If you’re not familiar with The Elves, I recommend clicking here to read part two of the story before proceeding to my commentary.
Like the three men who visited Abraham (Genesis 18:1-4), in this story three elves came to a poor servant girl. She was invited to be a baby elf’s godmother. As in part one, baptism appears to be our theme. Of course it is! It was the child’s christening that brought about the servant girl’s adventure, pleasure, riches, and freedom.
We’re told she was taken to a hollow mountain where everything was “more elegant and beautiful than can be described.” In the context of baptism, the idea of a hollow mountain sends our minds to Christ’s tomb. The Elegance and beauty of it all nudges us to what St. John saw in Revelation 21, “And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city…having the glory of God, its radiance like a most rare jewel, like jasper, clear as crystal”(10-11).
Christ’s three day stay in the tomb is directly connected to what John saw. It is the way to such a glorious, elegant, and beautiful place.
…the little elves urgently entreated her to stay three days with them. So she stayed, and passed the time in pleasure and gaiety… And she had not, as she thought, been three days with the little men in the mountains, but seven years…
When we’re baptized into Christ we die with Him and are buried with Him. We’re brought to His three day event in a hollowed out mountain. A joyous adventure filled with pleasure and gaiety that we’re urgently entreated to embark upon.
An interesting part of this story is the passing of time. The servant girl stays for three days only to find out it’s been seven years. Baptism is not a one time event that happens in our lives, but rather an ongoing reality, which is brought to completion at our death. Perhaps the completion emphasis is to be found in the number seven, the biblical number of completion or perfection. Are we not made perfect in Christ through our baptism? Returning home she discovers her former masters have died. Through baptism we’re set free. We may think of Exodus 21:2, “When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing.” But let us not stop there. This whole story finds it’s root in Romans 6:1-11.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
In baptism we find pleasure and gaiety, we’re given a life of elegance and beauty, indeed a complete life. The elves give the poor servant girl money. We would do well to see such a gift as the riches of heaven – forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life – that are bestowed on us in our baptism. In the now-but-not-yet reality of being a baptized believer living on this side of the resurrection, when we step away from the font we step back to a life that looks just like the one we had before our adventure into the “elf mountain” of Christ’s glory. However, it most certainly is not!
The next Finding Truth in The Story will be on The Elves, part III. Click here to read the fairy tale in advance.
I’m reading the fairly tales from the Fall River Press publication, Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Click here to purchase a copy for yourself.
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