Classics like Narnia Offer Lenten Lessons for Kids
- Gina Burkart Author of <i>A Parent's Guide to Harry Potter</i>
- 2006 3 Mar
As Christians, we grew up learning of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. We rejoiced that we have been saved. We wear crucifixes and crosses as a constant reminder of God’s love for us. But many felt the magnitude of this sacrifice on deeper levels when they saw Mel Gibson’s version of The Passion on the big screen. What our minds tended to censor, the movie forced us to visualize -- the magnitude of Christ’s death and pain. Many viewers wept uncontrollably as they finally grasped what Jesus endured for each of us to be forgiven and saved.
But what about our children? As Easter approaches, we want our children to be in awe of Christ’s sacrifice too, but certainly a movie like The Passion is too graphic.
Narnia: An Illustration for the Entire Family
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe movie had a powerful effect on my daughter. In the van on our voyage home from the theater, each of us shared our favorite moments of the film. From there we found ourselves discussing the spiritual parallels of the movie to our faith.
We talked about how Aslan reminded us of Jesus, and how the White Witch was like Satan. We all felt sorry for Edmund when he finally realized he betrayed his family and Aslan. We personally felt his sorrow and humiliation as he approached Aslan—knowing he had betrayed him. How often have we done the same—approached Jesus after we have sinned? We pondered our own private confessions with Jesus.
Then we talked about how horrible it was to watch Aslan shaved and killed by the White Witch. It was at that moment that my daughter shared something really special: “I never really understood why Jesus had to die for us until now. I knew that Jesus died to save me, but I didn’t really get it until I saw Aslan die to pay the price for Edmund’s actions. And it was so wonderful to see Aslan come back to life — just like Jesus did.” Her face beamed, and so did mine. Watching Aslan die for Edmund helped her grasp one of the greatest mysteries of our faith — the passion and resurrection.
A Lenten Opportunity
Now that we are in the midst of Lent and fast approaching Easter, we often return to discussions of Narnia. Lewis’ beloved story parallels our Lenten journeys quite well actually. Here are some things to ponder with your children from now until Easter morning:
We enter our wardrobes broken and reflective—looking for a new way of life. Like Edmund, we have gone astray and betrayed our King. Like Peter, we have been judgmental. Like Lucy, we have made poor choices that have hurt others. Like Susan, we have been fearful and hesitant to stay true to what is right and just.
Just as the Pevensie children journeyed to meet Aslan, Lent takes us on a journey back to Christ. It renews us and refreshes us for the daily battle of good and evil.
Christ paid the price for our sins like the fictional Aslan did for Edmund. Jesus died a painful death on a cross, yet in doing so he defeated Satan. He forgave us, saved us, and gave us the gift of everlasting life. Some day we will be raised to a new life with him. Jesus conquered death and so will we.
As Aslan told the children, we also must heed the necessity to leave our confessed sins “in the past.” Jesus’ forgiveness allows us to start fresh on a new path back to him. Aslan’s footprints in the sand and promise to return remind us of Jesus’ work here on earth and His promise to return. And just as the four children were given the honor of ruling Aslan’s kingdom, we must help build God’s kingdom here, aware that in God’s heavenly kingdom we are adopted sons and daughters of a King.
As you can seee, this classic story is jam-packed with teachable moments. Parents, teachers, and guardians can pull from the Narnia stories and other classical works to help children understand the meaning of Lent and the Lord’s passion. This is a great opportunity to find common ground as a family throughout the Lenten season.
Don’t worry about using a fantasy story to teach your kids. Jesus often used stories to teach because they speak to our metaphorical minds. Stories pull us in and help us feel. They move us in a way that makes us want to change the way we live. They help us to make connections. Narnia takes us on a Lenten journey that reminds us of who we were, who we are, and who we can become. It helps us to further grasp Jesus’ undying love for us.
Burkart is a freelance writer and editor, and teaches at the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls, IA. She is the author of A Parent's Guide to Harry Potter (Inter Varsity Press).
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