Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tuesday in Easter 3: He comes not only to raise up but to cast down

Opening Sentence
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1

Commemoration: The Martyrs of Armenia
Almighty God, by whose grace and power your holy martyrs of Armenia triumphed over suffering and were faithful even unto death: Grant us, who now remember them in thanksgiving, to be so faithful in our witness to you in this world, that we may receive with them the crown of life; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Psalter: Psalm 26, 28

Lessons: Exodus 19:1-16, Colossians 1:1-14, Matthew 3:7-12

I call upon him in prayer. Often He might reply--I think He does reply--"But you have been evading me for hours." For he comes not only to raise up but to cast down; to deny, to rebuke, to interrupt. The prayer "prevent us in all our doings" is often answered as if the word prevent had its modern meaning. The presence which we voluntarily evade is often, and we know it, His presence in wrath.

And out of this evil comes a good. If I ever fled from His presence, then I should suspect those moments when I seemed to delight in it of being wish-fulfillment dreams. That, by the way, explains the feebleness of all those watered versions of Christianity which leave out all the darkest elements and try to establish a religion of pure consolation. No real belief in the watered versions can last. Bemused and besotted as we are, we still dimly know at heart that nothing which is at all times and in every way agreeable to us can have objective reality. It is of the very nature of the real that it should have sharp corners and rough edges, that it should be resistant, should be itself. Dream-furniture is the only kind on which you never stub your toes or bang your knee. You and I have both known happy marriage. But how different our wives were from the imaginary mistresses of our adolescent dreams! So much less exquisitely adapted to all our wishes; and for that very reason (among others) so incomparably better.

Servile fear is, to be sure, the lowest form of religion. But a god such that there could never be occasion for even servile fear, a safe god, a tame god, soon proclaims himself to any sound mind as a fantasy. I have met no people who fully disbelieved in Hell and also had a living and life-giving belief in Heaven.

C.S. Lewis
Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer

O God, Our Help in Ages Past