The mythology of JRR Tolkien's Middle-Earth never gets old for me. In fact, I just completed my 10th reading of the Lord Of The Rings trilogy: this 10th journey particularly having read the entire trilogy out-loud with my wife and son.
Every journey through the story I am drawn to different lines of narrative that I have missed, or thought unimportant before. This year was no different. Frodo and Faramir captured my attention this year. Their dialogue in the wilderness of Ithilien is one small example of how bold and self-aware these two men are, especially to one another. I could go on for hours with my frustration on how scared and child-like modern characterizations of Frodo Baggins have hijacked the true persona of the ring-bearer....but that is for another day...Let's talk Faramir.
....the younger of two sons and a prince-of-sorts to Gondor. Less in stature and might than his older brother, but more wise, learned, subtle and loved by his city. The blood of Numenor ran truer in the veins of Faramir than his brother. Boromir had the hearts of the army, but Faramir had the hearts of the city and its people.
CONTEXT FOR THIS POST: *The Battle of The Pelennor Fields is won. Denethor, The Steward of Gondor is dead, King Theoden of Rohan is dead, Prince Imrahil (acting Steward) has ridden to the Black Gate and at his side goes the new hope of Men, Aragorn--of whom rumor has now spread far and wide that the un-looked for Heir of Isildur and true King of Gondor has sprung out of legend. Aragorn is yet to enter the capital city under any title or claim the kingship. Instead, he rides from battle to battle.
During the battle before the Black Gate the ring-bearer completes his Quest and the dominion of Sauron is dissolved. An eagle flies with great speed to bring tidings to the city of Minas Tirith, declaring:
'Sing and rejoice, ye people of the Tower of Guard
for your watch hath not been in vain,
and the Black Gate is broken,
and your King hath passed through,
and he is victorious.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you,
all the days of your life.
Sing all ye people!'
As the host returns to the city, all are coming out beyond the city gates at the bidding of the errand-riders to welcome the army. But Faramir, taking up his Stewardship for the first time, stays behind; and for the last time the banner of the house of the Stewards is raised above the city. Everyone is asked to come welcome the host....but Faramir essentially says, "No, you guys go ahead...I've got some work to do."
Faramir's sole purpose as the Steward of Gondor was to prepare the city for the return of the King. Everything is in ruins, but Faramir is resolved to do things properly. He prepares the citadel, the court of the Kings, and retrieves the crown of Gondor from the ancient tomb of Earnur. Faramir understood he had one critical task to perform in his brief Stewardship: to make ready the city for the single most amazing event that has ever happened...the victorious King's return. It then reads...
"Faramir met Aragorn in the midst of those there assembled and he knelt, and said: ' The last Steward of Gondor begs leave to surrender his office.' And he held out a white rod; but Aragorn took the rod and gave it back, saying 'That office is not ended, and it shall be thine and they heirs' as long as my line shall last. Do now thy office!'"
The army approaches the city and Faramir surrenders his post as Steward....and Aragorn DENIES the gesture. Wait...what!? After all Faramir does to properly hand over the Kingdom to the King the new King denies his resignation? Yes. The King has a new job for the Steward. Aragorn gives to Faramir the land of Ithilien to be his Princedom, to work the land and be fruitful.
How wonderfully beautiful and scripturally valid this is for Christians. Our purpose is to prepare the City for the Return of The King. When the King returns we should not guess that we surrender our office as citizens of His royal court. Let us not forget that the New Heavens and New Earth is not completely unlike our current reality. It is not Heaven, which will pass away. It is the New Heavens and New Earth...and we shouldn't mingle the two. We know that in Adam's fellowship with God his charge was to grow and cultivate the garden: to work and be fruitful, to husband all that is in his care. Our work does not end with the coming of the King, it is purified.
When we, with Sam, ask, "Is everything sad going to come untrue?" Jesus says, "Behold, I am making all things new," and I, The King, will "wipe every tear from their eyes." The hands of the King are the hands of a healer. So let us be about our King's work, preparing the city...
Part 2 coming soon.