The following is a devotional that I gave at Grand Con. What is Grand Con? I’ve been going to some gaming conventions, board game conventions. Most notably, I’ve been going to GenCon each year which is in Indianapolis. That’s probably the largest gaming convention in the world. Here in my backyard, Grand Rapids, there is a much smaller board game convention called Grand Con. At Grand Con, I’ve been volunteering to run some board games. I like introducing people to board games and I think I explain them well. A few that I ran this year were: Dominion, Formula D, Takenoko, Camel Up, Trench, Downfall of Pompeii. This came about because my first year I sort of lamented that people weren’t running the types of board games that I like to play. Then I thought, Hey, I could run them. So I did and they are very well attended.
My friend, Eric Anderson, runs something he calls Nerd Chapel. This is a ministry whereby he goes to nerdy type conventions like Grand Con or Comic Con and is there to do whatever he can to represent Christ. If the organizers are open, he has a table to sell his book, 42:Discovering Faith through Fandom, which is a Christian devotional based on things that people are fans of. Do you like Superman? Have you ever considered how Superman might be similar to Christ? How about Star Trek? Is there an episode of Star Trek that reminds you of the Bible? These are things that are considered in this book. Eric also offers a Nerd Chapel service at the convention for those who are staying the weekend so they do not have to leave the premises to look for a church. He and I, well, mainly he, have been running a Nerd Chapel Service at Grand Con for the past 3 years.
Each year he has asked me to present the communion, which is something that I had never done, even at my church. This year I asked him if I could give a Lord of the Rings devotion just before the communion. So here is what I presented to those in attendance.
I’ve been a fan of Lord of the Rings for a long time. I read the book when I was 12 years old, which was in 1982. There are many things in this classic work that give us pictures of Christ. In this devotion, we are considering the character of Aragorn. He is the all but forgotten king, the rightful heir to the throne of a kingdom long divided. The chapter from which this is drawn is the Houses of Healing. This is just after the Battle of the Pelennor Fields where Éowyn slays the Lord of the Nazgul, the Witch King of Angmar. She did so at great cost to herself as her arm was shattered in the battle. Merry also was gravely wounded. On top of that, Faramir, the current lord of the city of Gondor, lies deathly ill due to wounds from the enemy. Denethor thought to burn his son alive because of his madness. So Faramir, Éowyn, and Merry all lie in the Houses of Healing in desperate need of someone who can miraculously help them.
Aragorn is riding toward the city of Gondor accompanied by Éomer and Imrahil and their armies. He has been victorious in battle and has raised the banner of Kings displaying the tokens of Elendil’s house. But instead of entering the city, he decides to wait outside the city because he has not been invited in. “I will await the welcome of the Lord of the City.” He does not know that Denethor is dead and Faramir, who is the rightful Lord, lays dying. Aragorn states that if he enters the city “unbidden”, that it would only cause confusion or “doubt and debate”. The most telling of this section are Aragorn’s words, “I have no mind for strife except with our Enemy and his servants.” Basically Aragorn says, “My fight is not with them, but with the enemy.” But then at night, Aragorn snuck into the city to heal people.
This is a picture of Christ. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. He came into the world as the rightful king, but did not impose Himself upon us. He awaited an invitation. His fight was not with us, but with the devil. But yet while he was waiting, He sort of snuck in and healed people while He was waiting for that invitation. He went around, not as the King of the Universe, but as a Servant, to heal as many people as had faith.
Inside the city, people were sorely distressed concerning Faramir. He was the Lord of the City and was well loved by its people. There was an old woman in the city who remembered the wisdom of old. Her name was Ioreth and is credited with one of the more notable quotes in the entire saga of the Lord of the Rings. Here is the quote from Return of the King: “Then an old wife, Ioreth, the eldest of the women who served in that house, looking on the fair face of Faramir, wept, for all the people loved him. And she said: ‘Alas! if he should die. Would that there were kings in Gondor, as there were once upon a time, they say! For it is said in the old lore: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer. And so the rightful king could ever be known.’ And Gandalf, who stood by, said: ‘Men may long remember your words, Ioreth! For there is hope in them. Maybe a king has indeed returned to Gondor; or have you not heard the strange tidings that have come to the City?’”
