Tag Archives: Obi Wan Kenobi

The Sermon, Part 28: God’s Will

Read Matthew 7:24-27

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“And God said to Noah, ‘I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch.’” (Genesis 6:13-14, NRSV)

shii-choblastdeflectI can only imagine that what you are thinking right now is the following question: “What kind of fool builds a house in such a vulnerable place?” I mean, even a moron would know to pick rock over sand to build a house upon. This parable itself almost seems so outrageous that one has to wonder why Jesus told it in the first place. To whom could be likened to the fool of this parable? The Pharisees? The Sadducees? Jesus’ followers? We know it could not be the Herodians, so named because they were supporters and court members of King Herod Antipas, whose father built marvelous and enduring structures. Heck, even the common peasant would know better than to build their house on sand.

So, who would be so foolish as to pick a vulnerable spot to build their home? While the parable itself might seem foolish, when one thinks about it, people build their homes in vulnerable places all the time. Look at the city of Pompeii at the foot of Mt. Vesuvius? Or how about all the lovely beach homes down in Florida. Or the city of New Orleans built in a bowl-shaped depression that sits below the sea level? Or those living in the Mid-West, also known as Tornado Alley. Of course, one cannot forget Californian cities, such as Los Angeles, which lie upon (or above) two humungous, shifting rocks (known as tectonic plates).

Though I think this should be obvious, I feel compelled to point out that the purpose of this building analogy is not to give instruction on the best practices. Nor is to state that building on “the rock” is without its faults (pun intended); however, the point transcends all of that. The point that Jesus is making has little to do with construction and more to do with foresight and discernment. The question is this: do you have enough foresight to see the signs of the times and build your life appropriately?

Before we go further, I would like to pull in one of my favorite film series into this: Star Wars. There is a scene in the original film (now titled, Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope) where Luke is being trained by Obi-Wan Kenobi to use the Force. In it, a Jedi training device is floating around a blind-folded Luke Skywalker’s head and it is shooting small blaster beams at him. They are not powerful enough to do any real damage, but Luke can feel them every time he gets zapped.

The idea of this is that Luke is supposed to use his light saber to deflect the blaster rays and avoid getting zapped, but he isn’t succeeding. How can he deflect something he cannot see. For Master Obi-Wan, the answer is simple: “Use the Force”. In other words, if Luke could just tap into the force and feel what stirs with in it, he would have the foresight to know where those blaster beams are about to strike.

Eventually, Luke does master that training and is able to use the force. I use this scene in the film as an analogy for what Jesus is trying to teach. The builders aren’t smart or foolish based off of their skills, but based off of their foresight, or lack thereof. In ancient Palestine, if one built a house in the dry season, the hard, sandy ground would not seem like a bad place to build a home; however, anyone with foresight would know that when the rain comes…it really comes…and that hard sandy floor turns to a torrent of mud and grit that would wipe the home right out of existence. If the builder had enough foresight to see the potential of what could lie ahead, then he or she would build that house on solid rock, raised above the hard, dried, sandy land. Or, sometimes, like Noah one needs the foresight to forego building a house and start building a rather large boat!

The question for us is this, do we have the foresight to see and understand the will of God? Can we, to use the Star Wars terminology, sense and feel the force within us? Can we see its direction and understand what path it is guiding us down? Can we feel the Creator of the universe, the Lord of all Creation, with in us and do we have a sense of what God wills for us? If so, our faith is founded on the rock and we will have the foresight to do what God is willing for us. If not, our faith is founded on the sand and when the times meet up with the signs, we will not survive the flood. Like Luke, like Noah, like Abraham, and all of the people guided by their faith, we too can have such foresight and be a part of what God is doing in the world.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future…the past. Old friends long gone.” – Jedi Master Yoda

PRAYER
Lord, I open myself up to your will. Give me the foresight to sense it and act upon it. Amen.

The Battle Within

Read Matthew 6:14-15; Luke 6:27-30, 32-36

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE

“And forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.” (Matthew 6:12, NLT)

AnakinI have always been a huge Star Wars fan. The latest three films center around a character by the name of Anakin Skywalker and takes place before the original films. Anakin is filled with great hope and promise; however, he is also filled with fear and regret.  He was taken away from his mother and taught to be a Jedi Knight.  His mother, who once was a slave, finally gets her freedom and marries a man.  But, this isn’t a fairytale for her. The man, though he loved her, failed at protecting her and she eventually gets kidnapped, raped, tortured and killed by a group of bandits.

Anakin cannot forgive the man–nor can he forgive himself. After all, he was a Jedi Knight, yet he could not protect his own mother.  Though his lover (Padame), friends and mentors alike try to steer Anakin past his fears and regrets, they cannot do it.  They have too great a hold of him and Anakin slips further and further into the dark side.

In one of the final scenes of the third installment, Anakin finds himself in a volcano fighting against Obi Wan Kenobi who used to be his greatest friend. He believes that Obi Wan has betrayed him, and he believes that Padame  has betrayed him and, out of anger, he nearly destroyed Padame and is on the move to kill Obi Wan.

In the fight, Obi Wan gains the better ground and warns Anakin not to advance toward him. But Anakin is too angry to listen and leaps forward to attack. In self-defense, Obi Wan slices off Anakin’s legs and left arm and Anakin falls to ground, his leg stumps in touching the lava.  While catching on fire and burning alive, Anakin can be seen reaching toward the man who used to be his best friend and teacher. “I hate you,” Anakin screams. “I hate you!!!” Just as the fire is consuming his body, so too the rage fully consumes Anakin. The fight may be over, the scars of the battle will forever haunt Obi Wan’s memory.

While the film focuses on Anakin’s fear as being the root cause of his problem, I see forgiveness being a key issue as well. Anakin can never find it in himself to forgive those who have done him wrong. He can never find it in himself to forgive himself either! As a result, hatred builds up in him and he becomes Darth Vader, who is a walking embodiment of Hell.

In the Scripture today, Jesus warns his disciples and followers that forgiveness is absolutely vital. If we are not willing to forgive others, including ourselves, how can we ever expect to receive God’s forgiveness?  To want forgiveness and refuse it to others is hypocritical to say the least. But beyond that point, those who don’t forgive often find themselves not being able to forgive themselves…and no matter how much God forgives someone, it is in vain if they will not receive it.

Thus, the challenge for all is to be humble and to fight the battle that rages within us. We need to recognize that none of us are perfect and that each and every one of us is in need of forgiveness. Rather than letting hate, bitterness and rage consume us, like it consumed Anakin Skywalker, we need to turn from our hate and stubbornness and learn to forgive.  If we can do that, then perhaps we’d have less to fear. Learn to forgive and learn to be forgiven. This is what God is calling you to do.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY

“Fear is the path to the Dark Side; Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda

PRAYER

Lord, soften my heart and teach me to forgive others, as well as myself. Amen.