I admit it, I am not a tremendous Star Wars fan, even though I vividly recall sitting in the theater and first seeing it in 1977. I was skeptical, given all the cheesy and campy Flash Gordon science fiction around back then. But then magic happened.
Was it the opening scene as a hovercraft skimmed the desert to ominous music? Was it the bar scene with strange, profane creatures chortling and jostling with all of the familiarity of our corner Irish pub? Was it the bonding hijinks of Hans Solo and Chewbacca, chiding and harassing each other, as we do watching football?
You decide. If you liked Star Wars, a moment came when you said, “I’m so in, all the way.” We bought in not so much to a range of products (that came later) as to a milieu and world view. What was on the screen surrounded and engulfed us. That requires suspension of disbelief. As Star Wars hype preempts Christmas, as the draining holiday hustle and bustle grinds us down, let us learn something.
If your children are young, buying in comes naturally, because the twinkle in their eyes becomes the twinkle in our eyes. If you have traveled this road for decades, you begin to wonder, “So what do the distractions add up to in the final analysis?”
To make things harder still, our social Christmas environment is bleakly secular and commercially overheated. Popular culture mocks our holy Christian story with inane “carols” we despise by the second hearing and despairing of the chance of anything fancifully transcendent being real and transformative within this lifetime.
One cocksure little man of a talk show host on HBO ridicules our Christian story whenever he can by saying of Genesis, “These people believe snakes can talk.” Every time he says that, I have an imaginary conversation, like I’m a guest sitting on his couch. “Have you ever been to the theater to see a play?” I ask this guy. “Of course, I have. So what?” “Was there a set on the stage with, say, a window, and maybe ambient noise of something like traffic going by that staged window?”
“Something like that before, yes. But what’s your point?” “My point is did you rise from your seat, scream bloody murder, and go to the ticket booth demanding a refund, because that window on the stage and the ambient noise weren’t real?” Now he sees where I’m going. We can let facts sour the telling of any great story. And in the final analysis Christmas is the story of God being born here among us.
This Christmas story is a milieu and world view requiring suspension of disbelief. If your sense of the factual is so acute as to not allow this, know we have enough facts today, and things are not any getting better for it. But we enjoy far too little imagination, especially around stories like heaven bending low to kiss the earth. So play this carol, listen to the lyrics, and let the story embrace and engulf you.
“O! Holy night! The stars, their gleams prolonging,
Watch o’er the eve of our dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error, longing
For His appearance, then the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”