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The Chalice
Sunday, June 10 2018

You might not have noticed, so ingrained am I with him, but I haven't called attention to “he who must not be named” in any of my homilies since I returned to Saint John's in January. However, in this edition of “The Chalice,” I want to begin with some remarks made to me by Fr. Walter Hooper, C. S. Lewis's personal secretary toward the end of Lewis's life. These remarks may be found in the Introduction to “The Weight of Glory and Other Addresses,” a collection of essays and sermons by Lewis: “The Weight of Glory” is so magnificent that I dare to consider it worthy of a place with some of the Church Fathers. It was preached at the invitation of Canon T. R. Milford at Solemn Evensong in the twelfth-century Oxford University Church of St. Mary the Virgin on 8 June 1941 to one of the largest congregations ever assembled there in modern times.”

I have heard this sermon preached at St. Mary the Virgin on three occasions, twice by Joss Ackland, the British actor who played Lewis in the acclaimed production of Shadowlands, and once by David Suchet, best know for his role as Hercule Poirot, the detective created by Agatha Christie. The sermon lasted precisely forty-seven and one-half minutes, both when Lewis preached it originally and when Ackland and Suchet revived it. A virtual NO NO by today's standards, but no one left in 1941 and neither did anyone when I heard it—and it was the third time through for me (not to mention the many times I have read, hi-lighted, and commented on it in my copy of the sermon). I mention this because the sermon unwraps many of the mysteries in the elusive phrase “the weight of glory” in this morning's reading from 2 Corinthians. As an aside, the passage is one of the New Testament suggestions in The Book of Common Prayer for use at a funeral; it is one I have selected for my funeral.

The following short passages are all from Lewis's sermon. They are offered for your contemplation and prayer; they are a sneaky way of enticing you (hopefully) to read the entire piece.

  1. “We are halfhearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meany by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
  2. “To please God...to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness...to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son—it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is.”
  3. “At present we are on the outside of the world, the wrong side of the door. We discern the freshness and purity of morning, but they do not make us fresh and pure. We cannot mingle with the splendors we see. But all the leaves of the New Testament are rustling with the rumor that it will not always be so. Some day, God willing, we shall get in.”
  4. “The whole man is to drink joy from the fountain of joy.”

In some way, each of us is meant to reflect a different facet of God's glory, to be like diamonds held up to the light, radiant to behold. As one scholar phrased it, the renewed human race is “meant to be the mirror in which the rest of creation can see who its creator really is, and can worship and serve him truly.” As an old hymn puts it, let each of us so shine with the love of Jesus that we “fill this land with the Father's glory.”

Under the Mercy,
Fr. John+

Posted by: Rev. John Morrison AT 09:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email