Summary: A sermon written in connection with the release of "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe", it focuses on the change that takes place in the children who visit Narnia and urges the hearers to be changed by Christ.
Change, it seems, is an inevitable part of life. As a matter of fact, whether you want to or not, you have to experience change every day. Even though our routines may be the same day in, day out, the circumstances of each day change and make those routines new. Granted, not all changes are for the better. Some are for the worse. But the bottom line is the same: change is an integral part of life. Think of it this way: the only people who really don’t change are people who have died.
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie faced a difficult change in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the beloved book by C. S. Lewis which has been adapted into a major motion picture. For those of you unfamiliar with the book, let me sum it up for you. In World War II, the Pevensies are sent to a large manor house so they’ll be safely out of London. That change was bad enough, it would seem, but an even greater change was soon to come.
One day, while they’re playing hide and seek, the youngest sister, Lucy, finds a large wardrobe and hides inside it. Much to her surprise, she discovers that the wardrobe is in fact a door into the fantasy world of Narnia, filled with fairy tale creatures and talking animals. Soon thereafter, her siblings discover Narnia as well, and they find themselves in the middle of a war.
You see, Narnia is ruled by the evil White Witch, a cruel woman who can turn her enemies into stone. She’s cursed Narnia and frozen it, so that it’s “always winter, but it never gets to Christmas.” The citizens of Narnia, while terrified of the Witch, are also hopeful that they’ll be saved by a lion named Aslan, the son of the Great Emperor Beyond the Sea. And so the Pevensie children find themselves thrust into the conflict between the Witch and Aslan.
I don’t want to say too much more, because I don’t want to ruin the plot for anyone. Even though the book itself is very short, it’s packed with so many images and themes, I could probably preach a dozen sermons on them. But don’t worry, I’m not about to do that. Instead, I want to talk about the change that happens in the Wardrobe.
Throughout all the books that take place in Narnia, the children that go there are usually in need of change. Edmund Pevensie, for example, the second child to discover Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, needs to change badly. He’s rather mean-spirited, he teases his sister Lucy mercilessly, and, worst of all, betrays his brother and sisters and agrees to work for the Witch. In a later book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a cousin of the Pevensie children, a boy named Eustace Scrubb, goes to Narnia, and he needs to change as well. He’s even worse than Edmund, very smug and unwilling to acknowledge the wonders around him.
Even children born inside the wardrobe need to change. In yet another Narnia book, The Horse and His Boy, a young girl named Aravis needs to change her ways. She’s self-centered and very snobbish, not at all nice. Even the land of Narnia itself needs a change. Imagine a world where it’s always winter but Christmas never comes, a place where an evil witch can freeze people in stone, and you can see how the land of Narnia itself cries out for change.
And thankfully, for Narnia, change does come, in the form of the lion Aslan. When Aslan encounters Eustace Scrubb, he peels away the mean-spirited, hateful, closed-minded layers until he’s practically reborn. Aravis, the young lady born in Narnia? She encounters Aslan as well, and from that encounter, she becomes more caring and more willing to think of others first. When Aslan finally arrives in Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Christmas finally arrives, complete with Father Christmas himself, and Aslan even changes the stone animals back into their rightful shapes.
But perhaps the biggest change, one of the most memorable and, I think, the best, is the change that happens in Edmund Pevensie. You remember, I said that Edmund was mean-spirited, cruel, and he betrayed his brother and sisters to the White Witch? By doing so, Edmund broke a sacred law in Narnia, one that said that betrayers must always be executed. But rather than allow Edmund to be turned over to the Witch for punishment, Aslan takes his place and is killed instead, only to come back to life again. Because of what Aslan did for him, Edmund is changed, and changed for the better.
Like those children, we all stand in need of change as well. St. Paul says as much in the twelfth chapter of Romans, which we heard read just a few moments earlier. He wrote, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” We need transformation, to be changed in heart and mind. While we may use words like “selfish” or “mean-spirited” to describe ourselves, like we did with Edmund, Eustace Scrubb, and Aravis, we can still use that one word: “sinner.” Because of our sins, we are all in need of a change. Even those of us who maybe were born into Christian families and attended church all our lives need to be changed, just like Aravis had to be changed, even though she was born “inside the wardrobe”, so to speak. Like those children, we need an encounter with Aslan. But where can we find him in the real world? Do we read the books over and over? Do we go to the movie that opened last weekend, hoping that the change will come there? Where can we find Aslan in the here and now?