Advent in Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia have held a special place in my heart and life for many years. They invite me to imagine other worlds and give me fresh insights into the ways the biblical narrative of creation, sin, and sacrifice can be understood and experienced. I’m not alone in my deep appreciation for all the times that Aslan, Lucy, Eustace, Reepicheep, and other Narnian characters have popped into conversation as illustrations from another world for how we might live in this world.
These and other writings of C. S. Lewis also have great potential for churches to use in book clubs, in preaching, and in worship.
Many years ago when I worked with the chapel program at Calvin College, one creative student entered with many layers of shirts, sweaters, and coats while another student read the story of Eustace becoming a dragon in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. When they read how Aslan came to Eustace’s aid in clawing off the dragon skin, the overdressed student began to peel off the shirts one at a time. All the layers were off by the time they read about Aslan tossing Eustace into the water, making Eustace feel “perfectly delicious” because he’d turned into a boy again. The student then put on a new sweater as another student read Galatians 3:26–27: “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.”
Heidi Haverkamp, an Episcopal vicar in Illinois, saw similar teaching potential in Narnia. She used The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for an Advent series in her church and then wrote the book Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season (Westminster John Knox Press, 2015), which is useful for personal devotions, for congregational worship, and as a source for a sermon series as people prepare to celebrate Christ’s coming.
A number of pastors have brought the theme of “Advent in Narnia” into their own churches. I first heard of it from the enthusiastic 2017 Facebook posts of Heidi De Jonge, pastor of Westside Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Kingston, Ontario. She and Vicki Cok, pastor of Waterloo (Ontario) CRC, collaborated for some of their planning, though each followed her own direction as the series developed. They shared their plans and photos, and a few other pastors carried Narnia themes into their churches in 2017.
The mother-daughter book club at my own church, Lakeside CRC in Ludington, Michigan, had read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe over the summer, and throughout the fall I invited others to read it. In late November we prepared a community “Narnia Night” for the Friday before Advent. One church member who owns a bed and breakfast scoured the shops and restaurants in town until he found the rose water needed to make true Turkish delight, the favorite sweet of character Edmund Pevensie. An artist taped butcher paper over the sanctuary doors and painted it to look like a wardrobe. Quite a few contributed furry winter coats to line the walls “inside the wardrobe.” One person provided a Christmas tree, and other volunteers decorated the tree and other greens with cottony snow to create the wintry wonderland of Narnia.
When people arrived for Narnia Night, we served the homemade Turkish delight, a marmalade roll (a poor imitation of Mrs. Beaver’s treat), and hot chocolate. We provided coloring pages and materials for lion ornaments and paper snowflakes.
Since it has been our family tradition to show the Disney/Walden Media film version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe at Christmas, we already owned it and showed it at our Narnia Night. There are other movie versions available too, but pay attention to copyright and viewing restrictions.
Narnia Night was a fun way to engage people in the story, and it encouraged them to attend the worship series on Sunday mornings. Haverkamp’s book has more ideas and recipes for a similar event.
As I gathered stories and photos for this article, I noticed how each pastor paired the characters and events in Narnia with the biblical prophecies and stories leading to the arrival of the Messiah. One of the most fascinating things I observed was how each of our churches personalized the series for our worship spaces and congregations—whether large or small, traditional or informal, each church found creative ways to bring Narnia into our unique spaces.
Lakeside is a small church, so our liturgical decor is usually fairly simple. For the 2017 Advent and Christmas seasons, we asked a carpenter to create a wooden snowflake/star. During Advent the white-painted side faced forward against a purple backdrop so it looked like a snowflake. For Christmas and Epiphany, we turned it to the gold-painted side in front of shiny white fabric, and it looked like a Christmas star!
Other churches had more elaborate banners or paintings or did wonderfully creative things with lights, with snow melting away and flowers appearing. Contributing ideas and creating an inviting worship space is one of the great ways to involve a variety of people in your community.
My preaching series began the week before Advent with an invitation to imagine entering a new land that would remind us of God’s kingdom. In the pages ahead you will find several different series to follow or adapt to your own context.
