“We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!” Jyn Erso
Reed and I made our after Christmas pilgrimage to the movies. For a while it was Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit. But this year the movie was Star Wars. I went without having read anything about the movie or the outcome because Star Wars movies were an important part of my childhood and important part of Reed’s childhood. These movies are built around the idea of Hope. Most of us didn’t realize this quite so overtly, because us older folk thought the name of the first movie was Star Wars; we didn’t realize it had a subtitle till years later when new movies were made and old movies were rereleased. But these movies gave us hope. Hope for stories set in far away places, hope that rebellions could succeed, hope that empires could be taken down, hope that unlikely heroes and misfits could form bonds of trust and community, hope that bad guys could be redeemed.
Rogue One has the main character speaking of hope when others are set to give up and let the empire win. Jyn Erso (echoing another character) says “We have hope. Rebellions are built on hope!” Rebellions are built upon hope. We don’t normally think about Jesus and his followers as rebels, as the start of a rebellion and yet…
When Jesus began his ministry in the gospels, he challenged the religious and political assumptions of his day. He called out people for excluding others, for making tradition more important than compassion. Jesus moved through Galilee sharing the love of God with all those he encountered. If you needed healing he was there with a Band-Aid, if you needed to be set free from evil he would breaks the yoke of oppression, if you were hungry he would find food, he welcomed the powerful and the lowly, he partied with the sinners and the elites, he taught about a God of love and the kingdom. Rebellions are built upon hope.
In Matthew 5-7, Jesus teaches us about hope. He shares with us in the Sermon on the Mount what it means to live in the kingdom of God. Jesus teaches us to love our enemies, to forgive unconditionally, to let go of anger, not to judge others, to speak the truth in love, he shares with about lust and divorce, revenge and charity, prayer and fasting. This text is rich with teaching us how to live together the way God intends. As I planned our next series of sermons I was struck by the hope found in those first 12 verses known as the Beatitudes. These are when Jesus tells us what it means to be blessed. He blesses what most of us would not. Blessed Are You When – You’re at the End of Your Rope, You’ve Lost What’s Most Dear to You, You’re Content with Who You Are, You have an Appetite for God, You are Full of Caring, Your Inside World Put Right, You Practice Cooperation not Competition, You Disrupted the Comfortable. These words are hope personified in those places where we are most vulnerable. This hope where causes seem lost, where life seems scary, lonely, dark. Yet Jesus invites us to see these times and people differently. Jesus gives us Hope.
The movie ends with Princess Leia saying one word – hope. She is asked what is in her hand, she says – hope. Hope what fuels rebellions, what sees us through tragedy, what makes us courageous in the face of oppression. May your hand hold hope.