Summary: 2nd of 3 Narnia sermons. This one focuses on the Witch and her spell. "Always winter and never Christmas" and the power of sin and evil and death in our world.
“IN OUR WORLD: THE SPELL OF THE WHITE WITCH”
[Sermon 2 of 3]
Even though I am getting older every year, there’s still enough youth in me that I get enjoyment out of some aspects of winter. Call me a bit crazy, but I actually like snow! I like the stillness of a morning when you wake up and there are several inches of fresh snow on the ground, and things just seem so quiet. I like the beauty of the white snow covering fields before anyone or any animal has tracked across it. I like the way wet snow clings to the branches of trees, outlining them against the sky. I like the squeak of snow as you walk across it. It’s been a few years since I’ve been skiing, but if given the opportunity, I’d head down a hill in a heartbeat, even if I did crash into a snow bank at the bottom.
Like it or not, living in Western Pennsylvania means that there is winter to contend with, and with it comes the cold and the snow. But as much as I enjoy the snow, I must say that by the time the middle of February gets here and then we get on in to March, I’m more than ready for the snow to stop and for winter to be over with. Enough already! I tell our old friends elsewhere that we love living in Western Pennsylvania. The worst thing about it is that winter seems to go on and on and on.
Christmas will be here in a few weeks, and that certainly brightens up the early part of winter. It seems a shame that we can’t put Christmas a little later in winter so that we have something more to look forward to. But it’s over too quickly, and then we settle in to the long part that seems to have very little to get excited about, especially in February and March and even April. If we could have Christmas every month during the winter, it might make things a bit more bearable. I guess we should be glad we don’t live up in Canada or somewhere else further north!
Can you imagine what it would be like to have winter all the time? That would be pretty awful, wouldn’t it? And then what would it be like if you had no bright spots in the middle of winter to look forward to, like Christmas? Life would be pretty depressing, wouldn’t it? There wouldn’t be a whole lot to be hopeful about.
Well, “always winter and never Christmas” is the way that Narnia is described in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. When Lucy and Edmund, Peter and Susan find their way through the wardrobe into that other world of Narnia, they find it in a perpetual state of winter. And that’s because of a spell that has been cast by the White Witch. She has cast a spell over the land, making it continuously cold, snowy, and gray. Just reading the book can give you a bit of a chill, and I wonder if the theaters have any kind of special effects built in by which they will blow extra cold air into the theater during the movie.
Certainly that’s not the way things had been created to be, whether in Narnia or in our world. As pretty as fresh snow can be to some, I imagine that if you took a poll of which season was the favorite, you’d get a lot of people saying that spring is the best, when the grass is turning green, leaves are coming out on the trees, you can open up the windows to the fresh air, and the birds are singing. You can’t beat that, can you? We’re not meant to have perpetual winter. In fact, as the story develops in Narnia, the witch’s spell eventually is broken, and as winter starts to end, the first thing the children notice is the sound of birds.
Narnia is under a spell. And so is our world. Paul’s words in Romans 8 describe the creation under a “spell” of bondage to decay, groaning with anticipation of release. And it is not only the creation, but all of us who are also looking ahead with hope to something new, to freedom and redemption. The spell goes back to Genesis 3. Just after the disobedience of Adam and Eve and the Fall into sin, they are banished from the Garden, and God hands out his punishments, his curses. The serpent is doomed to be hated and to crawl on its belly. The woman will have pain in childbirth and have to deal with an imperfect relationship with men. The man will have to work and earn a living by the sweat of his brow. Even the ground will produce thistles and thorns. And the ultimate sign of the curse is that death has now come into the picture. Adam and Eve were created to live forever, but God had warned them of the consequences of eating the forbidden fruit (“you shall surely die”) and after the Fall, they began to die. Even we are gradually dying from the day we are born, as we lose skin and hair and eventually life itself.