So we have here a prophecy to give the people hope, that the king would come healing people. So in comes Aragorn in disguise, a lowly Ranger of the North, but He does claim the title of Elessar, the Elfstone, or properly translated: The Renewer. He calls for athelas, but no one seems to know what that is. He says it may be known by the name kingsfoil. And now I am paraphrasing Ioreth’s response, something to the effect, “Kingsfoil? Well why didn’t you say so! I’ve seen kingsfoil growing in the woods. I never knew it was good for anything. I don’t understand why it’s called kingsfoil because if I were a king I would have much better plants than that in my garden.” But Ioreth does admit, “Still it smells sweet when bruised, does it not?” Interesting choice by Tolkein using the word “bruised” in relation to a plant.
Summarizing this section, they find 6 leaves, probably dried. Aragorn takes 2 of the leaves and crushes them in his hands, casting them into the bowls of steaming water. Instantly, a sweet, wholesome, healing fragrance fills the room. Faramir awakes and says, “My lord, you called me. I come. What does the king command?” Aragorn responds, “Walk no more in the shadows, but awake!” Aragorn also heals Éowyn and Merry, using 2 leave apiece for each of them.
This also is a picture of Christ. Kingsfoil, not attractive to the eye, not seemingly good for anything, but sweet healing comes forth when bruised or crushed. It is so interesting that Tolkein used the words bruised and crushed in relation to the healing power of kingsfoil. Let us read the quote from Isaiah 53 with new eyes:
For He grew up before Him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him,
and no beauty that we should desire Him,
He was despised and rejected by men;
a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
He was despised, and we esteemed Him not.
Surely He has borne our griefs (or sicknesses)
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed Him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions;
He was crushed (or bruised) for our iniquities;
upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned every one to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on Him
the iniquity of us all.
Here in Isaiah 53, the Messiah is a young plant, not attractive to the eye. No one esteemed Him of any value. Yet when bruised or crushed He brings for the power to heal. We need to remember that the healing power of Christ comes from His death on the cross. It is when He pours out His soul unto death that we experience healing. I know my need for healing. I know my tongue, my temper, my selfishness, my ability to ruin friendships. If you are in need of healing, believe in the death of Christ for your sins. He died for you. He was wounded, bruised, and crushed for you that you might be healed.
There is one other section of this story I want to mention before we partake of communion. When Aragorn went in to heal Éowyn, accompanied by Gandalf and Éowyn’s brother Éomer, they found there was something more than just a need for physical healing. Yes, her arm was shattered, but there was also some poison in her spirit. Gandalf pointed out that all the time while Wormtongue was whispering his lies in Théoden’s ears, that Éowyn had been waiting on Théoden and had listened. So these lies, little by little, had crept into her heart as well. So instead of believing the truth about her family and her nation, that they were a nation of warriors, The Riddermark! the Riders of Rohan, she believed the lies of the enemy and here I quote the book. “What is the house of Eorl but a thatched barn where brigands drink the reek, and their brats roll on the floor among their dogs?” Aragorn called to her, “Éowyn Éomund’s daughter, awake! For your enemy has passed away! Awake, Éowyn, Lady of Rohan! Awake! The shadow is gone and all darkness is washed clean!”
Maybe the healing that you need is that you have come to believe the lies of the enemy about yourself rather than the truth of God’s word. Satan whispers in our ears many things that are not true. We need to believe what God’s Word says about us rather than his poisonous lies. Yes, we are sinners, but we are greatly loved. And when we believe in Christ, He transforms us into warriors for Him.
Here is the portion of God’s Word that tells us of communion. The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (Paul writes) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is my body which is broken for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
So communion looks back and forward. It looks back to Christ’s death on the cross. But it also looks forward to Him coming again. As often as we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. So we look forward to His coming again. I have one more thing from the Lord of the Rings. After it was all over, after the ring had been cast into the fire, after the battle was won, after they came back victorious, after Aragorn was welcomed as King, he would not let the Fellowship of the Ring depart. He asked the hobbits to remain for some time and here I quote Aragorn: “I would have you wait a little while longer: for the end of the deeds that you have shared in has not yet come. A day draws near that I have looked for in all the years of my manhood, and when it comes I would have my friends beside me.”
So what was that day? It was the day that Arwen would come and they would wed. He would have his bride at his side as he reigned as king. It will be the same with Christ. When He comes again, we, as His bride, will be with Him. We will reign with Him.
Have fun and stay busy – Luke 19:13
-The Orange Mailman