Our Own Far-off Country: Fall 2022
C.S. Lewis didn’t deliver many sermons. Most of his literary output was in the form of academic articles and books, children’s stories, and essays defending the Christian faith. Of the few sermons he did preach, though, one is particularly famous. It’s called “The Weight of Glory.”
In this sermon, among other things, Lewis talks about our “desire for our own far-off country”—our true home, which, in this lifetime, we can only get glimpses of. He talks about how books, or music, or beauty sometimes point us to this true home, but that they never should be mistaken for the real thing. “They are,” he writes, “not the thing itself; they are only the scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited.”
And then, right after those words, he writes this: “Do you think I am trying to weave a spell? Perhaps I am; but remember your fairy tales. Spells are used for breaking enchantments as well as for inducing them.”
I love that entire passage. I love the way his words about our true home speak to something deep in each of us about our unsatisfied desire for our “own far-off country.” And I love his reminder about how spells are used to break enchantments, as well as to induce them.
I wonder if perhaps it might be helpful at times to think about what spells have been cast on us, and how God is inviting us as a community to break these spells—not only for ourselves, but for those around us?
In this issue, in the interview with Arthur Brooks, he points to one such spell, which, for a variety of reasons, has been cast over our entire culture—namely the spell of isolation. He calls this epidemic of loneliness “the single most dangerous social contagion we are facing today,” and says it stems from “decrease in faith, family life, and in-person friendship, as well as the catastrophe of pandemic-induced remote work.” I think he’s right.
In other places, I’ve written and spoken about the two greatest lies the devil would like us to believe. First, he wants you to believe that there’s something wrong with you. And second, he wants you to believe you’re all alone.
Right now, far too many people in our community have come to believe this second lie. They have succumbed to this untruth—this spell—and as a result they feel isolated and alone, alienated from any sense of community.
What if, in the year ahead, we take it upon ourselves—as members of the body of Christ, who are intimately connected to one another—to recognize that part of our calling in the world is to break this spell? What if we allow ourselves to be reawakened once again to the power of community? What if we recognize that God is inviting us to do once more what Christians have always done: to gather together as members of a family, to be reminded of who we are, and to be encouraged to live out our lives alongside of one another?
When we do this—when we gather, and worship, and serve and grow with each other—we break the spell of this contagion of loneliness. And we break it not only for ourselves, but also for the community and the world. And, in the process, we might just discover that happy endings happen not only “once upon a time, in a land far, far away,” but also happen for the world God loves right here, and right now.
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