Narnia was cursed. In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, the land of Narnia had been overwhelmed by the dark power of the White Witch, and all the inhabitants of that magical world suffered under her cold oppression. The land bent under the weight of snow and ice that never melted. The result of that curse was summarized famously as being “always winter but never Christmas.” It should have been a winter wonderland, but there was no joy. There was no singing. There were no gifts. Only the dark, bitter, and biting chill.
In its own way this is a fitting description of our own world, our own lives. As the echoes of those first bites of fruit in Eden bounced through the world’s valleys the creeping frost was descending. The good creation fell under an impenetrable curse. Humanity – cursed. Relationships – cursed. The cosmos – cursed. We live in a world where the faint memory of God’s image still resides in humanity, but the dark void of our sin has left us as exiles, away from our Father’s home, away from the warmth of his hearth. We are made far too aware that things are not as they should be.
We live in a world where fiscal cliffs threaten the giving of gifts. We live in a world where the holidays are haunted by the memories of loved ones who have died. We live in a world where Christmas lights are dimmed by loneliness. We live in a world where the celebration of childhood is silenced by the murder of children. We live in a world where all our Feliz Navidads are choked by funeral processions. So we turn our collars up to the wind and huddle against the cold as tears burn our eyes in the winter’s bite. We live in a world where in spite of all our decorations, it is always winter but never Christmas.
Will this season of sin’s oppression ever end? Will the curse be broken? Miraculously, God whispers a promise in those first moments of Eden’s darkness. Someone will come. The serpent’s head will be crushed. The poisonous fog of evil will be eradicated. To borrow a phrase from Max Lucado, God will come near. He will push back the darkness. The same voice that said “Let there be light!” in the beginning will scream those same words again.
The Bible tells us that this promised one did come. The Christ has entered the world of the curse. He has borne our sorrows. He has known our grief. He has cried our tears, and as he was lifted onto a cursed tree to die, the world itself descended into darkness. And the earth shook. And his breathing stopped. And his shroud wrapped corpse was locked in a graveyard. And the last candlelight of hope seemed to be extinguished.
But in the blackened dampness of that tomb the curse was killed. Jesus was carried into the cemetery and walked out living on the other side. The candle flamed back with a mighty blaze and those breathless lungs once more breathed in the air of a world made new. This is our hope. The death and resurrection of Jesus, the good news of his victory over sin, death, the grave, the curse, is the ultimate resounding and triumphant declaration that even in a world where the cold still seeps, Christmas has finally come. This winter’s tale is coming to a close. Where once only a mournful lament could be heard, now all creation sings “No more let sins and sorrows grow, Nor thorns infest the ground; He comes to make His blessings flow Far as the curse is found, Far as the curse is found, Far as, far as, the curse is found.”
Yes our hearts still break. Yes we still mourn the chilling consequences of a world that still suffers under the weight of our fall. Yet we do not mourn as a people who have no hope. The Lamb has conquered. The seasons really are changing. Carols are ringing, and as sleigh bells are heard in the night there is a warm breeze on the wind. Because of the crucified and conquering Christ, we will live (though we die) to see the snow retreat. There will be new heavens and a new earth. We will reenter Eden, and in that realm of the resurrected Son the prophecy of Revelation will be a reality, “No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:3-5).
Oh how we long for that day when those of us who remain, and all those who have descended into the dust of death, hear the clear ringing of trumpet song as our King proclaims, “Arise, my love, my beautiful one, and come away, for behold the winter is past; the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come” (Song of Solomon 2:10-12).
Waiting to hear those words,
P.S. Merry Christmas!