Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas through Narnia's Eyes

The latest film in the Chronicles of Narnia series has come to movie theaters.  I have not seen it yet, but it got me thinking back to the Chronicles of Narnia series by C.S. Lewis and how the book, The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe have many parallels to the Christmas season.   For those of you who haven’t read it, or maybe haven’t read it recently, I’ll give you a quick refresher. In this story, four children find a wardrobe door to hide inside in the house they are staying in. It is not an ordinary wardrobe with an ordinary inside. Beyond the long fur coats, the smell of mothballs, beyond the place where the back of the wardrobe should be is a land of destiny for Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy.  They had come to live at the odd old house to escape the Nazi bombing of London.  Unexpectedly, through the back of the wardrobe, they enter another world, a world bewitched, where winter never stops and Christmas never comes; a world where animals talk and plot, where nymphs and fauns live oppressed under the power of an evil witch turned Queen who turns her enemies into stone statues, and where redemption eventually may come for all from The Lion, Aslan, who is a kind and fierce Lion, and who isn’t tame at all.  There are horrors and hags, wars and betrayals, dangers and honors. It is a world whose future is balanced on the lives of these four unsuspecting, bewildered children, who must find inside himself or herself courage and, through faith in The Lion Aslan, the will to succeed, for should they fail, they will die. Should they fail, that entire world will remain in the icy fingers of the coldhearted Queen, a land in winter, forever.  This is the world of Narnia, a land created hundreds of years before by Aslan the Lion.

Narnia, as we enter it, in book and film, is a land of bad news, of endless cold and endless snow. Spies are everywhere. It is hard for the honest people of Narnia and for their visitors to know whom to trust, and not to trust, even among members in their own families. The self-proclaimed Queen, who wickedly rules the land, knows of the ancient prophecy about four human children — two sons of Adam, and two daughters of Eve who will come into Narnia to free the land forever from her icy grip, and who will then sit upon the thrones of the abandoned castle by the sea.  It is terrifying and horrible to be oppressed by the White Queen and to be living in Narnia where goodness is denigrated, and evil elevated. The good and captive people of Narnia, who live in justifiable fear of the White Witch and of her spies and multitude of minions, hope for the prophesied day when Aslan is again abroad in the land and when the two kings and two queens will come. The faithful people of Narnia hope for Aslan’s expected gift, the long promised liberation from evil and anticipate the gladness liberation will bring.  “Always winter and never Christmas; think of that!” says Mr. Tumnus, one of the characters in the book.

In Narnia, the evil White Witch had made it always winter in Narnia, but never Christmas... However, there is a rumor of hope in the midst of the cold and evil land. The rumor is that Aslan is on the move. The mere mention of the name of Aslan the great lion and true King of Narnia causes joy to well up in the hearts of many, and invokes fear in the hearts of those loyal to the queen. Aslan is on the move.

The good news Aslan brought was, first of all, was that the prophecy has been fulfilled: Aslan has come back. There were joyous rumors that he was amongst his people again in the land.  Aslan comes and the people rejoice, and willingly do battle, sacrificing themselves for the liberty of others, and are set free from their captivity.  If you read “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” you will see that although Aslan was in the land and was appearing here and there and giving help as needed, folks didn’t understand him. He was a mystery to them; especially to the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve.  In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, one of the children asks Mr. and Mrs. Beaver about Aslan the Lion: “Is Aslan quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”

“That you will, dear, and no mistake,” said Mrs. Beaver. “If there’s anyone who can appear before Aslan without their knees knocking, they’re either braver than most or just plain silly.”
“Then he isn’t safe?” said Lucy.
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver, “Don’t you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe?
Of course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

Jesus isn’t safe: He challenges us to be different, take risks, and think dangerously. But oh, He’s good!  We too live in a land that is often hard and unloving. We too feel down and out and get depressed. We too see a town that needs something more in their lives. The people are hurting, they have no direction, their marriages are hurting the people don’t have goodness in their lives and have forgotten that we have a King who is on the move. You see, God is on the move!  

Merry Christmas!!

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