>Nival Reflections and Narnia

>Our first snow fell the day before Thanksgiving, covering the bleak November landscape with a beautiful blanket of pure white.

The first snowfall, making November’s mud and grime appear pristine, always reminds me of Christ’s atoning sacrifice that makes believers appear whiter than snow in God’s eyes.

But Christ does more than simply cover up the dirt and grime of our lives; he removes our sin from us as far as the east is from the west. And he takes it upon himself. The concept of the first snow as covering falls far short of the reality.

But snow is cited by David and Isaiah in biblical references regarding forgiveness. In Psalm 51:7, David writes, “Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.” And the prophet writes in Isaiah 1:18, “‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord. ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Both of these passages stress God’s initiative and power as well as the radical nature of forgiveness. Snow is used as a visual reference for purity, not merely as a metaphor for God’s forgiveness.

While we live, we still struggle with sin. In that way, it may seem as if our filthy sins still lurk under the blanket of Christ’s purity. But Christ has done more than merely provide a white covering that hides our dark sins. He has substituted his righteousness for our unrighteousness.

That’s what the first snow of each winter season reminds me. And this year, when the first flakes fell the day before Thanksgiving, I found myself also longing to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia” movie.

The movie contains marvelous winter scenes: Lucy’s look of wonder when she arrives in Narnia, the umbrella seen from above while Tumnus and Lucy leave tracks behind in the snow, Peter sliding and falling in the snow, and the lampost glowing in the softly falling flakes.

And there is Lewis’ brilliant concept of Narnia caught in the throes of “always winter and never Christmas,” which–of course–is what our lives are like without Christ.

Those are reasons why I wanted to watch the movie when I saw the first snow. But I believe the primary reason was the movie reminds me, through its allegorical elements, of the sacrifice of Christ that frees his people from their enslavement to the deathly grip of sin and ushers them into the livegiving freedom of redemption.

First Snow

Now wash me
and I shall be—
the old-time
favorite rhymes,

while sunlight
on first snow
dazzles eyes
long blind.

Spirit-directed vision
plucks spars—
optimally opens—
and the eye perceives:

Mud and snow,
rags and linen,
dimly reflect
dirt and divinity.

But in a stable,
divinity cloaked
itself in
dirt.

On a cross,
rags washed in
blood became
linen.

Then first snow
becomes a nival
primer on nativity.

© Glenda Mathes

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