of Rey, whose presence was sensed by R2, who subsequently woke up and shared the rest of the map.

In my theory, Rey is most likely Han and Leia’s daughter, or maybe Obi-Wan’s. I haven’t 100% decided yet. But there is definitely a connection. The larger point is - Luke knows her, and has for her whole life. Luke is to Rey as Obi-Wan was to Luke, watching over her on Jakku.

And so when he is ready, he calls for her, and that call is “overheard” by Kylo Ren, who has seen Luke’s island also, as he says in the interrogation scene. Kylo Ren misunderstands this call, though, and thinks that killing Han will quiet it.

Rey hears the call and it allows her to access the force with unprecedented ease. She is closely bonded with Luke’s lightsaber (which she pulls out of the snow just like Luke did in Empire Strikes Back), and through that connection experiences her vision. I think this vision reveals a lot to Rey, even more than it does to the audience.

In fact it is Obi-Wan’s voice in that vision that gives evidence that he might be her father. I have to confess that I did not notice his voice until after watching the movie and reading an article that said he was in there. But that really isn’t a strong enough tie, I don’t think. That’s why I lean toward Han and Leia as Rey’s parents.

To that point, I noticed that when Rey arrives at the resistance base after Han’s death, she is embraced by Leia. Leia passes right by Chewbacca, with whom she has obviously shared a lot and has a strong emotional tie, and goes directly to Rey to embrace her. This makes me think that Rey is Han and Leia’s kid. Maybe even a twin sister to Ben.

In addition, there is a real connection between Han and Rey. They have great chemistry flying the Falcon, and Han Solo offers her a job. Is there anyone else he would trust enough to work with? What if the Millennium Falcon wasn’t actually stolen, but rather placed on Jakku with a purpose?

So if Rey is Han and Leia’s kid, that would make Luke her uncle, and a pretty strong connection. And I would love for Rey and Kylo Ren to be sister and brother – paralleling the father and son relationship of the first trilogy – and for the plot of the final movie to turn around Rey’s attempt to redeem Kylo Ren.

That’s my theory for today, anyway. Like I said I’m mainly writing this just as a way to think about it, see the words on a page. Star Wars people who have read this far – what do you think?

Monday, December 14, 2015

Sing in the Face of Fear - Advent 3

This is what I wrote for the lighting of the Advent candles yesterday morning. I wrote it weeks ago, so I had kind of forgotten it. When I heard it read aloud at the first service, I thought, "Hey that's pretty good" before remembering that I had, in fact, written it. Awkward.

So anyway, I'd like to share it with you, because I love the idea of singing aloud as a way to overcome fear. I hope you like it.


Lighting of the Advent Candles - Campbell UMC, 2015

WEEK 3 - December 13

READER 1: Sing aloud, O daughter Zion; shout, O Israel!
Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!
The Lord has taken away the judgments against you, he has turned away your enemies.
The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall fear disaster no more.
On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands grow weak.
The Lord, your God, is in your midst.

Zephaniah 1, 14 through 16.


READER 2: We are one week nearer to the arrival of Jesus! This week, Zephaniah encourages us to look fear in the face … and sing!

It is a liberating idea, isn’t it, to overcome fear with singing? So often we are told to be afraid, to be cautious, to withdraw and hide from the dangers of the world. In stark contrast, Zephaniah tells us to sing for joy!

Joy does not come from wealth or an abundance of possessions. Our neighbors in the La Laguna community in rural Nicaragua have next to nothing in terms of material possessions, and yet there is great joy among them. No, the source of true joy is not of this world; the source of true joy is God.

Today we light a candle called “Joy,” a song sung in defiance of fear, God’s strong presence in our midst.

(READER 1 lights “Hope,” “Peace,” and “Joy” candles.)

READER 1 (or 3): Joy’s light is added to “hope” and “peace,” illuminating the darkness of fear, and injustice, and poverty, and war. And no darkness will ever overcome it.

Let us pray. (Reprise intro begins)
O come, o come, Emmanuel. You open heaven wide, you liberate the captives, you conquer death itself. You scatter the gloomy clouds of night with the light of your justice.
O God, bind all people together in the gentle cords of grace. May we sing songs of joy in the face of all that we are told to fear.
Show us how to be your gift during this holy season. In the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit, Amen.


