Summary: It is a sermon about Christmas and also include the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe theme.
Sermon at Indian Valley Mennonite Church
November 27, 2005
Text: John 15:13
Title: A Eucatastrophe in Narnia Reveals the True Meaning of Christmas
A. Incarnation story from Philip Yancy, The Jesus I Never Knew (Zondervan, 1995) cited in Perfect Illustrations (Tyndale, 2002)
B. Summary: Yancy learned about incarnation from owning a salt water aquarium. The fish did not understand his management. The only way for them to understand was to become a fish and speak their language.
In four weeks, we will be celebrating a very special holiday – Christmas. There is a lot to do in those four weeks – decorations, parties, cards, presents – But do these things reflect the true meaning of Christmas? Much of our culture has sought to eliminate even the term Christmas, because it is somehow offensive. Season Greetings, Happy Holidays are acceptable as greetings. What is it that lies behind the celebration of this holiday? Christians believe that the Bible explains the real meaning of Christmas as the event where by God entered in to human history to speak a message of great joy and great news (in human language). The technical term for this is incarnation. The Old Testament includes a number of passages that predict this event – the New Testament records the events.
We could ask, why would an all powerful God choose an action such as the incarnation? Humanity was in trouble – the people needed deliverance from Roman oppression and religious legalism (and corruption). Humanity today is in trouble – people need deliverance from a secular society that is almost antireligious and a religious society that is often irrelevant (not much different from the culture).
Christians believe that the miracle of incarnation is a miracle of God becoming a person and entering into human history and turning the experience from the negative to the right direction. Hebrews 1:1-4 and Romans 5:6-8 explain who Jesus was and what He did.
The story of Jesus is one that literary critics could describe as an “Eucatastrophe”. Literally, a eucatastrophe is a good catastrophe. It is a story where a sudden, miraculous, and unexpected turn changes the story’s outcome from the worst to the BEST! The story of Jesus begins with his miraculous (scandalous) birth and proceeds downward from there (children are killed, he is questioned in his home town, challenged by the religious experts, and finally he is falsely accused by and betrayed to those in power – religious and secular). All seems to be lost when Jesus is mocked and tried unfairly and crucified. But the rest of the story tells of his resurrection and ascension. Death and the grave can not contain him. This profound story turned the lives of his followers upside down and they in turn turned the world on edge. Today, we are greatly impacted by this story because it is not just a simple story. It is the story of God giving his own Son for me – and you. It is the story of our rescue from the monotony and meaninglessness of existence. It is truly a great story. It is this story that gives meaning to Christmas. It is Christmas! As you prepare for Christmas, why not consider the verse found in John 15:13 (It is this verse that gives profound meaning to the Christmas story).
“Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Keywords in this verse include…
Love = supreme love from God = agape
Friends = loved ones = philia
Life = breath = psyche
“Lay down” – completed action (die!) “put your life on the line”
This is the commandment that is found in John 13:34. In fact the word command is used in chapter 15 vv 10, 12, 14, 17. But the sense is an obligation not simply a rule! I am compelled because of the example of Jesus, to put my life on the line! Because He first put his life on the line for me! 1 John 3:16 tells us… “This is how we know what love is Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”
Ask – Am I doing this?
[Consider the impact if all of us would do this?]
This, my friends explains the true meaning of Christmas. But, in case you miss it or you don’t understand it, maybe you’d like to go to see The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. No, this is not the latest in the Harry Potter series. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a children’s story written in 1950 by Clive Staples Lewis (known as “Jack” to his friends). Lewis was one of the great writers of the mid 20th century. This children’s story is a story for children of all ages. It is the adventure of 4 children – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. These children enter an enchanted land (Narnia) through a mysterious wardrobe. This land is filled with all kinds of curious creatures and talking animals. But it is a land under a spell. That is, the evil White Witch (Queen Jadis) has placed Narnia (the enchanted land) in bondage – where it’s always winter but never Christmas. There are “prophecies” that indicate that everything will be okay when Aslan comes: