Thursday, December 25, 2008

He came with Love

First Coming
by Madeleine L'Engle

He did not wait till the world was ready,
till men and nations were at peace.
He came when the Heavens were unsteady,
and prisoners cried out for release.

He did not wait for the perfect time.
He came when the need was deep and great.
He dined with sinners in all their grime,
turned water into wine. He did not wait

till hearts were pure. In joy he came
to a tarnished world of sin and doubt.
To a world like ours, of anguished shame
he came, and his Light would not go out.

He came to a world which did not mesh,
to heal its tangles, shield its scorn.
In the mystery of the Word made Flesh
the Maker of the stars was born.

We cannot wait till the world is sane
to raise our songs with joyful voice,
for to share our grief, to touch our pain,
He came with Love: Rejoice! Rejoice!

Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled!"

Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
"Christ is born in Bethlehem"
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Christ by highest heav'n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin's womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Hail the heav'n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris'n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
"Glory to the newborn King!"

Wishing all a joy-filled Christmas and a most blessed new year.

Sunday, December 14, 2008


Schmaltzy and a tad melodramatic, as Josh Groban is often wont to be. But this was one of the songs that came on (out of the 146 shuffled songs on my iPod's Christmas playlist) as I drove home tonight. We just had our annual Christmas party, and a wonderful time was had by all: Amateurish mucking about in the kitchen – food made with lots of love, not skill; Marks & Sparks minced pies that reminded us of England; boisterous singing with accomplished (grand) piano accompaniment. Laughter, lots and lots of laughter.

Thankful. I’m thankful.

There’s so much to be thankful for.

So for tonight we pray for
What we know can be
And on this day we hope for
What we still can't see
It's up to us to be the change
And even though this world needs so much more
There's so much to be thankful for

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A deep and terrible mystery

In the face of great suffering, oftentimes we want so very much to be able to give people an answer, to give ourselves an answer. I do not know if there is an answer to be had. In the face of the deepest and most terrible of pain, I do not know if there is an answer. Why? Why did this have to happen? I believe that ultimately, there is a reason - but we might never know what that reason is, at least not on this side of eternity.

Suffering is a mystery as deep as any in our existence. It is not of course a mystery whose reality some doubt. Suffering keeps its face hid from each while making itself known to all.

I keep thinking about what Locke said about the limits of human knowledge: The divine creator gave us enough light to traverse the oceans, but not necessarily to plumb all its depths.

There is a deep and terrible mystery about suffering.

To love is to suffer. There is a deep and terrible mystery about love. To love, to really love, is irrational. The Bible tells us that God loves us. He loves us so much that he left heaven for us, gave himself up for us, endured infinite suffering for us, went through hell itself, for us. Why? What did we ever do that was deserving of his love? Why does God love us? How can he love us? Does he not see the utter darkness within each of our souls? Does he not see what we do to each other? What we do to him?

Jesus Christ looked down [from the cross] and he saw the people he was dying for - some cringing, some snarling, all of them clueless. And in the greatest act of strength and love in the history of the world – he stayed.
Attributed to Spurgeon

God does not give us an answer for suffering so much as share in it, and ultimately defeat it, defeating death itself. Because he loves us. And to love is to suffer.

I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as ‘God on the cross.’ In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?

I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world.

But each time after a while I have had to turn away. And in imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn-pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness.

That is the God for me! He laid aside his immunity to pain. He entered out world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of his.

There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark, the cross which symbolizes divine suffering. ‘The cross of Christ… is God’s only self-justification in such a world’ as ours.

John Stott in The Cross of Christ

Thursday, December 04, 2008

The Cure for Pain


I'm not sure why it always goes downhill   
Why broken cisterns never could stay filled   
I've spent ten years singing gravity away   
But the water keeps on falling from the sky   

And here tonight while the stars are blacking out  
With every hope and dream I've ever had in doubt   
I've spent ten years trying to sing these doubts away   
But the water keeps on falling from my eyes   

And heaven knows... heaven knows 
I tried to find a cure for the pain   
Oh my Lord! to suffer like you do...   
It would be a lie to run away   

So blood is fire pulsing through our veins   
We're either riders or fools behind the reins   
I've spent 10 years trying to sing it all away   
But the water keeps on falling from my tries