My prayer for you is that you have the confidence to sing in defiance of fear. Joy is the assurance of God's strong presence, equipping, energizing, and empowering us to overcome whatever struggles life throws our way.

"I sing because I'm happy, I sing because I'm free!"

Christ the Lord is coming, that the world might joyful be.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Thoughts and Prayers

My thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by the San Bernardino shooting.

They truly are, even though I have no earthly idea what that even means. How can my prayers be “with” a group of people?

A prayer goes from me to God, and from God to me. What? Does it kind of make a detour over to California and hang out for a minute before drifting off to its intended target?

And what exactly am I praying? What possible prayer could I offer that would make any kind of difference in the life of a person whose sister or brother or mom or dad or son or daughter was just randomly shot and killed while attending a party with their coworkers? What?

My thoughts and prayers are feeling less and less thoughtful and prayerful these days.

“Pray that they will be comforted.”

But no, I do not want to pray for comfort; in fact I actually want to pray that we be deeply uncomfortable, shaken to our core at the callous violence that defines our nation. I do not want anyone to be “comfortable” with this.

“Pray that there will be peace.”

But no, I do not want to pray for peace; I want to pray for a level of righteous indignation to energize a movement of grace and love that sweeps across the world. I want our anger to empower a radical, revolutionary, incarnate love that stands up and shouts out, “NO!” to every evil in the world.

“Pray for an end to violence.”

But no, I have done that far too many times, and it really isn’t working. It pulls me toward theodicy when I start down that road. And I’m sometimes scared about how easy it would be for me to embrace a full on theodicy at any given moment. Like, really comfortably easy.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by the San Bernardino shooting.

And I really do mean that. Sincerely. But my thoughts and prayers have been with so many different communities from so many different places around the world so many times, it has become rote. Meaning has begun to atrophy.

All the world’s a stage. Signifying nothing. And so it goes.

I hope you’re not mad at me for being so honest. I’m a preacher, after all. I’m supposed to be a source of answers, not more questions. But I just can’t. I’m being truthful, authentic, and hoping for grace. So please don’t be mad.

A politician tweets out “thoughts and prayers” and then gets cruelly attacked for it. This is what we’re upset about these days. Tweets. We live in a nation that literally made it illegal to research gun violence, let alone do anything about it. And we are mad about politician’s tweets.

It happened so slowly, that’s the thing. It happened so slowly that most of us didn’t even notice it. In the last 100 years our society has become gradually less and less appalled by violence. Every war moved us further away, and made the next one a little bit easier. Now we just don’t care at all. Sandy Hook Elementary proved that once and for all.

Oh, there were a few who noticed it was happening. They tried to tell us. They were duly labelled and ostracized. Some were even killed for noticing. The prophets of the 20th century it seems had no more luck than the ones in the Bible.

Some say that things are no more violent today than ever, it’s just that we know about it today. Communication technology, they say, has spread knowledge into everyone’s smartphone, so we instantly hear about things that 20 years ago we wouldn’t have necessarily known.

I do not agree. I understand the premise of this reasoning, but I do not agree. We are fundamentally different today than we were 100 years ago. We’ve developed societal callouses and now we are simply numb. And you do not develop callouses suddenly, it happens over time.

My thoughts and prayers are with the people affected by the shooting in San Bernardino. Colorado Springs. Roseburg. Charleston. Fort Hood. Newtown. Aurora. Virginia Tech. Columbine.

Do you even remember Columbine?

The BBC now reports on mass shootings in the United States like CNN reports on car bombings in Iraq.

My thoughts and prayers …

No actually I do have a prayer for today. We sang it at church this past week. It’s a verse of a hymn.

“O come, Desire of nations bind all peoples in one heart and mind.
From dust thou brought us forth to life; deliver us from earthly strife.”

Do you recognize the words? It’s a verse of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.”

There’s a refrain to that song, a call to “rejoice.” Significantly it is the only time the song is in a major key. The verses are all minor, gloomy, sad, dark. And after that one major key “rejoice,” the song quickly returns to the minor, with a somber thought that Emmanuel isn’t here yet, but “shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Emmanuel isn’t here yet. No kidding. Because I’d really like for someone to “deliver us from earthly strife” right about now.

And as jumbled and rambling as they are, bordering on heresy and a product of great spiritual struggle, those are my thoughts and prayers.