this was written back in December … Last night I sat down to watch what is, for some people including myself, a favoured film … it is a film that caught the imagination of multiple generations and became one of the main meta- narratives of now … a film that even birthed a new “religion”. The film, of course, was Star Wars A New Hope and I watched it in preparation for the new film that, at the time of me writing, launches in a couple of days: The Force Awakens.
I’ll admit, easily and readily, that as a forty one year old man I am probably a bit too excited to see this film … I don’t and can’t deny the obvious: I am a geek and proud of it.
This being so, it came as a bit of a shock to me when I realised that I had slept through the Death Star battle at the end of fourth Star Wars film. It is a classic moment in cinematic history and I snoozed my way through it. Whilst I could easily put this down to tiredness – I have been recently promoted and giving my best to what I do all day does tire me out – I acknowledge another reason: I am too familiar with the material being presented.
I can and do, to my wife’s chagrin, quote almost verbatim the dialogue in A New Hope:
“Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi… You’re my only hope!” or “These are not the droids you are looking for!”
Yes, it does amaze me that I got married and we are still together!
I am too familiar with the film and can no longer see it the way I once did … with a sense of true wonder and utter disbelief. It would appear familiarity breeds more than contempt, it breeds a taken-for-grantedness that is different from contempt but just as disastrous because the film loses something of its power, something of its magic.
I think we’ve let the Nativity Story become something similar, we’ve let ourselves become to familiar with it that we no longer see its power.
We see an unwed girl who is heavily pregnant and miss the social stigma.
We see this young girl riding on a donkey and don’t see the distance or the hardship endured.
We see a child in a manger but fail to see, or for that matter smell, the stable in which the child lay.
We see the shepherds but fail to acknowledge their social status, or lack thereof, or see the Wise Men but miss their otherness.
We have become so familiar with the Nativity Story that it no longer affects us. We are so close to it that it has lost something of its power. We are no longer moved as we once were.
And yet when we take time out to consider the awesome power of the Nativity and seek to look at it again with a fresh pair of eyes then we are amazed: the story of God taking on human form and, as Petersen says in the Message Translation, moving into our neighbourhood is a truly amazing story, one filled with hope, one that shows to each of us our true value to God.
My hope is, on the run up to another Christmas, that we were able to see the story in a new light, a fresh light, a light that will help to demonstrate the power at the very heart of the story. Happy New Year!