Feast or Famine?

Weight of Glory
In the ’60’s the Fellowship Teas we shared were good. Just take the term shared with a grain of salt. As a teenager among teenagers at the time I admit the sharing was accidental upon the fact of the fellowship. That has all changed of course…

But while fellowship may be threatened by selfishness it may be enriched by solitude; a truth challenged by all that we call the social media today. This second brief post on the theme of Church comes from C S Lewis…


“No Christian and, indeed, no historian could accept the epigram which defines religion as “what a man does with his solitude.”
It was one of the Wesleys, I think, who said that the New Testament knows nothing of solitary religion. We are forbidden to neglect the assembling of our- selves together… We are members of one another.

In our own age the idea that religion belongs to our private life –  that it is, in fact, an occupation for the individual’s hour of leisure – is at once paradoxical, dangerous, and natural. It is paradoxical because this exaltation of the individual in the religious field springs up in an age when collectivism is ruthlessly defeating the individual in every other field. . . . .There is a crowd of busybodies, self-appointed masters of ceremonies, whose life is devoted to destroying solitude wherever solitude still exists. They call it “taking the young people out of themselves,” or “waking them up,” or “overcoming their apathy.” If an Augustine, a Vaughan, a Traherne, or a Wordsworth should be born in the modern world, the leaders of a youth organization would soon cure him. …. And even where the planners fail and someone is left physically by himself, the wireless has seen to it that he will be – in a sense not intended by Scipio – never less alone than when alone. We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and privacy, and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.”

C S Lewis in The Weight of Glory

Why?

Mere cover
Whenever we ask ‘why?’ or perhaps ‘why not?’ the question reflects our obsession with notions of cause and effect, of meaning and purpose, of our power, or lack of power, to influence not just our own little lives but also the institutions (families as much as nations) that shape our world; including the Church. The living, breathing, body of Christ exists in the world today and we are members of His body for a reason. This first of three brief posts on the theme of the Church comes from C S Lewis…

“This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden— that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose.”

C.S.Lewis in Mere Christianity

Our longing to belong…

Weight of Glory
Our deep need to be loved, accepted, recognized and heard remains valid in spite of the fact that we are so often un-lovable, un-acceptable, un-attractive and say so little worth hearing. How blessed we are if we are born into a family willing to overlook our inadequacies, at least once or twice; how much more blessed we are to have a Heavenly Father who sees us at our worst and is not willing to overlook our sins but is willing to die to forgive us, renew us, and restore us to His Family. This third brief post on the theme of God comes from C S Lewis…

‘When I attempted . . . . to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the land- scape loses the celestial light. . . . . For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world. Now we wake to find that it is no such thing. We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us. We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance. We may go when we please, we may stay if we can: “Nobody marks us.” A scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate, it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers. And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment. We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.’

From The Weight of Glory by C. S.Lewis

‘after this…real life begins’

Mere cover

When our mistaken notions about God lead us to reject him on the grounds that, if He exists at all, He must surely be irrelevant to our twenty-first century lives, God is not surprised, at all. He has had, from the beginning, and is still working out in this twenty-first century, the perfect cure for our unbelief; mere Christianity. This second brief post on the theme of God, comes from C S Lewis…

C S Lewis commented…. ‘As a great Christian writer (George MacDonald) pointed out, every father is pleased at the baby’s first attempt to walk (but) no father would be satisfied with anything less than a firm, free, manly walk in a grown-up son. In the same way, he said, “God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.”

I think every one who has some vague belief in God, until he becomes a Christian, has the idea of an exam or of a bargain in his mind. The first result of real Christianity is to blow that idea into bits. When they find it blown into bits, some people think this means that Christianity is a failure and give up. They seem to imagine that God is very simple-minded! In fact, of course, He knows all about this. One of the very things Christianity was designed to do was to blow this idea to bits. God has been waiting for the moment at which you discover that there is no question of earning a pass mark in this exam or putting Him in your debt.

Then comes another discovery. Every faculty you have, your power of thinking or of moving your limbs from moment to moment, is given you by God. If you devoted every moment of your whole life exclusively to His service you could not give Him anything that was not in a sense His own already. So that when we talk of a man doing anything for God or giving anything to God, I will tell you what it is really like. It is like a small child going to his father and saying, “Daddy, give me sixpence to buy you a birthday present.” Of course, the father does, and he is pleased with the child’s present. It is all very nice and proper, but only an idiot would think that the father is sixpence to the good on the transaction. When a man has made these two discoveries God can really get to work. It is after this that real life begins.’

From Mere Christianity by C. S. Lewis