Stories that challenge us to See Differently

Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger reflects on how stories convict, inspire and help us to see differently as we enter this season of Lent.

Some stories never grow old. For me, the scenes in C.S Lewis’s Voyage of the Dawn Treader where Eustace becomes a dragon, and is subsequently ‘undragoned’, remain as evocative today as when I first read them when I was in Year 5.

Eustace finds himself in a dragon’s lair. After being immersed in the treasure and visions of the life that the treasure will afford him, he is turned into a dragon.

His transformation to being human begins as he sees himself and his behaviour more clearly. It continues as he connects with others, rather than being tiresome and aloof.

His transformation is complete when Aslan helps him to shed his dragon skin. This passage evokes allusions to baptism for the very reason that Eustace cannot complete his transformation on his own. His encounter with Aslan and his reconnection with the community are both crucial elements.

Eustace’s transformation is also a great image with which to begin our Lenten journey. As Eustace attempts to explain what has happened to his cousin Edmund, he reaches the limits of language. 

The season of Lent prepares us to come close to the mystery of Easter, all the while knowing that what God has done in Christ is something we are invited into but cannot possess or fully comprehend.

The ritual that many of us have undertaken today on Ash Wednesday, where oil and ash become the symbol of both frailty and hope, and scriptures set down for this week are rich in meaning and anticipation.

Luke’s account of the temptation in the desert is an evocative read and an example of how Jesus helps us see differently (Luke 4:1-5). Jesus is full of the Holy Spirit and is led by the Holy Spirit into the desert.

On the surface the desert is a place of scarcity and danger, but for those with eyes to see it is also a place of revelation and blessing.

The temptation that Jesus faces to literally ‘do a deal with the devil’, centres around Jesus putting his power, the devil’s power, and God’s power to the test. At each point Jesus upholds God’s provision and not a counterfeit version of security.

The season of Lent is an invitation to see more clearly and live more fully attuned to God’s reality. To be less concerned with counterfeit versions but rather open to the leading of the Spirit who promises to be our companion in every time and place.

The reading from the Hebrew Scriptures also reminds us of God’s provision and desire for mercy and justice. For the people of Israel, a new land is promised. The memory of trauma, slavery, and redemption remains part of their story. There is a tension in the narrative, a silence in this text (Deut 26: 1-11). As has been noted, the promised land is already inhabited. Jesus demonstrated that Scripture requires careful engagement lest we use a word that is designed to liberate, to oppress others. A situation we see played out in the processes of colonisation in multiple locations where texts such as this one can justify the acquisition of land.

I recently finished reading After Story by Larissa Behrendt. It is a poignant story about the power of story, both Indigenous stories and stories from the Western canon. It is also a meditation on family, grief, individual and collective histories, and the places that redemption can be found. This novel is another story that I suspect I’ll be thinking about for some time to come.

I wonder what stories from Scripture, from your life and the lives of others will inspire, convict, and help you to see differently this Lent?


Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger’s reflection engages with readings set out by the Revised Common Lectionary for the first Sunday in Lent - Deuteronomy 26:1-11 and Luke 4:1-15. 


Discussion Questions

Lent is a time to ‘let go’ and/or ‘take up’. What could you let go of or take up this Lent that would strengthen your relationship with Jesus and with others? Creativity is encouraged!

Which stories have inspired and challenged you to see differently throughout your life? Is there a book that would be a good companion this Lent?

Listen to Archie Roach sing Let Love Rule. How can love, justice, truth and compassion be part of our Lenten journey?



Loving and Holy God,

we turn to you again in

this Season of Lent.


We come to you in need of

your grace, your forgiveness, your wisdom.


We thank you for the gift of stories 

that enliven our imaginations 

and challenge us to see differently.


May your word dwell in us and lead 

us to a greater understanding of 

who you are.


We pray for our world. 

Bless all peacemakers and those

who work for justice.

Help us to play our part.


In the name of Jesus we pray,


Rev. Dr Katherine Rainger currently serves as Senior Chaplain at Radford College in the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. Her research interests include Australian film and theology, the Book of Lamentations and Palestinian Christian theology. She loves a good book, a strong cup of tea and a beach to sit on – preferably all at once!

Seeing Differently