I've been listening to this song again and again. I remember when I first heard it. On an episode of Grey's Anatomy. I was so thrilled that they played a Christian artist's song on a major network TV show. I remember when I last saw you. At the Switchfoot concert earlier this year. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that you were a fellow Switchfoot enthusiast. I wish so much that we had met again under happier circumstances. But it was not to be.
We are one in suffering. Some are wealthy, some bright; some athletic, some admired. But we all suffer. For we all prize and love; and in this present existence of ours, prizing and loving yield suffering. Love in our world is suffering love. Some do not suffer much, though, for they do not love much. Suffering is for the loving. If I hadn't loved him, there wouldn't be this agony. This, said Jesus, is the command of the Holy One: "You shall love your neighbour as yourself." In commanding us to love, God invites us to suffer. God is love. That is why he suffers. To love our sinful world is to suffer. God so suffered for the world that he gave up his only Son to suffering. The one who does not see God’s suffering does not see his love. God is suffering love. So suffering is down at the center of things, deep down where the meaning is. Suffering is the meaning of our world. For Love is the meaning. And Love suffers. The tears of God are the meaning of history. Nicholas Wolterstoff, in Lament for a Son
Oh my Lord! to suffer like you do...
It would be a lie to run away

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Let Your Love Be Strong - Your Love Is Strong

"Let Your Love Be Strong" is one of my favourite songs on the new Switchfoot album, Oh! Gravity.

Listen to the album version of the song here.

In this world of news, I've found nothing new
I've found nothing pure
Maybe I'm just idealistic to assume that truth
Could be fact and form
That love could be a verb
Maybe I'm just a little misinformed

As the dead moon rises, and the freeways sigh
Let the trains watch over the tides and the mist
Spinning circles in our sky's tonight
Let the trucks roll in from Los Angeles
Maybe our stars are unanimously tired

Let your love be strong, and I don't care what goes down
Let your love be strong enough
to weather through the thunder cloud

Fury and thunder clap like stealing the fire from your eyes
All of my world hanging on your love

Let the wars begin, let my strength wear thin
Let my fingers crack, let my world fall apart
Train the monkeys on my back to fight
Let it start tonight
When my world explodes, when my stars touch the ground
Falling down like broken satellites

All of my world resting on your love

"This one means a lot to me. 'Maybe I'm just idealistic to assume that truth could be fact and form, that love could be a verb, maybe I'm just a little misinformed.' I wrote this one after a long walk in the early morning before the sun came up. I was sitting out by the train tracks halfway between the ocean and the freeway. When everything in your life falls apart you begin to realize what's worth holding on to and who's got a hold on you. Let the world fall apart ... all of my life rests upon the love that created every breath I have been given."
Jon Foreman (lead singer of Switchfoot)

Recently, Jon Foreman released a series of four solo EPs made up of his quieter and more worshipful material. "Switchfoot is more of the public address with the lights and megaphone, whereas these songs are more my confession," he says.

"Your Love Is Strong" is an absolutely amazing song. The first time I heard it, it brought tears to my eyes. I love how the song is filled with Scripture, how he makes the words of Scripture his own as he talks to God, weaving eternal truth into the very fabric of his soul. Here he says that this song is the sequel to "Let Your Love Be Strong", and a very apt sequel it is. This is the answer to the question.

Listen to the album version of the song here.

Heavenly Father

You always amaze me
Let Your kingdom come in my world
And in my life

Give me the food I need
To live through today
Forgive me as I forgive
The people that wrong me

Keep me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place

I walk to the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why do I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need!

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

The kingdom of the heavens
Is now advancing
Invade my heart
Invade this broken town

The kingdom of the heavens
Is buried treasure
Would you sell yourself
To buy the one you've found

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong
Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

Our God in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven
Give us, today, our daily bread
Forgive us weary sinners
Keep us far from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons

Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Strangest Day

Today was a very strange day. Within three hours I had gone from standing in front of a half open coffin to holding an 8 hour old baby in my arms. I went straight from a wake to a maternity ward. An old person's life on this earth had come to an end but a little baby's life had just begun. Words of comfort one moment and words of joy in the next. I almost could not wrap my mind around the two extremes, so closely side by side. Life and death. Joy and sorrow. Light and dark. Is this how it's meant to be? Beauty and tragedy always intermingled. Is death a natural part of life?

At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus did not react with calm acceptance. He wept. He raged. How could the Lord of creation be angry at something in his world? As Tim Keller points out, Jesus could only be angry at death, if death is an intruder. Death is not part of the original design. Our most instinctive response to death is not resolute stoicism; losing a loved one inflicts unbearable pain. And pain is always an indication that something is wrong.

