Sunshine has returned! In fact this marks the third day just this week seeing the brilliance of Spring’s sun shining through the new leaves of trees around the house. Goodness, it feels so good!
Any day filled with sunshine feels so much more valuable than days filled with clouds, rain, snow and all the ill weather one can imagine. Yet I know that the sunshine would not seem nearly as valuable if there were not those days filled with grey skies and inclement weather.
This line of thought continues to reflect much of what I read, too. As readers may remember, I am reading C.S. Lewis’sThe Chronicles of Narnia, and that I am invested in a year-long Bible reading plan.
Last week when the sun broke out, the blog almost wrote itself; here it is a week later and the sun is also out this morning and an idea that started circling through my brain was sparked by chapter 11 in the third book of the chronicles: “The Horse and his Boy”.
As I am reading along, the intuitive thought was that the presence that Shasta was feeling had to be God. Yet the words did not paint the image, just the sense of presence:
“. . . Shasta discovered that someone or somebody was walking beside him. It was pitch dark and he could see nothing. And the Thing (or Person) was going so quietly that he could hardly hear any footfalls. What he could hear was breathing. . . . “
When I read, sometimes it is impossible to slow down; and as I read through this, I could hardly take in the words because I was in such a hurry to see if what I suspected was true.
And the story continued as I raced to learn more. The presence was indeed a lion, not just any lion but Aslan. Lewis’s depiction of the presence in this third chronicle develops the omniscient presence in ways that warms one from the inside out just to read the words.
Lewis put it like this, “Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.”
This morning the sun shines and all the worries that sat upon my heart as yesterday ended is cleared away. I know that the Voice is with me and I have nothing to fear. And today’s sunshine simply reinforces that inner sense of well-being.
Yet, there is another benefit from reading The Chronicles of Narniaas it is mirroring or reflecting the reading and the study of the Bible. I find that the sunshine we experience in our earthly life may only be a hint of the light that is referenced in scripture as well as in Lewis’s works.
This is Holy Week for the Christian world in which we review the story of Jesus’ final earthly week. We entered the week with Palm Sunday telling the story of Jesus’ triumphant arrival on the back of a donkey. The crowds are cheering and the mood is festive.
Then the clouds of deception move in. The light fades. The horror of lies, a trial, of mob frenzy, and brutality move in. The moments drag on and the harsh treatment turns into a nightmare for the faithful. In just a few days, the Son of God, Jesus Christ who has been symbolized as the light in the darkness of sin. Jesus is God’s ‘son’ light.
I know, I know. I am risking too much symbolism, but I cannot seem to escape the reality of today’s sunshine. And the reading! How can I not find the connectedness of the readings?
Lewis continues writing showing how Shasta moves from the grey fog into the light:
“The mist was turning from black to grey and from grey to white. This must have begun to happen some time ago, but while he had been talking to the thing he had not been noticing anything else. Now, the whiteness around him became a shining witness; his eyes began to blink. . . A golden light fell on them from the left. He thought it was the sun.
“He turned and saw, pacing beside him, taller than the horse, a Lion. . . . It was from the Lion that the light came. No one ever saw anything more terrible or beautiful.
“The High King above all kings stooped towards him. ..He lifted his face and their eyes met. Then instantly the pale brightness of the mist and the fiery brightness of the Lion rolled themselves together into a swirling glory and gathered themselves up and disappeared. . . . “
Those words! I recognized those words and my mind swirled, too. The Bible has told the story of God’s glory more than once:
15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”
19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”
21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
And then Moses returns to the people from Mount Sinai with the stone tablets:
29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the Lord had given him on Mount Sinai.
33 When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. 34 But whenever he entered the Lord’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the Lord.
The references to the glory of God in the form of a brilliant light are woven into the story from the Old Testament; and then comes the Gospels that tells the story of Jesus Christ, God’s son, sent to teach us how to live loving one another.
In Matthew and Mark the story of the transfiguration of Jesus shares the same image of God as Moses experienced
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 3 Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Jesus“shone like the sun” and Jesus is the son of God. We look out on these bright sunny days and see just a hint of the glory of God.
Even though the disciples Peter, James and his brother John were eyewitnesses to the transfiguration, Jesus told them not to speak of it until “. . . the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” (Matthew 17:9)
These three disciples were unclear about what Jesus was speaking thinking it was a reference to John the Baptist, but today, in the bright sunshine of Holy Week, 2019, we Christians know the story as it continued forward.
Jesus ended his ministry experiencing the darkness of human evil. As he hung on the cross, the sun was covered by the darkest of clouds, and an earthquake shook the earth. Two days later, the Son broke out, and the Glory of God became visible again:
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
In Mark, the report refers to the angel in a white robe, in Luke, the clothing of the two men “gleamed like lightning”, and finally in John, Mary Magdalene sees “two angels in white.” The significance of the light cannot be ignored, so on these bright sunny days of Spring, when the dead of winter is thrown off and the new life explodes under the sun, I understand the Glory of God!
Please join in prayer:
Praise you, Lord Almighty,
For the glory you share through the brightest sunshine,
For the Glory of your Son’s light that guides us
through the grayest of days,
For the glory of Your Presence now and forever. –Amen