Advent Series at Lakeside
Text: Isaiah 8:19–9:7
Theme: A New Kingdom
Invitation to Narnia Night and to reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Texts: John 1:1–14; 10:7–10
Theme: Light in the Darkness
Narnia: Entering the wardrobe and guided by the lamppost
Texts: Isaiah 55:1–3; John 6
Theme: Glorious Food
Narnia: The dangers of Turkish delight and a delightful feast with the Beavers
Texts: Ephesians 6:10–18; 1 Corinthians 12:4–11
Theme: Gifts for the Common Good
Narnia: Father Christmas arrives bringing gifts
Advent 4/Christmas Eve
Texts: Isaiah 40:5; Psalm 98; John 1:1–18; Luke 2:1–16; Philippians 2:5–11
Theme: The King Arrives Among Us
Narnia: Meeting Aslan
New Year’s Eve
Text: Romans 13:8–14
Theme: A Debt of Love and the Armor of Light
Narnia: Aslan’s battle, statues revived, Edmund’s restoration
Advent in Narnia Series at Westside Fellowship CRC
Heidi De Jonge
Each week the service included Scripture, Narnia references (from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe unless otherwise noted), and a connection to the core values of Westside Fellowship.
Text: John 10:1–10
Narnia Reference: “In our world too, a Stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole World” (Lucy, The Last Battle)
Trouble: Pharisees and Lucy’s siblings—slow to perceive/understand/get curious and enter the gate/wardrobe
Grace: Jesus is the gate that leads us in and leads us out
Call: To ignite your curiosity as you consider Jesus and consider with fresh eyes the kingdom he invites you into.
Candle/Congregational Core Value: Curiosity (Mark 10:14–15)
Theme Song: “Jesus” Tomlin
“Meekness and Majesty” Kendrick, LUYH 157, SNC 109, WR 97
“Imagine” Getty, LUYH 72
“Lord of All Hopefulness” Struther, LUYH 378, GtG 683, PsH 558
“Open Our Eyes, Lord” Cull, SNC 80, SWM 179
Texts: Isaiah 55:1–2; John 6:32–35
Narnia References: Turkish delight scene, meal at the Beavers’ house, Aslan’s death on the stone table as a transition to communion
Trouble: Bad “magic” food, forbidden fruit (with references to Genesis 3, “Lady Folly” (Proverbs 9), and the sin of gluttony)
Grace: Good “ordinary” food—a feast with a name at the center
Call: To feast on the bread of life
Candle/Congregational Core Value: Authenticity (Luke 24:30–32)
“Here I Am to Worship” Hughes, LUYH 567, SWM 6
Theme Song: “Jesus” Tomlin
“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” LUYH 61, GtG 88, PsH 328
Communion Song: “Remembrance” Maher, Redman
“All Who Are Thirsty” Brown, Robertson
“You are My All in All” Jernigan, SWM 183, WR 427
Texts: Isaiah 9:1–7; Micah 4:1–5
Narnia References: Lucy’s description of the White Witch; prophecy of Aslan; reference also Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters
Trouble: Horrors and predictability of war; war as control
Grace: Right in the middle of the war, a light dawns; a child is born
Call: To notice the child and to embody the light
Candle/Congregational Value: Integrity (Revelation 21:1–5)
“O Love That Will Not Let Me Go” Matheson, LUYH 457, GtG 833, PH 384
“Hope of the Nations” Doerksen
“Savior of the Nations, Come” Ambrose/Luther, LUYH 74, GtG 102, PsH 336
“My Soul in Stillness Waits” Haugen, LUYH 63, GtG 89, SNC 95
“Salaam (Peace)” Samir, LUYH 298
Theme Song: “Jesus” Tomlin
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” Wesley, LUYH 351, GtG 366, PsH 568
Title: “Father Christmas”
Texts: 1 Corinthians 12:4–7; Ephesians 6:10–17
Narnia References: Father Christmas giving children gifts; preparing the other lion in Aslan’s army to fight the White Witch; the conversation between Lucy and Aslan in Prince Caspian wherein she feels “lion-strength” in her and Aslan calls her a lioness
