Recently, a dear friend and I were having a conversation where she reminded me of a scene from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis. In the scene, Aslan, the great lion, true king and saviour of Narnia has returned to life from his sacrificial death on the stone table and sets off to gather his “people” to prepare for the great battle at hand against the evil queen. He makes his way to her now vacated, icy, winter palace where she holds her traitors captive by having turned them into stone. Aslan breathes on these stone, frozen statues, warming them with his life-giving breath which thaws them and resumes the blood flow throughout their flesh.
Indeed, we were talking not of Narnia, but of the greater picture revealed to us in Scripture. Ezekiel 11:19-20; 36:26-27, Jeremiah 31:33-34 and Hebrews 8:10-13 all refer to a time where a new covenant will be (and for us in present time, has “already been”) revealed. Unlike the covenant (the relationship of commitment between God and his people) of the Old Testament which the people and not God broke, the new one will not be written on stone tablets or paper, but rather IN his people themselves – on their minds and in their hearts. A covenant which shall be for ALL peoples – wherever they are from and wherever they are at. People will be gathered IN, forgiven for their broken bargaining sin. A new, but known, plan to make us clean, to know God ourselves, and to exchange our stubborn, cold, stone hearts for new spirits, tender and responsive, alive by the breath of Christ in us!
I am so very glad to be a winter loving gal who happens to have been placed in the winter-land that exists near the Canadian Rockies. I love the snow and the beauty of stark, bare branches enveloped in hoarfrost. My kids also enjoy the snow and snuggling indoors with blankets and fires and hot drinks. So, when this same weekend, they were called upon to choose a movie to kick off the winter season and one suggested “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”, I was primed to say “yes.” I’m not making this up – only the Holy Spirit can guide these non-coincidences. My spirit longed for the victorious story of a land where “it’s always winter, but never Christmas” and a group of eager countrymen tell tales of an impending rescuer who is on his way to break the curse bringing freedom and new life. A seed of hope, growing expectantly throughout a dark and dying world full of suspicions.
I’m reminded of another story: Simeon and Anna in Luke 2:25-38; two individuals who were living rightly, faithfully, fearing God while eagerly waiting for Messiah to come and rescue his people. Maybe it had felt like winter would never end and that God would never involve himself again in the lives of his people, yet… here, two hopeful souls found prayerfully and worshipfully expecting a rescue. Both responding to Holy Spirit leadings in their lives rewarded with the opportunity to witness the presence of salvation, able to recognize it even in the face of an unexpected baby and the joyous response of praise and worship. Glory to God in the highest! Simeon, moved by the Spirit recognized a Saviour for ALL people and realized the resulting opposition – and every good story since involves a rescuer and an oppressor, goodness triumphing over evil and a journey to victory full of man’s falling and rising, failures and recoveries. Jesus would be and continues to be misunderstood, contradicted and rejected. God reveals those who are truly his. A hopeful Simeon foretold this all with one look at a not so ordinary babe – he acknowledged and rejoiced in Advent (the arrival of a notable person, thing or event).
As we enter this season of Advent, will you take time with me to ponder the state of our hearts? We too are living in dark and troubling days; unending winters where it is sometimes difficult to see any glimpse of hope or good or light or the arrival of spring. But dear friends, we KNOW the end of this story even while it’s still unfolding: Jesus wins! He has come and will come again to complete the fullness of this Master’s plan. He is the beginning and the end; the A and the Z; the one who is and was and who is still to come (Revelation 1:18)!
Can we turn our minds and hearts (which have the benefit of living after the curse’s penalty has been appropriated in Christ) to eagerly anticipate his advent both past and future while responding to the present of his presence? We in Christ, have already exchanged our hearts of stone for new and tender and responsive hearts, so let’s respond with hopeful anticipation as we reflect on all that Jesus came for and all that he will return for too!