The Gospel According to The Lord of the Rings: Week 9, The Prancing Pony

So the Hobbits meet Strider at The Prancing Pony in Bree.

With all this talk about resisting the Shadow we might miss the theological witness of The Prancing Pony, the role of Butterbur in the struggle. Butterbur might not seem to be a huge force in the resistance, but we come to learn that he's a trusted, if forgetful, friend of Gandalf. And the most important contribution of The Prancing Pony to the resistance is that it provides safe haven for weary travelers, along with being a network of information.

This might seem to be a minor thing, providing food and safe accommodations to travelers, but it's a critical part of the story. I think here of the Shunamite woman, who provided a safe place to stay for the prophet Elisha. I also think of Mary, Martha and Lazarus in Bethany. I recall reading once an observation from Gerhard Lohfink about these friends of Jesus. He observed that not everyone packed it up to follow Jesus on his itinerant wanderings. Some of Jesus' friends stayed home, like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but they provided him, it seems, a Prancing Pony. A place to rest and recharge the batteries.

Butterbur is no Aragorn. Most of us aren't, but we all have a part to play. And maybe its our job to provide others with a Prancing Pony.

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