Aslan - Jon Fryer
I have loved the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe since I was five years old. I couldn’t really tell you why, but the story had deep emotional resonance for me from the first time I saw the 1970’s cartoon version, and I’ve loved it ever since. It wasn’t until I was somewhat older that I realised that one of the things that really spoke to me was the character and story of Aslan.
For those of you who don’t know, Aslan is a great Lion, the great son of the Emperor over the water, and the King of the Wood, the King of all Kings even higher than the High King. And Aslan is simply fantastic. When the beavers gather the children together in the hut on the dam they whisper the words, as if they are telling a great secret ‘Aslan is on the move…’, and at the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer. Aslan is on the move… and when Aslan moves, everything changes.
Aslan brings spring in his mane, and his very appearance breaks the back of winter. The witch has enslaved Narnia in ice and snow for a hundred years, making it always winter and never Christmas, but at even the rumour of Aslan’s coming the ice begins to melt, the trees start to wake, and St Nicholas is allowed to again enter the realm. Aslan is the prince of the Summer Kingdom over the water, and he brings the life of spring with him.
“Is he quite safe? Asked Susan. “I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion”.
“Safe?” said Mr Beaver. “Who said anything about safe? Of course he isn’t safe – but he is good.” Aslan is big and beautiful and terrifying and powerful and dangerous and everything a lion should be. Of course he’s not safe. But he is good. And that is enough.
And best of all, Aslan always wins. He never fails. He is always there at exactly the right moment to save the day, even when everything else seems hopeless. Those of you who know the story will know that Edmund betrays his brother and sisters and the good folk of Narnia to the witch in return for a cup of sherbert and some Turkish delight. He sells her his soul for sweets, and a chance to spite his big brother. And the witch claims what is hers. According to the Deep Magic from the dawn of time that is written on the great stone table, and written in letters deep as a spear is long on the fire stones of the secret hill, and is engraved on the sceptre of the Emperor over the Sea, every traitor belongs to her as her rightful prey and for every treachery she has the right to kill. Knowing the deep magic Aslan concedes to her, but as is allowed, he takes Edmunds place. The witch thinks she has won and the forces of darkness celebrate – the Cruels and the Hags and the Incubuses, Wraiths, Horrors, Efreets, Sprites, Orknies, Wooses and Ettins – they all party and heap abuse on Aslan. They taunt him, bind him, shave him, and finally kill him, and as morning comes they leave his corpse gutted on the table of stone. Susan and Lucy, who have watched from afar, weep over his body until the sun begins to rise, when they turn to leave. At that moment they heard from behind them a loud noise – a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giants plate. The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end… and Aslan was no longer there.
You see, Aslan had come back to life more powerful than before and now nothing can stop him. Though the witch knew the deep magic from the dawn of time, what the witch didn’t know is that there is a deeper magic. Her knowledge only goes back to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before time dawned she would have read there a different incantation. What the witch didn’t know is that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitors stead then the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards. Aslan come back with all of the power of life on his side, and he is invincible. And he sets about putting everything right again, the reconciliation of all things. Flowers bloom underneath his feet, the trees walk, the rivers are unchained, he breathes out and the cold stone statues live again, old friendships are renewed, the kingdom is restored, and his friends are crowned as kings and queens on the four thrones of Cair Paravel.
Aslan is fantastic, and when he is on the move then life rings the bells of ecstasy and is forever itself again.
And the point of this mini sermon is that I know this because I’ve met him, and met him more than once. As Aslan tells Lucy, he knows our world very well, although he is called by a different name here. His name here is not Aslan but Jesus, the Lion of Judah, the great Son of the Father, the King of Kings, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And my friend Jesus is fantastic. When his spirit is on the move in a place then it sends a shiver down your spine. It makes people pass out in awe. It makes demons cry out in shopping malls. It makes children laugh and adults angry. At the name of Jesus everything changes, and when his Spirit moves, no one knows what will happen next. If I tell you that he is on the move and that he is coming here to this place in power again, soon, maybe even tonight, what does that mean to you? Does it make you hope, dream, fear, yawn? Because its true. Aslan is on the move.
