- (Easter 2016) This is embarrassing. Had I remembered I used Mr. Beaver’s quote in a 2010 column I would have chosen something else. But the quote is still important and I still like Mr. Beaver. Oh well.
I love our National Parks. I’ve been to 14 of the 59 parks. The first one I visited was Olympic National Park in northeast Washington. We hiked a short trail through a rain forest near the Visitor Center. But even among such stunning scenery, my little sister and I got bored. So we amused ourselves by running ahead on the trail and jumping out from behind huge red cedars to scare my parents. We thought we were so clever making them jump, until they let an elderly couple pass them on the trail. Fortunately, the Park Rangers determined that this sweet couple did not need an EMT or a defibrillator.
Last week we went outside and had a lovely sunrise service. I preached from Mark’s Easter story. Despite our modern translations, the most reliable ancient sources end Mark’s gospel at verse eight, which closes the gospel like this: “Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, they were afraid because…” That’s it. Mark ends the Easter story abruptly, highlighting the women’s fear.
It seems everyday I meet Christians who are afraid. ISIS, Zika, “those” people, economic crises, crime…the list goes on and on. And for many, this fear becomes nostalgia. That somehow life would be safer if we could return to the “good ol’ days.” But the good ol’ days included more than hand-churned ice cream, porch swings and 4th of July parades. They also include horrible wars, racism, genocide and environmental degradation. Is it possible we are selective with our nostalgia? Looking backwards is troublesome. There are problems with the belief that things were better “back then” and hoping that a bygone ere can be recaptured.
In C. S. Lewis’ classic gospel tale The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan asks Mr. Beaver about Aslan, the Christ character:
“Ooh” said Susan. “I’d thought he was a man. Is he – quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.”
“Safe?” said Mr. Beaver… “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”
‘Course he isn’t safe. Christ’s life of justice and compassion found risk at every corner. And, frankly, I cannot find any scripture where Jesus promised to make our lives safe and comfy. And neither can I find any promises He made that our new, abundant life will be found retroactively in the “good ol’ days.”
So why are we afraid? Mark poses the same question. If Christ is still powerful and still working in us and around us, why are we afraid? Why are we afraid of tomorrow? Has God gotten weaker? Is our Lord no longer willing to demonstrate His power today?
Mr. Beaver is correct. He is the King. He is the Alpha and Omega who says He will be with us now and forever. Despite countless cultural changes and social upheavals He is still Lord, He is still mighty and He is still doing great, exciting and impossible things.
So do not be afraid. Even if you are faced with disease, violence or bratty kids at the national park, Aslan is still on the prowl and nothing can defeat Him.