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In ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ Edmund’s love for ‘Turkish Delight’ caused him to betray his family. He fell into the trap set by the Witch and since it tasted so good he became obsessed with getting more ‘Turkish Delight’. The temptation of luscious ‘Turkish Delight’ became stronger even than his family loyalty; (that’s often what happens when a marriage breaks down due to adultery). Later in the book as the Witch prepares to kill Edmund he is rescued by troops from Aslan’s army. Next morning Edmund comes face to face with his brother Peter and his sisters Lucy and Susan. At this point there could have been an almighty family brawl, the type of brawl which I hope and pray you do not experience this Christmas!
But there’s no brawl and no harsh words. After talking with Edmund Aslan says, “Here is your brother; and there is no need to talk to him about what is past.”
Edmund shook hands with each of the others and said to each of them in turn, “I’m sorry”.
Aslan rescued Edmund, and Edmund was restored to his brothers and sisters. That’s how God desires to be with us. God says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.”
Dr. Bruce Emmert
One of my favorite movies is the Christmas classic, A Christmas Story, the saga of a little boy named Ralphie Parker growing up in Gary, Indiana of the 1950’s. Ralphie has been drinking Ovaltine for months, saving up box tops so that he could send in a get a Little Orphan Annie Secret Decoder Ring. Finally the Secret Decoder Ring arrives. He listens to Little Orphan Annie on the radio, waiting for the secret code message. He carefully writes down the code and then rushes off to the bathroom to be begin the decoding process. The suspense builds as he decodes the first few letters "Be sure to.." Be sure to what. The fate of the world could rest in his hands. His pencil flies as he feverishly struggles to decode the rest of the message. "Be sure to drink your Ovaltine." A crummy commercial?! Sometimes you just don’t feel like you get what you asked for.
One of the most disturbing and powerful films I have seen over the
last couple of years is Steven Spielberg’s movie, Saving Private
Ryan. The movie tells the story of an Army captain named John
Miller who having survived the carnage of the D-Day invasion at
Normandy Beach, portrayed in 28 minutes of intense, graphic and
gory detail, is ordered to find a solitary private among thousands of
displaced soldiers. He must return Private James F. Ryan home to
his mother, whose other three sons have just been killed in action.
However, due to some confusion in the invasion, it is not certain
where he is to be found; Private Ryan is a “needle in a stack of
needles”. The soldiers reluctantly set out on their daunting
mission. Almost immediately, they begin questioning the worth of
risking eight men’s lives in order to save one.
Captain Miller rationalises that each life lost in combat is supposed
to save 10 lives. Within that paradigm, how can their current
mission make any sense? The soldiers begin to detest their
mission to save Private Ryan, even hoping to find his name on one
of the dog tags taken from some dead soldiers.
Captain Miller and the small group of men assigned to him
successfully locate Ryan, but then are forced to defend a strategic
bridge against enemy tanks and troops. Captain Miller is fatally
wounded. In his dying moments, he reaches out to Private Ryan,
and with great emotion says, “Earn this! Earn this!”
Many years later as an old man, James Ryan stands in a military
cemetery tearfully looking at the small white cross that stands
where the man who saved his life is buried. He wonders aloud if he
has indeed earned the great gift he received.
Shadowlands -- a Broadway play, later made into a motion picture -- tells the story of C. S. Lewis and his wife, Joy . . .of their intense love for one another . . .and of the shadow that was cast across their life. Shadowlands portrays their struggle with Joy’s cancer. After Joy’s death, Lewis wrote these words: It is incredible how much happiness, how much joy we sometimes had together after all hope was gone.”
The comfort that is at the heart of those words is also at the heart of Advent. The answers to the paradoxes of living by dying, finding peace o...
Video Illustration: City Slickers- Right atfter he is gored by the bull and they talk about it on the plane. It’s right after the scene of New York which says 1 year later. It’s his birthday and he is depressed and worried. Mitch has become a worry wart and it’s draining the joy out of his life.
