It's Friday, but Sunday's coming.
With apologies to Tony Campolo, who coined that phrase, this is the matra to say to yourself when searching for God in Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. This remarkable third film can truly be called the "Good Friday" of the Star Wars saga.
(Spoiler alert! If you don't want to know what happens, go ahead and skip the next three paragraphs)
Beginning with a frantic space battle in the orbit above Coruscant, Revenge starts the action on a hyperdrive-level intensity which never seems to let up until the closing credits. Through the
course of this roller coaster, we see the horrors of a Star Wars universe:
- The horror of Jedi Knights being killed in cold blood by the very clones they have fought alongside in the Clone Wars.
- The horror of democracy thrown away by the members of the Galatic Senate for the supposed security of imperial control.
- The horror of innocent Jedi children being massacred by Anakin Skywalker because of the potential they represent.
- The horror of seeing the face of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine being horribly deformed by his own Sith lightning.
- The horror of seeing the great and powerful Yoda crawl away in shame and fear (!) from his battle with Darth Sidious, sadly saying, "I have failed."
- The horror of Padme dying in childbirth.
- The horror of Anakin Skywalker, the chosen one who Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan placed all their hopes on, turning to the Dark Side to become Darth Vader because it's simply the easiest, most seductive answer to his fears and ambitions.
- The horror of the armless, legless Darth Vader burning to cinders on the hardened lava islands on Mustafar, left to die in pain by his former master and friend Obi-Wan.
(the spoilers end here...)
In the final moments of Revenge, there lies a promise. In those final moments, there lies an echo of what the prophet Isaiah said in the midst of the horror of exile: "Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors" (Isiaiah 37:31-32).
Lucas has given us a remnant, a band of survivors, on which we can redirect our hope after this Good Friday: Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, and Leia, who will together give us that exciting Easter Sunday experience on the Forest Moon of Endor.
We have all had our Good Fridays. We have all had those days when it all falls apart. We have all had those days when we feel like we are misunderstood by our bosses, our teachers, our parents, our superiors, the Jedi masters of our life. We have all had those days when we are face-to-face (lightsaber to lightsaber) with a friend or colleague. We have all had those days when we feel ashamed, defeated, saying, "I have failed."
If we let the saga end there, and often times in our own lives we do, we are left without God. Unless we put our hope in the remnant, the silver lining of our Good Fridays, we are left without God. In the midst of our worst days, we are always given a remnant, a silver lining on which to hang our newfound hope.
Between Episodes III and IV, George Lucas gave the Star Wars universe the hope of Yoda, Obi-Wan, Luke, and Leia. In your worst days, ask yourself... What does God give you?
May the force be with you.