T’was the night before Christmas
It’s Christmas Eve, and for many of us we wait the big old man and his sleigh. As kids we love Santa who gives us toys every year. As adults we love watching this fictional character in movies. We love the story of Santa. Overall Christmas is described as a ‘magical’ season, the best time of the year.
Yet knowing that Santa is not real, we still get excited. Why?
Because Santa is real.
Let me explain.
We as humans love a good story. There is nothing that sounds better than cuddling by the fire with a hot drink and listening to an epic story. A story that transports you, not just to a distant land, but transports you out of this world.
There is nothing better than when you walk out of the movie theater feeling like you can conquer the world as you have just watched a superhero movie ready to pull out your sword and defeat the bad guys.
We love a good story.
Because beauty speaks to our soul. And these stories are just that. Beauty.
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.
Good stories awaken in us the desire to want to be part of something bigger, the longing to belong to something that is outside of ourselves.
Good stories almost speak life into us. They tell us of hope, of victory over the darkness. They tell us that the good people always win and that I just need to believe in something beyond myself. Good stories show me virtues that I deeply desire, sacrifice, walking with friends in dark places. These are stories of heroes and friends.
And these stories are true and they are real.
They are real because they point to something beyond. They are full of enchantment because we live in an enchanted world whether we recoginse it or not. Our world is full of mystery because there is a world beyond the material in which we see with our eyes. This world was made by the Divine and by default it can only be enchanted, mysterious and mythological.
Yes, I used the word mythological.
I believe myths to be true and not false.
Myths point to something that is real. They point to a world outside of us, they point to Christ. Human myths all originate from the One True Story because from the dawn of creation, humans have been made in the image of the Triune God. Therefore naturally the stories we imagine and create from the depths of our hearts come from this Divine imprint.
In one of C. S. Lewis’ essays he explains the need to dress the Gospel in fairy tales in order for us to see and know Truth. Fairy tales are able to pass the watchful dragons that prevent us from seeing Reality. In a way myths are incarnational as they conceal the Truth in order to reveal the Truth to mankind in our own language and culture. God was incarnate, the Divine put on Man in order to reveal the Father. He came in the form of man in order to be relatable to mankind.
No wonder myths speak of pure greatness, of great hope and ultimate victory. They tell us we are not alone in this world and that real friends exist and are willing to know us and love us. Myths lift us up from our dark despair and they shine a light and scream at us of the great hope and joy that belongs to us. They draw us into a world that has meaning and depth, they draw us into a real Mystery.
“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” G K Chesterton
Yes, I can defeat those nasty dragons in my life, I can finally defeat Thanos, I do have the power to destroy the Ring.
And all this is true. Real truth.
Because; “Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
The Victory is ours through the Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord.
Hope is ours and it isn’t wishful thinking because Aslan is coming back and all will be made well.
The Church provides a real and true ‘mythical’ experience for us in the Liturgy. In the Liturgy Reality is Revealed to us through the enactment of symbols; symbols meaning the real presence of and not just a mere sign. The Real Heaven is here present in the Liturgy. It is presented to us in a mythic way that it may be more understood and accessible to us. The Liturgy portrays to us glimpses of the Reality of the Kingdom the same way myths do but how much more the Liturgy which was given to us by Christ Himself.
All that is good and beautiful in the world symbolises, shows the real presence of, our Lord and Saviour. When stories are told of a loyal and faithful friend, revealing the ultimate Friend. The hero who sacrifices and lays down his life for his city, revealing the Lamb Who was slain. The marriage that withstood all its trials, revealing Love. Or just the ordinary guy struggling through life, revealing our Conqueror.
We may not experience what is true, noble, just, pure and lovely but they still remain real in this world. These stories show us what we could experience, what we could become, what we could be and ultimately what we are.
Let’s read and tell good stories and watch good movies as we all long for the Kingdom.