Do you see what worry and anxiety can do to your life? It robs you of living-instead you just exist – you end up with no joy and no hope. It’s a sad state to be in.
“He led them up the steep slope out of the river valley and then slightly to the right apparently by the very same route which they had used that afternoon in coming from the hill of the stone table.
On and on he lead them into dark shadows out into pale moonlight. Getting their feet wet with the heavy dew he looked somehow different from the Aslan they knew. His tail and his head hung low and he walked slowly as if he were very, very tired. Then when they were crossing a wide open place where there were no shadows for them to hide in he stopped and looked around. It was no good trying to run away so they came towards him. When they were closer he said,
“Oh children, children why are you following me?” “We couldn’t sleep,” said Lucy. And then felt sure that she say no more and that Aslan knew all they had been thinking.
“Please may we come with you wherever you’re going,” asked Susan. “Well-” said Alsan and seemed to be thinking. Then he said, “I should be glad of company to-night. Yes, you may come, if you will promise to stop when I tell you, and after that leave me to go alone.”
“Oh thank you, thank you” and “We will,” said the two girls.
Forward they went again and one of the girls walked on each side of the Lion. But how slowly he walked! And his great, royal head drooped so that his nose nearly touched the grass. Presently he stumbled and gave a low moan.
“Aslan! Dear Aslan! SaidLucy, “what is wrong? Can’t you tell us?
“Are you ill, dear Aslan?” asked Susan.
“No,” said Aslan. “I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so I can feel you are there and let us walk like that.”
And so the girls did what they would never have dared to do without his permission, but hat they had longed to do ever since they first saw him- buried their cold hands in the beautiful sea of fir and stroked it and, in so doing, walked with him. And presently they saw that they were going with him up the slope of the hill on which the stone table stood. They went up at the side where the trees came furthest up, and when they got to the last tree (it was one that had some bushes about it) Alsan stopped and said,
“Oh children, children. Here you must stop. And whatever happens, do not let yourselves be seen. Fairwell.”
A great crowd of people where standing all around the stone table. And though the moon was shining many of them carried torches which burned with evil-looking red flames and black smoke. But such people! Ogres with monsterous teeth, and wolves, and bull-headed men; spirits of evil trees and poisonous plants; and other creatures who I won’t describe because if I did the grown-ups would probably not let your read this book- Cruels and Hags and Incubuses, and Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses and Ettins. In fact here were all those who were on the witches side and whom the Wolf had summoned at her command. And right in the middle, standing by the table, was the Witch herself.
A howl and a gibber of dismay went up from the creatures when they first saw the great Lion pacing towards them, and for a moment even the Witch seemed to be struck with fear. Then she recovered herself and gave a wild fierce laugh.
“The fool, she cried. The fool has come. Bind him fast.”
Lucy and Susan held their breath waiting for Aslan’s roar and his spring upon his enemies. But it never came. Four hags, grinning at leering, yet also (at first) hanging back and half afraid of what they had to do, had approached him. “Bind him, I say!” repeated the White Witch. The hags made a dart at him and shrieked with triumph when they found that he made no resistance at all. Then others- evil dwarfs and apes- rushed in to help them and between them they rolled the huge Lion round on his back and tied all his four paws together. Shouting and cheering as if they had done something brave, though, had the Lion chosen, one of those paws could have been death of them all. But he made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh. Then they began to drag him towards the Stone Table.
“Stop,” said the witch, “Let him first be shaved.”
Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan’s head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling glod began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children watching from their hiding-place, could see the face of Aslan looking all small and different without his mane. The enemies saw the difference.
“Why he is only a great cat after all!” cried one.
Is that what we were afraid of?” said another
And they surged around him jeering at him. Saying things like “Puss Puss! Pour pussy,” and “How many mice have you caught today, Cat? And would you like a saucer of milk Pussums?”
