Finding God in Narnia part 2
Always Winter, Never Christmas
by Greg Hanson
Sunrise Wesleyan Church
December 25, 2005
There’s the Grinch… that
familiar villain of Christmas. That was one of my favourite shows as a
kid. Hey, what am I saying? It’s still one of my favourites! Who here
has ever seen “How the Grinch stole Christmas”? Sure, just about
Well then, you know that this Grinch hated Christmas, and so he decided
he would ruin it for everyone. He thought if he stole all the toys and
all the decorations and all the Christmas goodies, that Christmas would
disappear. He’s a mean one, that Mr. Grinch. Here… sing the song with
You're a mean one, Mr.
Grinch. You really are a heel.
You're as cuddly as a cactus, You're as charming as an eel.
You're a bad banana with a greasy black peel.
You're a monster, Mr. Grinch. Your heart's an empty hole.
Your brain is full of spiders, You've got garlic in your soul.
I wouldn't touch you, with a thirty-nine-and-a-half foot pole.
You're a vile one, Mr. Grinch. You have termites in your smile.
You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile.
Given the choice between the two of you I'd take the seasick crocodile.
You're a foul one, Mr. Grinch. You're a nasty, wasty skunk.
Your heart is full of unwashed socks, Your soul is full of gunk.
The three words that best describe you, are, and I quote: "Stink.
You're a rotter, Mr. Grinch. You're the king of sinful sots.
Your heart's a dead tomato splot With moldy purple spots,
Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing
with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.
You nauseate me, Mr. Grinch. With a nauseaus super-naus.
You're a crooked jerky jockey And you drive a crooked horse.
You're a three decker saurkraut and toadstool sandwich With arsenic
Copyright © 1957, Dr. Seuss.
That Dr. Seuss sure had
a way with words, eh? Of course, the Grinch’s plan to steal Christmas
didn’t quite work and he didn’t ruin Christmas and Christmas went on
despite all his efforts. But what if he had succeeded? What if someone
could really steal Christmas?
Last week, we began our series on “Finding God in Narnia.” And we
talked briefly about how in “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe” there are four siblings who all wind up in
another land… the Land of Narnia. Narnia, of course, is populated by
all sorts of talking animals and other kinds of mythical and mystical
creatures… everything except humans. And at the time the children enter
Narnia, they discover the land is under the rule of the White Witch,
Jadis, and she has placed a curse on the land. This is how Lucy
described the curse to her brothers and sister…
“She has made an enchantment over the whole country so that it is
always winter here and never Christmas.”
~ Lucy, to her siblings in The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
You can understand the “always winter” part, can’t you? Here in PEI it
certainly seems like that sometimes. Our winters last a looooong time,
but at least there’s Christmas. Christmas almost makes winter worth
Well, in Narnia, this White Witch had been reigning for one hundred
years, and during that entire time Narnia was a land where it was
always winter but never Christmas. It was a bleak, cold, and gray land.
The White Witch was the Grinch… she had indeed stolen Christmas.
So that got me to thinking… what if it really were always winter, never
Christmas? How would things be different? Let me give you four ways.
The first one’s mot all that important, the next two are a bit more
significant, and the fourth one is crucial for every person everywhere.
Okay? Now, the first is pretty obvious…
What if that first Christmas had never happened?
Christmas traditions would not exist.
What would that mean for
us? Well, think about it…
• December 25 would just be another day on the calendar.
• Students would have no December break from school.
• There’d be no family gatherings for the holidays, no carols to sing,
no gifts to give.
• There’d be no market for artificial trees or strings of lights.
• No decorations.
• Our economy would grind to a halt.
• There’d be no first-telling, let alone retellings, of Dicken’s “A
• There’d be no annual airings of “The Sound of Music,” “It’s a
Wonderful Life,” or Charlie Brown Christmas specials.
• No Santa Claus… no elves at the North Pole.
• No Dasher! no, Dancer! No Prancer or Vixen!
• No, Comet! No Cupid! No Donder nor Blitzen!
• There’d certainly be no Rudolph.
• And there’d be no angels, or mangers, or shepherds, or pastors
dressing up in bathrobes for a kids’ Christmas presentation.
Without Christmas, there’d be nothing to look forward to as the days
get shorter… nothing to anticipate all year long. There’d be plenty of
things we would miss, if there were no Christmas.