Trouble: Seeing gifts as ends in themselves or as altogether ordinary
Grace: Extraordinariness and importance of the gifts God gives us for his purposes and use—Christ in us, the hope of glory
Call: To use our gifts for the common good and the furtherance of the kingdom
Candle/Congregational Value: Courage (Joshua 1:9; 1 Corinthians 16:13)
“How Great Thou Art” Hine, LUYH 553, PsH 483, PH 467
Theme Song: “Jesus” Tomlin
“Come, Holy Ghost” Mills/Benedict, LUYH 232
“My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout” Cooney, LUYH 69, GtG 100, PfAS 75B
“Spirit of the Living God” Iverson/Baughen, LUYH 749, GtG 288, PsH 424
Title: “The Lion and the Lamb”
Texts: Luke 2:22–35; Revelation 5; 1 Peter 1:18–20
Narnia References: Children meeting Aslan for the first time; Aslan’s death and resurrection; reference also Lewis’s A Grief Observed
Trouble: The shadow Simeon names just after Jesus is born, foreshadowing Jesus’ death; our own soul-piercing and heartbreaking despair
Grace: Jesus, the Lamb without blemish, whose blood was shed to redeem us; the deeper magic where death itself starts working backward
Candle/Congregational Value: Love (John 3:16; 1 John 3:16, 18)
“O Come, All Ye Faithful” Wade, LUYH 76, GtG 133, PsH 340
“Angels, from the Realms of Glory” Montgomery, LUYH 81, GtG 143, PsH 354
“Angels We Have Heard on High” LUYH 82, GtG 113, PsH 347
“Glory to God” Schultz, LUYH 84
Theme Song: “Jesus” Tomlin
“Revelation Song” Riddle
“I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” Longfellow
“Hallelujah, Salvation and Glory” LaValley, LUYH 491
First Sunday After Christmas
Title: “Drifts, Dragons, and Dominions”
Texts: Malachi 3:1–5; Colossians 2:9–15
Narnia References: Eustace as dragon and Eustace being un-dragoned (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader); Edmund’s drift into the dominion of the White Witch; Aslan taking the knife to himself
Trouble: Our calloused hearts
Grace: The circumcision of Christ
Call: To submit to the circumcision of Christ
Advent Series at Second CRC, Grand Haven
Laura de Jong
In the beginning of November, I sent a letter to the congregation telling them about our Advent series. Our church librarian bought a number of used copies of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to lend, and once the local library got wind of what we were doing they also made about twenty copies available for us. I was amazed at how many people had never read the book!
The Saturday before Advent we held a “Night in Narnia.” We decorated the fellowship hall with Christmas trees, lights, artificial snow, maps of Narnia, snowflakes, and posters from the movie. One of the local Christian school teachers had used the book for a teaching series; he donated a wardrobe complete with fur coats to walk through as you entered as well as a lampstand that sat on the sanctuary stage for all of Advent. We set up chairs—some kids brought beanbag chairs to lounge in—and watched the movie on a big screen. The local theater donated popcorn, one of our members made Turkish delight, and there was a station for hot chocolate with different toppings and candies.
I had particular fun with the service of lessons and carols on the third Sunday. The fifth lesson for the service was a reading from Malachi 3:1–5: “But who can endure the day of his coming?” After the Scripture lesson, a group of children did a readers’ theater of the dinner in the Beavers’ lodge, when Susan asks the beavers, “Is [the lion Aslan]—quite safe?” Mr. Beaver famously replies, “’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” The readers’ theater was followed by Handel’s aria based on Malachi 3, “But Who May Abide the Day of His Coming?”
