The War on Joy.

I love C.S. Lewis. He isn’t perfect. He had a few ideas that were a bit much for protestant me. Overall he was a genius. What made him so brilliant is his ability to take the complex and translate it into words and ideas that others could understand and repeat. When you really understand something, you move beyond the jargon, take the idea apart, and remove the unnecessary, so the truly important can shine through with greater clarity.

I love the Narnian Novels by Lewis. They are brilliant. They have so many themes within his other books and are completely relevant for our world today, almost 70 years later. Lewis fought in World War I and wrote this book only a few years after the end of World War II. He was painfully aware of fighting in the middle of winter without the ability to celebrate Christmas. When Lewis penned one of his most famous lines, he summed up how the world’s enduring suffering faced during the second world war with one line. “It’s always winter, never Christmas.”

This past year has felt like it is always winter, never Christmas. It feels as though there has been a spell put on the world that has frozen hearts, frozen dreams, and is desiring to freeze our joy. There is a war we are facing in our world today, and it is a war on Joy. True Joy everlasting Joy.

 The Weather

One of the central themes of the life of C.S. Lewis was that of joy. His autobiography is entitled “Surprised by Joy” He had much to say about Joy. It was the hope of what was to come for him and the real enjoyment that comes from understanding we have been forgiven. The Pevensie kids understood this in the gifts they were given. “All Joy reminds. It is never a possession, always a desire for something longer ago or further away or still “about to be.” -C.S. Lewis (Interestingly, his wife’s name was also Joy).

The contrast between the Witch and Aslan at this point is one of the central themes of the first Narnian book. A key scene occurs in Chapter 11 when the Witch and Edmund are traveling through the woods in pursuit of the beavers and the other children. They happen upon “a merry party” made up of a squirrel family, two satyrs, a fox, and a Dwarf, seated at a table and enjoying a delicious holiday meal. The Witch is incensed and demands to know, “What is the meaning of all this gluttony, this waste, this self-indulgence?” When she discovers that the meal was a gift from Father Christmas, she turns the entire party into stone. The benefit of the scene is that it demonstrates that the Witch’s evil is not fundamentally about winter and cold weather, but about a deep-seated hostility to life, joy, and celebration.

Joe Rigney

The witch wanted nothing more than to see winter forever. Like Rigney says, her desire wasn’t about cold and winter. It was a deep hatred of joy of celebration of the newness of life. This wasn’t just about cold weather. It represented her hatred of joy the forward-looking hope even in winter. Which is why she made it always winter and never Christmas. 

The Food

But again the contrast goes beyond the weather and seasonal change, and perhaps surprisingly, centers in key ways on food. The Witch expresses anger at gluttony and self-indulgence; however, she also gives Edmund Turkish Delight that has been enchanted so that “anyone who had once tasted it would want more and more of it, and would even, if they were allowed, go on eating it till they killed themselves” (Ch. 4). Indeed, the Witch provides two meals to Edmund: the enchanted candy and stale bread and water. The Witch and her evil are the origins of both gluttony and asceticism, of sinful indulgence and sinful austerity.

Joe Rigney

In contrast, we see Jesus often break bread with his disciples. In fact, it was in the breaking of bread that they recognized Jesus after he had been raised to new life. It was at a meal that Jesus promised that he would once again eat with us at the marriage supper of the Lamb. In heaven, we will not float around on clouds shooting people with arrows. We will experience the true joy that the world shows us in part in the good gifts God has given us. Gifts of friendship, gifts of food and drink, gifts of beauty in the world he has made. 

The Gifts

Another contrast was how each of the Pevensie kids was given a gift. Each of the kids received a gift from a sleigh. Lucy was given a dagger for protection, a healing cordial for help, Susan a bow for protection, a magic horn that calls for help, Peter a shield for protection, and a sword for help. Edmond was not with his family. He was in the witch’s care. He had received his gift from her sleigh. It was Turkish delight that was so delicious that you always wanted more till it drove you mad. Edmonds gift was for his own self-gratification and was a means of the witch’s manipulation. It is a reminder of Digory, who was tempted to eat the silver apple. You “Shall find their heart’s desire and find despair.” Edmond found his heart’s desire but also despair. The gifts his brother and sisters were given were not for themselves exclusively. They were for the protection and help of themselves and others. The love modeled for us in the Bible is a self-giving love, not a self-gratifying one. 

The gifts we are given by God are meant to be used for the help and protection of others not for the promotion or gratification of self. 

Children often wrote to C.S. Lewis to ask him about Aslan’s true identity—his other name in our world. Lewis always answered by giving hints, including this one: “Who in our world arrived at the same time as Father Christmas?” (Hint: Read Luke 2:1-20.)

Christin Ditchfield

One of the things that have always saddened me in this story was how Edmond wasn’t there to receive a gift. He missed Father Christmas because of his treachery. But what we will see in the coming weeks was Edmond didn’t get a gift from Father Christmas. He got Aslan himself. He received what he needs more than anything else in the world. He needed forgiveness for his sins, just like you and me. We need forgiveness. Edmond is broken by his sin. He comes to Aslan and receives mercy. He receives forgiveness. He receives Aslan himself. This is the call you and I come to Christ. Find forgiveness. Because “God made the One who did not know sin to be sin for us so that in HIm we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21 This is the great exchange our sins for his righteousness. This is the basis for our Joy. This is the deeper magic forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation that the witch feared but could not understand. 

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