I have seen the new Star Wars movie. I enjoyed it despite being initially confused. Judging by the lines on Harrison Ford’s face, time has moved on thirty years or more. A New Order has arisen to threaten peace in the Republic as once again the dark side of The Force seeks to dominate the Universe, killing those who oppose The New Order, to the extent of destroying whole planets. As ever, there is a resistance movement, but although the Jedi are noticeably absent there is one in whom The Force is present and beginning to awaken.
There are certain obvious parallels with our own world. Whether we care to admit it there is a darkness that seeks to obliterate the light. Centred in the Middle East we see a movement dedicated to world domination that is driven by a hatred of anyone that believes in anything different to them. While this organisation appears to be driven by evil in its purest form, it is only part of a greater evil that exists in rebellion to The Creator of the Universe. If the so-called Islamic State achieved its aims and became a global government would there be peace and harmony in the World? I don’t think so. Has there been true peace and harmony in any Islamic nation since this religion came into being 1,400 years ago? And if the three major monotheistic religions worship the same god/God as some folk would have us believe then why are adherents to one religion so determined to kill those who follow the other two?
We live in a world that is full of distractions, all of which are designed to lead us away from the truth. The truth is that there is one God and that He is a God of love, not a god of war and death. A God who changed everything just over 2,000 years ago when He sent not a messenger, nor a prophet, but His own Son. A Son who was not recognised by the educated elite, despite their knowledge of ancient prophesies. No, we are told that He was recognised first by shepherds of lowly birth, and by astrologers from distant lands who through their studies of the skies knew that something incredible was about to happen. He was also recognised by two elderly people who had spent a lifetime seeking God in the Temple. The force that awakened that knowledge in them was the Holy Spirit of God. Several years later that same Holy Spirit took ordinary men and women and transformed them, just as He desires to transform us.
This Christmas it would be easy to be distracted to the extent that we don’t see God in Christmas at all. But He is there in every card, every gift, every Christmas light, every tree, and every piece of tinsel. Because without God and without His Gift to humanity that first Christmas, none of it would exist. It really is that simple. If Christmas had been nothing more than a nice story about a Jewish couple, a baby, angels, shepherds and wise men, then no one would have remembered it. And we would not be taking a day off work on 25 December.
So the Lord’s promise came true, just as the prophet had said, “A virgin will have a baby boy, and he will be called Immanuel,” which means ‘God is with us.’ (Matthew 1:22-23 CEV)