When we turned away from Life itself, Himself, everything broke. Our bodies, our relationships, this world. Life broke. And yet we all know, deep down inside, that this is not how it is meant to be. We weren't meant to die. We were meant to last.

If you really are the product of a material universe, why don’t you feel at home in a world where you die and disintegrate? Do fish complain of the sea for being wet? Or if they did would that not strongly suggest that they were once not purely aquatic creatures? Why are we continually shocked and repulsed by death? Unless, indeed, something in us, is not temporal.
Tim Keller paraphrasing C. S. Lewis
in Death and the Christian Hope

Saturday, May 24, 2008

I que es la veritat? (What is truth?)

Front gate of the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona

This is the famous question that Pontius Pilate asked when cross-examining Jesus, (John 18) one that is surely as old as humanity itself.

I was just thinking about how wonderful it is that truth, the Truth, is a person that we can know. We can relate to the truth, not as we relate to a set of propositions or facts, but as one person relates to another. We can have a relationship with ultimate reality itself, Himself. He is our friend, our brother, our father, our Saviour, our King. To know Him is to know ourselves. To know that we are completely loved and accepted, despite all our flaws. To know Him is to know that all of history is not a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. To know Him is to know that in the end, everything that is broken will be made whole, and that everything sad will come untrue. To know Him is to know the truth.

I am the way and the truth and the life.
John 14:6

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Pretty Amazing Grace

Much to my surprise, American Idol has helped to broaden my musical horizons yet again. The only Neil Diamond song I'd heard before this was You Don't Bring Me Flowers, a duet with Barbara Streisand. This is a rather different song.

Pretty amazing grace is what you showed me
Pretty amazing grace is who you are
I was an empty vessel
You filled me up inside
and with amazing grace restored my pride

Pretty amazing grace is how you saved me
and with amazing grace reclaimed my heart
Love in the midst of chaos
Calm in the heat of war
Showed with amazing grace what love was for

You forgave my insensitivity
and my attempt to then mislead you
You stood beside a wretch like me
Your pretty amazing grace was all I needed

Stumbled inside the doorway of your chapel
Humbled and awed by everything I found
Beauty and love surround me
Freed me from what I fear
Ask for amazing grace and you appear

You overcame my loss of hope and faith
Gave me a truth I could belive in
You led me to a higher place
Showed me that love and truth and hope and grace
were all I needed

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Shout to the Lord

I must confess that I was rather surprised when they performed this on American Idol, even if it was part of Idol Gives Back. I'm not quite sure why those chose to include it (I thought they'd go with one of the secular "We Are the World" -type songs), but hey, no complaints from me. I love this song and they sung it well.

My Jesus, my Saviour, Lord, there is none like You;
All of my days I want to praise the wonders of Your mighty love.
My comfort, my shelter, tower of refuge and strength;
Let every breath, all that I am, never cease to worship You.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth, let us sing
Power and Majesty, praise to the King;
Mountains bow down and the seas will roar
At the sound of Your name.
I sing for joy at the work of your hands,
Forever I'll love You, forever I'll stand
Nothing compares to the promise I have in You.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Jesus and Gravity

Dolly Parton tells it like it is.

(Ok, ok, I confess. I've been watching American Idol. But clearly everything happens for a reason. How else would I have discovered the wonderful music - and wit - of Dolly Parton? ;P )

I'm to the point where it don't add up
I can't say I've come this far with my guitar on pure dumb luck
That's not to say I know it all 'cause every time
I get too high up on my horse I fall

'Cause I've got somethin' lifting me up
Somethin' holdin' me down
Somethin' to give me wings and keep my feet on the ground
I've got all I need, I've got Jesus and gravity

But I'm as bad as anyone
takin' all these blessings in my life for granted one by one
When I start to thinkin' it's all me, well
somethin' comes along and knocks me right back on my knees

And I've got somethin' lifting me up
Somethin' holding me down
Somethin' to give me wings and keep my feet on the ground
I've got all I need, I've got Jesus and gravity

He's my friend, He's my light
He's my wings, He is my flight

And I've got somethin' lifting me up
Somethin' holding me down
Somethin' to give me wings and keep my feet on the ground
I've got all I'm gonna need
I've got Jesus, I've got Jesus

Jesus, I've got Jesus, I've got Jesus
He's my everything. He lifts me up, He gives me wings
He gives me hope and He gives me strength
and that's all I'll ever need as long as he keeps lifting me
As long as He keeps lifting me

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Christ the Lord is Risen Today

The message of the resurrection is that this world matters! That the injustices and pains of this present world must now be addressed with the news that healing, justice, and love have won...

