Summary: This expository sermon from 2 Corinthians 4 gives the believer hope that, despite severe suffering, the Resurrected Christ is on the move!
“Winter in Narnia” from 2 Corinthians 4: 7-18, by Matthew Everhard. Originally preached at Hudson Presbyterian Church on January 2nd 2004.
I have to be honest, I don’t really like this time of year. This time of year reminds me of the land of Narnia. Have you read the great classic fantasy by C. S. Lewis The Lion The Witch and the Wardrobe? If you haven’t, let me describe for you what this mystical country is like. First of all it is always winter in Narnia. There may have been other seasons long ago, but ever since the evil Queen Jadis illegitimately claimed the land as her own and declared herself the ruler over all of it, she has kept it under her evil spell making it winter all the time. What’s worse, she has forced all living creatures, gnomes and centaurs, dwarves, and giants, even the woodland animals to be submissive to her rule at the threat of death. With her magic powers she has dominated all rebels against her reign and anyone who dares to oppose her is turned to stone and placed in the courtyard of her palace as a frozen testimony of her power. Statues, frozen reminders of what happens to those who rebel against her evil empire. It’s always winter in Narnia but it is never Christmas.
But there is a rumor circulating around Narnia. A rumor of hope. Do you remember it? “Aslan is on the move!” The mere mention of the name of Aslan the great lion and true King of Narnia causes joy to well up in the hearts of many, and invokes fear in the hearts of those loyal to the queen. “Aslan is on the move”. One child asks the question ‘is he safe?’ Of course he is not safe, but he is good!
For me, January and February are like Narnia before Aslan returns--the two hardest months of the year. Christmas is as far away from us now as it can ever be. The forecast for next three months will be exactly the same here in Ohio, cold with a pretty good chance of snow. Do any of you out there have the post-Christmas blues? You know, when we discover what the preacher said all last month about ‘gifts and presents will not make us happy’ turns out to be true. And every year we try to go that route anyway and every year we end up on the first week of January and all of the gifts haven’t solved a thing. We try to make some returns and exchanges of presents but after all we end up on the same ground we were on before. Some of us are stuck in the house for days at a time.
And worst of all, the same situations that we struggled with back in November are back again. We might have put them off for a month with the joy of the Christmas and New Years, but if anything, January is the month of getting back to reality isn’t it? That relationship that was messed up before might not be any better now. That financial situation that was looking tough then may even be worse now. Vacation is over and that job that you dead is staring you down again. That illness that has been dragging on for so long now is still not better.
But if the deep winter-freeze usually hits you hard, I’ve got some good news for you this morning. You see there’s this rumor circulating around Narnia that “Aslan is on the move!” In our passage this morning from 2 Corinthians Paul says, “I can relate to your seasonal depression, and worse, I’ve been through every problem you can name: “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed but not driven to despair; persecuted but not forsaken; struck down but not destroyed.” And me (Paul says), I’m just like a little clay jar, I’m fragile, I’m weak, I’m frail, I break easily, but I know in my heart there’s treasure inside because living inside of me is a power, an extraordinary power that comes from God and not from us! You see no matter how bad the situation may look from the outside, no matter how bleak the forecast for your life this winter, Paul says “I know a little secret, and the secret is this, the Lion of Judah is on the move!”
There is something else about January that I haven’t mentioned yet. The days are the coldest and the nights are the longest of the year but believe it or not, January is the season of new life. You say “Now wait a minute! New life begins, in April! Right?” But listen, before new life can spring up there must first be a death so the new life can replace it. Paul says in verse 10 “We carry around in our bodies, the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies” Did you get that? If you didn’t that’s ok because Paul repeats it for emphasis in the very next verse: “For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus may be visible in our mortal flesh.”