Thursday, December 08, 2011

Always Winter and Never Christmas

I recently came across a copy of a book entitled The World's Christmas which features stories about Christmas from all over the world. One story in the book, "Gabjir's First Present," takes place in Nepal. This book was written in 1964, a very short time after Christian missionaries were granted access to Nepal in the 1950's. It begins with these words:

"High up in the heart of Nepal--a land where there is no Christmas...."

As I read those words, I was reminded of another book, and another beautiful, snow-covered land that had no Christmas. In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis paints an unforgettable literary landscape of a snow-covered country under the reign of a terrible witch. "It is she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas," Mr. Tumnus tells young Lucy. The very thought of such a condition makes Lucy exclaim, "How awful!" But later, the Pevensie children are told by Mr. Beaver, "They say Aslan is on the move--perhaps already landed." Lewis writes, "At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside." When Lucy heard about Aslan being on the move, she "got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays."

Of Aslan, the Narnians had said,

Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight, 
At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more, 
When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death, 
And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.

In a brief matter of time, the children meet Father Christmas (or, Santa Claus). He announces, "I've come at last .... She kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch's magic is weakening." And soon the long winter begins to break, and Aslan comes! And when he comes, he conquers the Witch through death and resurrection!

I love that story. I believe that in the whole universe there is only one great story -- the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Every other story that we think is great, or even good, is only so because in some way it strikes a familiar chord in our hearts with that one story. The Narnia tales do that. Aslan is very clearly Jesus!

As I think about Aslan coming to bring Christmas to Narnia after a seemingly endless winter, I go back to that statement about Nepal. "High up in the heart of Nepal--a land where there is no Christmas...." Oh, it is plenty cold, and there is plenty of snow, but no Christmas. A friend of mine lives there. He told me recently, "They actually celebrate Christmas here. OK, well they kind of celebrate Christmas here." Some people exchange presents and decorate, but very few understand the truth about Jesus at the heart of Christmas. In fact, my friend said that in a recent conversation about Christmas, he had to explain to others that Santa Claus was not a biblical figure, and that Christmas was really about Jesus, not Santa. Does that make you feel like Lucy felt when she heard it was always winter and never Christmas? "How awful!"

But, here's the thing. I have it on good authority that Aslan is on the move! King Jesus is advancing His Kingdom far and wide, and will continue to do so until it is consummated at the end of all things. We know this: every tribe, tongue and nation will be represented around His eternal throne. Winter will break and Christmas will come to the unreached peoples of Nepal. Even now, Aslan shakes his mane and bears his teeth. Christ is transforming lives in still small, but ever growing numbers. They understand the truth of Jesus, and for them the Christmasless Winter has come to an end. The holidays are beginning. Multitudes are still snow-bound without hope and without God in the world. Like the stony sculptures surrounding the Witch's palace in Narnia, these who are dead in their trespasses and sins are waiting for Aslan to breathe life into them through His Gospel and His Spirit.

Will you pray for the glorious light of Christ to dawn upon the unreached peoples of Nepal? Will you pray for winter to break, and Christmas to come to Nepal as it did to Narnia? Will you pray for the spiritual strongholds to be broken even as the Witch's power was crushed by the resurrected glory of Aslan?

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