I was rehearsing a Christmas play last week. The play walks through the weekly themes of advent (hope, peace, joy, and love), while pointing the characters toward the real source of all of these Christmas fuzzies: Jesus Christ. I was sorely tempted to make a joke about our main character’s “new hope,” especially since the actor is a rather large Star Wars fan. I even thought about adding it into the script (being the playwright and director gives you that kind of power…mwahahaha), but my better judgement got in the way. But it has got me thinking about Hope and its place in our modern storytelling.
Most stories, whether on film or in books, begin with the mundane. We have to establish what life is normally like before we throw our protagonists into chaos. We show the audience what life looks like before everything falls apart so that we know what our heroes are willing to give up to do the right thing. Then, everything falls apart.
I find this is kind of like our everyday life. Generally, things go fairly smoothly. We have our ups and downs, our trials, successes, failures, and close calls. But over all, life does not throw us more than we can handle.
Until it does.
Cancer, divorce, war. Terrorist attacks, millions of refugees, climate change. Prostitution, gangs, child trafficking.
Turn on the news. Or, look to your news feed. Chances are, if you took the time to emotionally invest in what’s going on in the world, you would quickly be overcome with how dark things are getting every day.
Even close to home, people are getting sick, or are dying. Or getting caught in a chain of events and choices that have suddenly sucked them under and they don’t know how they’ll ever surface again.
In short, life sometimes hands us circumstances that we are forced to confront or risk despair.
That is why we need stories with happy endings (like Star Wars). To remember that even in our darkest moments, dawn will break. We need to remember that God sent His Son so that our nightmares will end.
And they will.
During the Christmas season, we remember that Jesus came as a little baby; God’s perfect gift for all humanity. But we also prepare for His Second Coming, when everything that is bad and painful and overwhelming about this life will be washed away. There will be no more addictions, no more disappointments, no more fears. There will only be goodness and love.
So, next time you watch a cheesy action, adventure, or romance film where the hero saves the day at the last minute and everything turns out all right, just remember that you are part of a story like that. It may not feel that way sometimes, but let me give you a little spoiler:
In the end…good wins.
One candle down. Three to go. Spend some time thinking about hope this week, and how you can share it with someone who needs it desperately this time of year.