But those are all surface things. If Christmas really didn’t exist,
there are some much more important things we’d be missing. Like this…
2. We would
have far fewer charities and humanitarian organizations.
If Jesus had not come,
then He would not have grown up to teach us how to love our neighbour
as ourselves. And let me tell you, judging by the way we were going
before He came, there’s a good chance we would have never discovered
that on our own. We needed God in the flesh to teach us to be godly.
[Matthew 12:31 (NLT) - “Love your neighbor as yourself.”]
So what happened because Jesus came and taught us to love like this?
Well, because of the teachings of Jesus, in the midst of a violent
culture, the early Christians began to care for widows and for orphans…
they cared for the sick and the disabled. They cared for the dying.
Eventually, they built and staffed hospitals. They took care of the
poor and the underprivileged. And right down to today, almost every
charitable organization that exists was begun by a Christian… including
the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, World Relief, World Hope, World
Vision, Samaritan’s Purse, Compassion International.
In fact, after the Tsnuami last December and after the hurricanes this
past summer, and after just about every disaster… Churches and
Christians and Christian-rooted organizations have been the first ones
in to provide medical aid and relief. All because Jesus loved us enough
to come to earth as a child, to grow up, and to teach us to pass that
love on to others.
3. The face of
education would be very different.
Just like charities and
humanitarian organizations, all the top educational institutions were
begun by Christians. Oxford, Harvard, Yale, Cambridge, Princeton… all
began as Christian schools. Perhaps they were inspired by words like
Romans 12:5, 7 (NLT)
And since we are all one body in Christ, we
belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others…
If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching.
2 Timothy 2:24 (NLT)
The Lord's servants… must be able to teach
Colossians 3:16 (NIV)
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly
as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom…
Whatever the reason, followers of Jesus were at the forefront of
education. Even Sunday Schools, when they began back in 1780, were
begun to provide schooling for children who were working in the
factories during the Industrial Revolution. So education and scientific
discovery and invention and technological advancement… they all find
themselves rooted in Christianity and the teachings of Jesus.
If there had never been
a Christmas, the world would be far different than it is today. And I
could go on to talk about how Christianity has contributed to Art, to
Literature, to Music. Without that first Christmas, this world would be
a much bleaker place… like it was in Narnia. And there would be
incredible voids in our society.
But there’s one more way in which this world would be different without
Christmas, and it’s what I want to spend the rest of the time here this
morning talking about. Without that first Christmas…
4. We would
still be lost to our sinfulness.
But that first Christmas
did happen, Jesus did come, and He came to rescue us from our
sinfulness. Jesus Himself declared…
Luke 19:10 (NLT)
“And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek
and save those… who are lost.”
Remember last week when we talked about the one sentence that brought
hope to everyone in Narnia? Remember what that was? It was the
statement, “Aslan is on the move!” And we saw that in Narnia, Aslan is
the image of Jesus. He is the true king… the Son of the great
Emperor-beyond-the-sea. And when Aslan returns, he will get rid of the
White Witch, and the long winter will be over. Life will flourish once
Let me read you a section from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”.
You’ll remember that last week we saw that the four children had
entered Narnia and met up with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, they had heard that
Aslan was on the move, and then they decided to try to meet up with
Aslan, all the while trying to evade the White Witch. And while they
were on their way, they heard a sleigh coming their way. Now, because
it was always winter, the White Witch rode around on a sleigh. So this
whole gang ran as fast as they could and tried to hide from her by
ducking into a cave.
The sleigh stopped, time passed, and Mr. Beaver decided to go out and
see what was going on. This is what it says next…
“It’s all right!” Mr.
Beaver was shouting from somewhere beyond the mouth of the cave. “Come
out, Mrs. Beaver. Come out, Sons and Daughters of Adam and Eve. It’s
all right! It isn’t her!”
Not her! Lucy hardly dared to believe it. All night long, while the
silent snow drifted down through the arms of the great trees, she had
shivered in the darkness of the underground burrow, listening
breathlessly for the sound of the Witch’s sleigh bells. Through the
black hours their dreaded jangle had haunted her dreams. More than once
she had awakened in a cold sweat, imagining that the Queen was upon
them at last.
