May the 4th be with you

May the 4th be with you


Once again the Tour de Yorkshire is whizzing through the villages of Barwick, Scholes and Thorner.  This time it will be on Friday May 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day as a pun on the phrase ‘May the Force be with you’.


Star Wars is a classic tale of good versus evil in which the plucky, vastly outnumbered, good guys somehow defeat the might of whichever evil tyrant is the anti-star of this episode.  It’s a tale retold many times whether it’s David versus Goliath, Jesus versus the Roman Empire or Leicester City versus the rest of the Premier League.


Yet all too often, as Team Sky and Manchester City prove, it’s not the plucky little team, but the richest, best equipped team that tends to win instead of the underdog.  Not that I’m equating Team Sky and Manchester City with the evil Empire of Star Wars (well, maybe just a little bit).


Star Wars and the Tour de Yorkshire have something else in common, that you don’t get anywhere by doing nothing.  Whether you want to be a professional cyclist or a Jedi knight, hard work, practice, and a willingness to never give up are prerequisites to success.


In the weeks before Jesus’ death he was repeatedly warned not to go to Jerusalem – it was too dangerous, the Jewish leaders were out to get him, it was safer back in Nazareth.  Yet Jesus pressed on to both failure and success, death and resurrection.  Jesus was the ultimate underdog fighting the twin mights of the Roman Empire and the Jewish authorities.  In human terms he failed, but that failure turned to startling success on Easter morning.  And that’s not the end of the story, like every great film franchise there’s a sequel.


In May the church celebrates Pentecost – the coming of the Holy Spirit – which is a powerful reminder that God is with us all the time, guiding us and giving us the strength to do what needs to be done.  We may not go to our deaths the way Jesus did, but we do have to make difficult decisions, standing up for what is right against sometimes powerful opposition.


In many ways the Holy Spirit is the model on which ‘The Force’ is fashioned.  It is always around us, but some are never aware of its presence while in others it acts powerfully.


The history of Christianity is littered with stories of healings and powerful acts of faith where people withstood great evil or overcame great obstacles.  That’s the sequel.  Not one single story of heroism, but a vast cloud of heroic acts, some small some great, and we can all play a part in this sequel.


On May the 4th we may sit by the roadside and watch the panting cyclists whizz past.  In a year’s time we may watch the next episode of good versus evil in Star Wars part IX, but in Christianity we get to be the hero of a story that’s been going on for 2,000 years, and still continues today.