“Oh how can they?” said Lucy, tears streaming down her cheeks. “The brutes, the brutes!” For now that the first shock was over, the shorn face of Aslan looked to her braver, and more beautiful, and more patient than ever.
“Muzzle him!” said the Witch. And even now, as they worked about his face putting on the muzzle, one bite from his jaws would have cost two of three of them their hands. But he never moved. And this seemed to enrage all that rabble. Everyone was at him now. Those who had been afraid to come near him even after he was bound began to find thire courage, and for a few minutes the two girls coud not even see him- so thickly was he surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, and spitting on him jeering at him.
At last the rabble had had enough of this. They began to drag the bound and muzzled Lion to the Stone Table, some pulling and some pushing. He was so huge that even when they got him there it took all their efforts to hoist him on to the surface of it. Then there was more tying and tightening of cords.
“The cowards! The cowards!” sobbed Susan. Are they still afraid of him even now?”
When once Aslan had been tied (and tied so that he was really a mass of cords) on the flat stone, a hush fell on the crowd. Four hags holding four torches, stood at the corners of Table. The Witch bared her arms as she had bared them the previous night when it had been Edmund instead of Aslan. The she began to whet her knife. It looked to the children, when the gleam of the torchlight fell on it, as if the knife were made of stone not steel and it was of a strange evil shape.
At last she drew near. She stood by Aslan’s head. Her face was working and twitching with passion, but looked up at the sky, still quiet, neither angry nor afraid, but a little sad. Then, just before she gave the blow, she stooped down and said in a quivering voice,
“And now, who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you would save the human traitor? Now I will kill you and instead of him as our pact was and so the Deep Magic will be appeased. But when you are dead what will prevent me from killing him as well? And who will take him our of my hand then? Understand that you have given me Narnia forever, you have lost your own life and you have not saved his. In that knowledge, despair and die.”
The children did not see the actual moment of the killing. They couldn’t bear to look and had covered their eyes.
The story doesn’t end there just as the Christmas story is only the beginning of the Christ story.
(From chapter 15):
As soon as the wood was silent again Susan crept out into the open hill-top. The moon was getting low and the thin clouds were passing across it, but still they could see the shape of the lion laying dead in his bonds. And down they both knelt and kissed his cold face and stroked his beautiful fir, what was left of it and cried till the could cry no more. And then they looked at each other and held each others hands for lonliness and cried again. And then again were silent. At last Lucy said,
“I can’t bear to look at that horrible muzzle. I wonder if I could take it off?”
So they tried. And after a lot of working at it, (for their fingers were cold and it was now the darkest part of the night) they succeeded. And when they saw his face without it they burst out crying again and kissed it and fondled it and wiped away the blood and foam as well as they could. And it was all the more lonely and hopeless and horrid than I know how to describe.
“I wonder, could we untie him as well? Said Susan presently. But the enemies out pure spitefulness had drawn the cords so tight that the girls could make nothing of the knots.
I hope no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan and Lucy were that night; but if you have been- if you’ve been up all night, and cried til you have no more tears left in you- you will know that there comes in the end a sort of quietness. You feel as if nothing is ever going to happen again. At any rate that was how it felt to these two. Hours and hours seemed to go by in this dead clam, and they hardly noticed that they were getting colder and colder. But at last Lucy noticed two other things. One was that the sky on the East side of the hill was a little less dark than it had been an hour ago. The other was some tiny movement going on in the grass at her feet. At first she took no interest in this. What did it matter? Nothing mattered now! But at last she saw what whatever-it-was that had begun to move up the upright stones of the Stone Table. And now whatever-they-were were moving about on Aslan’s body. She peered closer. They were little grey things.
“Ugh!” said Susan from the other side of the table. “How beastly! They are horrid little mice crawling all over him. Go away you little beasts!” And she raised her hand to frighten them away. “Wait!” said Lucy who had been looking at them more closely still, can you see what they are doing?”
Both girls bent down and stared.
