Rev. Joshua D. Gill
This week we are wrapping up our series on childlike faith, where we wrestle with the question how it would change us if we took Jesus seriously when he said if we are to receive the Kingdom, we must enter it as children. When we rest, we set aside our own agendas and our own need to be in control. We set aside our own power, and when we do that we receive from God. We receive from God guidance, insight, new ways of seeing the world. When we receive God’s agenda we become attuned with God and God’s way of living in this world. Then we begin to respond in obedience. We move from rest, receive, then to respond. We respond to God.
In the book Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis, King Peter, Queen Susan, King Edmond, and Queen Lucy have all gone back to the magical land of Narnia. Even though only a few months have passed in their world, it has been hundreds of years since they first visited Narnia. The children have returned to Narnia in order to save it from a wicked King and restore order to the country. As they journey to aid Prince Caspian, they keep getting lost because the landscape changed over the several hundred years. Queen Lucy, the youngest, sees Aslan, the talking Lion who is the Son of the Emperor over the sea. Just as Peter, the eldest, has decided the best way forward, Lucy spots Aslan and her eyes shine at the sight. Her older sister, Susan, asks, “Where did you think you saw him?” to which Lucy replies, “Don’t talk like a grown-up. I didn’t think I saw him. I saw him.” Lucy explains that Aslan was standing in a place quite the opposite of where they’d just decided to go and that he wanted them to follow him that way. The children then pick apart Lucy’s claims because no one else saw him but Lucy. The older children decide to disregard Lucy and to continue on the path they’ve already chosen. Their decision to follow what makes sense (to them) brings the chapter to an end with “And Lucy came last of the party, crying bitterly.” The way becomes more difficult than expected and leads them right into a volley of arrows, so they have to crawl all the way back over the ground they’d already traveled.
In discouragement, the little band finds a safe place and sets up camp for the night. In the middle of the night, Lucy wakes up with the feeling that “the voice she liked best in the world had been calling her name.” She assumes it’s just a dream, but when she continues to hear the voice she finally gets up to follow it through the trees, which somehow seem to be dancing. As she dances among them, she comes to a circle of grass. “And then—oh joy! For he was there: the huge Lion, shining white in the moonlight.” Lucy rushes toward her Aslan, burying her face in his mane. As they speak, Aslan isn’t pleased that Lucy tries to blame the others for the delays of the day. She cries, “I couldn’t have left the others and come up to you alone, how could I? Don’t look at me like that . . . oh well, I suppose I could. Yes, and it wouldn’t have been alone, I know, not if I was with you. But what would have been the good?” When Aslan remains silent, she continues, “You mean that it would have turned out all right? . . . Am I not to know?” Aslan responds with a challenge: “To know what would have happened, child? Nobody is ever told that. But anyone can find out what will happen. If you go back to the others now, and wake them up; and tell them you have seen me again; and that you must all get up at once and follow me—what will happen? There is only one way of finding out.” Lucy is understandably afraid. She knows they won’t believe her, that it will cause conflict again, and maybe they will shame her again. Finally, in her anguish, Lucy buries her head in his mane, and as she does, she feels his lion-strength entering her. Aslan breathes these words over her: “Now you are a lioness. And now all Narnia will be renewed.” With that, Lucy returns to the challenge of waking her siblings, to tell them, once again, that she has seen Aslan and they must follow him. The argument about whether to trust her begins again and hurtful things are said, but this time something is different. This time Lucy chooses to follow Aslan herself, even if no one else will come. And although no one else can see Aslan, Lucy’s determination prompts them—eventually—to follow her lead. One by one, as they walk in the darkness, they begin to see Aslan for themselves.
Lucy responds to Aslan, and she responds even though it might cost her. She draws strength from him even in a moment of great difficultly. Difficult moments, moments of pain, isn’t that what faith is about? Theologian Richard Rohr thinks deeply about these ideas. One of the themes in his writing is that God doesn’t ask us to avoid these realities, but to understand that these realities are sacred. He writes: “The heart is normally opened through a necessary hole in the soul, what I call a sacred wound.” In Romans 8 these sacred wounds are called the birth pangs of a new creation. We respond to God by participating in this new creation. Richard Rohr again; “we dare not shield ourselves from the new creation, or we literally will lose our soul. We can obey commandments, believe doctrines, and attend church services all our lives and still daily lose our souls if we run from the necessary cycle of loss and renewal. Death and resurrection are lived out at every level of the cosmos”, but we are the only “species thinks it can avoid it”… The cost is of not paying attention is our soul, the cost of not paying attention is transmitting our pain onto others. But if we respond, we can catch God’s larger vision. The vision that we are called to as a church.
The Presbyterian Book of Order tells us how to respond as a church. “The church is the body of Christ. Christ gives to the Church all the gifts necessary to be his body. The Church strives to demonstrates these gifts in its life as a community in the world. The Church entrusts itself to God alone, even at the risk of losing its life. The church is a community of hope, rejoicing in the knowledge that is God is making a new creation. The church is a community of love…where reconciliation is accomplished and the dividing walls of hostility are torn down. The Church is to be a community of witness… to God’s transforming grace in Christ.”
To have a child like faith is to rest from our need for control, it is to receive God’s agenda and God’s goodness, seeing our pain, the worlds pain, and responding as the body of Christ. Rest, Receive, Respond…
 Selections from C.S. Lewis, Prince Caspian (New York: Harper Collins, 1979), 101-132. Smith, Mandy. Unfettered (p.128- 130). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
 Richard Rohr, “Life Is Hard,” Center for Action and Contemplation, May 23, 2016, https://cac.org/life-is-hard-2016-05-23. See also Richard Rohr, Adam‘s Return: The Five Promises of Male Initiation (New York: Crossroad, 2004).
 Book of Order 2019/2021 F-1.03