Sunday, December 12, 2010

In the End, It was not a Monster

For her sermon today, Mary Cat related the Advent season to reading a familiar story, one in which you know the ending, over and and over again. The book she chose to use as an illustration was one of her favorites, "The Monster at the End of This Book."

Not being familiar with the story, my mind drifted to the first time I heard one of my favorites, "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." It was in fourth grade, and Mr. Andre, the Physical Education teacher/Assistant to the Assitant Headmaster/Assistant for Religious Education/and Assistant to Fill In Anywhere Else, a man I never trusted very much, chose this C.S. Lewis classic our listening benefit. At first we all thought we were a bit too old to be read to, but I came to look forward to this weekly break in our routine. For a youngster who was too young to recognize the religious themes, the monster near the end of this book had to be the death of Aslan at the hands of the witch. So, when we ended one week's reading at that horrible point, this young mind was left wondering, "Why did he have to die?" Pondering this over a long weekend, the tragedy felt all the greater, and is forever etched in my memory. I also remember the mixture of confusion, pleasure, and relief at Aslan's return when the story concluded with Mr. Andre's next reading.

I clearly remember Mr. Andre questioning us and instructing us on the meaning of Aslan's sacrifice. The "monster" was explained and was no longer to be feared.

Reading the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe again and again always seems to bring some new insight. I have the entire series in audio format which I have been through twice. Last night, the cinematic version aired on network TV. I watched the whole thing, enjoyed every minute, and was moved in ways I had not been moved before. I wonder how first-timers felt? Can film ever take the place of the experience of the written word?

Most of us have been through more Advents than Narnias, but despite knowing the back of the book, much can be gained by being open to hearing previously missed undertones, rejoicing at the new insights, and listening for the voice of calm of the author as He tells his familiar story again, and again, and again.


  1. I find that my appreciation of the Advent season grows more pronounced the older I get, in that I really begin focusing on the nature of Christ, the God Man and his perfection, necessitated by the imperfection of our original human representative Adam. Christ had to be God Incarnate and among us, in order to be that perfect sacrificial atonement on the cross.

    When I contemplate these things these days, I can only feel shame that it took me so long to get to the true nature of Christmas. It's much like a new reading of Narnia you describe.


  2. Randall,

    As you alluded to in your recent blog post, the old stories are so important to pass down, even when the listener is not ready to hear all of the meanings. In later years, we come to appreciate more of the story.

    I count it as a blessing that God has allowed me to survive the foolishness of my youth, and to live long enough to start to see His story anew.