Then came a moment of truth. In the gray dawn, just outside the door,
the unmistakable ring of harness bells! It was with trembling lips that
Lucy had watched Mr. Beaver slip out into the half-darkness for a
closer look. And now she could hear him calling, “Come out! It isn’t
Who, then? That’s the question that filled every mind as they trudged
through the wood toward the clearing. They had their answer as soon as
they saw him: a great, glad giant of a man, all in red, with a snowy
white beard streaming down over the breast of his ample robe.
“I’ve got in at last!” boomed Father Christmas, for of course it was
he. “She has kept me out for a long time, but her magic is weakening.”
Lucy shivered, more with excitement than with the cold. “Always winter
and never Christmas,” that’s what Mr. Tumnus had said about the Witch’s
enchantment. It was a dreary, depressing thought. But now, it seemed,
all that was about to change. For here he was! And “Aslan,” she heard
Father Christmas saying, “Aslan is on the move.”
He had gifts for each of them, of course: a sword and a shield for
Peter; a bow, quiver, and a little ivory horn for Susan. For Lucy there
was a dagger and a wonderful diamond flask filled with a healing
“And now,” said Father Christmas, smiling, “here is something for the
moment!” And suddenly in the middle of the snowy wood there appeared
cups and saucers, cream and sugar, and a great big steaming pot of hot
The best tea I’ve ever had, thought Lucy as she sat in the cold shadows
of the Beaver-burrow, cradling her cup in her hands. Somewhere outside
in the growing light, a great voice trumpeted a triumphant farewell: “A
Merry Christmas! Long live the true King!
Father Christmas was
able to come to Narnia… why?... because Aslan was on the move. And
Christmas comes to you and me because Jesus is on the move. And He’s
working in our lives. And someday, he will set us free from all the
darkness and all of the turmoil and all of the stress and all of the
depression and all of the bleakness of life as it is now.
But let’s look back at the first Christmas. In fact, let’s look back
even before it. 700 years before Jesus came, there was a prophecy given
Isaiah 9:2, 6 (NLT)
The people who walk in darkness will see a
great light--a light that will shine on all who live in the land where
death casts its shadow…
For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. And the government
will rest on his shoulders. These will be his royal titles: Wonderful
Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
At the time Isaiah shared this prophecy, the nation of Israel was under
an occupation by the Assyrians. The Assyrian army had conquered Israel
and had taken many of the citizens away to a foreign land as captives.
They were living in a time of darkness for them. But Isaiah wrote about
a great light… a child who would be born and would set them free from
And then in the New Testament, in the Gospel of John, this is what it
says about the coming of Jesus…
John 1:4-5, 9 (NLT)
Life itself was in him, and this life gives
light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the
darkness can never extinguish it…
The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was going
to come into the world.
At the time John wrote those words, Israel was occupied by the Romans.
The people were once again subject to a foreign power. And they didn’t
much like it. It was a time of darkness for them. But here again, we’re
told about a light that will break through the darkness and overcome it.
Now, at the time of Isaiah’s writing, the people thought that maybe
this child who would be born would overthrow the foreign power and set
up his own kingdom here on earth. That’s why the circumstances of His
birth were so unexpected. They were expecting an actual king born to a
powerful, royal family, not some illegitimate kid born to a carpenter
and teenaged girl in a barn.
And even during Jesus’ lifetime, there were some who expected Him to
overthrow Rome. Including Judas, who tried to force Jesus’ hand.
But what they failed to understand was that Jesus’ Kingdom was already
established. They were looking for Him to re-establish the Kingdom of
Israel, but Jesus came to proclaim the Kingdom of God… the Kingdom of
Heaven. Jesus came to defeat spiritual darkness. He came to restore our
relationship with God the Father… the relationship that was severed
when we as a race rebelled against Him. That’s why He came. So in your
notes… Because came that first Christmas, we can have…
came, we can have…
Jesus is the Prince of
Peace. He came to offer us peace with God. If He hadn’t come, our
rebellion against God would continue to separate us from Him today. But
because Jesus came, He offers us a restored relationship with God. So
if you’re searching and if you’re looking for peace in your life, then
put an end to your wanderings. Look to Jesus.
On the night of His birth, the angels told the shepherds…
Luke 2:14 (NLT)
"Glory to God in the highest heaven, and
peace on earth to all whom God favors."
