Summary: A world without Christ is a world that is "always winter and never Christmas."
Sermon – “Always Winter, Never Christmas”
Scripture – Isaiah 40
There is a strange phenomenon that is happening in the world today. Two unlikely groups of people have gotten together and are excitedly talking about the same thing! It’s strange that Hollywood and the Evangelical church are excited about similar topics. A couple of years ago when the “Passion” was released it was surrounded by an enormous controversy with the Church on one side and much of Hollywood on the other, but in just a couple of weeks another movie will be released that both Hollywood and the Evangelical church are excited about. For months I have been receiving promotional material, outreach ideas, articles in my ministry journals, and just this week a CD of promotional materials all centering on the upcoming release of the movie based on C.S. Lewis’ book: “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”
Entire articles have been devoted to promoting this movie. Websites have been set up to provide sermon ideas based on it. Even your own pastor has gotten caught up in the excitement. I plan to attend the movie so that I can see it on the big screen and not my usual wait for it to come out on DVD! “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” has held a particularly soft spot in Eloise’ and my hearts for several years after having watched our son Aaron play the part of Aslan the lion in “Narnia” a musical based on Lewis’ story. I recently read the book and have purchased the entire “Narnia” series.
C.S. Lewis has been called the twentieth century’s greatest Christian philosopher, theologian, and fantasy writer. One of his best friends at Oxford University, and one of the men which God used to bring Lewis to faith was J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of the fantasy allegories known as “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
While not an actual portrayal of the history of salvation, one could go to the Bible for that, Lewis wrote the “Narnia Chronicles” as a portrayal of good versus evil and the need of salvation from evil, and he used the Chronicles as his tool to do that. Narnia has become a fantasy land for both child and adult and with the release of the movie should prove to make a great impact on people’s knowledge, understanding and need for faith in Christ who has indeed overcome evil.
As we begin this advent series we’re going to look at a world that frequently lives without hope, too little peace, seldom joy-filled, and lacking in love. James Thurber wrote: “Nowadays men lead lives of noisy desperation,” a good description of a life without hope, peace, joy, or love. Lewis portrayed a world like that as a place where it is “Always winter and never Christmas.” However, given global warming and good old American greed, we might well come up with a new quote, “Always Christmas and never winter!” Long before Thanksgiving the stores were decorated to the hilt trying to squeeze every dollar they can from a world using commercialism as their antidote for our hopeless, peaceless, joyless, and loveless lives.
Everywhere people are looking for hope. They try to find it in themselves, in outside sources, and in every imaginable and some very unimaginable ways! We live in a world that’s filled with terror on every side. The twenty-four hour news channels broadcast doom and gloom every hour on the hour and half-hour. War and pestilence crowd our world. Devastating storms, earthquakes, and tsunamis shatter any sense of comfort. There are places where jobs are so scarce that there’s little hope for sustaining any meaningful employment. In short, we live in a world that could well be described as having “Always winter and never Christmas.”
Author Dean Merrill speaks about the hopelessness many (even Christians) experience. I quote: “…too many battles are popping up all at once. Sex education, homosexual rights, abortion, pornography, children’s rights, women in the military, no fault divorce – the list runs on and on, and nobody has enough energy or time enough to tackle them all. Our only choice is to hunker down in silence and hope the storms don’t do too much damage to us personally…Christians…quickly go on to state that the odds of improvement really are hopeless. They would like to improve America’s moral climate, but realistically they don’t see a ghost of a chance, so they elect to save their energy.” (Dean Merrill, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry Church,” Zondervan Publishers, Grand Rapids, © 1997, pg. 49) Sounds depressing, doesn’t it? It would be enough to wring out a “Bah! Humbug!” from the jolliest of people! A world that’s always winter and never Christmas could use a little hope!
A hopeless world is a sad world. A hopeless life is often seen as a life not worth living. If things keep going as they are, it’s going to be an awfully blue Christmas! Yet hope is one of the golden words often associated with this time of the year. How can that be? How can we experience hope in a world so far gone?