“I do believe!” said Susan. “But how queer! They ’re nibbling away at the cords.”
“That’s what I thought,” said Lucy. “I think they’re friendly mice. Poor little things- they don’t realize he’s dead. They think it’ll do some good untying him.”
It was quite definitely lighter by now. Each of the girls noticed for the first time the white face of the other. They could see the mice nibbling away; dozens and dozens, even hundreds of little field mice. And at last, one by one, the ropes were all gnawed through.
The sky in the East was whitish by now and the stars were getting fainter- all except the very big one low down on the eastern horizon. They felt colder than they had been all night. The mice crept away again.
The girls cleared away the remains of gnawed ropes. Aslan looked more like himself without them. Every moment his dead faced looked nobler, as the light grew and they could see it better.
In the wood behind them a bird gave a chuckling sound. It had been so still for hours and hours that it startled them. Then another bird answered it. Soon there were birds singing all over the place.
It was quite definitely early morning now, not late night.
“I am so cold,” said Lucy.
“So am I said Susan. Let’s walk about a bit.”
“What’s that? Said Lucy clutching Susan’s arm.
“I – I feel afraid to turn around,” said Susan something awful is happening.
“They’re doing something worse to him,” said Lucy. “Come on!” And she turned pulling Susan around with her.
The rising of the sun had made everything looked so different- all the colors and shadows were changed- that for a moment they didn’t see the important thing. Then they did. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan.
“Oh, oh, oh!” cried the tow girls rushing back to the table.
“Oh, it’s too bad, sobbed Lucy; “they might have left the body alone.”
“Who has done it?” Susan cried. “What does it mean? Is it magic?”
“Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked around. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane (for it had apparently grown again) stood Aslan himself.
“Oh Aslan!” cried both the children, staring up at him, almost as much frightened as they were glad.
“Aren’t you dead then,” said Lucy.
“Not now,” said Aslan.
“You not- not a-? asked Susan in a shaky voice. She couldn’t bring herself to say the word ghost.
Aslan stooped his golden head and licked her forhead. The warmth of his breath and a rich sort of smell that seemed to hang about his hair came over her.
“Do I look it?” he said.
“Oh you’re real, you’re real Oh Aslan!” cried Lucy, and both girls flung themselves upon him and covered him with kisses.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were something calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic there’s magic deeper still that she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back into stillness darkenss before time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who has committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
Last year, a particularly dark film came out entitled Children of Men. It is about the world in the year 2027 where no children have been born for 18 years. Imagine a world like that. A world with no need for toys. Churches with no children or youth. The doors of Kenyon College closing because no children are growing up to take the place of the current students. No children’s laughter or playgrounds. No hope for the future. But injected into this film, shot with grey and brown as primary colors, is a pregnant girl. Her name is Kee, and she is the key to the future of the world. The plot of the film is to get Kee and her baby out of the present world situation and onto a mysterious, and considered by many to be an purely mystical, ship owned by an organization known as “The Human Project.” The protagonist is interestingly named Theo, the word for “God.” Kee names her baby after Theo’s son, the metaphor being that he is the son of God. In the film, all who see Kee’s swollen belly are shocked and exclaim with surprise: “Jesus Christ!” Profanity turns to prophecy. The film ends with the Human Project’s ship pulling alongside the little rowboat where Kee is sitting holding her baby riding the waves, like Mary riding on a donkey. Theo is also in the boat, but he has been killed in his attempt to bring hope to the world. And we are left with only hope and anticipation of what this baby will mean to a barren and hopeless world and what will happen as a result — a symbol of Advent.