If Easter means Jesus Christ is only raised in a spiritual sense - [then] it is only about me, and finding a new dimension in my personal spiritual life. But if Jesus Christ is truly risen from the dead, Christianity becomes good news for the whole world - news which warms our hearts precisely because it isn't just about warming our hearts.

Easter means that in a world where injustice, violence and degradation are endemic, God is not prepared to tolerate such things - and that we will work and plan, with all the energy of God, to implement victory of Jesus over them all.

Take away Easter and Karl Marx was probably right to accuse Christianity of ignoring problems of the material world. Take it away and Freud was probably right to say Christianity is wish-fulfillment. Take it away and Nietzsche probably was right to say it was for wimps.

N. T. Wright as quoted by Tim Keller in The Reason for God

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

A well-written review of Tim Keller's new book. Very timely too.

Reasons for Good Friday
By Michael Gerson

In a flood of bestsellers by skeptics and atheists charging a nonexistent God with crimes against humanity, Timothy Keller stands out as an effective counterpoint and a defender of the faith. His new book, "The Reason for God," makes a tight, accessible case for reasoned religious belief. And his national tour of college campuses has drawn overflowing crowds. "This isn't because I'm well known," Keller told me, "but because of the topic."

But Keller is likely to be better known in short order. His 5,000-strong Manhattan congregation is a model of outreach to 20- and 30-something artists and professionals. Keller's church symbolizes an emerging urban evangelicalism -- at a recent service, he recalls, a Republican speechwriter sat near a songwriter for Madonna. Many of Keller's parishioners are deeply skeptical of the religious right, untroubled by evolution and begin their complex spiritual journeys with serious doubts.

Keller explains that members of this rising generation are not so much relativists as they are philosophically rootless. "They have a deep morality, but they have no idea why." And they generally share some objections to religious belief: that traditional faith is exclusive and intolerant and that the existence of suffering is inconsistent with the existence of a loving God.

A centerpiece argument of Keller's response might be called the myth of secular neutrality. "Skeptics argue that they have the intellectual high ground," he says, "but they are really making assumptions as well." An absolute doubt -- claiming that all truth is culturally conditioned -- can work only if it exempts itself from doubt and assumes the cultural superiority of rationalism. Raging against evil and suffering in the world assumes a moral standard of good and evil that naturalism cannot provide. Keller argues that the main criticisms of religion require "blind faith" of their own, and he urges people to begin by doubting their doubts.

But while Keller argues that all worldviews contain assumptions of faith, reason is not futile. It may not provide proof, but it does provide clues. The fundamental regularities of the universe that improbably favor life; the artistic beauty that reaches beyond materialism; the sense of love and duty that seems so much more than evolutionary instinct -- Keller argues that only theism explains our lived experience and deepest desires. "God is the only thing that makes sense of what we love."

At the center of his book is an interesting case study: human rights. Some skeptics argue that the universe is an empty, impersonal void -- that life has no meaning or value beyond its material makeup -- and yet they try to maintain the importance of human dignity as if still living in a world of meaning and justice. "If morality is relative," Keller asks, "why isn't social justice as well?" Why isn't the rule of the strong -- the clear teaching of nature -- just as valid as a belief in the rights of the weak? A materialist, Keller argues, can only respond with sentiment.

The final part of Keller's book will be the most difficult for many readers to accept. He contends that the God of space and time is somehow uniquely found in Jesus of Nazareth. The earliest Christians knew this was a "scandal" often interpreted by others as blasphemy. Sophisticated, first-century Greeks and Romans were no more likely to believe in risen corpses than we are today.

Yet Keller argues for the reliability of the New Testament accounts. And he makes the case that the Christian message has an advantage: It is more than an intellectual theory. In his book, Keller quotes Simone Weil, the French mystic and social activist, who made a practice of repeating Christian poetry during her migraines: "It was during one of these recitations that . . . Christ himself came down and took possession of me. In my arguments about the insolubility of the problem of God I had never foreseen the possibility of that, of a real contact, person to person, here below, between a human being and God."

Good Friday calls attention to a final argument as to why the God of the philosophers, however useful, may not be enough. In the end, the problem of human suffering cannot be minimized or explained away -- but in the Christian story, that suffering has been shared. Perhaps, in our own darkness, we need the imprisoned God, the scarred God, the shamed God, the despairing God.

The poet Jane Kenyon grasped at this mystery of Good Friday:

The God of curved space, the dry

God, is not going to help us, but the son

whose blood spattered

the hem of his mother's robe.