I think people enjoyed the series. It was different, fun, and a little whimsical for a festive time of year. (It gave people someone to blame for the long winter—I wish I had a dime for every time I heard, “You preached about a never-ending winter, and now look!”) It was a challenge to pull in the book enough for people to know what was going on in the story without actually preaching the story—to still focus the sermons on Scripture. If I were to do it again, I’d think about doing a children’s sermon each week to tell the Narnia story, then refer back to it in the sermon. But as a whole the series allowed people to enter into a space of wonder and delight, and for that I’m grateful.
“The Land of Spare Oom,” John 1:1–10. Jesus, the gate, calls us into a kingdom of wonder and delight far greater than our imaginations can fathom.
“One Piece of Turkish Delight,” John 6:32–35. All we need is Jesus.
Lessons and Carols, Malachi 3:1–5 and other readings.
Week 4 (Christmas Eve)
“A Terrible Song,” Luke 1:26–38. The Latin word terribilis means earth-shattering or startling. Mary’s song is indeed startling—both the promises she has received and the faith she declares. We compared this to the gifts the Pevensie children receive from Father Christmas: There is an ominous responsibility that comes with these gifts.
Week 5 (New Year’s Eve)
“This Is No Thaw!”, Song of Songs 2:11–12. The promise of spring in the Song of Songs was compared to the thaw the children—and the White Witch and her dwarf—experience as they make their way to Aslan’s camp. We also celebrated the Lord’s Supper, so we talked about anamnesis—the practice of living into a future that has already shaped the past. We can anticipate spring because we’ve experienced it before. And we anticipate the great feast of the Lamb by remembering Christ’s death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper.
Advent Series at Waterloo CRC
Vicki Verhulst Cok
We projected a wardrobe onto the sanctuary’s front wall. As the service began, its doors opened and we saw it snowing inside and through the wardrobe.
Each service began with the candles being lit by a boy or girl about the same age as Lucy, Edmund, Susan, or Peter. The child processed from the back in silence to light the candle before the congregation stood.
The leader said, “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;” the congregation responded, “On those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned” (Isaiah 9:2).
We then sang “My Soul in Stillness Waits” Haugen, LUYH 63, GtG 89, SNC 95. Week 1 we sang just the first verse; Week 2, verses 1 and 2; Week 3, verses 1–3; Week 4, verses 1–4.
We used child-friendly wording for the weekly prayer of confession, preceded by a reading from C. S. Lewis (see sidebar: p. 9).
We are grateful for the role liturgists Dave Jaarsma and Don Bisch played in developing the series at Waterloo CRC.
Please visit the Reformed Worship website for more excerpts from C. S. Lewis’s writings that could be referred to in sermons.
Texts: Isaiah 9:1–7; John 1:1–5
Sermon: “A Great Light”
Song of Response: “Comfort, Comfort Now My People” Olearius, LUYH 59, GtG 87, PsH 194
Narnia Reference: Showed a film clip of Lucy crawling out of the wardrobe and discovering the lamppost.
Texts: Isaiah 55:1–11; Matthew 3:1–6
Sermon: “Preparing Our Hearts”
Song of Response: “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers” Laurenti, LUYH 477, PsH 333
Narnia Reference: Showed a film clip of the White Witch giving Turkish delight to Edmund; after the service we served Turkish delight with coffee in the fellowship hall.
Texts: Malachi 3:1–5; Luke 1:26–38
Sermon: “Signs, Angels, and Messengers”
Song of Response: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Wesley, LUYH 56, GtG 82/83, PsH 329
Narnia Reference: Showed film clip of when the children enter the wardrobe and talk about exploring the wilderness; added badgers and a bird to the scene around the pulpit and removed some of the “snow.”
Texts: 1 Corinthians 12:1–11; Ephesians 6:10–17
Sermon: “The Father’s Gifts”
Song of Response: “God Reigns! Earth Rejoices!” Morgan, LUYH 91, PsH 97
Narnia Reference: Showed film clip of Father Christmas giving gifts to the children; removed most of the “snow” from the scene around the pulpit.
