The Eucatastrophe

Dear Lewis,

When I was a kid my least favorite day to go to church was Easter. As a pastor’s son Easter Sunday meant being at church from sunup to sundown. It meant constantly being asked where the bathrooms were located. It meant playing some bit part in a horrible Easter play. It meant everything I didn’t like about church became exacerbated.

Even after I moved away from home I had a rocky relationship with Easter Sunday. Sometimes I went, sometimes I didn’t. The crowds were still out of control; the “dramas” – as they became known – were still embarrassing; and, without fail, someone always asked me about the bathrooms.

But, a few years ago I read an explanation of Easter that resonated with something at the core of who I am. It didn’t come from a pastor or a theologian. It came from a wizard; it came from Tolkien.

In his essay “On Fairy-stories” Tolkien introduces the word eucatastrophe – the good catastrophe. Basically, it is literary judo; using the weight of a catastrophe against itself, flipping it so that the catastrophe ends up being what puts everything right. It’s a bad thing made good through a miraculous and unexpected redemption. Tolkien says the Gospel is:

“…the greatest and most complete conceivable eucatastrophe…the Birth of Christ is the eucatastrophe of Man’s history. The Resurrection is the eucatastrophe of the story of the Incarnation. This story begins and ends in joy. There is no tale ever told that men would rather find was true.”

The Gospel is called “The Greatest Story Ever Told” because even if it weren’t true it would still be the perfect story. The protagonist is not only defeated, he is killed. But it’s his death that saves not just his closest friends, but all of humanity for all time. By raising his main character from the dead, God pulled off the greatest surprise, yet inevitable ending in history.

Lewis, you’re going to spend a lot of time in church, and a lot more time hearing us talk about Jesus. I hope you never become inoculated against the beauty and brilliance of the Easter story. If you do, I have no doubt God knows exactly how to remind you of its wonder and its power.

– Dad

What crazy sources has God, in His infinite creativity, used to help you understand Him better? What stories from the Bible have had new life breathed into them lately, renewing their power in your life? What caused the change?

Share your story and encourage others with the crazy, unique way God has made himself known to you by leaving a comment below, or by joining the conversation on Facebook.

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