Surely he took up our infirmities
and carried our sorrows,
yet we considered him stricken by God,
smitten by him, and afflicted.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
Isaiah 53:4-6

Monday, February 11, 2008

Never Gonna Break My Faith

Who knew that Bryan Adams - former king of the sappy rock ballad and my erstwhile childhood idol (his So Far So Good was one of the first CDs I ever got) - was capable of writing a gospel anthem? And a pretty fantastic one at that. "Never Gonna Break My Faith", sung by the Queen and Princess of Soul, Aretha Franklin and Mary J. Blige, just picked up the Grammy for Best Gospel Performance. It's off the soundtrack of the movie Bobby, which is about the assasination of Robert F. Kennedy in the early morning hours of June 5, 1968 in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, and 22 people in the hotel whose lives were never the same again.

My Lord
I have read this book so many times
But nowhere can I find the page
that says what I experienced today
has any grace

Now I know that life is meant to be hard
that’s how I learn to appreciate my God
Though my courage made be tried
I can tell you I won’t hide
Because the footprints show you were by my side

You can lie to a child with a smilin’ face
Tell me that colour ain’t about race
You can cast the first stones, you can break my bones
But your never gonna break, you’re never gonna break my faith

And hope ain't yours to give
Truth and liberty are mine to live
You can steal a crown from a king
Break an angel's wings
But your never gonna break, you’re never gonna break my faith

My Lord
Won’t you help them, help them to understand
that when someone takes the life of an innocent man
Well they never really won because all they’ve really done
is set the soul free where it’s supposed to be

For those we lose before their time
I pray their souls will find the light
I know that the day will surely come
When His will, His will, will be done

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Switchfoot Live

The concert was fantastic. Switchfoot were absolutely amazing live. They opened the show with several of their faster rock songs like Oh! Gravity, Stars and We Are One Tonight, their electrifying guitar riffs ripping through an ecstatic crowd. Unlike most of the eager young people in the mosh pit, I sat a safe distance away on the elevated seats, far from the madding crowd but no less enthusiastic.

On the slower songs lead singer Jon Foreman took to the stage solo, accompanying himself on the acoustic guitar. By way of introduction he said, "This is one of my favourites," before launching into what is also one of my favourites - Only Hope. Both a meditation and a prayer.

Sing to me of the song of the stars
Of Your galaxy dancing and laughing
and laughing again
When it feels like my dreams are so far
Sing to me of the plans that You have for me
over again

But perhaps the most touching moment of the concert came, surprisingly, not during one of their slower, more meditative songs, but in the middle of one of their loud rock anthems.

We were meant to live for so much more
Have lost ourselves
Somewhere we live inside, somewhere we live inside

Foreman turned the microphone over to the audience and the band fell silent. I never knew that there were so many kids in Singapore who knew the words to this song.

The hall was filled with the sound of singing -

We were meant to live
We were meant to live

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


by Switchfoot

Face down with the LA curbside ending
In ones and zeros
Downtown was the perfect place to hide
The first star that I saw last night was a headlight
of a man-made sky,
but man-made never made our dreams collide

Here we are now with the falling sky and the rain
We're awakening
Here we are now with the desperate youth and the pain
We're awakening
Maybe it's called ambition, you've been talking in your sleep
About a dream, we're awakening

Last week found me living for nothing but deadlines,
With my dead beat sky but
this town doesn't look the same tonight
These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere
And in all my life, I don't know if I've ever felt so alive

I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want a heart that I know is beating
It's beating, I'm bleeding
I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to live like I know what I'm leaving
I want a heart that I know is beating
It's beating, I'm bleeding

The acoustic version of the song can be found here. (By the way, Switchfoot is coming to Singapore. Yay!)

And so it is. Another year passes us by. 2007 marked my first full year in the workforce, a strange new reality - or unreality - that I am slowly starting to get used to. Monday to Friday, morning to night. Sometimes I find myself lost in the regular routine - "Last week found me living for nothing but deadlines" - only ever catching the faintest glimpses of light. But the end of a year, with Christmas as well as the new year, a season of hope and birth and new beginnings, is always a fantastic wake up call. Once again I am reminded of the heart of all things, which is You and You alone.

When I attempted, a few minutes ago, 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 landscape loses the celestial light. What we feel then has been well described by Keats as “the journey homeward to habitual self.” You know what I mean.

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 meant good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgment, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.

C. S. Lewis in The Weight of Glory

Happy New Year everyone.