Text: Luke 2:1–20
Sermon: “Joy and Wonder”
Song of Response: “Once in Royal David’s City” Alexander, LUYH 87, GtG 140, PsH 346
Narnia Reference: All the snow was gone, replaced with spring flowers. Aslan was added to the scene. Showed film clip of the children walking into camp and meeting Aslan. The liturgy changed to Christmas themes, but we continued to use child-friendly readings and prayers.
New Year’s Day
Text: Song of Songs 2:1–11
The winter is past! What new things might Christ bring into your life this year?
Our congregation returned to the Narnia story at Easter and showed the film clip of Aslan alive again after he had been put to death on the stone table.
Service of Confession
Invitation to Confession
Let’s listen to these words from C. S. Lewis to focus our attention on our fallen humanity and God’s overwhelming grace.
[Each week one of the following quotes were used as an invitation to communion. Note that each could be expanded.]
“We—or at least I—shall not be able to adore God on the highest occasions if we have learned no habit of doing so on the lowest. . . . These pure and spontaneous pleasures are ‘patches of Godlight’ in the woods of experience.”
—C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer
“Is he—quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” . . .
“’Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King,
I tell you.”
—C. S. Lewis, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe
“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.
“I am dying of thirst,” said Jill.
“Then drink,” said the Lion. . . .
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.
“I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
—C. S. Lewis, The Silver Chair
“Oh, Aslan,” said Lucy. “Will you tell us how to get into your country from our world?”
“I shall be telling you all the time,” said Aslan. “But I will not tell you how long or short the way will be; only that it lies across a river. But do not fear that, for I am the great Bridge Builder.”
—C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
“Are—are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
—C. S. Lewis, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Prayer of Confession
[with child-friendly language]
Lord God, our lives are filled with sin.
We forget our neighbor’s needs and do not love you above all else.
We need a Savior.
Help us to be ready for Jesus in our own hearts.
O come, O come, Savior of the world. Amen.
—David Vroege, A Child Shall Lead: Children in Worship. A Sourcebook for Christian Educators, Musicians, and Clergy. Edited by John D. Witvliet. Choristers Guild and Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, 1999 ©. 1999, Choristers Guild p. 86. Used by Permission
Jesus, the long-expected Savior, was born to set us free.
He releases us from our fears and sins
and helps us find our rest in him.
Jesus delivers us from the way of sin and death.
And so, with hopeful hearts, we call to him:
Come now, long-expected Jesus,
come again to rule in our hearts. Amen.
—inspired by Charles Wesley (1744), The Worship Sourcebook D.2.8
Song of Response: “Imagine” Getty, LUYH 72 (This reinforced the importance of imagining throughout the series)
Advent Series at First CRC of Orillia
At Orillia (Ontario) CRC during Advent, the doors to the sanctuary looked like the doors of a wardrobe, and the front of the church was transformed into a snowy woodland.
Porter shares her welcoming words for the first Sunday of Advent in this setting:
Good morning, and welcome to worship. [Walk in trees.] Look what sprouted up this past week—an evergreen forest . . . with a glowing lamppost in the middle! What could this mean?
We hope you are refreshed by this transformation of the front of the sanctuary into this symbol of the woods of Narnia. This past Friday, some of us—and quite a few visitors too—watched the movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was fun and scary and thought-provoking. We’ll be speaking about Narnia later in the service during the sermon, weaving its story into how we understand the story of Jesus.
Friends, by walking through the wardrobe on your way into the sanctuary this morning, you crossed a threshold into a new place. Think of it that way, if you’re able. Expect something new when we come together to worship God. If you are new to our church or just passing through town, a special welcome to you. Please stay after the service for coffee and something special to eat.
This is the first Sunday in the season of Advent. Advent means “coming.” As the people waited for the coming of the Messiah two thousand years ago, so we wait for Jesus to come again, bringing healing and mercy and peace to the world.
Each week during Advent, the Orillia congregation sang “Jesus” by Chris Tomlin. “It had really applicable lyrics,” Porter said. “It was new to us. But each week seemed to increase our enjoyment of it.” Consider these lyrics:
He roars like a lion
He bled as the lamb
He carries my healing in his hands.
