Did you know that demographers have categorized a new generation: the Star Wars Generation? These are people born between 1977 and 1983. They’re the younger siblings of GenXers and the older siblings of Millennials.
When the late Carrie Fisher took interviews about her role as Princess Leia in Star Wars, she described the first trilogy—1977 to 1983–“as signs pointing to something we all desire.” Then she added, “that’s what’s so powerful about Star Wars, it gives us New Hope.” Her quote gives us far more than the title of the first episode—New Hope—she was giving us a Christian theology about a way to understand and talk about what God gives us on this Day of Resurrection—New Hope.
The nine Star Wars episodes are grouped into threes—but the story is not given to us chronologically. We start with 4, 5, 6, and then 1, 2, 3, and finally we look to the next generation in 7, 8, and 9. Friends, that’s the way the Bible is—we know the end before the beginning. The resurrection shines back through every story, including the story of Jesus’s birth. The light of New Hope is on the manger, and on every other moment in Jesus Christ’s life. The sequel is what we do in this and every other faith community when we read the Bible and worship God and follow Jesus Christ—we are the sequel.
Today is the prequel. The same two women who were there when he died on the cross on Friday, those same two, before the sun was up on the first day of the week, Sunday, head back to the tomb. The risen Christ meets Mary Magdalene and the other Mary and says, “Greetings!” They go to him, take hold of his feet, and worship him. And then Jesus says, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
“Do not be afraid.”—if we need a two-word summary of Christian faith, “fear not” would be it.Except there’s so much to be afraid of these days. War in Ukraine, crippling debt, climate change, the end of political civility, and now, the sobering fact that the leading cause of death among children is no longer car crashes or illness or malnourishment, but death from a firearm.
There’s plenty to be afraid of, and we can become captives of our own fears. And when we do, we are not fully alive. Today—because of Easter—death is no longer in charge. Because of Easter we literally live in a new world where the ultimate reality is not the death of all things, but is life in God and love everlasting.
New Hope was the name of the first episode of Star Wars. It doesn’t matter when we were born, or what names demographers use to classify us, Easter is New Hope, a new reality, a whole new world in which death’s deadliness is overcome, replaced with a love that never dies.
Fear not. Do not be afraid. Sing and laugh this day and every day, for Christ our Lord was dead but is risen and is going ahead of us into the future. There we will see New Hope.