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Book Trade – Memorial to C S Lewis in Poets’ Corner, Westminster Abbey, London

November 22, 2013 3 comments

Friday 22nd November 2013 is the 50th anniversary of C S Lewis’s death in 1963; a date he shares with USA President J F Kennedy. A permanent memorial to Clive Staples Lewis (1898 – 1963); writer, scholar and ‘one of the most significant Christian apologists of the twentieth century’, was laid today in the floor of the South Transept at Poets’ Corner in Westminster Abbey.

C S Lewis: Memorial Stone

The service to dedicate the memorial was uplifting and joyful, a spiritual occasion with shades of a funeral farewell. Hymns were sung which I hadn’t heard since my school days – John Bunyan’s He who would valiant be – a throwback to Lewis’s world of the 1950’s; so all the more significant then that Lewis’s books continue to sell in such volume, and with such wide appeal. The Chronicles of Narnia have sold upwards of 100m copies around the world! Mere Christianity continues as a classic.

The rather pronounced English voice of Belfast-born ‘Jack’ Lewis (taken from his wartime talks for the BBC) was broadcast in the Abbey on this bitterly cold but sunlit November day in London;

Look for Christ and you will get Him, and with Him, everything else thrown in. Look for yourself and you will get only hatred, loneliness, despair and ruin’.

C S Lewis’s last pupil read a lesson; the service was seamless and beautifully choreographed.  The Abbey was filled with a soft light suffused through the glorious stained glass and with soaring choral music which echoed off the ancient stonework. As the memorial was dedicated, there was a reading from The Last Battle:

Now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no-one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before’.

The draw for many in this audience was the past Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, and a Lewis author (The Lion’s World : SPCK) who gave a short but erudite address. On this occasion he wisely left Narnia alone, concentrating instead on Lewis’s science fiction trilogy. Lord Williams of Oystermouth homed in on how Lewis deplored the misuse of language; how he saw it is used to hide from ourselves and to hide from reality.

Our questions fall away; we have nothing to say because we have too much to say.

Rowan Williams noted Lewis’s aversion to the King James Bible which he saw as getting in the way of our understanding. Instead Lewis preferred the Moffatt and J B Phillips translations of the Bible in order to best ‘hear’ the freshness of the text.

The one-hour service ended with a choral anthem based on verses written by C S Lewis and specially commissioned for today’s service. Then the long queue began as almost the entire congregation snaked around the Abbey to view the new slate memorial stone set at the base of one of the stone pillars in Poets’ Corner, engraved with Lewis’s words:

‘I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else’.

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Reflection: A growing awareness of the daily presence of God

September 2, 2012 3 comments

Stephen Hawking opening the 2012 Paralympics in London said: ‘Look up at the stars. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the Universe exist. Be curious’.

G K Chesterton: To those given to behold God’s glory: ‘There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect’.

Exodus 33:14-16: The Lord replied, ‘My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’ Then Moses said to him, ‘If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? 

C S Lewis: ‘Oh Aslan, said Lucy, it was kind of you to come … I’ve been here all the time, said He, but you have just made me visible’.

Dr David Benner: We do not have to do anything to gain access to God’s presence. We must simply recognize Who is already present.

Charlie Cleverley writes about ‘Epiphanies of the Ordinary’, David Benner speaks about ‘Transformation’. Whatever it is, it’s both about seeing and knowing God.

The awareness of the presence of God in our lives today is key. It will determine how we live today and how we respond to those around us.

The Lord is here, His Spirit is with us; an awareness of God’s presence transforms how we respond to ourselves and to those around us.

Consciously practice the presence of God today. It doesn’t come easily or naturally. Other things can dominate and crowd out our intentions.

I notice on a train how people are immersed in their phones – a pointer to how being immersed in God’s presence works; the strength of our desire to connect.

However tough & challenging life is for you today, rest in an awareness of the reality of God’s presence with you. He desires to bless you.

Give yourself space today to be aware of the reality of God’s presence. He IS with you and He loves you. Enjoy the moment. Be blessed!

Find space to experience God today. Don’t wait until you’re next in Church. In fact Church is not always conducive to the experience of God.

Henri Nouwen: The core of all prayer is indeed listening, obediently standing in the presence of God.

Our culture of chasing results and targets can adversely affect our relationships. Seek a balance and more especially in finding time with God.

Live in your experience of God for today. Don’t assume it will perhaps happen tomorrow or in the future. Enjoy the moment now. He loves you.

Say this prayer today: For the awareness & reality of your presence with me today, I thank you Lord.

Lord, I’m grateful for my waking hours. Come to me today. Remind me of your love. Immerse me in your Spirit. Jesus, you are with me today.

Never underestimate the blessing of your presence to others; of you just being you. If you were not you, others would be so much the poorer!

These sentences are taken from my Twitter stream describing a growing awareness of the daily presence of God.

Book Trade – Photo Report; London Book Fair 2012

April 17, 2012 3 comments

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