One of the things which makes the film interesting is that the two sides, which are fighting and killing off an already dying race, are each trying to use the baby for their own purposes. They want the baby so they can get the remaining masses to come over to their side. Neither are content to allow the baby to simply be a baby. If we had read just one more verse in our Gospel lesson for today, we would have heard Jesus say, “From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). The kingdom of God is often forcibly opposed by violent, hostile people. There are always those who want to use Christ for their own political purposes and ends. But nothing can hinder or hold back the kingdom of God. It would be like trying to stop the sunrise, trying to stifle Spring or hold back the harvest. As Isaiah said, the crocus will suddenly spring out of the icey mud, the desert will blossom, sorrow and sighing will flee away and everlasting joy shall be upon our heads. The Promise of Advent is on his way, and nothing in earth or hell will be able to stop his coming. The light shines in the world’s darkness, and all the world’s darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).
Last year (2002), A&E produced a made-for-TV movie entitled Shackleton: The Greatest Survival Story of All Time. It is the account of the British explorer Ernest Shackleton and the 27 men with him who attempted to cross the continent of Antarctica. Temperatures around the South Pole can reach as low as 100 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Shackleton advertized for men to join him on the expedition with these words: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages. Bitter cold. Long months of complete darkness. Constant danger. Safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.” But one problem after another plagued them. Their ship , the Endurance, was caught in the pack ice of the Weddell Sea for ten months. With extraordinary endurance and great suffering from the cold and hunger, they left the ship and finally reached Elephant Island. With all hope gone of accomplishing their goal, Shackleton set his mind to the greater challenge before him — bringing his men home alive. Shackleton and two other men endured a hazardous journey in an open boat across the world’s worst seas, and a hazardous three day climb over an arctic mountain range in order to reach a whaling camp and find help to rescue his men. In his absence, the men had made a crude hut of rocks with the life boats on top as a roof. For months they waited in that squalid hovel waiting for their leade...
"They Shoot Horses Don’t They". The movie is about an actress who has a fallen career on the big screen during the 20’s. She enters a dance marathon hoping to win the jackpot and use the money to launch a new movie career. As the marathon draws closer to the end, she realizes that she and her partner have a good chance of winning. During one of the rest breaks, the promoter calls them into the office, and explains to them that the winner has to pay for the expenses of the dance out of the $750.00 prize money.
She sees life is not worth fighting any longer, because when she thought she was winning, she was losing. She gives up on life. The final scene of the movie shows her going round and round as if on a merry-go-round. She steps off and goes outside with her boy friend, hands him a gun and asks him to shoot her. As the viewer, you can feel her helplessness, but as a Christian you want her to live, to be redeemed. But the gun goes off. She falls to the ground. The police come and ask the boy friend why he shot her. He replies,"They shoot horses don’t they!!"
Dr. Bruce Emmert
On a scale of 1 to 10, how optimistic are you about your future? In that great mid-life crisis movie, City Slickers, Billy Crystal’s character Mitch attends career day at his son’s grade school. Mitch is anything but optimistic. His son had told everyone that his dad was a submarine captain, but he really sells advertising. The kids aren’t interested at all in what he does—and neither is he. In classic Baby Boomer angst, Mitch gives the kids something to think about. He tells the kids to
“Value this time in your life, because this is the time in your life when you still have your choices, and it goes by so quickly. When you’re a teenager, you think you can do anything, and you do. Your twenties are a blur. Your thirties, you raise your family, you make a little money and you think to yourself, "What happened to my twenties?" Your forties, you grow a little potbelly, you grow another chin. The music starts to get too loud and one of your old girlfriends from high school becomes a grandmother. Your fifties you have a minor surgery. You’ll call it a procedure, but it’s a surgery. Your sixties you have a major surgery, the music is still loud but it doesn’t matter because you can’t hear it anyway. Seventies, you and the wife retire to Fort Lauderdale; you start eating dinner at two, lunch around ten, breakfast the night before. And you spend most of your time wandering around malls looking for the ultimate in soft yogurt and muttering, "how come the kids don’t call?" By your eighties, you’ve had a major stroke, and you end up babbling to some Jamaican nurse who your wife can’t stand but who you call mama. Any questions? (From City Slickers)
On a scale of 1 to 10, he was a 1—he was a man without hope!