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'Star Wars: The Force Awakens' – a movie review

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is one of the most highly anticipated movies to hit theaters in quite some time. It has already shattered numerous box office records and is sure to break many more before its time in theaters is done. As an avid Star Wars fan, I went into the film with great excitement but also a healthy dose of apprehension given the way that the last three movies failed to live up to the hype. However, The Force Awakens did not disappoint and felt far more like the original trilogy than the prequels with regards to the quality of the acting and the plot. It is a worthy addition to the Star Wars franchise.

Episode VII takes place some thirty years after The Return of the Jedi. The Emperor's death at the conclusion of Episode VI left the galaxy in relative chaos and core elements of the previous films (Jedi, the force…) have become more legends from a distant past than vital aspects of the present. And while the Rebels have restored democracy to a few systems of planets, an organization as large as the Empire is not going to simply vanish when its leader dies. Instead a new group, called the First Order, has risen to take its place. It is led by a mysterious entity known only as Supreme Leader Snoke, a being that leads from a position of relative anonymity while guiding the film's chief antagonist, Kylo Ren.

As one might expect, you can't have an Empire without a Rebellion in the Star Wars universe and that is true with Episode VII as well. The Resistance is unofficially linked with the new galactic senate in seeking to oppose the First Order but is outmatched and outgunned in a similar way to the Rebel forces from the original trilogy. Once again, they find their heroes in the most unlikely of places as Finn, a deserted First Order storm trooper that rejected his training to obey his conscience, and Rey, a scavenger on the dessert planet of Jakku with an unknown past but a powerful destiny, seek to return a lost droid carrying a vital secret.

If all of this sounds familiar, it's for good reason. The old cliché that the more things change the more they stay the same is an apt description of the climate in which this film takes place. However, director J.J. Abrams successfully walks the fine line between paying homage to the story's past and providing enough new content to propel the series forward. The result is an entertaining movie that sets the stage well for those to follow. May 26, 2017 (when Episode VIII is set to be released) cannot come soon enough.

I must say though, while on one hand it is difficult to have to wait another year and a half for the next film, there's something great about an experience that leaves you wanting more. One of the hallmarks of a great movie is that you walk away with just a hint of sadness that it had to end. I suppose that is true of most great experiences in life.

I wonder though, when was the last time you felt that way about time spent with God? While it's not a perfect analogy as the believer's time with the Father never truly ends, when was the last time you had an experience in worship or during your quiet time that left you genuinely wanting more? I must confess, it doesn't happen for me as often as I would like. But if you can't remember the last time you had that kind of experience, where you closed your Bible with a bit more hesitation or left the worship center wishing for just a few more minutes, then that might say something about the vitality of your relationship with God (or at least your expectations for the time spent with him).

The good news is that no one wants you to know the joy of a powerful experience with God more than God. And while we must never equate an emotional high with quality time with the Lord, it shouldn't feel like a chore either. So the next time you get ready to enter into a time of intentional worship, whether it's in church, with a group of friends, or by yourself, pray and ask God to meet with you and then open yourself up to whatever it is that he chooses to do. Often times our most powerful experiences with God come in the most unexpected ways. But when they arrive, they'll always leave you wanting more. Thankfully we serve a God who doesn't make us wait a year and a half for the next one.

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