Yesterday, on the nerdiest most awesome Lutheran blog on the web, my friend, Pr. Schuldheisz, posted about an early scene in The Silver Chair (which I often consider the forgotten Narnian book because most people don’t seem to have read it). Lord, To Which Stream Shall We Go?, talks about Jill Pole’s first encounter with Aslan and ties it in with John 6.
That brought to mind one of my favorite parts of the book that I’ve been meaning to blog about for a while. It happens just a few pages later:
”…But, first, remember, remember the signs. Say them to yourself when you wake in the morning and when you lie down at night, and when you wake in the middle of the night. And whatever strange things may happen to you, let nothing turn your mind from following the signs. And secondly, I give you a warning. Here on the mountain I have spoken to you clearly: I will not often do so down in Narnia. Here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there. That is why it is so important to know them by heart and pay no attention to appearances. Remember the signs and believe the signs. Nothing else matters.”
– The Silver Chair pg 27.
Remember the signs! Repeat the signs! Know them by heart! Remember the signs! Believe the signs!
That’s a lot like what we do with the Small Catechism, isn’t it? We say those prayers and the Creed in the morning and when we lie down at night. When we can’t sleep and when strange things happen to us we cling to the one true Faith as we have come to learn it in the Small Catechism.
The devil, the world, and our sinful flesh try to confuse our mind as to what is important. We want to be successful by the world’s standards. We want that good paying job. We want to find that perfect, successful, beautiful spouse. We want to have brilliant children. Ultimately, we look to one person to look out for us and that’s ourselves.
Even more than that the signs don’t look like we want them to look. Baptism just looks like some weird religious type of person sprinkling water on someones head. Sometimes it’s not even very formal. Sometimes, babies are baptized by three squirts from a syringe in the hospital. Either way, it definitely doesn’t look like how we would picture the gifts of forgiveness of sins and eternal life. It just looks kind of… boring.
The same thing happens with the Lord’s Supper. That doesn’t look like a feast of victory, or a meal for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life either. Even when you dress it up with fancy ceremony and singing and music, ultimately it looks like people going up to eat a small styrofoam-tasting piece of bread and take a sip of usually pretty bad wine. Where’s the power? Where’s the Divine majesty of God in all of that?
Remember the signs! Believe the signs!
The signs look different than we would expect them to look, but it is in those very places that Jesus Christ, the one who died and rose from the dead, promises to be. So when things don’t go our way, or the world tries to confuse us away from the signs, or when the signs look different than what we expect them to be we repeat these words: “[Baptism] works the forgiveness of sins, rescues from death and the devil, and gives eternal salvation to all who believe this, as the words and promises of God declare.” And “[The Sacrament of the Altar] is the true body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ under the bread and wine, instituted by Christ Himself for us Christians to eat and to drink.”
Remember the signs! Repeat the signs! Believe the signs!