July 19, 2019
As part of her regular communication with families, Lauren Breeden, our Director of Childrens' and Family Ministries, wrote a wonderful reflection on a lesson she learned from the Harry Potter books. Because I thought it was so good -- and relevant to all ages -- I thought I'd share her reflection as this week's e-news message.
"Harry picked it up and stared at it, his heart twanging like a giant elastic band. No one, ever, in his whole life, had written to him. Who would? He had no friends, no other relatives - he didn't belong to the library, so he'd never even got rude notes asking for books back. Yet here it was, a letter, addressed so plainly there could be no mistake:
Mr. H. Potter
The Cupboard under the Stairs
4 Privet Drive
(J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone)
Harry Potter's invitation to Hogwarts was both unexpected and unrelenting. It was a profound moment in the series, the instant his life would change. It was also the beginning of Harry's redefinition. No longer an orphan, he had been claimed, and reminded that he was desperately wanted, and loved. Nothing, and I mean nothing would be the same, not even who he was at his very core.
Uncle Vernon knew the significance of the letter. Beyond the fact that it meant Harry would know the truth about Harry's past, and Harry's powers, it also meant Harry would have worth outside of what Vernon gave Harry. Therefore, the Dursleys knew the letter had to be hidden or destroyed. But, an invitation from Hogwarts was unstoppable. Nothing and no one could keep it from Harry. Eventually, it was even hand delivered by a trusted Hogwarts Staff member, and Harry was officially found.
Harry's invitation to Hogwarts was also a profound moment for me when I was reading the book for the very first time. (I will admit that was this year.) I burst into tears when I read the above quote. Why, you ask, was it so impactful to me? Well it was because it reminded me of God's love for us. 1 John 3:1-3 says:
"See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God, and that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; what we will have not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure."
Just like Harry's letter, God addresses us each by name, meets us exactly where we are and invites to be in a relationship with God. It is a love that promises redefinition, and intrinsically reminds us that we were created to be beloved children of God.
However, our own Uncle Vernon figures often step in, and try to stop us from opening our invitation to a loving relationship with God. Sin wants to define us as orphaned, unlovable, and unworthy of being known by God. Thankfully, Hogwarts's letters don't back down and God's love won't either. God's love is unstoppable, unrelenting, unconditional, and wild. It searches for us, and even was/is willing to come to us in human form, willing to sacrifice all that is necessary to demonstrate the power of God' s love for us.
That is why I broke down: because I could imagine God's love flooding into my house, breaking down any barricade in its way, pushing aside all those who were keeping it from me, and even walking up to me, with arms out, inviting me to fall into the arms of God. I was reminded that I was known, loved and most importantly a beloved child of God.
Being defined by God's love changes everything. It reminds me to quiet the noise of the world's standards, pressures, and even desires for my life. It cast out sin's lies over who I am, and the value of my worth. It sets a higher standard for the way I am willing to be loved. Finally, being defined by God's loves challenges me to redefine my characterizations of others, and the way I see the world. I get to glimpse through the eyes of a savior who loves all the children of God.
Now my challenge to you is: Who is defining you? Have you allowed God's invitation to come in? And if not, can you imagine the type of love that would burst through doors for you? I wonder what would change if you believed that you were beloved?
Thanks, Lauren, for that reflection!
See you Sunday,