Texts: Isaiah 9:1–7; John 10:1–10
Sermon: “The Gateway”
Texts: Isaiah 55:1–12; Matthew 3:1–6
Sermon: “The Turning”
Texts: Malachi 3:1–3; Luke 1:26–38
Sermon: “On the Move”
Texts: 1 Corinthians 12:4–7; Ephesians 6:11–17
Sermon: “Gifts from God”
Text: Luke 2:1–20
Sermon: “Pondering with Mary”
New Year’s Eve
Text: Song of Songs 2:11–12
Sermon: “The Season of Singing”
Service of Lessons and Carols at Silver Springs (Maryland) CRC
Doug Bratt and Katie Roelofs
This was an entirely Narnian service of lessons and carols. Since it was early in the season of Advent, it had more themes of waiting and expectation. The italicized excerpts in each section are from Heidi Haverkamp’s Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season (Westminster John Knox Press, 2015).
Introduction: This Advent we are using C. S. Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe to help us worship and think deeply about what it means to wait for the coming of Christ. This story has exceptional characters: four children turned kings and queens, mythical creatures, a villain (the White Witch), an appearance by Father Christmas, and of course the great lion, Aslan. Each of these characters has a distinct role in the story, but through each plot line and vignette, each helps tell the greater story. This morning we begin Advent with a service of lessons and carols, which is also a way to tell the broader story of redemption, including creation, the fall, prophecies, fulfillment, and re-creation. We use the stories of biblical characters who, like the Narnian ones, lead us through the narrative of redemptive history. Many of these characters are not the traditional characters of lessons and carols, but they too participate in the story. So we start where every good story starts: in the beginning.
“An Advent wreath and Christmas lights shine with the same kind of light. Jesus is the Light of the World, shining in a darkness of despair, sin, and death. A Light that, like the lamppost, was there in the beginning with God. A Light that was broken and made new in the Resurrection. A Light that shines through the darkness on all people. A Light that beckons us to be curious and to come and see” (Haverkamp, Advent in Narnia, p. 5).
Readings: John 1:1–5; Isaiah 9:2
Lighting of Advent Wreath Candles
Song: “Imagine” Getty, LUYH 72
Greeting from God
Song: “How Great Is Our God” Tomlin, LUYH 574
King Edmund/Adam and Eve
“We may identify more with Susan, Peter or Lucy, but we all have something in common with Edmund. We have been guilty of dishonesty, selfishness, and betrayal too. We are human. . . . Eventually, because of his sin and his humanity, it is for Edmund that Aslan gives his life” (Haverkamp, Advent in Narnia, p. 25).
Prayer of Confession: Our World Belongs to God, Section 14
Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” LUYH 61, GtG 88, PsH 328, verse 1
Assurance of Pardon: Romans 5:6–11
Song: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” Brooks, LUYH 88, GtG 121, PH 44
King Peter/King David
“Scripture shows us that the strengths God chooses to anoint do not spring from raw, brute power but from virtues such as faith, cleverness, wisdom, or humility. . . . Like the Pevensie children, we’re not expected to carry every item of spiritual defense at all times. But preparing ourselves and our communities for the Savior means taking seriously our call to stand against evil and injustice” (Haverkamp, Advent in Narnia, p. 55).
Story for Children: “The Teeny, Weenie . . . True King” from The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones
Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” LUYH 61, GtG 88, PsH 328, verse 5
Scripture Reading: Psalm 72
Song: “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Wesley, LUYH 56, GtG 82/32, PsH 329
Queen Susan/Queen Esther
“Our Christmas preparations can take over Advent and leave little room to receive the Christ Child. Susan’s preparations of grabbing coats in the wardrobe show us that what we need may already be right in front of us, if we are aware enough to notice. The fur coats were there when they needed them. The children meet others along the way who guide them and feed them. That doesn’t mean that the journey is easy or that they’re never cold, wet, or hungry; but, because they have one another and allow themselves to accept help from others, they have enough. In the same way, throughout the Bible, God provides for God’s people” (Haverkamp, Advent in Narnia, p. 29).
