May 4, 2020

May the fourth be with you! My spouse asked me if I knew how the phrase became a part of pop culture. Silly me, I thought it came straight from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back. Rod is one of the people you want on your trivia team, because he quickly enlightened me. Here is the story:

According to StarWars.com, who cite Alan Arnold’s 1980 book Once Upon a Galaxy: A Journal of the Making of The Empire Strikes Back, “May the 4th be with you” first emerged in the mainstream pop culture on May 4, 1979. On that day, Margaret Thatcher became the first woman Prime Minister of the U.K. after the Conservatives defeated the Labour Party government in a general election. To celebrate, the Tories took out a newspaper ad, which declared, “May The Fourth Be With You, Maggie. Congratulations.” The Force was indeed with Thatcher, with the day inaugurating the longest Ministry of the 20th century.

George Lucas included the Force, a spiritual phenomenon, something mystical or magic, as a powerful and persistent theme throughout the Star Wars movies. The popularity of the series speaks to the human need for something bigger than us, something that holds all things together, something that gives us strength, that informs us of on a level beyond rational thought, that is with us. In the Star Wars series, the Force seemed to be available only to certain people, and required unlocking deep secret knowledge.

It’s an attractive idea, isn’t it?

But it isn’t just an idea. It’s a reality. As followers of Jesus, by virtue of our baptism, the Spirit (our force) is with us.  

In the Bible, spirit is the same word as wind, pneuma. Wind is not visible except in its effect. But that effect can create electricity, provide power for sailboats and kites, wear down mountains and raise snow drifts, and cool us in the summer. 

Susan Brill shared a quote by Andrew Cuomo, governor of New York. He said, “We are socially distant but spiritually connected.” That is what is happening in small and big ways in the midst of this time of staying at home. It happens when we gather virtually. It happens when someone calls or sends a card or email. It happens when we pray for each other. In John’s gospel, Jesus calls the Spirit an advocate, a counselor, a comforter, one who teaches and reminds us of God’s way, guides us into truth, helps us in our weakness, prayers for us, enables us to bear good fruit.

Thank you for sharing this force with me

May the Spirit be with you! ~ Anne

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