Eternal Life and Shrove Tuesday

New Testament Lesson

Phil. 3:1-11 (NRSV)

10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death,

11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

After watching Revenge of the Sith last night, I have been reflecting on Anakin’s descent into becoming Darth Vader.  Although I don’t much care for Hayden’s acting of the part, it is clear that the turning point is his desire for eternal life at any cost,  In the beginning his motives seem genuine (he wants to preserve Padme and his unborn child/twins), but eventually the power he gains through serving the Sith Lord eclipse his original motive.  The scene in which Chancellor Palpateen (Emperor to be) seeks to convince Anakin that Jedi and Sith are virtually the same, save for Sith having greater power resonates with this reading from Philippians.  Anakin says, “The Sith are at their heart, selfish, caring for themselves only; the Jedi are selfless, caring for others.”  Palpateen shrugs this off.

Paul definitely believes that there is great power to be had in serving Christ.  As he says in the rest of this reading, he was no stranger to power, particularly power over others as a persecutor.  But he has realized (as he wants his hearers/readers to realize) that the way of Jesus is one of emptying (kenosis), in which the power of God is not grasped through riches, through anger, through “the dark side” of the force, but rather through sharing in the suffering and death of the resurrected one.  Paul has faith that this sharing will lead him to the promised resurrection, but cannot say for sure.  As Yoda says in Empire Strikes Back, “Always in motion the future is.”

As we begin Lent tomorrow, I need to remember this way and pray for the strength to pursue it.  What do you think?

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