Story of Esther: from Children’s Worship materials available through Faith Alive Christian Resources.
Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” LUYH 61, GtG 88, PsH 328, verse 4
White Witch/Lady Folly
“‘The White Witch? Who is she?’ [Lucy asked.] ‘Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It’s she that makes it always winter. Always winter and never Christmas, think of that!’ [Tumnus replied]” (C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, p. 19).
Scripture Reading: Proverbs 9
Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” LUYH 61, GtG 88, PsH 328, verse 2
Morning Prayer: “Wait for the Lord” Berthier, LUYH 480, GtG 90, SNC 96
Father Christmas/John the Baptist
“In Narnia, the time of ‘winter but never Christmas’ has ended. Christmas in Narnia is serious business; it’s a sign of victory against the White Witch. Father Christmas is less like Santa Claus than John the Baptist, sharing the news that a new time has come in which to get ready because the rightful king is on his way” (Haverkamp, Advent in Narnia, p. 52).
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 35
Song: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” LUYH 61, GtG 88, PsH 328, verse 6
Scripture Reading: Matthew 3:1–12
Song: “Blessed Be the God of Israel” Daw, LUYH 67, SNC 104, WR 158
“When Lucy finds herself on the other side of the wardrobe, she doesn’t run back. She doesn’t even put on a fur coat to stay warm. . . . She’s full of wonder and walks into this strange forest to have a look around. Lucy’s wonder and trust guide her” (Haverkamp, Advent in Narnia, p. 19).
Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26–38
Response: Write your hopes and imagine how God might help you accomplish them.
Song: “Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak” Havergal, LUYH 754, GtG 722, PsH 528
“The Witch’s power is coming apart because of Aslan, who is stealthily returning to the land he created (p. 60). With Aslan’s coming winter’s grip has been destroyed. ‘This is no thaw. This is spring!” (Haverkamp, Advent in Narnia) (p. 63).
Scripture Reading: John 1:9–14
Declaration of Faith: from Our World Belongs to God, paragraph 58
With the whole creation
we join the song:
“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth
and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
He has made us a kingdom of priests
to serve our God,
and we will reign on earth.
God will be all in all,
righteousness and peace will flourish,
everything will be made new,
and every eye will see at last
that our world belongs to God.
Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus!
Song: “Joy to the World” Watts, LUYH 92, GtG 134/266, PsH 337
We did some interesting “response times.” The first week we hung adhesive wardrobe doors on the wall. We invited people to wonder/imagine/dream what was behind the wardrobe doors for them during Advent. They wrote those on sticky notes and hung them on the wardrobe doors. The next week, people took the (anonymous) notes down at random and took them home to pray about. The third week, people put sticky notes on the lamppost we had built for the sanctuary. The notes were written after a time of reflection and prayer about ways that God might be leading us to fulfill and participate in our Advent hopes and imaginations.
Songs for the Series
- “Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus” Wesley, LUYH 56, GtG 82/83, PsH 329
- “How Great Is Our God” Tomlin, LUYH 574
- “Imagine” Getty, LUYH 72
- “Jesus” Tomlin
- “The Lion and the Lamb” Brown, Johnson, Mooring
- “Lion of Judah” Mark
- “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” LUYH 61, GtG 88, PsH 328
- “Prince of Peace” Imboden/Rhoton
- “Wait for the Lord” Berthier, LUYH 480, GtG 90, SNC 96
- Haverkamp, Heidi. Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season. Westminster John Knox Press, 2015.
- Lewis, C. S. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Harper Collins, 1994.
- Williams, Rowan. The Lion’s World: A Journey into the Heart of Narnia. Oxford University Press, 2013.
- Dekker, James. “The Christian World of Narnia.” Christian Courier, December 12, 2016 (tinyurl.com/y7tdyyfh).
- Meehan, Chris. “Stepping in Narnia Creates a Sense of Holy Whimsy.” December 13, 2017 (tinyurl.com/ydfp4yoy).
