Message #4 Advent Narnia Series – Discover the Wonder
Always Winter but Never Christmas – How the life of Christ changed everything in the world.
Encounter the Power – The Power of Christ is greater than the spell of sin and death.
Discover the Light of Christmas – Looking at the lamppost, following the light.
Luke’s gospel, chapter 2, describes a wonderful scene in the Christmas story of the portal which the angels stepped through in announcing to the shepherds the good news of Jesus Christ. As the shepherds watched over their flocks at night, the proverbial wardrobe was opened there on those hillsides above Bethlehem, and the angels entered are world much as the children had entered Narnia through the wardrobe. Just as the four children discovered wonder and adventure in the Chronicles of Narnia, so those humble shepherds nearly 2,000 years ago discovered an incredible story which they had to wonder about. Let’s read the passage together.
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”
Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Wouldn’t you have loved to have been there that night, to see the angels, to hear their songs, wouldn’t that have been an incredible experience, to be the very first person to receive the herald of the birth of Christ? As full of wonder as the angels appearance must have been, think for just a moment how even more full of wonder the words of the angels were to those men.
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord…Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests.”
And just as the angels stepped into our world to announce the good news of heaven to those shepherds, Lucy stepped through the wardrobe in order to discover for herself the same good news. And this morning, you and I can enter into the joy of rediscovering the wonder of Christmas as we hear again the message of angels.
1. It’s time to release your fears!
The first thing the angel said was, “Do not be afraid!” Fear is your greatest barrier to knowing God and fulfilling his purposes for your life. Fear is a self-imposed prison that keeps you from living the life God intends for you.
Fear does all sorts of destructive things to our spiritual lives. Consider the following examples:
Fear makes us hide from God.
Genesis 3:10, when God came down to the garden after Adam and Eve had sinned the Lord called for the man who was not there to greet the Lord. Adam told the Lord, “I was afraid, so I hid.”
Fear makes us tell lies.
Genesis 18:15, Sarah overheard the Lord talking to Abraham telling him that he and Sarah were to have a child in their advanced age. When she laughed at the news. When the Lord asked “why she laughed”, the passage says; “Sarah was afraid, so she lied and said, I did not laugh”
Fear takes our eyes off of Jesus.
When Peter got out of the boat to walk on the water to meet Jesus it says, “But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Moral of this verse, fear sinks our faith and keeps us from doing the impossible.
Fear paralyzes us in Christian service.
Later in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus tells the story of the servant who out of fear, buries the talent the Lord gave him and refused to invest in the Master’s business. When confronted by the Master as to why he wasn’t investing in His business, the servant confesses…”I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground.
So whatever you are afraid of - Christmas is the time to let it go. Don’t allow fear to stunt and chip away at your faith. The Bible contains 365 “Fear nots” - one for every day of the year! It’s time to stop worrying and start worshiping. For the God who said, “Do not be afraid” is both good and powerful. So, stop tensing up and start trusting God.
In his book, C.S. Lewis writes about the first time Peter, Susan and Lucy met the great lion, Aslan.
But as for Aslan himself, the Beavers and the children didn’t know what to do or say when they saw him. People who have not been in Narnia sometimes think that a thing cannot be good and terrible at the same time. If the children had ever thought so, they were cured of it now. For when they tried to look at Aslan’s face they just caught a glimpse of the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes; and then they found they couldn’t look at him and went all trembly.
“Go on,” whispered the Beaver.
“No,” whispered Peter, “you first.”
“No, Sons of Adam before animals,” whispered Mr. Beaver back again.
“Susan,” whispered Peter, “what about you? Ladies first.”
“No, you’re the eldest,” whispered Susan. And of course the longer they went on doing this the more awkward they felt. Then at last Peter realized that it was up to him. He drew his sword and raised it to the salute and hastily saying to the others “Come on. Pull yourselves together,” he advanced to the Lion and said;
“We have come – Aslan!”
“Welcome, Peter, Son of Adam,” said Aslan. “Welcome, Susan and Lucy, Daughters of Eve. Welcome He-Beaver and She-Beaver.”
His voice was deep and rich and somehow took the fidgets out of them. They now felt glad and quiet and it didn’t seem awkward to them to stand and say nothing.
So, as the angels told the shepherds to overcome their fears, and as the three children approached Aslan with great fear, so you and I can overcome our fears as we resolve to be people of great faith and not give into our distorted fears. But the angels message continued…
Next, the angel said, “I bring you good news with great joy, that will be for all men.
