Saturday, February 20, 2016
A Lenten Mediation: In the Shadow of Mordor
The world of Middle Earth sounds very much like our own time with darkness coming over all the land. Evil riders in black scour the land doing Sauron's bidding. In many places the land has been scorched. The peoples of Middle Earth live more and more in fear of the growing threat.
And who is chosen to lead a quest to destroy the power of Sauron? The wizards and elves with their magical powers? The dwarves with their skill at weaponry and war? The human kings with their armies? No, the "hero" of the tale is Frodo, a hobbit. It's he, the simple soul from the Shire (the Garden of Eden?), who becomes the ring bearer and hope of Middle Earth. (The Lord chooses the simple to confound the wise.) The life of hobbits is simple. They love hearth and home -- their gardens, food and fellowship, a good pipe after dinner filled with the excellent "weed" grown in the Shire. They excel at friendship and appreciate the gifts of God so evident in the natural world.
There is so much in the story that provides food for thought: the nature of faithfulness and loyalty especially shown in the friendship of Sam for Frodo, the reality of sin and temptation and its struggle within us so aptly shown in the character of Gollum/Smeagol, the need for patience and perseverance in our daily journey despite its difficulties which we see so bravely in Frodo's bearing of the evil ring as it grows heavier and heavier around his neck. (Might we see that as the burden of our own sins?)
Tolkien had so much to share with us, and the Christian nature of his work is obvious from the very beginning when Bilbo and Frodo celebrate their joint birthdays. Frodo is 33, the age of Christ when He died. Bilbo is 111. Their ages add up to 144, a perfect number in Biblical numerology. Every page of the work invites us to reflect on the serious issues of life: love, hate, temptation, courage, humility -- they are all there.
Lent is all about overcoming evil in our lives and moving closer to Christ. The fellowship of the ring shows how important others are in our lives to help us accomplish that goal. During Lent, I hope to draw closer to Jesus with the help of others and grow in strength for the journey. Our quest is to overcome evil with good. Frodo is a Christ figure, but no Savior, as he succumbs to the evil power of the ring. But Frodo and all Middle Earth are saved by the pity he showed for Gollum as the evil creature unwittingly fulfills the quest by wounding the ring bearer, taking the ring, and falling with it into the fires of Mount Doom.
Let our quest this Lent be to draw into a more intimate relationship with Christ, the one true King of the universe. And may we bend the knee to Him and pledge our fealty as soldiers of Christ on the quest to win the world for Him.
May Jesus Christ be praised, now and forever.