Advent: Day 4

Daily Office Lections: Amos 3:12 --- 4:5; 2 Peter 3:1-10; Matthew 21:23-32

In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, four siblings make their way into the enchanted world of Narnia. Lucy, the youngest, is the first to enter this magical world. While playing a game of hide and seek, she goes into an old wooden wardrobe which unbeknownst to her is a gateway to Narnia. Upon her arrival there, Lucy finds it in a state of perpetual winter. Lucy makes a friend, Mr. Tumnus, a half-man, half-goat, who tells her, “It is winter in Narnia, and has been for ever so long.”[1] He later explains that this is the doing of the White Witch, that “It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas.”[2]

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is a fictional and allegorical retelling of the story of Christ and the story of redemption. Narnia is in disarray under the illegitimate rule of the White Witch, the Satan figure in The Chronicles of Narnia. The Narnians, suffering a long winter, are waiting for Aslan, the Great Lion – the Christ figure – to arrive and act.

We, the sons of Adam and daughters of Eve (as the Narnians call us) are waiting, too. We are waiting for Christ our King to arrive and act, to end this winter of sin and death, to overthrow the illegitimate rule of Satan, and to usher in the springtime of new creation. And perhaps we feel at times a bit like Mr. Tumnus – that it’s always winter but never Christmas. We cry, how long, O Lord? It’s been two thousand years. Perhaps we have started to listen to the voice of scoffers, like those that Apostle Peter mentions, who say, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (2 Peter 3:4, ESV).

But the doctrine of the Second Coming should not be a source of embarrassment or discouragement, but of hope and encouragement. Today’s epistle, 2 Peter 3:8-9 “Do not ignore this fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.”

And from God’s perspective it hasn’t been long at all ---- a mere night's watch. He doesn’t experience time like we do. And moreover, God’s not being slow. He’s being patient. St. Cyril of Alexandria writes this, “If God delays the punishment of sinners…it is not because His character has changed, so that now He loves sin. Rather he is giving them time to repent.”[3] The second coming of Christ is taking a long while to get here, not because God doesn’t care, but precisely because He does!

So we wait for his arrival: his arrival liturgically (the Feast of the Nativity), his arrival sacramentally (the Holy Eucharist), and his arrival eschatologically (the Second Coming). But while we wait (and hopefully long) for the arrival of Christ in the last sense, let the first two senses remind us that we do not wait in austerity. We are not alone. We are not ill equipped. Our Lord says, “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). By the Spirit which dwells in the body of Christ, the Church, we are united with God. And through the Church Year, Christ arrives annually at the feast of his nativity, the Mass of Christ, better known as Christmas. So while the Church, the New Israel, is wandering in the wilderness awaiting her entrance into the Promised Land, she is indwelt and led by the Spirit. She is sustained by and feasts upon the Bread from Heaven, Christ our Lord who will come again to judge the quick and the dead.

Fr. Matt

[1] C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, 12.

[2] Ibid., 19.

[3] St. Cyril of Alexandria quoted in Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, 56.