Over the past few weeks, we have been writing countless stories up in Lancaster. We too had our week of mission under the theme of STORY and we’re still making stories now. We looked at questions like where are freedom, love, truth and hope? We heard stories from a cabinet minister, a soldier, a bishop and an academic and testimonies from students and every day we had deep conversations about the biggest questions in life.
I’m also currently reading the Narnia books, I haven’t read them before but they’re wonderful. So rich, so beautiful.
But we’re all telling one story: Once upon a time, the Word became flesh and it changed everything.
Near the beginning of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, children Peter and Susan go to the Professor about the fanciful story their sister Lucy has made up about the world of Narnia. In response the Professor says, ‘There are only three possibilities. Either she is telling lies, or she is mad, or she is telling the truth.’ Funnily enough, this is exactly what C.S.Lewis says about Jesus too. We often stop believing stories when they become implausible, but this is the most implausible story in the world.
I can’t claim to have seen Narnia on our campus but I did see glimpses of the Kingdom of God. Instead of through the wardrobe, we stepped into a big marquee on campus, but at times it really did feel like another world. It was beautifully decorated with a café and book stall open all day and buzzing with conversation. Each morning at half past seven, it became a space of joyful worship before giving the day to the Lord in prayer at 8. We then went out around campus talking to the students around campus, asking questions, hearing stories. Every lunchtime we had talks over food, every afternoon we had tea and questions time, and every evening we had an international dinner followed by an interview with someone who’s life has been turned around by Jesus and stories powerfully proclaimed from the Bible. Every day we were telling the same story: The Word became flesh and it changed everything and not a day went by when someone didn’t become a Christian.
I couldn’t believe it. In fact I didn’t believe it going into the week, I would never have dreamed of such an exciting and fruitful week as this but who are we do define the limits of possibility? We stop believing in things when they become implausible but all week people were coming to see the implausible. We didn’t just hear stories of lives changed, we saw stories of lives changed. We may not have had a snowy forest with a large lamppost but we did see the Kingdom, people came in and left changed. People who said they just felt such a sense of peace and clam in the marquee, atheists whose curiosity got the better of them and left committing their lives to Christ, people who were searching and may have just found what they were looking for. It was incredible. I’ve never seen anything like it, day after day, the Kingdom grew.
In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, the Professor goes on to say, ‘You know she doesn’t tell lies and it is obvious that she is not mad. For the moment then, and unless any further evidence turns up, we must assume that she is telling the truth.’ It’s implausible, even impossible. And that’s what we celebrate today; impossible grace. As I read on through the book I grew colder towards Edmund and more compelled towards Aslan as the children say ‘”Oh, yes! Tell us about Alsan!” … for once again that strange feeling – like the first sings of spring, like good news, had come over them.’ When Alsan went to negotiate with the White Witch, I didn’t want to read on because I knew what was to come. But what was to come was impossible grace.
I’ve also been reading through the account of the first Holy Week this week and one thing I’ve noticed it’s that no one, no matter what they thought of it all, was indifferent to Jesus. Much like Lucy’s story of the wardrobe, this was a story that they couldn’t leave behind or ignore. Whether friend, centurion, pharisee, relative, governor or student in a marquee, it’s not a story that you can just forget. No matter which way I’m reading it, hearing it, living it, seeing it, however, it is a story of impossible grace. 🙂