Jesus brings healing with him, and his very appearance breaks the chains of injustice and oppression. And believe me, we are oppressed. All our lives the Devil has kept us enslaved to fear, to doubt, to guilt, to obsession and lust, to sin. Its always winter and never Christmas. But today is Easter. Today is Easter, the day of the son rise, and the whispered stories of the Bible tell us that is doesn’t always have to be this way. That people can change, even the worst of people. That there is healing. There is forgiveness. You can be different if you just reach out and touch. And I know those stories whispered in faith are true, cos they are my story, and today I am better than I once was, and because I have met the King I know what my life means and what it is for. I am Zaccheus and Thomas, and Peter, and the rich young ruler, and Judas and all of those others. I am Peter and Lucy and Susan and Edmund, because the stories I was told in my childhood are all true, and Aslan is on the move, and what will be your part in that story, and where will that story take you this Easter evening?
And if that doesn’t sound quite safe, well, who said anything about safe? Of course Jesus isn’t safe – but he is good. I thought my story own would be one of quiet work, with very few people around. Jesus turned that upside down – now I’ve got you lot. I’ve got a job at a crazy place that was always a dream but I never really thought might happen. And I’ve got no idea what happens next. There is no plan, I go where I’m told. And that is scary and sometimes its painful – leaving behind friends to set up this place with Pete was one of the worst things I’ve ever had to do in my life, cos friends are hard to come by and I value them a lot, but its worth it. Of course its not safe, but he is good, and that is enough.
And best of all, Jesus always wins. All things work together for the good of those who love him. He never fails. He is always there at exactly the right moment to save the day, even when everything else seems hopeless. Those of you who know the story will know that I, and you, and everyone else, betrayed our brothers and sisters to the witch in return for a few passing things that didn’t really satisfy us. We sold our souls for sweets, and spite, and jealousy, and all the other pointless petty things that glitter and glint and catch our magpie eyes. And the witch claims what is hers. According to the Deep Magic from the dawn of time that is written on the great tablets of stone that say ‘Thou shalt not’, and is written in letters deep as a spear is long on the fire stones at the centre of the world, and is engraved on the sceptre of the Emperor over the Sea, every traitor belongs to our fearful enemy as rightful prey and for every betrayal the accuser has the right to kill. Knowing the deep magic Jesus conceded to our Enemy, but as is allowed, on that bitter Good Friday he chose to take our place. The Enemy thinks it has won and the forces of darkness celebrate – the Thrones and the Dominions and the Principalities and the Powers of this dark world – they all party and heap abuse on the King of Kings. They taunt him, bind him, strip him, and finally kill him, and as night falls they leave his corpse gutted and hanging on a tree. And yet, three days later, as the sun began to rise on the first day of the week, the soldiers left to guard his tomb heard a loud noise – a great cracking, deafening noise as if a giant had broken a giants plate. The Stone blocking the way out of the tomb had been rolled away by a great earthquake, and the curtain in the Temple separating God from man had been split from top to bottom. And Jesus, Jesus was no longer there. He is not here. He has risen. Christ is risen; he is risen indeed.
And oh yes he is risen indeed. You see, Jesus has come back to life more powerful than before and now nothing can stop him. Though our enemy knew the deep magic from the dawn of time, what he didn’t know is that there is a deeper magic. His knowledge only goes back to the dawn of time. But if he could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and darkness before time dawned she would have read there a different incantation. What the witch didn’t know is that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitors stead then the Tablets of the law would crack and Death itself would start working backwards. Jesus came back with all of the power of life eternal, life everlasting, on his side, and he is invincible. And he has even now set about putting everything right again, the reconciliation of all things. The dry places bloom, the rocky places are made level, the trees clap their hands, the river flows pure and clean down from the throne for the healing of the nations, he breathes out and the cold stone hearts live again, old friendships are renewed, and the Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near to you, and one day, oh one day soon and very soon, his friends will sit on thrones with him there in the Summer Kingdom.
The Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near to you, Aslan is on the move, and everything has changed. Everything must change.
I think we’ve heard enough from me for a bit. I know that some of you, most of you here tonight in fact, have met Jesus, or Aslan, or whatever name you best know him by. Through the story told so well by CS Lewis I’ve shared with you a little bit about what I think is so fantastic about Jesus, but I want some of you to be brave and share with all of us why you think he is fantastic. In just one or two sentences tell us what is so special about this Jesus you claim to know and love and follow. I’m going to put on a quick video clip to give you a few minutes to think, but then I want some of you to share… and if no one volunteers then I’ll pick on people!
On their own, the bread and wine are nothing.
To become a foretaste and a promise
of love made real and a world made whole,
they need a story and a blessing
and a people who believe…
It would not have been God’s table
if they hadn’t all been gathered around it:
the betrayer and the friend
the power-hungry and the justice seeker
the faithful and the fickle.
