I love the way that C. S. Lewis offers us food for theological reflection in his fictional juvenile fantasy books. In the Chronicles of Narnia, we read about Cair Paravel, a fictional castle where the Kings and Queens of Narnia rule. “Cair Paravel” means “a lesser court” and a subversive prophecy among inhabitants of Narnia is that eventually “Two Songs of Adam and two Daughters of Eve” would be enthroned there, implying that it had already been a royal seat.
In the book Prince Caspian, which takes place many centuries later in Narnian time (which was only a year in our time), Cair Paravel is a ruin on an island. When the children Lucy, Peter, Edmund, and Susan explore the ruin, they knew that they were in a special place that contained great mystery.
Cair Paravel was a place of powerful significance in Narnia just like many of our places of worship have become for us today. As the Penevenise children became Kings and Queens of the country, Cair Paravel becomes the seat of the court of the Penevenise children and the capital of Narnia.
In the Aidan Reading about Cair Paravel in Celtic Daily Prayer we read “Fill this place Lord, with your glory! Let what happens here in our day be as great as what happened in the past. But don’t let us build monuments to the past. If the foundations were sound, we have hope to build again. We want to work, we must not die. Let Your tender mercies come unto us that we might live again.”
As guardians of our churches, we are not called to be curators of ancient monuments. Rather we are to be guardians of God’s vision, and we must make sure that God’s purposes are made visible and tangible in and through the church.
God’s people are always called to restore true religion when we have lost our way. As we honor the past, God is always calling us forward. Let us make ourselves open to God’s vision for our future and let us be faithful as we boldly follow God there. In Prince Caspian, the “Old Narnians” and Telmarines who had been at odds with one another were led to become a single people and live together in harmony. To live in harmony means to live peacefully with one another rather than fighting or arguing. We are called to live in harmony with others, even those with whom we disagree.
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Claire – In Charge of Ruins
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