In theory, discipleship is relatively easy: one person mentors and oversees the growth of another. In practice however, discipleship is not as straightforward, especially when one is unsure of their own abilities to lead. The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special not only encourages holiday cheer, but also exemplifies the principles needed to be a better mentor, especially as outlined in 1 Thessalonians 5.
True to the Lego movie franchise, the style and humor of the animation in the special adds a level of lightheartedness to the Star Wars saga. Instead of focusing on the cosmic power struggle between good and evil, the question in The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special is a simple one: will Rey (voiced by Helen Sadler) make it in time to celebrate Life Day with her friends?
Although traditionally observed by Wookiees, Life Day has come to be celebrated throughout the galaxy as a time to reflect on the lives of loved ones. Rey had planned to attend a Life Day party with Finn, Poe, Rose, Chewbacca, and others, but her Jedi training sessions with Finn have not been going well. So she and BB-8 leave the festivities in search of a solution, eventually discovering a time-traveling crystal that allows them to witness master-and-apprentice relationships of the past. (Spoilers ahead.)
They first come across Luke Skywalker and Yoda on Dagobah (Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back). In this scene, Yoda exemplifies 1 Thessalonians 5:14 as he instructs Luke to lift his sunken X-wing from the swamp. As he encourages Luke at a time when Luke is insecure in his abilities, Yoda never exhibits impatience, but rather offers gentle reassurance. Rey later witnesses Obi-Wan Kenobi warning Anakin to be sharp-minded and focused on his surroundings rather than be distracted by his affections for Padmé (Star Wars: Episode II - Attack of the Clones). This echoes verse 6, where Paul instructs the Christians of Thessalonica to be “awake and sober.” Rey then finds herself in the cockpit of Luke’s X-wing during the mission to destroy the Death Star (Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope). Here Luke must listen to the spiritual guidance of Obi-Wan and rely on the Force, which is similar to how verse 19 urges us to be mindful of the Holy Spirit.
Discipleship is not always straightforward, especially when one is unsure of their own abilities to lead.
The Lego Star Wars Holiday Special also has fun with the dysfunctional relationship between Darth Vadar and Emperor Palpatine. The show crosses time streams to bring in Kylo Ren for this scene. Palpatine’s interest in Kylo Ren bothers Darth Vadar, who scoffs at the lack of originality of Kylo Ren’s mask. Once he learns of Darth Vadar’s eventual betrayal of him in Return of the Jedi, Palpatine rejects the instruction of 1 Thessalonians 5:15—“make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong”—and chooses Kylo Ren as his new apprentice. (Never mind the fact that Kylo Ren has a flashback to the infamous moment in The Last Jedi when he similarly betrays Supreme Leader Snoke; Ren assures Palpatine that he would never throw him down a reactor shaft.)
Near the end of Rey’s journey, Master Yoda visits her as an apparition in a scene reminiscent to the spirits that visit Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. He shows Rey the present scene of her friends preparing for the Life Day party. Finn, using the Force, prevents the decorated tree from toppling over and credits Rey for his success. He praises her as a great teacher, positioning her—in the words of 1 Thessalonians 5—as one of “those who work hard among you,” who should be held “in the highest regard.”
Although Rey initially denies the positive impact she has had on Finn’s training, Yoda helps her to see the most important part of being a Jedi master: having a true connection with one’s apprentice. Yoda notes that all of Rey’s training and knowledge are of no use unless she knows how to make a relational connection.
Similarly, those of us who serve as mentors are often so eager to disciple and train others that we forget to take the time to exhibit love. While there are foundational lessons that need to be taught, there are also skills that cannot be gained by scriptural knowledge alone. Jesus taught the disciples not only by sharing parables, but also in the moments in between what is recorded in scripture. They shared meals, conversations, and each other’s company as they traveled together. When writing his letter to the church at Thessalonica, Paul gave them guiding principles that were meant to be exhibited in their day-to-day interactions. They were to grow closer together by balancing instruction with shared life experiences.
Luckily, Rey learns this lesson with enough time to return to the Life Day celebration and, as a result, show appreciation towards Finn and her other friends. One of the greatest gifts God has given us are relationships. As the holiday season continues for us, let us be faithful in sharing wisdom and instruction, while also taking the time to cherish one another.