Monday, December 02, 2013

Gandalf and the meaning of Advent: "Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east!"

J.R.R. Tolkien is often a much better catechist than contemporary Hallmark greeting cards and such. His fiction is choc full of allusions to the great Christian Biblical story, which C.S. Lewis called the Great Myth, or Story, that turns out to be true. What Tolkien called the Eucatastrophe, that happy ending where victory and redemption are snatched -- barely in the nick of time -- from the jaws of hell, is a recurring theme not only of his own fiction, but of the great narrative of which we find ourselves a part, the history of Redemption itself.

With that thought in mind, I offer this scene where Gandalf comes to the rescue with his host as promised. "Look to my coming on the first light of the fifth day, at dawn look to the east!" he had said, in a declaration brimming with Biblical Apocalyptic allusions. Yes, the Advent also refers to the coming of Jesus as the vulnerable Babe born in an obscure manger somewhere on the back side of nowhere in Palestine, to an innocent peasant girl and a Jewish construction worker. But it also refers to His return when, as Lewis also says, He will "invade" with His heavenly host. Here then, as we fight the good fight amidst these earthly battles, even as it appears we may be losing ground to Mordor and and the turncoat Sarumans of this world with their hordes of Orcs and Uruk-hai, we look for the return of our Deliverer, who will come, like Gandalf (with the anointed King Aragorn): At dawn look to the east!