Spoiler alert: This article includes important plot information about the new series Kenobi.
I’ve always considered myself a pop culture theologian. Since my earliest writings for my hometown newspaper, I would take the recent blockbuster film and compare it to our walks of faith. This time, however, Disney’s new Star Wars drama Kenobi hit close to home for me.
For those who haven’t watched this incredible series yet, the six-episode miniseries chronicles a rescue mission headed by Obi Wan Kenobi, famed Jedi master who is in hiding because of the Empire’s quest to rid the galaxy of Jedi and force-sensitive people. The quest is headed by the evil Emperor and Darth Vader, Kenobi’s former apprentice. This miniseries is set 10 years after Revenge of the Sith, part of the prequels. In the original trilogy, Sir Alec Guinness played Obi Wan Kenobi, and we saw Obi Wan played by Ewan McGregor in the prequel trilogy. McGregor reprises his role for this series.
Beyond the rampant nostalgia and nods to other parts of the Star Wars universe, the series paints a deeply lost Kenobi — washed up, without cause or purpose and on the run from the very thing he brought to bear on the universe, his former apprentice now turned evil. Is it just me or am I not the only one who resonates with the great dismay Obi Wan is feeling?
We all go through periods of darkness, that much is true. Jesus himself experienced the wilderness temptation where the full force of evil was rendered against him. Whether it is the pain of the past or the present suffering we find ourselves lost in, we aren’t meant for this moment. We are washed up like Kenobi. We aren’t meant for much more than the scrap yards.
In Romans, Paul writes “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us.” This is the verse I would pastorally share with Obi Wan given the chance — the faith in the force he is looking for will return, the situation may be ever grimmer and yet the fulness of what God will do will bring all things to redemption and completion.
In a world so deeply broken at every turn, it is easy to begin to wonder if anything good can come from this present time — that’s the temptation we all face. We all know this isn’t the last school shooting, this isn’t the end of the reproductive health debate or the continued fight for marriage equality. Racism is still running rampant, and the polarization of our politics is second only to the antebellum period. The church seems like a ship without a captain, and we feel our trust in Washington has failed us too many times.
“In a world so deeply broken at every turn, it is easy to begin to wonder if anything good can come from this present time.”
And yet, in the Kenobi series we see the dawning of a new age of people who can and do save the day. As we know, Leia and Luke Skywalker do ultimately save the galaxy from their father, Darth Vader. We see the budding diplomacy of a 10-year-old Leia and the adventure seeking of a 10-year-old Luke.
I see this spirit in my own daughters and my conviction they will do far more than I ever could have hoped. This isn’t abdicating my responsibility and putting it off on another generation but a commission to make sure every issue we leave behind will be one already on its way to being solved.
Recently I tweeted a picture of my daughter at Mark Hamill, who played the original Luke Skywalker. He remarked, “Cutest Jedi EVER!” After I picked myself up off the floor, I recognized she was living out something I wanted her to see — a love for a series I love deeply. She was making it her own and making waves in doing so.
At a particularly difficult juncture in my life, I was told by someone that the change I want is generational and I may not see it come to pass, that I had to do the work I am called to do with eternity in mind. The same is true for all our callings. We may not see the empires of this world crushed under the heel of systemic change, but the little ways we rebel against those tightly held policies of the empire will help make the change possible. And when it does come, we will either see it here or in the hereafter, knowing we did all we could.
Don’t let the feelings of washed-up dismay prevent you from the future glory yet to be revealed. Don’t give up — after all, as they said in another Star Wars film (Rogue One), “rebellions are built on hope.”
Rob Lee is a pastor and author. He attended Appalachian State University and Duke University. He lives in Statesville, North Carolina with his wife, two daughters, and poodle Frank.
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