Summary: Sermon Three in the series - Christmas was not "safe," and neither is the life of a God-follower. But it is ultimate good!
Christmas in Narnia
“Of Course He’s Not Safe…But He Is Good!”
At this time of year, I love going into offices, stores, even schools and hearing music celebrating the birth of Jesus – places you would never expect to hear a gospel message play music that contain some of the best and clearest sermons ever written! Of course that’s not true of all the music we hear played during this time of the year. Some of the so-called “Christmas music” we hear at this time of the year has nothing to do with Christmas at all – it’s all about the “holidays:”
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year
It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all[i]
That song not only misses the real meaning of Christmas – it’s just simply not an accurate statement – for many people, this is NOT the most wonderful time of the year!
Not when there is an empty chair at the table.
Not when your body is ravaged with illness.
Not when the depression is too much to bear.
Not when mom’s voice is not joining in the Christmas carols.
Not when you feel all alone - even in a crowd.
Not when you are not sure you can afford the rent or mortgage, let alone the presents.
Not when another Christmas party means he’ll come home drunk again – or not at all.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year?” No, quite often it’s not. Sometimes Christmas is not all about cookies – sometimes it’s just crumby! Not only is it rough for some of us today – it was a difficult and scary time for the main characters in the Christmas story as well!
Oh, how we have glossed over the Christmas story! Joseph somehow didn’t mind that his girlfriend was pregnant and he wasn’t the father. Mary’s parents must have been thrilled! We picture Joseph smiling as the Innkeeper turns them away. We somehow make a smelly stable and a cold, stone feeding trough “romantic.” Mary miraculously delivers her first-born without pain. Instead of the animals doing what animals do, with the accompanying odor and mess, we have the ox and lambs keeping time to the Little Drummer Boy’s music! In the song Away in a Manger, we sing, “The cattle are lowing, the poor baby wakes, but little Lord Jesus, no crying he makes.” Oh, come on! How many babies have you been around that didn’t cry? Especially if they were laying on a mattress of straw?! It didn’t get any easier either. When Joseph and Mary went to the temple in Jerusalem 40 days after the birth to present Jesus to the Lord, they offered two pigeons for the sacrifice – a sign of abject poverty. In the days to come, this young family would become refugees, fleeing Bethlehem as the king sweeps through the city in an act of terrorism that killed every male child less than two years of age. Somehow, I just don’t think that Mary and Joseph would label those days as the “hap-happiest season of all!”
What we have done to the Christmas story is just the beginning of what we have done to the entirety of Jesus’ life. We’ve portrayed him the Lamb of God, the one with children crawling all around Him. Think of the typical picture of Jesus, especially that brown one, looking off into the distance, where he has the long soft-looking hair that looks like he spent all day at the beauty parlor, and those soft looking feminine eyes. People like that Jesus because he’s safe:
“He’s not going to judge anyone!”
“He’s not going to confront my sin.”
“He’s loving, and He will have mercy on everyone and take them into heaven when they die.”
“He’s good!” “He’s safe!”
That kind of thinking leaves us with a distorted picture of Christ.
In “The Chronicles of Narnia,” C.S. Lewis tells the story of a land held under bondage by the curse of the White Witch – a land where it’s always winter, but never Christmas. The inhabitants of Narnia have long ago lost the memory of warmth and sunlight, they cannot recall joyous or happy times – but they hold out hope – they look forward to a day when deliverance will come to their land – when the rightful ruler of Narnia will return and do battle with the Witch, and bring renewed life and liberation to their land. That ruler is named Aslan – and while the Narnians speak of him in hushed tones, just the sound of his name fills the air with excitement. Upon first hearing of him, Lucy asks who Aslan is. Mrs. Beaver replies: