I have a stunning confession to make that is shocking to many people…
I really don’t like reading C.S. Lewis. If the name rings a bell, but you can’t quite place him, he’s a British academic, professor, and author (The Chronicles of Narnia).
It’s not that I don’t like his stories or witty quotes, but it’s that I find him unendingly difficult to read. Why might I write this scandalous (not really) confession to you at the beginning of a post about preparing to give thanks? As I have been readying myself for a time when we all collectively turn our faces back to remember what has happened over the past year and give thanks for God’s hand in our lives, I am reminded of C.S. Lewis’ story, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
In the early chapters, the main characters find themselves in the magical land of Narnia, which is in a deep and dark winter that has lasted 100 years. As the story progresses, the hope of redemption enters the realm and the winter begins to thaw. Snow melts, the leaves begin to shine green again, and bare branches begin to bud with the signs of life – the promise of the flowers and fruit that are to come.
As we prepare ourselves for the Thanksgiving holiday, I hope to remind you that even if this year has felt like a deep, dark winter for you with physical suffering, pain, relational struggles, spiritual struggles, or all of the above, God has not left or abandoned you to your “winter” (Ps 34:18). The living God of the Bible is in the business of redeeming our struggles. The hope of his followers is that he actively works in all that comes into our lives (Rom 8:28-39) and will bring about an end to not only our personal winter, but the winter of his entire creation.
The Apostle Paul writes:
We rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. – Romans 5:2b-5
The uniting theme in our individual and corporate stories lead us to hold a hope in a God that is so powerful, we can actually rejoice in our sufferings knowing he works through them.
I know this last year has been difficult for many of us, and for our church as a whole. But by the grace of God, we as a church are beginning to see the first signs of “spring” in our midst.
This coming Sunday we will celebrate together as a church by dedicating babies, studying the promises of God, baptizing Christians, and eating a meal together. All of these things are utterly spectacular and are a powerful gift from God to us.
So even though you now know my shocking secret about my feelings towards reading C.S. Lewis and may have lost all respect for me. I still encourage you to pray for the families who will celebrate by dedicating new physical life, for those who will celebrate new spiritual life through the waters of baptism, and for all who will come together and celebrate God’s work amongst us as we eat together and share stories of thankfulness.
Finally, I encourage you to read Psalm 107. It is a psalm of thankfulness and ends with the exhortation to, “Consider the steadfast love of the Lord” (Psalm 107:43).
Quite frankly if you do nothing else to prepare for Thanksgiving outside of heeding the encouragement of the Scripture above, you are going to do alright. The steadfast love of the Lord is our hope and our joy.
I look forward to celebrating with you all.