Washington DC CRC
Meg Jenista Kuykendall and Katie Roelofs
Visit the Reformed Worship website for the worship series design in a different format and for more catalogued quotations. For an Advent prayer incorporating the Narnia theme with a sung refrain, please visit the Reformed Worship website.
Text: Isaiah 2:1–5
Theme: War and a Wardrobe
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (LWW): Chapters 1–2
Advent Candle: Hope
C. S. Lewis writes this story against the backdrop of war. Little children are shipped to the North of England, away from London bombings. Imagine the Pevensie children’s fear and powerlessness, but also the power of a story like this to restore their hope.
Isaiah 2:1–5 is also a text of hope against the backdrop of war. One is coming who will “judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.”
Text: Luke 1:26–56
LWW: Chapters 3–5
Advent Candle: Joy
When Lucy returns from the wardrobe world of Narnia, her siblings won’t believe her. It’s hard to blame them. What a strange world she describes! It hardly seems possible to children like Susan and Peter, who are working so hard to be grown up. So they approach the Professor, who surprises them by upending their certainty with possibility and with wonder.
Two thousand years before, a girl not much older than Susan wondered, “How can this be?” The truest things are not always the most probable. Salvation comes in extraordinary ways.
Texts: Isaiah 35; Matthew 3:1–12
Theme: Father Christmas’s Gifts
LWW: Chapters 6–10
Advent Candle: Love
A thaw has come to Narnia, and with it comes a forerunner of Aslan: Father Christmas bringing gifts to all the Narnian animals, the Sons of Adam, and the Daughters of Eve. The gifts he brings are meant to prepare the Pevensie children for the hard work of following Aslan, who is coming.
Isaiah 35 tells the story of a spring thaw too. Meanwhile, we remember that Christ also had a forerunner in his cousin, John the Baptizer. And in baptism we receive the gifts we need to follow Christ, who is coming.
Advent 4: A Service of Lessons and Carols
Text: Isaiah 9:1–7
Theme: Awaiting Aslan
LWW: Chapters 11–15
Advent Candle: Peace
Notes on the Service of Lessons and Carols
The whole of Advent is this: awaiting the birth of the Christ child in the same way we wait for the return of Christ’s kingdom. The whole of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe covers the same: waiting for Aslan and waiting for the triumph of Narnia. So there are many places within both stories to draw Lessons and Carols source material.
When the Pevensie children hear Aslan’s name for the first time it does different things in each of them, revealing their hearts’ truest needs. The names of Christ—“Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace”—do a similar work in us.
Christmas Eve: A Communion Service
Text: Matthew 3:1–12
Theme: “Us Lions”
LWW: Chapters 16–17
Notes on Christmas Communion
There is a wonderful scene in chapter 16 of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in which Aslan is instructing all the Narnian creatures where they will go and what they will do in the battle with the White Witch. He says, “Those who are good with their noses must come in front with us lions to smell out where the battle is.” A recently de-petrified lion bounds in and among the other warriors exclaiming, “Us Lions. That’s what I like about Aslan. No side, no stand-off-ishness. Us Lions. That meant him and me.”
In this we hear again the good news of the incarnation. God does not declare humanity too broken or earth too dirty. Nothing is beneath him. God, in Christ, came to earth so that he might also declare, “Us Humans.” This is the miracle we celebrate on Christmas Eve: God has become one of us humans.
New Year’s Eve
Texts: Malachi 3:1–4; Romans 13:8–14
Theme: Concerning Edmund
Among all the Pevensie children, Edmund is unique. He is duped by the White Witch, enslaved by her promises and judicious giftings of Turkish delight. He struggles to know what is true. He turns on his siblings and endangers all of Narnia. And then he is found, redeemed, and returned to service as a soon-to-be-King of Narnia.
At this time of year, when we set aside what we have been and work to set new patterns and habits for the new year, Edmund’s story might inspire all of us to seek forgiveness, redemption, and new work as a part of Christ’s kingdom.