Prior to the Cathedral event on Sunday I went to help some friends paint their house in Leeds. Travelling up the A1(M) as the sun set to the left of us, my wife and I listened to Kenneth Branagh read C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Magician’s Nephew’. It’s been ages since I read the prequel to his more popular and famous books in the Narnia series. I was enjoying the my trip down memory lane when all of a sudden a felt that heart tug when I realised this story was speaking to me about ministry.
In the early chapters Digory and Polly stumble upon a secret and forbidden study of Uncle Andrew, a self made magician who had discovered some magic powder to transport people to another world. He had developed two types of rings, one yellow and one green. He tricks Polly into holding the yellow ring which transports her out of this world and into the new world. Digory is left with his uncle. His uncle tells his nephew that the only way he was to see Polly again was if he travelled into the new world with her green ring that will bring her back to this world.
As Digory and his uncle discuss the merits of travelling into the unknown to collect Polly, Digory begins to realise that Uncle Andrew was too scared or cowardly to travel into the unknown himself but wants all the praise and congratulations if the trip is successful. He keeps himself safe while encouraging others to take a risk. This really encouraged me in my wrestlings with theatre and ministry.
I’m currently standing in the Uncle Andrew position; talking and imagining this new world. I have the way marked out and all I need to do is grab hold of the yellow ring and see what happens. I have even got a green ring, in the shape of boundaries marked out, if this community doesn’t work out. In order to discover the joys and/or the troubles someone needs to grab the ring. C.S. Lewis clearly believes that it is cowardly for Uncle Andrew not to take the risk upon himself and instead gets two children to be his ‘experiment’. I refuse to implement any other person in my ‘experiment’. I need to be Digory and step into the unknown in order to collect my friends.
Unlike Uncle Andrew, Polly and Digory, however, someone has been to this place before, someone is there waiting. I still need to take the risk and just jump into the world and discover what it holds but I also need to remember that God is waiting and has the story thought out.
When Digory arrives in ‘the wood between the worlds’ he discover it’s a portal to all sorts of different worlds and the jumping into one world actually becomes only the start of his risk taking and adventure. I wonder what adventures this one jump will bring. In making this first step I’m opening up a different ministry of exploring new worlds and new challenges. I feel, at the moment, I have the courage and passion for adventure of Digory but, like Digory, I need to also remember to mark out the pool which leads home.