Words are funny old things. So easily misinterpreted, especially when the same word can mean two or more things. Take May, for instance. The number of times recently I’ve read ‘May’ in the papers and spent a second working out whether it means the month or the prime minister.
The fourth day of May is known among a section of the population as Star Wars day due to the phrase ‘May the Fourth (Force) be with you’. Star Wars, of course, is the story of a battle between good and evil where the balance of power is constantly tipping one way and the other.
As a month, May this year begins shortly after the celebration of Easter, that great moment in the Church’s year that puts front and centre resurrection, life from death, eternal life, Jesus bursting volcano-like from the tomb. Shortly after Eastertide ends, the Church celebrates Pentecost, the great moment in the Church’s history when the Holy Spirit comes down on the disciples and the Christian Church is born.
May sits in between these two great moments like Theresa between hardcore Brexiters and Remainers. Neither one nor the other, neither resurrection nor Pentecost, neither eternal life nor enlivening Spirit. May is a limbo month of so near but not quite.
Life is so often like May. I live constantly seesawing between content and discontent, joy and frustration. I’m happy with my life as it is, but there’s so much else I want from it. There’s a battle going on in my spirit between what I know I should be and do and what I end up being and doing. Star Wars is enacted in me. That’s because we live our lives with glimpses of a perfection we cannot reach; we live between the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost and the eternal resurrection of heaven.
The Force in Star Wars in many ways is modelled on the Holy Spirit. It is always around us, but some are never aware of its presence, while in others it acts powerfully. Pentecost is the start of a story, the story of the growth of the Church, the story of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of the believers through service and love, in the miraculous and the mundane. But it doesn’t end there, that’s just the first act.
The history of Christianity is littered with stories of healings and powerful acts of faith where people withstood great evil or overcame great obstacles; they are the glimpses of heaven we need to grasp hold of. That’s the great play before us: 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 it.
We all live in the now and the not yet, the joyful and the disappointed. When we allow ourselves to be part of the great river of Christian life that flows down the ages, we invite the Holy Spirit to come and change who we are, we live fully in the wonderful NOW. ‘The Force is with you, young Skywalker’ as Darth Vader might say. This May let the Holy Spirit take you on a journey, and May the Fourth be with you