Summary: The last in a series on the Chronicles of Narnia, this sermon explains the power found in forgiveness and sacrifice, unlike the power the world expects.
ENOCUNTER THE POWER
This week, we had a hero in the news. This man was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize because of his work among disadvantaged, at risk kids and his utter determination to keep them off streets and out of gangs. He has written books on the subject and dedicated his life to the cause. He had behind him thousands of supporters for his right to the prize. The man was also on death row and executed this week for the killing of four people as the co-founder of the notorious Crips gang. An unlikely hero, and I realize that many would refuse to call him such. I am not telling you which side to believe—I am just telling you about who he was.
Stanley Tookie Williams was born in Shreveport, La. but moved at an early age to South Central Los Angeles. In his teen years, he ran the streets, and by 13 started using drugs. When he formed the Crips gang with his friend Raymond Washington, he discovered what he had longed for—power. As a Crip, he had power in the streets. People feared him, obeyed him, and fought to be like him. Later, the State of California had the power to punish him—and it did. But before Tookie Williams died, he gave testimony to another power, greater, more amazing, more incredible than anything he’d ever wielded as a gang leader. "That was a bogus role anyway," he said of his gang days. "I didn’t have any power. Being part of that was being part of something destructive. It was a causeless cause."
Listen to what Tookie Williams had to say about his life.
“Twenty-five years ago when I created the Crips youth gang in South Central Los Angeles, I never imagined Crips membership would one day spread to much of the rest of the nation and to cities in South Africa. I also didn’t expect the Crips to end up ruining the lives of so many young people.
So today I apologize to you all -- the children of America and South Africa -- who must cope every day with dangerous street gangs. I no longer participate in the gangster lifestyle, and I deeply regret that I ever did.
As a contribution to the struggle to end this brutality, I have written the Tookie Speaks Out Against Gang Violence children’s book series. My goal is to reach as many young minds as possible to warn you about the perils of a gang lifestyle. I am no longer part of the problem. Thanks to the Almighty, I am no longer sleepwalking through life.
I pray that one day my apology will be accepted. I also pray that your suffering, caused by gang violence, will soon come to an end as more gang members wake up and stop hurting themselves and others.
I vow to spend the rest of my life working toward solutions.”
And he did, as supporters say he has received more than 50,000 e-mails from youth, parents, teachers and even law enforcement officers from around the world testifying that his writings changed and saved lives. 50,000 changed lives. That, my friends, is power. Why do I tell you this long story? Because as Tookie dedicated his final years to redemption–he had encountered real power.
As we close out this series of sermons based on the Chronicles of Narnia movie and books, let me tell you about one last reason the world is drawn to this beautiful story. We have already talked about how the books appeal to the human need for adventure and wonder, and how the Christ of Christmas is the only way to fulfill those needs. Today, we’ll talk about one last deep human need—the need for power.
From first ‘no’ the first child uttered to the first parent, we know—the whole world is searching for power. We want to feel some control over life, over our circumstances, over our future. Perhaps it’s a deep wish to have back the control God gave us in the garden—“Be masters over the fish and birds and all animals,” (Genesis 1:28). Or more likely, it’s a hunger for the control we tried to take in the garden, to become like God.
If you’ve ever done full battle with a two-year-old old over broccoli left on a plate, you know—the whole world is longing for power, from a very young age.
The people of Narnia thought the great Lion would deliver on the ancient promise of power. “At the sound of His roar, sorrows will be no more, when he bares his teeth, winter meets its death.” They thought he would release them from evil and fight on their side. And he did. But not as they had expected.
The four children, Lucy, Edmund, Susan, and Peter, felt powerless because of the war. I’ve never been in the middle of an air raid, but I imagine it would be one of the most powerless feelings you could have. Then, sent away from their home in London to keep them safe, they continue to feel terrible powerlessness, knowing their father is at war and their mother at horrible risk still at home. Being left in the dubious care of a tartar housekeeper and a rarely-seen professor does not soothe their feelings too much.