What a moment! I was speaking in Campbell College this morning and as it was the alma mater of CS Lewis I threw a Narnia story in. I didn’t have to contrive it. It is one of my favourite stories that I use in sermons.
It is from the very first Narnia Chronicle, The Magician’s Nephew. In that first book the children, in this instance Digory and Polly, get into Narnia not through a wardrobe, as in later books, but with magic rings that transport them through a stagnant pool.
On their arrival Lewis becomes a little stereotypically sexist. Let us put it down to his generational context. Anyway, Polly plays the cowering little girl who wants to go back home. She is frightened by this strange other world. Digory plays the tough boy and says to Polly, “There’s not much point in finding a magic ring that let’s you into other worlds, if you’re afraid to look at them when you’ve got there.”
I have used this quotation to ask the same question of Jesus. My preacher’s paraphrase is, “What is the point of Jesus being born, living, teaching, dying, being raised to life and ascending in order to bring us life in all its fulness if we don’t live that life in all its fulness.”
That is what I put to the boys today. We were talking about living the fulness of life, finding where our gifting meets the needs of the world. We were wondering what we do with Jesus offer in John 10:10 of “life and life in all its fulness”.
There is more though. For me too many who have took hold of Jesus gift do not use it as Digory suggests we should use the rings. I see and hear a lot of Christianity that is content to simply creep into the new world Christ offers but is frightened of exploring it. It is as if we sit on the edge shouting at others to join us on the edge of Lewis’s pool.
However, we seem scared, like Polly, of exploring what the new Kingdom offers. We are hesitant about the adventurous, maybe dangerous, possibilities of reaching across divisions to love enemies, or find ourselves connecting with prostitutes or the lepers of the day, turning over the tables of the religious exploiting the poor, bringing God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. We seem to prefer sitting fearful on the fringes, praying and reading about the new world rather than getting deep into its interior.
The amazing thing about this morning was that after the service in Campbell College the headmaster, my friend Robert Robinson, asked me if I wanted to see the stagnant pool! What?! We went down the back drive of Campbell and took a right into a little wooded area. It was without doubt, in my mind, “the wood between the worlds”. Right there in front of me, green with algae, the stagnant pool. Just 100 yards from where Lewis grew up, this surely was the place. I could almost see Digory and Polly on its edge. It was a lovely post sermon moment! Now let us explore…