It sounds a bit trite to say that I am a fan of C.S. Lewis' writings. Who isn't? Christians and non-Christians alike delight in the manner in which he turned a phrase, the depths of his insight into the human condition, his quick wit and his ability to weave rhythm and rhyme into even the most mundane of topics. He was an academic who could write to the masses, and for that he was rejected by most of his colleagues at Oxford University and denied for many years an academic chair. How could he call himself an Oxford Don if the regular, unwashed and uneducated people of the streets purchased his books and articles by the thousands? How could he be intellectual if he held to the perceived nonsense of orthodox Christianity? And yet, while the great majority of his colleagues are now relegated to dusty and forgotten books in the stacks of some distant English libraries, or to black and white photos hung on the walls lining a remote staircase in a musty academic building in Oxford or Cambridge, Lewis remains more popular today - virtually worldwide - than at any time since his first book churned off the presses.
So, I am not unique in my love for all things Lewis, but I am a bit more unique in that I also greatly appreciate Lewis' poetry. He claimed himself that he was not very good at it (a claim I eagerly make for myself as well), but he did manage to publish a work of poetry, and not many can claim that for themselves. My favorite of his is entitled "As the Ruin Falls." But alas, it deals with suffering and loss, not the incarnation, so it is off topic for my current series. He has, however, published the following poem/discourse that I have also come to appreciate greatly.
This work has no title because it is not, properly speaking, a poem. However, it has the familiar Lewisian cadence, and it speaks profound truth in a lyrical style. It speaks of the incarnation and its importance as it relates to God's plan for the redemption of humankind. It is biblical teaching in narrative, and narrative that invites us at the end of each thought to anticipate the next. It attempts to answer the question "why" as it relates to the incarnation - a question far too complex for such a short thought/lyric. Yet somehow, he seems to get to the gist of it anyway.
I offer it not only for your reading pleasure this Thursday, but for your contemplation and wonder as well...
But supposing God became man
suppose our human nature which can suffer and die was amalgamated with God's nature in one person
-then that person could help us.
He could surrender His will, and suffer and die
-because He was man;
and He could do it perfectly;
-because He was God.
But we cannot share in God's dying unless God dies; and He cannot die except by being a man.
That is the sense in which He pays our debt and suffers for us what He Himself need not suffer at all.
-The Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God. - C.S. Lewis
Although the incarnation is the greatest miracle we as humans have ever known, adoption into the family of God is the greatest promise. In this poem/narrative, Lewis hit the mark on both counts. As we approach a season of advent in which we will consider the great expectation of the coming of Messiah in poem and song, let the truth in Lewis' words sink deep into your bones. Let the beauty of it penetrate your soul, and marvel at the wonder of it all!
Grace and peace,