Bishop of St Albans compares latest Star Wars movie to birth of Christ in Christmas sermon

PUBLISHED: 07:00 03 January 2016

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans

The Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, the Bishop of St Albans

Archant

The Bishop of St Albans brought his Christmas sermon bang up to date by comparing and contrasting the latest Star Wars movie to the birth of Christ.

And while speaking about the dangers of seeing the world in black and white the Bishop, Dr Alan Smith, referred not only to the terror group Isis but also a certain ‘well-known’ American politician - quite clearly Donald Trump.

Dr Smith compared The Force Awakens, the new Star Wars movie, with the birth of Christ to address some of the complexities of bringing peace in the world.

He recalled how as a young curate 34 years ago, he preached on the second of the Star Wars films, The Empire Strikes Back, and ‘during my sermon a live menacing Darth Vader strode up the aisle of the church demanding to know the whereabouts of Luke Skywalker who, exactly on cue, then rose out of the puplpit wielding his light sabre’.

Dr Smith explained that the point of the sermon was to explore themes of light and darkness but it was not one of his more successful family service talks because several young children were so terrified by the tall, black figure that they burst into tears and he was later confronted by several irate parents.

Using the character of Darth Vader, who started off on the side of good but fell to the dark side of the Force, he told the Christmas Day congregation at St Albans Cathedral that the struggle between good and evil was never quite that simple.

And he said that it was not just films that suggested the world was ‘a simple fight between good and evil’ but siren voices in the media who found a ready audience when they talked about a world which was black or white.

He went on: “It is not just Daesh or Isis - you only have to listen to a particularly well-known American politician at the moment to hear the same sort of thing.”

Rather than advocating confronting violence with greater violence, he suggested that the lesson of history was that naked force could only achieve so much and eventually people had to sit down and negotiate. “Sometimes we need something or someone to break the endless cycle of violence,” he said.

Turning to the birth of Christ he pointed out that it had its share of good and bad characters, notably Jesus and Herod, and the congregation gathering in the stable comprised shepherds - in that culture social outcasts - and the Magi, strange and exotic foreigners.

But, he added, that first Eucharist in a backyard stable was the true Force Awakening - not the force that was the product of the Hollywood imagination but ‘nothing less than the power of God’s infinite love, revealed in weakness and in vulnerability in this child of Bethlehem’.

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