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The victory of Love

To reflect on the fact that no matter how great the evil within the world, Godís love will ultimately triumph.

by Paul Hess

Suitable for Key Stage 4/5

Aims

To reflect on the fact that no matter how great the evil within the world, God’s love will ultimately triumph.

Preparation and materials

Assembly

  1. ‘May the Force be with you.’ The original film may have been way before your time, but such is the fame of the Star Wars films that I am sure most of you recognize the quote. While the technology and special effects of the first film (entitled A New Hope) may seem dated by today’s standards, in 1977 they were ground-breaking – nothing like it had been seen before. Add to that the rousing music and the apocalyptic storyline, and it is little wonder that people left the cinema spellbound. The Star Wars trilogy became an iconic cultural landmark of the late twentieth century, and its main protagonists, Luke Skywalker and the evil Darth Vader, became embedded in popular consciousness, to the extent that in the 2001 census, many people claimed their religion to be ‘Jedi Knight’.
  2. Yet one can argue that that the phenomenal success of the Star Wars movies has less to do with special effects and heavy-breathing villains than with their inherent spirituality – they way they tap into religious mythology. The films contain many of the elements of biblical apocalyptic literature: though all appears to be lost, the faithful win the day by trusting in The Force – a higher power that has ultimate control. And in Luke, of course, we have the Saviour–Messiah motif. But central to the whole piece is the cosmic conflict between Good and Evil – personified by Luke and Darth Vader.
  3. But Evil is not simply an external cosmic force. At the poignant and very famous moment in the second film when Luke discovers that Darth Vader is in fact – shock, horror – his father, he has to confront the possibility that evil has the potential to reside within his own soul. For – with echoes of the biblical story of the angel who rebelled against God – Darth Vader was himself a good Jedi before going over to the Dark Side.
  4. Beneath the melodrama of Star Wars, there is serious cause for reflection. We live in a world that – if we are brutally honest – can be very frightening; in which the forces of evil seem arrayed against us. We live in a world where men like Josef Fritzl, the man who imprisoned his own daughter for many years, and other evil people undermine our belief in human goodness; we live in a world where men and women of hatred seek to blow aeroplanes out of the sky; we live in a world of so much hatred and injustice and fear . . .
  5. And more disturbingly yet – if we have any self-awareness – we will know that the seeds of violence, hatred, anger and jealousy lie within ourselves.
  6. But while all this is true, Christians believe that love is the abiding truth of the universe and of our very lives. This is our faith, this is our hope: we may live in a frightening world, but people of faith do not live in fear because perfect loves casts out all fear.
  7. It is this profound confidence in the love of God, this deep-seated joy that can be seen in the lives of many Christians. Listen to the words Dr Desmond Tutu, Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, who has spent his life fighting racism, injustice and violence, but remained steadfast in his conviction that love would ultimately triumph: Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us.

Time for reflection

This reading, which comes from the Book of Revelation, the last book of the Bible, tells the story of the victory of the Archangel Michael and the other angels against the devil (Satan) and the forces of evil. It reminds us of a principle woven into the very fabric of the universe: that no matter how great the evil, good will ultimately triumph. No matter how powerful the forces of darkness, hatred and death might appear to be, light, love and life will prevail.

(Read Revelation 12.7–10)

And war broke out in heaven; Michael and his angels fought against the dragon. The dragon and his angels fought back, but they were defeated, and there was no longer any place for them in heaven. The great dragon was thrown down, that ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the deceiver of the whole world – he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him. (NRSV)

(Pause)

Now consider how you can put love into dark relationships, dark places.

Think about the best way to do that, and so help others to spread love rather than hatred or indifference.

Hymn

‘When a knight won his spurs’ (Come and Praise, 50).

Publication date: November 2010   (Vol.12 No.11)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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