Isaiah 9:1-7; Matthew 18:1-5
Today, we begin hearing from C.S. Lewis’ book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW), book two of seven in the Chronicles of Narnia series (although it was published first). For the next three weeks, we will hear stories from Narnia, the Bible and one another in small groups.
“C.S. Lewis knew that the biggest challenge of his Narnia books would be convincing readers that a fantasyland had something to teach them about Christianity. Magical wands, fauns, talking animals and dryads aren’t biblical, but they can surprise us into seeing the gospel in a new way. When we walk into Narnia, as Rowan Williams puts it, we enter ‘an unfamiliar world in which we could rediscover what it might mean to meet the holy without the staleness of religious preconceptions as they appear in our culture.’ The strange and fantastic images and characters can also compel us to pay attention to the power and meaning of the Christian story because our imaginations and emotions are freshly engaged” (p. 20, Haverkamp). We are all old enough again to read fairy tales, and so we begin.
Set in England during World War II, we have the four Pevensie children who have been relocated from London to the countryside for their safety. Today, we meet Lucy Pevensie who has decided upon a wardrobe as her hiding place on a rainy afternoon game of hide and seek with her siblings.
LWW Chapters: Start in chapter 1 with “This must be a simply enormous wardrobe!” and continue into chapter 2, ending with Mr. Tumnus saying, “I should no doubt know all about those strange countries. It is too late now.”
The summary is that Lucy, the youngest of the Pevensie children, goes into a wardrobe to hide, and then finds herself in a snowy, wintry, pine tree filled wonderland. She is curious and explores, finding a lamppost in the middle of the forest. And before she can wonder about that too much, a faun named Mr. Tumnus stumbles in, surprised by her sudden appearance in his world (a faun is human up top & goat’s legs & hoofs below).
Round 1: What did you notice about the scene? What caught your attention? Anything you disliked? What do you notice about Lucy as the center of this scene? What “childish” activities do you especially enjoy during Advent?
Fairy tales help us encounter a familiar story in a new way. How are you encountering the Advent story in a new way today? In Advent, we wait for the Lord, the promised child who is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Prince of Peace. We tell the story of Jesus birth as a baby, his presence with us right now and anticipate his return. We decorate our houses, plan for our favorite holiday foods and anticipate giving and receiving gifts from one another. Advent and Christmastime also give us a glimpse of a world that’s kinder, more just and more joyful than the one we usually experience. Particularly in these pandemic days, that kind of Christmas joy feels rebellious.
Going through the wardrobe with Lucy invites us to become like children - curious and playful, open to new experiences. Jesus invites us to become like children as well - likely engaging those same things - curiosity, joy, playfulness and imagination. Imagine. What new way of life together is possible if we follow Christ’s lead on justice and mercy? Imagine.
C.S. Lewis also wrote “Christ never meant that we were to remain children in intelligence: on the contrary. He told us to be not only ‘as harmless as doves,’ but also ‘as wise as serpents.’ He wants a child’s heart, but a grown-up’s head” (p. 23, Haverkamp).
“To truly enter that world as Christians, the door we must walk through first is Christ. Snow, greenery, music, cookies and gifts can all help us imagine the kingdom of God, but no matter how big and beautiful the wreath, walking through our front door is not going to transform our lives the way walking through the door of Jesus himself will. It is he who will lead us to that world we long for, where pain is turned to love, and death to life.”
What “wardrobe door” moments have happened in your life? A step through a doorway into an unknown or uncertain future, that perhaps led to greater experiences of faith or of God? Or a time that felt set apart, spiritual or even magical? One place that comes to mind for me is walking through the doors of Wisdom Ways Center for Spirituality in St. Paul. It is a center run by Catholic nuns. I feel the peace and presence of the Holy Spirit in the air there - it feels like a place set apart, where the holy abides.
Round 2: What Advent themes do you notice in this scene from LWW? Have there been wardrobe doors in your life that have led to a greater experience of faith or of God? A place, experience or book that felt set apart, spiritual or even magical?
Rev. Elizabeth Bier is the pastor of ONE in Christ Parish, a three-point parish in Greenwood, Longwood, and Withee. She is ordained with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA) and has served the ONE in Christ Parish since February of 2019.Profile
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