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Bringing Harry Potter to Church

If you're not thrilled to know that this past weekend, I joined millions of other Harry Potter fans around the globe and sequestered myself from media, friends, and family (well, they were around me) and spent hour upon hour anxiously turning pages to discover the secrets I've waited years to learn, you're not going to appreciate this post.

And if you don't think it was right that I brought my kids with me early Friday morning to get a wristband to secure my place in line at the local Borders so I could snag my copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows as close to its release at midnight as possible, then you're really not going to like what I write next.

You may want to stop reading right here. (Attention fans: Don't worry. No spoiling ahead!)

After spending as much of Saturday and Sunday morning as I could reading the fantastic final book in the Harry Potter series, as we got ready to leave for church that morning, I just couldn't leave the unfinished book on the table. I imagined having to walk out of the service with my fussy five-month-old, knowing he wanted to nurse, knowing I'd nurse him on the comfy couch in the library. I just couldn't fathom that scene without Harry. So I did it. I made room in my already overstuffed half-purse, half-diaper bag, and I brought Harry Potter to church.

My son never made a peep. So Harry never made it out my bag. But a 759-page hardcover book is hard to hide. After church, a couple friends with good eyes teased me about what they saw in my bag. A couple more complimented me on my fast-reading skills. My husband was not so impressed. After the teasing stopped, he looked at me, dazzled, and said, "You brought your book to church!"

"Yeah," I said. "So did they." And motioned to a group of middle-schoolers who stood around with their books open, talking excitedly. Again, husband not so impressed.

As we drove home, knowing I'd need to walk my husband through yet another explanation as to why I'd be spending yet another day glued to this book, I thought about why J. K. Rowling's series has made such an impact on me - and tons of others around the world. Anyone who's read the books could give you her own wonderful reason. The girl behind me in line at Borders said it was because of the detail, all the story lines. Good reason. One of the middle-schoolers at my church loves the action, the suspense. Good reason. One friend of mine loves the language of the storytelling (it is masterful - Rowling has an unbelievable mind and vocabulary - English and otherwise). Good reason.

I've got a few reasons why I love the books. But the one I keep coming back to is one my friend Carla summarizes much more eloquently than I do (although I can't remember how she says it - otherwise I'd quote her!). It has to do with the orphaned boy who sleeps in a closet and thinks he's nothing (because he's told that by his cruel guardians) who is suddenly told he's special - and that he's destined for greatness. As the story unfolds, we see Harry embracing his gifts and excelling at them even as he facing challenges he could never before have dreamed he'd face. He does become great - though certainly not unflawed - and leads others toward greatness as well. And the whole thing is just a pleasure to read.

I think what's so enthralling is that what we see happen with Harry is what we'd love for our own lives (though I could do without the Inferi or the Dementors). We all want to be told we're somehow special, somehow destined for greatness. We all want someone to say, "You, you alone can do this." Right?

And I hope at some time, we all find that. Frankly, Christians shouldn't go through life any other way. Without sounding trite, God made us each special, each destined for greatness. Now, I'm not talking about literary-hero greatness. Most of us will never be notorious or lauded among the masses - I don't think I'd want to be. But greatness, as leaders and as Christians, means that we use the gifts God's given us - entrusted to us - to glorify him and to do his great work. Even when we face challenges. Even if we feel those gifts are locked in the closet for a spell. And especially when we're told we're "nothing."

July23, 2007 at 10:10 PM

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