Summary: This sermon introduces the first book of the Chronicles of Narnia as part of an Advent series. It connects the state of Narnia (always winter, never Christmas) with the world without Christ.
Rev. Lin Smalec Salem Church, Waynesboro, PA
WHAT IF THERE WERE NO CHRISTMAS?
First Sunday of Advent
27 November 2005
A few years after World War II ended, a professor at Oxford University in England wrote a series of children’s books that captured the imagination of a generation. In just a few weeks, the first and most popular of those books will be brought to the big screen in a blockbuster movie that promises to capture the imagination of new generations.
That professor was Clive Staples Lewis, better known as C. S. Lewis. The series of seven books, published one a year from 1950 to 1956, is called “The Chronicles of Narnia”, and the first book of the series is “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.
I’ve been mentioning this book and movie for several weeks now, and we have made copies of the book available to each family here at Salem. How many of you have read “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”? If you haven’t read it yet, there are still copies available - and if we run out, we’ll gladly order more. And the movie will be out December 9th, so if you don’t like to read, you’ll be able to see it on screen.
Now a few weeks ago, one of you asked me a question that I think many of you are probably also thinking. She said, “Pastor Lin, this book is like a fairy tale. What does it have to do with Christianity and Christmas?” Ah, good question!
Think back to when Jesus taught the people who followed him. Did he use lectures and bible study? Sometimes - but his favorite way to teach was through stories - stories called parables. Well, this book is like a parable - it is a teaching story that contains within it powerful spiritual truths. Sometimes we can hear those truths more easily if they come in a form other than Scripture. They seem more accessible, easier to understand that way.
That is why, in this season of Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, we will let this entertaining book illuminate for us some wonderful and amazing truths about God’s great Christmas gift to us, His son, Jesus Christ.
The book begins with a family of four young English schoolchildren, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, who are sent away from London to live in the countryside with a mysterious professor and his housekeeper. This was during World War II, and the great cities of England were being bombed regularly by the Nazi’s. So it was common for children to be sent to a safer place in the country.
Shortly after arriving, the children are exploring the old house, and in one room they find a big old wardrobe. Now some of you may not know what a wardrobe is. In olden days in England and other parts of Europe, they did not build closets. So where were they supposed to hang their clothes? They built large pieces of furniture called wardrobes, sort of like cabinets to store clothing.
The youngest child, Lucy, decides to look in the wardrobe, and as she walks in, deep into the back, past the old fur coats hanging there, she enters another world - a world of snow and ice, dark and bitterly cold. Nearby is a lamp post - an old fashioned kind of streetlight, kind of like the ones we have here in downtown Waynesboro. And by the light of the lamp post, Lucy sees a strange sort of creature coming toward her - a faun, a being who is half human and half goat. The faun is wearing a warm scarf around his neck, carrying a number of parcels and an umbrella to keep off the falling snow.
The faun, who we find out is named Mr. Tumnus, is of course quite startled to meet Lucy - and delighted when he finds out she is a “daughter of Eve” - in other words, a human being. Mr. Tumnus tells Lucy that she is now in the land of Narnia, and then he invites her to his home for “tea” - which in England means more than just a cup of warm brew, but also a nice, cozy kind of supper.
After the meal, Mr. Tumnus tells Lucy all kinds of tales about life in Narnia, and then he begins to play a strange kind of flute - the music from this flute makes Lucy feel quite drowsy. And when Lucy finally rouses herself to leave, Mr. Tumnus bursts into tears and admits the truth to her.
You see, he had been trying to enchant her and keep her there until he could turn her over to the White Witch. The White Witch had ordered that anyone who found a human being - a “son of Adam or daughter of Eve” - in Narnia was to turn them over to her. But now that Tumnus had actually met Lucy, he just couldn’t do it!