Today, we will wrap up our Advent in Narnia series with more promises from Isaiah and another part of the story of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

If you’ve been with us the last few weeks, we’ve spent some time getting to know the four Pevensie children and the world of Narnia – including the True King, a magical lion by the name of Aslan who hasn’t been seen in generations. The children stumble into Narnia seemingly on accident, but as they will soon find out, their presence and Aslan’s simultaneous return is not a coincidence.

As we listen to this song from Isaiah, I invite you to set aside, just for a moment, all of the anxieties and to-do lists and annoyances of the pre-holiday buzz, and open your hearts to the joy of God’s presence among us.

Scripture: Isaiah 12:2-6

Surely God is my salvation;

   I will trust, and will not be afraid,

for the Lord God is my strength and my might;

   he has become my salvation.

 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

And you will say on that day:

Give thanks to the Lord,

   call on his name;

make known his deeds among the nations;

   proclaim that his name is exalted.

Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously;

   let this be known in all the earth.

Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion,

   for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

I have a question that I really actually want to hear your answers for: what brings you joy during this season?

For me, it’s the small moments of peace and delight: it’s singing Silent Night on Christmas Eve, candles flickering. It’s watching my nephew open gifts, knowing how much he’s loved. It’s the little conversations with younger children about Christmas parties and favorite songs. It’s sending Christmas cards with funny pictures of my dog on them.

But when I step back and really think about what joy Christmas can bring us, I begin to find myself swept up in the big story of God’s love and salvation all over again. Every year, it nearly overwhelms me to think that the God of the whole universe loved this world so much that rather than give us up, God chose to become a fragile little human – to live with us and teach us and live and die and rise for us.

We begin the Christian year in Advent because Christmas is the beginning of a brand-new chapter in that big story.

And that’s a different kind of joy—it’s an anticipation, a hope, a sense that we are now part of something larger than ourselves.

That’s the same feeling the Pevensie children had when they first met a talking Beaver in Narnia, who gathered them close and told them in hushed tones:

“’They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed.’ And now a very curious thing happened,” says the story. “None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its 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 realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”[1]

Later, as they were drawn further and further into this drama, they would find out that Aslan, the true King of Narnia, hadn’t been seen in generations.

But now, Aslan’s return begins to melt the Witch’s frosts, bringing Christmas to Narnia. There is much rejoicing among the Narnian creatures – feasts and carols and gifts – which infuriates her. On her way to confront Aslan, she comes across a celebration being held by a group of small woodland creatures – a fox, some squirrels, etc – and she is enraged.

Heidi Haverkamp, in Advent in Narnia, describes the scene like this:

“She is furious to hear that anyone is celebrating what ostensibly means the end of her reign, but she also is indignant at the existence of a feast at all. She shouts, ‘What is the meaning of all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence?’ A feast is a waste, no matter what it celebrates. No one in her kingdom should be enjoying physical pleasure or comfort. Even the Queen herself, aside from a few furs and a crown, seems to own nothing luxurious or pleasurable. Her castle is bare as a tomb. Her disdain for luxury is a stark contrast to the Beavers, who serve a delectable meal (including dessert) to the children. Aslan sets up his military camp with a beautiful tent pavilion of yellow and crimson. The kingdom of God is a place of honesty and uprightness but also a place for delicious meals, physical comforts, and beauty. Advent is a time for both repentance and waiting, and it is also a time to celebrate the goodness of creation. Embrace the beauty and richness of the created world God has given us and to which he came, incarnate, that first Christmas.”[2]

As soon as they hear the words “Aslan is on the move,” the creatures of Narnia do two things: they celebrate, and they go to join him. (Even the Pevensies, who are not from this world and could very easily just turn around and go home, decide to join the cause.)

What began as whispers between squirrels and beavers and fauns has now become a full-scale rebellion against White Witch’s reign of fear and control—and that rebellion includes cake.

Isn’t it interesting to think of joy as rebellious? 

We live in a cultural moment when it’s easier to be angry than it is to be excited and joyful. Everyone is angry about something—and there is plenty to be frustrated about—but the ability to pause long enough to find joy, even in the midst of chaos, is rare indeed.

Perhaps what we need today is an Isaiah moment: a big, loud, raucous reminder that Joy To The World isn’t just a nice song. It’s an invitation to join in the celebration, because as we speak, Jesus is on the move.

And I want to add a small caveat to this ode to joy: not everyone will feel happy and peppy this week. Some of us are missing loved ones. Some of us are lonely. Some of us are dealing with stresses and illnesses and complicated families. Please do not hear this as a demand that you act cheery and plaster a smile on.

Instead, consider this a reminder that no matter what you carry, how low you feel, how many tears you shed, Christ is coming into the world for you. This is the same Christ who will hold you up, who will weep with you and for you, who will call on you to join him in caring for and being cared for by this community of faith.

You are so, so loved. And if all else fails, let that be cause for quiet rejoicing.

Beloved people of God, Jesus is on the move – coming to us. So let us feast, and let us sing our songs of joy!

[1] Lewis, C.S.. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia Book 2) (pp. 63-64). HarperCollins.

[2] Haverkamp, Heidi. Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season (Kindle Locations 732-739). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.