It was on Monday afternoon when I was desperately trying to come up with an idea for the Christmas talk at our CAMEO Christmas Lunch for seniors that an observation from Mike Reeves’ book Christ our Life came to mind. He notes that because the world is made through Christ all the best stories in the world are simply reflections of His. So defeated serpent-like villains and wounded heroes rescuing the damsel in distress are all seen most perfectly in the story of Christ.
Suddenly I was back in Tameside theatre as a six year old watching pantomimes. From memory, the first I ever watched was Snow White. Now, truth be told, I haven’t yet worked out how seven dwarves singing as off to work they go fits within a Biblical worldview. And yet- isn’t a being that was made fairest of them all but now poisoned into a deep sleep that resembles death a perfect picture of the human condition? And don’t we need a prince- even a King- to come from afar to wake us up?
It did occur to me to ask the question as to whether this was my brain working on a wild flight of fancy in a desperate desire to produce a talk or whether this was actually a Biblical image. But then I realised that, of course, it is biblical. Jesus is both bridegroom and King as He tells us Himself. He has come to clean and wash His bride to present her radiant for a great banquet as the apostle Paul tells us. And if you accept that the picture of love in Song of Songs finds its perfect fulfilment in the relationship between Christ and the church then the image gets even richer.
Earlier in the year I preached on Song of Songs 2. At the end of the chapter you have the male lover coming from a distant land leaping across mountains and hills. When he arrives he invites his beloved to come away with him. With his arrival winter is over (Narnia anyone?) and vibrant fruitfulness appears. Surely this would work as a Christmas passage- the heroic bridegroom King comes from afar to show affection for His bride and invite her away from winter and into fruitfulness.
Of course, this isn’t the dominant biblical image of what is happening at Christmas. But it is certainly one biblical image. And it may be that the Christian who has heard (or given!) many Christmas talks over the years needs something fresh to awaken their imaginations and see all that Christ has accomplished in His incarnation. That’s why I enjoyed talking about Snow White to our seniors group. The greatest thing of all is that the best story does not happen once upon a time in a land far far away- but it happened two thousand years ago in a definite place called Bethlehem. And because a great King came for His lover we can say that for all eternity it is possible to live happily ever after.