First Thoughts From The Rev. Canon David Smith: 

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Reflections on the C. S.Lewis based play, "Narnia" as we celebrate Narnia Sunday at St. Philip's

Posted by Emily Sanderson on Friday, November 14, 2014
I realize this is a busy time of year but I hope a lot of people are able to
attend the production of Narnia. It will not be Broadway but I guess that is
the point as community theatre is a great way for children, teens and adults
to work together to produce something beautiful and meaningful. To have the
opportunity to sing with a chorus and to act on a stage and to be part of a
team that makes people laugh and think is great so I hope people come to
support community theatre. And of course you can support  our own
parishioners in the play, Mauve, Miriam and Esther.

But mostly I  am particularly keen about this play because it is so
obviously about Jesus (although a lot of people do not see this) and it
invites us to consider our response to God's sacrificial love in Christ. And
more and more I think that for us to convey the Good News of Jesus we need
to turn to the creative arts. Music, drama, literature, painting and other
visual arts can capture the mystery of God's love far more than straight
didactic presentations or formulaic conversations. I wish like anything that
I were creative for this reason but I am not. Philip Yancey in his latest
book, Vanishing Grace, quotes the former Pope and N.T. Wright," The only
really effective apologia for Christianity comes down to two arguments,
namely, the saints the church has produced and the art which has grown in
her womb. Arts are highways into the center of a reality which cannot be
glimpsed , let alone grasped , any other way" pg 133

As I only have two lines in the play I have had the opportunity to watch it
a lot. And there have been some scenes where I have almost started to cry
because I saw before me the beauty of reconciliation between God and
humanity. I don't think you could accuse C. S. Lewis of being subtle or
vague but the details are different enough that you end up saying and
feeling this is not about a fantasy world with children and strange
creatures; it is about Jesus and the apostles and evil and mission and
reconciliation and hope.

When you go to the show see if you agree with me and let me know if you
think I have left out some of the Biblical themes.  I am sure I will because
I do not have time to write about them all and I have just not see them.

There is the theme of temptation, sin and evil and the dire consequences
of evil. It is a fantasy world but the setting in earth for the play is the
second world war. Edmund is tempted by the Witch all over Turkish Delight, a
candy. Perhaps Lewis had in mind the Garden of Eden and the temptation faced
by Adam and Eve. I thought of our Lord's temptation in the wilderness as
well. There is a scene where the bad guys are scared that Aslan will break
free from the ropes binding him down on a stone and the Witch assures her
underlings that he could, but he will not because he keeps his word. It opens
a huge can of worms but clearly Lewis was engaging with the reality of evil.
The children are given gifts to do battle with the witch and her army and so
I think about Paul's statement in Ephesians. "  Put on the whole armour of
God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For
our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh but against the
rulers , against the authorities against the cosmic powers of the present
darkness" In the play darkness is portrayed as winter.

On  the more positive side of things over against temptation and evil the
play demonstrates so wonderfully our Lord's victory of love and

One of my favourite scenes is when Aslan has forgiven and been reconciled
with Edmund. There is a gorgeous duet song by these characters which is
really touching.  And there is reconciliation between the four siblings . It
makes me think of 2 Corinthians where Paul says ," that is in Christ god was
reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against
them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us"

It is kind of strange but father Christmas shows up in the play and he gives
presents, unique presents for each of the children to use in their battle
with the Witch. I think  it is a comment on the gifts of the Spirit. In 1
Corinthians and in other places Paul teaches that God has gifted us all with
gifts to be used for the building up of the church and for God's mission.
Although the gifts are all different they are all equally important and
everyone is called to use these gifts in love and as a team.

The primary Biblical and theological themes are our Lord's death and
atonement and His resurrection and our resurrection,the day of Pentecost
and Ascension.

When Aslan is killed the similarities to our Lord's death are striking. For
example some of the bad guys me included, tease Aslan and I along with the
other bad guys chant a victory song declaring in ironic fashion what has
taken place. It makes me think of the hymn, When I Survey the Wondrous Cross.
Were the whole realm of nature mine that would be on offering to small for
the love of God towards us in the cross of Christ.

But Aslan comes back to life and he declares that this is a time of joy. I
think of the garden tomb when Mary Magdalene  who has been weeping in grief
finally recognizes Jesus and says teacher! The joy of that moment must have
been remarkable.

The play ends with the children in the presence of the living Aslan and the
empowered Narnia creatures using their gifts and their new found hope to
overcome evil and rule the kingdom as Aslan would have it ruled. Thy Kingdom
Come on Earth as it is in Heaven.

Which brings me to the wardrobe that the children go through to enter Narnia
and return to Earth . It kind of symbolizes to me the thin line between
Heaven and Earth and the promise in revelation of a new heaven and a new
earth coming together.

Anyway I am running out of time so I must send this off.  I have not
referred to any sources  about Lewis and the story of Narnia  and I am
certainly not a Lewis scholar and I am embarrassed to say that I have not
even  read his children's stories but as you can see I have enjoyed seeing the
wonder of our faith through this play.

I hope this is helpful as we here the actors talk about the play and listen
to scripture that I think Lewis must have had in mind.