We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.
— East Coker (1940)

Fairy tales: they’re too good to be true, right? Sure, when we were children the grown ups would come and tell us stories in whispers and wonder which would dazzle and amaze the great imaginations of our tiny persons. In these stories, paupers won the hands of princesses, giants could be defeated by fools with beans, animals spoke, spells were cast, and no matter how dark the night the day was far brighter and eternal: they all lived happily ever after. Fairy tales held out hope that things are not as they seem, that something more awaited not only us but our whole world when just the right moment might come.

But then we got hit with a hard dose of “reality.” Our dreams don’t come true. Our families don’t stay together. Our friends do betray us. Our true love doesn’t appear. Our future isn’t “happily ever after.” Thus well before the age of ten, reality splashes a bucket of water on our face and we realize that not only do we not believe in fairies, (and what is more tragic) we don’t believe in fairy tales. We come to accept this world and its hard logic, indisputable facts, cold scrutiny, and damaged futures with a steely resignation that would make Prometheus himself proud to be our father. In the end, accepting cruel destiny we die to true living and we truly live to die. We’re just being realistic, right?

Yet the longing never goes away: it never should. Things are not as they seem: there is a fantastic, incredible story at work in our world which cannot beseen through the eyes and which promises that the End will be greater than the Beginning. Fairy tales direct us to the Most True Story, a story so unbelievably too good to be true that it is in fact true. This Story in no way skirts trouble: there are villains as well as heroes, there is woe as well as weal, there are battles, losses, and swindles. But in the End, good triumphs just as we hoped it would in the Beginning. It is after all more like a fairy tale than a lesser story.

Months ago as we began this sermon series on Christian Doctrine, we began telling this fantastic story of the Living God, the Tale to end all tales, with the hushed tones of “Once upon a time.” Now, as we hasten this coming Sunday to the conclusion of our story, we must take pains to make sure that we get the ending right. The story which tells of our Creation and our Re-Creation by the Most High God, of the Incarnation, Death, and Glory of the God-Man Jesus Christ, of our Salvation and Consummation in the Spirit of Holiness, must have a fitting End. Because the End of this story is our beginning of the Next, which if you can believe it, will be even better than this one!

This short article was published in the Resurrection Times: Wednesday Edition, September 1, 2010. Its purpose was to whet the whistle of its readers for the up-coming sermon on the Doctrine of the Last Things.

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