Christmas Eve, my friend Jerry Tankersley used a section from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe that I want to use here. After Aslan, the great Christ-Lion of Lewis's Narnia tales, returns to life, he takes the girls, Lucy and Susan to the Witch's house. This is what happens.
"What an extraordinary place!" cried Lucy. "All those stone animals-and people too! It's like a museum."
"Hush," said Susan, "Aslan's doing something."
He was indeed. He had bounded up to the stone lion and breathed on him....
..."Oh, Susan! Look! Look at the lion."
I expect you've seen someone put a lighted match to a bit of newspaper which is propped up in a grate against an unlit fire. And for a second nothing seems to have happened; and then you notice a tiny streak of flame creeping along the edge of the newspaper. It was like that now. For a second after Aslan had breathed upon him the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along his white marble back - then it spread - then the colour seemed to lick all over him as the flame licks all over a bit of paper - then, while his hind-quarters were still obviously stone the lion shook his mane and all the heavy, stony folds rippled into living hair. Then he opened a great red mouth, warm and living, and gave a prodigious yawn. And now his hind legs had come to life. He lifted one of them and scratched himself. Then, having caught sight of Aslan, he went bounding after him and frisking round him whimpering with delight and jumping up to lick his face...Everywhere the statues were coming to life. The courtyard looked no longer like a museum; it looked more like a zoo."
Two observations. First, I'm reminded often that Presbyterians have, in recent years, been identified as God's frozen chosen. Along with my previous post, I believe it is true enough of many. It is like we have been frozen by the Witch's wand into stony statues. Part of the wonder of Christmas is the unfreezing of human hearts. This is the childlikeness I spoke of earlier. One of the tasks of Christmas for the church is to breathe God's Spirit into the world and bring it to life. For many Christians, it is having Christ break the spell first - we've fallen asleep and become "the frozen chosen". Animated not for their own sake, but so that they can assist in turning other statues into real beings.
Second, I'm reminded that when we do invite new life, particularly in the church where we have become content with being the non-messy statuary, it will look more like a zoo than a museum. A lot messier. A lot more exciting. Certainly more challenging. Don't forget this. If new life is moving into your static congregation or set of friends, it will be more like a zoo. Nothing will be status quo and you can't force it backwards.
The world needs to be transformed into Christ's living beings. But so does the church. Too often we are content to stay in the statue garden. Christ brings life-giving breath to all. May he begin with us this season.