He came to give you peace. He also came to give you hope, and there
would be no hope if He hadn’t come.
“The absence of hope is
But we don’t have to despair, because Jesus did come, and that means we
can have hope. The apostle Paul wrote a couple of letters to his
apprentice, Timothy, and at the very beginning of his first letter, he
1 Timothy 1:1 (NLT)
This letter is from Paul, an apostle of
Christ Jesus, appointed by the command of God our Savior and by Christ
Jesus our hope.
Jesus is our hope. He is our hope for a future with Him. He is our hope
for better days. He is our hope that there’s more than this life. He’s
the hope that Isaiah alluded to when he wrote…
Isaiah 9:2 (NLT)
The people who walk in darkness will see a
And I’m not talking about the “wishful thinking” kind of hope. The hope
I’m talking about and that the Bible talks about is a confident
expectation and trust that what is promised will become reality. It’s
hope that enables us persevere and endure despite obstacles. It’s hope
that permits us to look beyond the moment to our future reward. And
it’s hope that is only possible because Jesus came.
Third, because Jesus came, we can have…
• A Second
Because Jesus came, He’s
offering you a second chance. He’s offering you a mulligan. He’s
offering you a do-over. He’s offering you a second-chance…and a
third... and a fourth… and a fifth. No matter who you are and no matter
what you’ve done, Jesus wants to offer you forgiveness and a new start.
Acts 13:38-39 (NLT)
“In this man Jesus there is forgiveness for
your sins. Everyone who believes in him is freed from all guilt and
declared right with God--something the Jewish law could never do.”
So we’re forgiven and given a second chance because Jesus came. If He
hadn’t come, that wouldn’t be possible. And because Jesus came, we can
• New Life
Jesus Himself said…
John 10:10 (NLT)
“My purpose is to give life in all its
And as Paul wrote…
2 Corinthians 5:17 (NLT)
What this means is that those who become
Christians become new persons. They are not the same anymore, for the
old life is gone. A new life has begun!
You can have new life with Jesus because you’re reconnected with the
source of life. And that’s good news! You see, death is the penalty for
our rebellion against God, physically and spiritually. We all
eventually die physically, but without Christ we’re already dead
spiritually. And Jesus doesn’t want that to remain the status quo. So
He came and died in your place so that you could be offered a new life…
and eternal life… instead. He didn’t want you to be lost to your
We’re going to talk a lot more about that next week. But what you need
to understand this morning is this: Jesus came for you. Christmas
exists for you. Jesus came to offer you all of these things… peace and
hope and a second chance and a new life… along with joy and purpose and
forgiveness and love. Why would you ever want to reject that? You’re
not going to find any greater bargain this Christmas.
So how do you take Jesus
up on His offer? How do you accept all these things that Jesus came to
give you? Well, John chapter one lays it out for you. It tells you that
Jesus was God who came to earth as a child. But even though He was the
God who created everything that exists, many didn’t recognize Him. But
then it says…
John 1:12 (NLT)
But to all who believed him and accepted
him, he gave the right to become children of God.
So what do you have to do? You have to believe He is who He says He is,
and you have to accept Him and His forgiveness and His leadership in
your life. Believe and receive.
And if you’ve never done that, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do
that this morning. He invites you to do it, no matter who you are or
where you’re at. And personally, I can’t think of a better time than
the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus for you to begin your new life,
Would you bow your heads and close your eyes? We’re going to pray in a
moment. But before we do, let me ask you, do you want to receive what
Jesus is offering you this morning? Do you want to begin this new life
today? If so, then just look up and make eye contact with me.
All right, for those of
you who raised your hands, or perhaps for those who wanted to but were
a little scared to do that, I want to invite you to pray something like
this… you don’t have to pray out loud, just pray in the quietness of
your heart… You can pray…
“Jesus, I believe in You and I want to receive You into my life this
morning. I’m sorry for trying to live life my way; I now choose to live
it your way. Thank you for loving me enough to come to earth for me.”
If you’ve just prayed that prayer, then you need to let someone know
about it. For the rest of you, you may want to pray something like this…
“Thank you, Jesus, for coming that first Christmas. Thank you for the
difference You have made in this world and in my life. Thank you for
the hope and peace and love and joy that is mine because You came. In
Jesus’ name, Amen.