By Eugene C. Scott
Poor Harry. His parents were mysteriously murdered; now he lives in a nondescript time and place in England with the Dursleys, his dreary, selfish, muggle (non-magic) aunt and uncle and piggish cousin; he is confined–most of the time–to his bedroom, the closet under the stairs; and he doesn’t know who he really is, that he can do magic or that he is the most anticipated, celebrated wizard in all of wizarding history. Such is Harry Potter’s small life and world. In literary terms this is the setting, the mileu where certain things can and cannot happen, for Harry’s story.
Worse Harry has no notion such a wonderful place as Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, such a powerful, compassionate man as Albus Dumbledore even exist. Harry’s never played Quidditch; never flown on a broom and never met Hermione or Ron. He has no idea who he is.
But then Harry boards a train bound for Hogwarts and his world expands, both his problems and potential deepen.
Poor us. Though the settings for our stories may be less novel and romantic, more realistic than Harry’s, they are often no less tragic. We live in a mysteriously broken world within the confines of our own broom closets. Our jobs appear dreary; our marriages, families, and friendships imperfect. Just like Harry cannot practice magic much less grow into who he was born to be living at Number 4, Privet Drive, Little Whinging, Surrey, UK, we seem unable to grow into who we were born to be in our earth-bound addresses. We too seem to not realize who we really are–the delight of God’s heart, created in his image–or that a wonderful place called heaven on earth or that a powerful, compassionate God even exist. This we believe to be the setting for our stories.
This dusty enslaving setting is just the one Jesus first strode into. Bruce Cockburn wrote a song about what that day could have been like.
“The only sign you gave of who you were
When you first came walking down the road,
Was the way the dust motes danced around
Your feet in a cloud of gold
But everything you see’s not the way it seems —
Tears can sing and joy shed tears.
You can take the wisdom of this world
And give it to the ones who think it all ends here.”
“Change your lives. The kingdom of God is here,” Jesus said.
It’s as if he said, Get aboard the Hogwarts Express. There is more to this world than you can see or know. I am here to show you you are loved beyond your wildest imaginations.
You can live by faith not fear.
Live as if heaven is here and now, not just a place to go after you die.
Wholeness and healing too can begin here.
Forgiveness, purpose, truth, and life are in My hand. Take them. Live them.
In My world–My kingdom–your problems and pain will serve a purpose–My transformation of this drear world. Your potential is as deep and wide and long as My love.
Cockburn calls this kind of life “Dancing in the Dragon’s Jaws.”
Yet we sit in our room beneath the stairs and wish.
The thing we love about Harry Potter is he is immature, unsure of himself, a boy of little faith, so to speak. Again, like us. This does not stop him, however, from reaching out and recklessly grasping for the richer life that is offered him. No matter how impossible it seems. It need not stop us either.
The difference is that what Jesus offers is not magic or a sweet piece of fiction. It is the way the truth and the life. The setting for our stories is more, better than we think. It is a vivid life lived with God beginning here and now.
“Change your lives. The kingdom of God is here.”