When Jesus poured the wine, and the bread was broken;
when everyone could eat -
the outcast and the beloved
the arrogant and the gracious
the wrong-doer and the wrongly done by -
the table became a foretaste
of love made real
and of a world made whole.
And tonight your company at the table,
will include the betrayer and the beloved
the wrong-doer and the wrongly done by.
It will not be God’s table without them.
And the promise is
that when you are together,
when you tell the story and give the blessing
when you break the bread and pour the wine
you will discover a foretaste
of love made real
and of a world made whole.
On the night that Jesus was betrayed he took bread, and gave thanks, and he broke it saying ‘This is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of me”.
In the same way, after supper, he took the cup saying “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me”.
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the Lords death until he comes. Because what the witch didn’t know is that when a
willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitors stead then the stones would break and Death itself would start working backwards.
Life instead of death.
Come and live this Easter night. Take and eat, and drink, and be thankful.
What was Jesus like?
The Character of God
How do we know what God is like?
The Authority of Scripture
How should we obey what the Bible teaches us?
The Wise Mans Tragedy
What can we learn from Solomon?
What can we learn from the mother of Jesus?
Cain and Abel
What can we learn from the first murderer?
Who is Aslan? Who is Jesus?
When the Fire Burns Low
How do we cope when we have grown tired of God's way?
Fix Your Eyes
How do we look for God?
Why should we look after the world God has given us?
How do we know who we are in God?
Lent - Pride, Doubt and Jealousy
What is the period of Lent all about?
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of God than dwell in the tents of the wicked...
How do get to have intimacy with God?
Can we feel the breath of God?
Hearing From God
How can I hear what God wants to say to me?
The Story We Find Ourselves In
The Bible tells the story of all creation - what is my part in that story?
What does Passover mean to us as Christians?
What does it mean to say that Jesus is alive?
What is the Fruit of the Holy Spirit?
Teaching for Christmas Eve...
What does it mean to have authority?
What can we do when it all seems like too much?
I Will Be With You
What does it mean to say "God is with us"?
What are angels, and what can we learn from what the Bible says about them?
A contemplative service for Pentecost
A creative/contemplative baptism service
How do we know what we should do?
A creative prayer/worship service
The Holy Spirit
Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does (s)he do?
A Relationship With Jesus
What does it mean to have a 'relationship' with the Son of God?
The Pilgrim's Progress
If we keep our eyes on the prize, what a journey it could be!
Heroes, Promises and Trust
How does our relationship with Jesus realy work?
A liturgy for masculine prayer
Living Life to the Full
How do we get the most out of life?
What is so speacial about the faith of Abraham?
The Presence of God
What does it mean to say God is present?
How Do I Know My Faith is Real?
We all wrestle with doubt, so how can we cope?
Who is Jesus?
...and what does he want from you?
To Act Justly Every Day...
What does the Lord your God require of you?
Sex and Self Image
Don't you know how beautiful you are?
Will you let Jesus be in charge?
Would you know him if he met you on the road?
The Person of the Holy Spirit
Who is the Holy Spirit, and what does (s)he do?
The Passion of the King
What does Jesus really want?
How can we really 'count it all joy'?
More Than Words
"... but words can never hurt me"?
The Armour of God
What tools does God give us to protect us from the Enemy?
The Heart of the Gospel
The Kingdom of Heaven has drawn near to you, therefore...
Do you really want to follow him?
How should I prepare to give a sermon?
The gift of healing comes from the Holy Spirit, but how does it work?
The People of God
What does it mean when we say that the Bible is the Word of God?
Jesus Part 2: The Deity of Christ
How can Jesus be God and Man at the same time?
Jesus Part 1: Who Do You Say I Am?
Who is Jesus, and why does He matter?
How do we resist?
What is holiness and how do we try to achieve it?
The Art of Spiritual Warfare
We're in a constant battle, so how do we try and prepare to fight?
Forgiveness Part Two: Forgiving Others
What is forgiveness and why do we need to forgive others?
Forgiveness Part One: Forgiven by God
Why does it seem so often that God is a million miles away?
Prayer Part Two: Receiving From God
Why does it seem so often that God is a million miles away?
Prayer Part One: The Lords Prayer
We look in detail at the Lords Prayer
It's one of the spiritual gifts, but what exactly is it, how does it happen?
Basics of Christianity
Here we delve into the Nicene Creed
Becoming a Christian
What is a Christian, how do you become one?