Monday, December 14, 2020

Rebel Against the Darkness

Soon after the four Pevensie children arrive in Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Mr. Beaver whispers to them:

“They say Aslan is on the move— perhaps has already landed.”

When the children press for more information, Mr. Beaver recites a prophetic poem about the great Lion:

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

It speaks of such longing, such expectation. It sounds like Advent.

“Always winter, but never Christmas,” the talking animals used to whisper.

As Christmas draws near, Advent invites us to long for Christ as the Narnians longed for Aslan. But the woodland creatures were not passively expectant. As always, we have much we can learn from between the covers of these Narnian tales.

In my daily search for Advent inspiration, I ran across a church in Ohio that used C.S. Lewis’ beloved children’s classic, along with Heidi Haverkamp’s Advent in Narnia to inspire their Advent devotionals. (I don’t know why I haven’t thought of it before. Maybe it’ll spark a series like my children’s Nativity books last year). In their devotional from December 23, 2018, the writer expounds on this section of the Narnian story:
As soon as they hear the words “Aslan is on the move,” the creatures of Narnia do two things: they celebrate, and they go to join him. (Even the Pevensies, who are not from this world and could very easily just turn around and go home, decide to join the cause.)

What began as whispers between squirrels and beavers and fauns has now become a full-scale rebellion against White Witch’s reign of fear and control—and that rebellion includes cake.

Isn’t it interesting to think of joy as rebellious?  

We live in a cultural moment when it’s easier to be angry than it is to be excited and joyful. Everyone is angry about something—and there is plenty to be frustrated about—but the ability to pause long enough to find joy, even in the midst of chaos, is rare indeed.

Perhaps what we need today is an Isaiah moment: a big, loud, raucous reminder that
Joy To The World isn’t just a nice song. It’s an invitation to join in the celebration, because as we speak, Jesus is on the move.
I have written a lot about ancient Israel’s disdain for their oppressors and their long wait for deliverance from whomever was in power at the time. But I don’t think I’ve ever thought of Jesus’ arrival as rebellion. Yet, back in the Garden of Eden, when sin first entered the world, God set a plan in motion to defeat sin once and for all. A rebellion—against the power of death and destruction.

When Jesus’ birth was foretold and when Mary and Joseph received His name, it was clear that this Messiah would do more than rebel against earthly authority. He was coming as a Savior, an Everlasting King, a Prince of Peace. But that is not the whole of His character. As Mr. Beaver later explains to the children, in the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,

“Safe?” said Mr Beaver. . . “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you…  He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

When Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple for their purification, they are met my Simeon, an old man who had waited long for the consolation of Israel. Blessing the family, he said,

“This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.” (Luke 2:34-35).

Not a warm, cheerful blessing for a new mother to hear. But I believe Mary had already begun to realize how different this child was going to be. His birth rebelled against Israel’s royal expectations. His message of peace would rebel against our sinful hearts. His great sacrifice and resurrection—surely a rebellion. And when He comes again—it will be a final rebellion against the powers of Hell. A tame lion? No. But He is good. All for His glory, and for our joy.

This Advent week we proclaim Joy! But Advent is also a rebellion against the darkness.

But I will echo a caveat that the Ohio church gave at the end of their devotional:
Joy will not come easily for many of us. We are missing loved ones, mourning loss. We are lonely, dealing with stresses and weaknesses, fears and complicated situations. But this is a reminder: that no matter what you carry, how low you feel, how many tears you cry, Jesus has come into the world for you. And He is the same Jesus who will hold you up, fight for you, right every wrong, and end every sorrow.


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