2. It’s time to renew your faith!
Christianity is full of the Good News of God’s Grace! Some people have never heard its message or they have had it miscommunicated to them through the years. There are times when we Christians forget this. There are times when we make the good news distasteful, dogmatic and down-right depressing. But that wasn’t the angels message was it?
The Good News is that God loves you, he created you for a purpose, you can know Him personally by trusting in Jesus, and he wants you to spend eternity with him. God has really long range plans for your life! Christmas is time to come back to God.
Lewis describes these tidings when the four children first enter Narnia together. After discovering that the home of Mr. Tumnus has been ransackled, they encounter Mr. Beaver who begins to tell them the fuller story of Narnia.
“They say Aslan is on the move-perhaps has already landed!”
And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning-either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
My friends, this Advent season is celebrating that news. God is on the Move.
What Mr. Beaver announced to the children is what the angels said to the shepherds. God has landed and the invasion of the Kingdom of God has begun in our world. And His Kingdom will not be repulsed. Friends, this is incredible news. God has stepped into our world, God has stooped down, God has brought light into our darkness, God’s rescue mission bound up in the body of a baby has begun. Let’s renew our faith about the true meaning of Christmas shall we?
Next the angel said, “Today a Savior has been born for you; He is Christ the Lord!”
3. It’s time to receive forgiveness!
If our greatest need was education, God would have sent a teacher. If our greatest need was health, he would have sent a doctor. If our greatest need was financial, he would have sent an economist. But our greatest need is forgiveness, so God sent a Savior. It doesn’t matter what wrong you’ve done, Jesus paid for it on the cross. You can accept his forgiveness today. You can have a load of guilt washed away and become a brand new person on the inside.
After Aslan’s miraculous resurrection as he overcomes death itself he explains to the children the nature of his mission. He rescues us by taking our place and through his indestructible life, the spell of the white witch, the rule of sin and death is broken and we can life as a freed people.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer. “It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which 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 the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards….”
So, we can discover the joy of fearless living, wonder at the message of Good News, receive the washing of our lives through the forgiveness of sins and Christmas is a time to…
4. It’s time to rebuild relationships!
Finally the angel said, “Peace on earth, and goodwill to all people.” You know the older I get, the more I have witnessed firsthand the tragedy of unresolved conflicts and damaged relationships over the lifetime of families and individuals. I can’t describe to you how destructive unforgiveness is in the soul of a person. It warps souls, saps energy, hurts people, deletes joy, creates tension, puts others on edge, demands service, kills relationships, estranges people, damns families, embitters hope and inhibits joy.
But friends, I’ve got good news, the good news of the angels is that just as God bridges our estranged relationship with Him, just as he reaches out in grace and with forgiveness, so the forgiveness we’ve received can so infect us that we give it freely to others. The truth is that once you’ve accepted God’s forgiveness, He expects you to forgive everyone else. The truth is, the offenses and sins we have committed against God and one another, the very things which offended God’s holiness are the things he freely and willingly and lovingly and kindly and mercifully forgave through the cross of Christ. Jesus said, he who has been forgiven much loves much and he who has been forgiven little loves little.
How about you? Have you been forgiven much or little? Will you love much or little this Christmas season? Who do you need to offer forgiveness to this Christmas? It’s time to make peace!
Edmund was the one who had ate of the Turkish Delight and fell under the Witch’s spell. His life was rescued by Aslan forces and Aslan willingly paid Edmund’s debt, his life for Edmund’s. And as Lewis writes his story, he gives us this brief glimpse of good will being restored between a brother and his siblings.
When the other children woke up next morning (they had been sleeping on piles of cushions in the pavilion) the first thing they heard-from Mrs. Beaver-was that their brother had been rescued and brought into camp late last night; and was at that moment with Aslan. As soon as they had breakfasted they all went out, and there they saw Aslan and Edmund walking together in the dewy grass, apart from the rest of the court. There is no need to tell you what Aslan was saying but it was a conversation which Edmund never forgot. As the others drew nearer Aslan turned to meet them bringing Edmund with him.
“Here is your brother,” he said, “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,” and everyone said “That’s all right. And then everyone wanted very hard to say something which would make it quite clear that they were all friends with him again-something ordinary and natural-and of course no one could think of anything in the world to say.
The angels told the shepherds “Good will to men and on earth, peace to those upon whom His favor rests.”
If we really celebrate Christmas as God intends, it will be a time in which we receive the forgiveness Christ offers us and share it freely with those who are on our indebted list. Remember the prayer the Master taught us. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”