Summary: Many Christians are against Harry Potter, but look at what he stands for: not magic as evil, but decency, loyalty, honesty and prevailing against oppression. Don’t reject Harry without thought.
Sermon: Second Sunday of Advent - Evensong 9th December 2001
In the name of the +Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen
We had been eagerly awaiting the evening for some time, and not just since the film’s release. In fact, the entire family had been looking forward to this moment since we had finished the first book.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has been the high point of this year - as both a film and as a series of novels which have grabbed and inspired all those in our family who are able to read - not just Liam and Emma, but Lou and I also. I claim the primacy here as I bought and read each of the first three novels as they came out for myself hoping that as the children developed their reading they would pick them up and we would have something to share, but was stymied when Liam ripped through the first three books almost in one go and then went and bought the 4th and read it agonizingly and tantalisingly before me.
They are great books, and a great film also, and I would recommend you all to read them, not merely as a way of staying in touch with contemporary society, and understand what all this fuss is all about, but also because they are excellent books, not merely for children, but for all ages - a truely shared experience, and quite frankly anything that gets 9 year olds away from the Playstation and behind a novel gets my full support.
The Hebrews had also been eagerly awaiting something - the Messiah was also fortold in the book, and our passage this evening from the Gospel of John is the final definitive statement from ‘the one who went before’ – effectively handing on the baton to Jesus.
John the Baptist takes the role of the insighted narrator in this evening’s Scripture, he saw in Christ the truth, recounting that he saw the mark of the dove on him, I was struck how Harry Potter also had a mark on him: a scar which marked him as special, as ’the boy who lived’
Professor McGonagall says of Harry “He’ll be famous – a legend – I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a Harry Potter Day in future – there will be books written about Harry – every child in the world will know his name”. And yet, he remained hidden from view until the right time of his denouement.
The Baptiser notes it was only after the act of baptism that John ’knew him’, likewise, Harry lived for the first 11 years of his childhood without insight, his adoptive parents knew but tried to suppress these tendencies
Let us be clear, Harry Potter is no Jesus Christ . He is a boy for whom extraordinary things happen, he is revealed to be an extraordinary person. Not only is he a wizard, but he is also embued with values which are thoroughly decent - honesty, goodness, loyalty, the overcoming of oppression - values which we recognise as Christian. Values to which we should all aspire.
The novel, and the Harry Potter Novels especially demonstrate the desire for resolution, the solving of the crime, the victory of Good over evil. There is a strong link between this and the reassurance of Mother Julian: ’all shall be well, all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well’ - a symbol of redemption.