This coming Sunday is May the Fourth. Many congregations are unaware that it is a High Holy Sunday, with an ancient liturgy commemorating it as Star Wars Sunday: May the Fourth Be With You.
I am sure that everyone wants to commemorate it. But I suspect that many congregations are lost in the woods of Endor without a speeder-bike. It is hard to decide how best to use authentic Jedi hymns and have a message that is relevant to the people while being accurate to the Star Wars universe at the same time.
It can seem like “It’s a trap!” But fear not, youngling!
Here’s an annotated template for an Order of Worship in the Star Wars tradition that would be wholly appropriate for May the Fourth (be with you). It also has suggested hymns (with themes relevant for the time in worship) and suggested sermon topics. All you need before you go bulls-eyeing womp rats in your T-16 back home in Beggar’s canyon!
Order of Worship
Prelude [may use bells like this church]
Jedi Worship service: There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no death, there is the Force.
Sith Worship service: Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken.
Processional Hymn [celebrating the true beginning of the story – A New Hope]
- Seek ye first the droids on Tatooine.
- Oh, For a Thousand Tatooines
- O little grounds of Alderaan / How dim we see thee glow [TOO SOON]
- It only takes a spark / To get a Death Star glowing!
O Force, Binder of the Universe,
Who gave life to us through midi-chlorians and sustained us through the Emperor Palpatine and Order 66,
Do continually spur us to offer something more than a hokey religion and ancient weapons,
Through the Redeemed Anakin Skywalker we pray, Amen.
Pastoral Prayer [for all species; unless this is an Imperial service, then humans only]
- The Force our help in ages past / our light or dark side reigns
- What does the Force require of you / Avoid anger / Fear and aggression / And walk humbly with your Padawan
Scripture & Psalter [Following the Revised Common Lectionary of course…what are we, Ugnaughts?]
Sermon [suggestions below]
- Just as Star Wars fans discovered this week that the Episode 7 will not follow the established Canon, who among us has not also felt like their story wasn’t in sync with reality? That their efforts to promote their story was squashed under the overlords form the Corporate Sector? May we constantly keep in tension our desire to forsake our heritage alongside our cherishing of our traditions and virtues.
- Many more sermon starters found here at Textweek.
Responsive Hymn [remembering the conflict of The Empire Strikes Back]
- As the Tauntaun panteth for the water / so Han Solo longeth after Leia.
- There is a Tauntaun filled with blood…
- Vader, did you know?
- Oh Yoda was a wee little man / A wee little man was he
- On Dagobah’s rocks I headstand / But my X-wing’s in sinking sand / But my X-wing’s in sinking sand
- Once in Royal, Cloud City
- Abide with me; fast falls the Dark Side / The Dark Side deepens / The Force with me abide.
“For Luke so loved the Force that he gave his only begotten hand,
may we also sacrifice in lesser ways to emulate his devotion.
May our lack of faith never be found disturbing.”
[In a Rebellion service, younglings collect the offering; In an Empire service, Wookie slaves collect the offering]
Holy Communion [Introit example below]
May the Force be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Force.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
So say we all (Err…this must be an ecumenical service)
[After liturgy, the congregation is invited to share the bread and blue milk via intinction. Leftover host is to be flash-frozen into carbonite for distribution later–except for Methodists who reject reserved Sacrament]
Recessional Hymn [commemorating the triumph of The Return of the Jedi]
- Away in a Sarlacc, a pit for his bed / the bounty hunting Boba wished Han Solo dead.
- O Sarlacc that will not let me go
- Father, I Endor You
- And Ewoks with me and Ewoks with me / and tells me I’m their own.
- What can wash away the Sith? / Nothin’ but the Force of the Jedi!
- And they’ll know we are Jedi by the Force, by the Force, yes they’ll know we are Jedi by the Force.
- Stand up, stand up for Jedi / Ye soldiers of the Force
- Different languages or traditions: It may be that just like churches celebrate dead languages with latin hymns, you may want to celebrate other civilizations in the Star Wars universe. You can certainly include different collects or calls to worship, such as this one that uses the Yuuzhan Vong series.
- Celebration of the Prequels. There are some congregations that celebrate the heresy of the Prequels (Episode 1-3). While these are mostly schismatic Gungans, they do have a legitimate oral tradition and we should have a reconciliatory spirit. Thus, consider offering hymns such as:
- Ani walks with me / Ani talks with me / Ani tells me I’m 3-PO
- I have decided / to follow Grievous
- Hark the herald Troopers sing / For Emperor Palpatine / He killed all the Jedi Knights / To rule all with shocking might
- All hail the pow’r of Vader’s name / The Empire prostrate falls
- And my personal favorite: Our Lord Vader is risen today / No-o-o-o-o O-o-o-o-o!
Please share with your friends and make sure your pastor knows about May the Fourth!