How many of you have been to Narnia? (Actually, Narnia is a real place in Italy, named Narni, with the Latin name of Narnia.)
This winter we have a chance to rediscover "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis. These "childhood" classics open up the story of Jesus Christ and the good news of the Gospel in a way that allows us all to once again see God with new eyes.
The story is simple: four children are sent by their parents during the London blitz during WWII to safety in the English countryside. There they discover a mansion and it's resident, the Professor, and a magical wardrobe that leads them into another reality, the land of Narnia.
Their adventures take them into snowy woods with talking animals, winter without Christmas, the flaws of human nature and evil itself.
C. S. Lewis has written many adult books on the deeper issues of the Christian faith and they are worth your time as well. They include: "The Screwtape Letters" and "Mere Christianity." A recent, much acclaimed movie with Anthony Hopkins on the life of C.S. Lewis was "Shadowlands" and I encourage you to rent it and learn more about his remarkable man.
A central figure in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is Aslan. A telling conversation occurs when Lucy, the youngest child, realizes that the one everyone is waiting for is a great lion.
"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? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
And this is a point for all the adults to ponder deeply.
For we need to realize just how fragile our lives are and the power of eternal love that God places within us through Jesus.
Paul, in 2 Cor. 47-18 correctly labels us "earthen vessels" and lets us know in no uncertain terms that it is God's power, not our own that allows us to stand and live and be welcomed in the very presence of Christ.
And so, by this power, Paul informs us that:
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken;
struck down, but not destroyed;
always carrying in the body the death of Jesus,
so that the life of Jesus
may also be made visible in our bodies."
This is the deep gift of Christmas. And when we do not recognize that God's love is more than a warm embrace on a chilly night, we lose the power to be transformed and changed into the people God wants us to be.
Christmas is a time of introspection and reflection on how God calls us to new adventures and heals us from the brokenness of the past.
Christmas is a time of confronting the cold hearts and loneliness we find inside our lives and allowing the warmth of Jesus in.
Christmas is a time of reconciliation, courage and new beginnings as we face even the most bleak and forbidding outward circumstances.
For we see in Christmas the truth of Paul in 2 Cor. 4:16-17
"So we do not lose heart.
Even though our outer nature is wasting away,
our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us
for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure…"
Can you make the celebration of Christmas a daily devotion for the next 28 days?
Can you find ways to participate in the gift of Christ to others in an unselfish manner?
Are you able to see beyond the wrappings, ribbons and bright lights to the true heart of Christmas?
Share some of the ways this happens for you. Let us know your victories and struggles to deepen the meaning of Christmas.
Grace and Peace,