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Easter: A Star Wars reflection

To explore the concept of death and resurrection through parallels between the film Star Wars and the Easter story.

by Ronni Lamont

Suitable for Whole School (Sec)

Aims

To explore the concept of death and resurrection through parallels between the film Star Wars and the Easter story.

Preparation and materials

  • You need a recording of the theme to Star Wars; available from download sites, or on CD.

Assembly

  1. Play the Star Wars theme music as the students gather.

    Easter can be a difficult festival to get your head around. The story of a man being killed and then coming back to life is not only unique; for us, it is sometimes impossible to believe. I’d like to suggest that the original Star Wars film contains material that is helpful to us as we struggle to comprehend the claims of the Easter story.
  2. If you’ve never seen the original film, confusingly called episode 4, and released in 1977, then here’s a précis:

    ‘A long time ago in a galaxy far far away…’ Our hero is a young man called Luke Skywalker. He lives with his aunt and uncle but dreams of being a fighter pilot, fighting with the rebels against the evil Empire. His uncle buys two robot ‘droids’, one of which runs away, and in the search for the droid, R2-D2, Luke meets the mysterious hermit, Ben Kenobi, whom we later discover is actually a Jedi knight, Obi Wan Kenobi.

    When they get back to the farm, Luke’s aunt and uncle have been murdered by Empire storm troopers, who were searching for the droids.

    Luke discovers a film message hidden within the droid, and he heads off, with Ben, to find the sender of the message, Princess Leia, who is being held captive by the Empire on a huge satellite, the Death-star.

    Luke, aided and abetted by Hans Solo, the captain of the ship they’ve been travelling on, rescues the princess, but as they are running back to the spaceship to escape, Ben goes into battle with the arch-baddie, Darth Vader, a fallen Jedi knight who now serves the evil Empire. The two Jedi knights, Ben and Darth Vader, fight a duel, using light sabres, a sort of laser sword.

    Luke turns around to wait for Ben, who looks at Luke calmly, then says to Darth Vader: ‘If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.’ He stands, looks at Darth Vader, and is cut down by Vader’s light sabre. However, as he falls down dead, it is evident that there is no body, just a heap of clothes, and we hear his voice urging: ‘Run, Luke, run’. Luke runs, they take off, and the story gallops away again.
  3. Towards the end of the film, Luke is flying in the attack to destroy the Death-star. The lives of a whole planet, Princess Leia’s home, will be lost if the mission fails. As he flies into the heart of the satellite, he hears Ben’s voice once more, urging him to ‘Feel the force’. He turns off his radar, concentrates … and I don’t want to spoil the ending, but you can probably guess!

    At the very end of the story, we see a ghostly Ben, smiling at Luke and the others.
  4. The whole story pivots around Ben’s death. Ben dies, and so the spaceship containing Luke, Hans Solo and the princess can escape and they return to destroy the Death-star. There is the straight parallel of an innocent man dying to set the others, quite literally, free.

    But notice what Ben said as Darth Vader killed him: ‘If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.’
  5. Through the next two films, episodes 5 and 6, Ben keeps cropping up – you never know where he will be next, as he’s not confined to any one physical place. No matter where Luke goes, so Ben continues to guide and help him. By letting go of his physical body, Ben’s essence, perhaps his spirit, is liberated to be wherever Luke needs him.
  6. So it is at Easter. Jesus dies, but then, later on, his friends, his disciples, claim to have seen him again. He can walk through walls, be in two places almost at the same time – clearly recognizable, but not contained within his previous physical body. It is just the same as we see in the film for Ben. Death is not the end, but in some way the beginning of a new, unconstrained life, where the person who died is now free to be wherever they are needed – throughout the whole of space in the case of Ben, or for Jesus, across the planet.
  7. So, this Easter, when you struggle to think about the claims of Christians about the death and new life of Jesus, perhaps you can think of Obi Wan, Ben Kenobi, and remember: ‘If you strike me down I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine.’ For he certainly was.

Time for reflection

Prayer:

Now the green blade riseth

From the buried grain

Wheat, that in the dark earth

Many days hath lain.

Love lives again

Like wheat that sleeps unseen

Love is come again

Like wheat, that springeth green.

Amen.

(John Crum, 1928)

Publication date: February 2008   (Vol.10 No.2)    Published by SPCK, London, UK.
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