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Road Trips for Readers

My new guest post is up on the Road Trips for Readers blog. You can read it by clicking here:

Visiting C. S. Lewis' Oxford

Nine Lessons & Carols

This is on my bucket list: to be in the Chapel of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, England, on some future Christmas Eve for the service of Nine Lessons & Carols....

Unspoken Sermon for Christmas Eve

George MacDonald published three series of Unspoken Sermons, that is sermons that were written but not delivered in front of a live congregation.

Such is my sermon for this Christmas Eve. Above you can see the view from our front porch. The roads are getting messy. Sadly, we saw one car overturned while we were out and about earlier today. Thus, no Christmas Eve service at church tonight. However, here is the sermon I planned to preach....


We tend to notice the big things that happen in our world and miss the small things. The news media focuses, for the most part, on world-shaping events: the election of a president, conflict in the Middle East, a natural disaster that kills hundreds of people in Southeast Asia. It is almost as if someone or something wants us to pay attention to the big stuff and ignore the small stuff.

Even in the Church, there is a tendency to focus on the large and sensational while passing over the seemingly tiny and insignificant. When pastors meet together at con…

Saturday of the Third Week of Advent

I am sorry that I have not kept up with my plan to share more excerpts from my Advent devotional book, Open Before Christmas. However, I am happy to say that I have sold out of my copies! Here is another excerpt for Saturday of the Third Week of Advent....
Late one evening a professor sat at his desk working on the next day’s lectures. He shuffled through the papers and mail placed there by his housekeeper. He began to throw them in the wastebasket when one magazine— not even addressed to him but delivered to his office by mistake—caught his attention. It fell open to an article titled: The Needs of the Congo Mission.
The professor began reading it idly, but then he was intrigued by these words: “The need is great here. We have no one to work the northern province of Gabon in the central Congo. And it is my prayer as I write this article that God will lay His hand on one—one on whom, already, the Master’s eyes have been cast—that he or she shall be called to this place to help us.” The …

"A Severe Mercy"--The Movie

You can play a part in making the film version of A Severe Mercy a reality. To learn more click here: "A Severe Mercy"--The Film.

Monday of the First Week of Advent

Excerpt #2 from Open Before Christmas....

Joseph Damien was a nineteenth-century missionary who ministered to people with leprosy on the island of Molokai, Hawaii. Those suffering from leprosy grew to love him and revered the sacrificial life he lived out before them.

One morning before Damien was to lead daily worship, he was pouring some hot water into a cup when the water swirled out and fell on to his bare foot. It took him a moment to realize that he had not felt any sensation. Gripped by the sudden fear of what this could mean, he poured more hot water on the same spot. He had no feeling whatsoever. Damien immediately knew what had happened. As he walked tearfully to deliver his sermon, no one at first noticed the difference in his opening line. He normally began every sermon with, “My fellow believers.” However, this morning he began with, “My fellow lepers.”

In an even greater way, Jesus came into this world knowing what it would cost. Like Joseph Damien, Jesus was willing to id…

The First Sunday of Advent

This being the first Sunday of Advent, I thought I would share a little excerpt from my new Advent devotional book, Open Before Christmas. Perhaps if I'm organized enough, I'll share an excerpt for each day of Advent. We'll see.
And if these excerpts interest you enough, you can read more by ordering my book, either from Amazon or a signed copy from my web site by clicking on this link: Open Before Christmas.
***
This miracle of the Incarnation speaks great encouragement to us. We have a Savior who is bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. 
Hebrews 2:11 and 14 say, “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.... Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity...” 
How amazing, that God would stoop to take on our flesh and blood, to share in our humanity....
Joe Torre had been a catcher and a broadcast announcer for the St. Louis Cardinals. Shortly after he was named …

Canterbury and the South

Sorry to keep you waiting for this last installment covering my trip to England. I spent the last full day in Canterbury and the South. It happened to be Remembrance Sunday and so I got in on an unexpected celebration in the town square, band, uniforms, and a crowd....



Through the crowd I made my way to the cathedral which was looking rather splendid in the bright sunlight with a perfect blue sky backdrop....



Inside, the congregation was beginning to gather, but I had a few moments just to soak in the beauty and wonder of it all....



The photo above was actually taken after the Remembrance Day Service, followed by Sung Eucharist in the Quire. I found the following hymn sung that day most meaningful. Both words and music strike a deep chord. Here is a video of the hymn from a Remembrance Day Service in Royal Albert Hall some time ago....




After the service I said good-bye to Canterbury and made my way to the White Cliffs of Dover, which were spectacular to say the least....



From Dover, I …

On the Canterbury Trail

It was my sad duty to say goodbye to C. S. Lewis' former home this morning and to the effervescent warden of the Kilns, Debbie Higgens.



From the Kilns I made the trek to Whipsnade Zoo just as C. S. Lewis did in September 1931. He said in Surprised by Joy that when he started for the zoo he did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, but when he arrived he did. I know of no one else who has become a Christian on the way to a zoo.


From Whipsnade it was on to Watford to visit with my friend Steve Jenkins. He gave me the tour of his narrow boat, Gentle Breeze and treated me to a very fine pub lunch.




Steve's wife Anne received a very important letter from C. S. Lewis many years ago, a letter which figures largely in two of my books, The Professor of Narnia and The Hidden Story of Narnia. I cannot think of anyone more appropriate to have a very Narnian lamppost in their garden.


After lunch, Steve took me to my book signing at The Storehouse Christian bookshop in Watford where I signe…

Last Day in Oxford

My last day in Oxford began with a visit to the Lewis brothers' grave in the churchyard of Holy Trinity, Headington Quarry.


Upon arrival in central Oxford, I spent the morning in the Ashmolean museum.



While inside the Ashmolean I discovered that one can spy the location of "The Studio" where Sheldon and Jean Vanauken lived during part of their time in Oxford. The white building in the photo above stands on the spot where The Studio once stood, or as some called it "St. Udio's".



Following the aesthetic nourishment at the Ashmolean I stopped in at St. Mary Magdalen Church for some spiritual nourishment in the form of mid-day Eucharist.



A trip to Oxford is never complete without a visit to Blackwell's Bookshop where I picked up a little something.



From Blackwell's I strolled up Holywell, which to my mind has a "Rainbow Row" that rivals that of Charleston, South Carolina.
The highlight of my day was an hour spent with theologian and prolific author,…

Oxford Day 4

The day began with the sunlight streaming through my window. That is ... the window of C. S. Lewis' bedroom.


I spent the morning reading Alister McGrath's new biography of C. S. Lewis.


About mid-day I went out for a walk by the pond in which Lewis liked to swim. It was a bit cold for that today.


The colors of the leaves on Shotover Hill were quite stunning today, but my camera hardly did them justice.


The tree behind the Kilns was particularly pretty today with the sunlight glowing through the leaves.



Evensong in Magdalen College Chapel was quite moving. I think the piercing sweetness of the choir boys in song will stay with me for a long time.



Afterwards, I enjoyed dinner and a late night coffee with Austin from Southern California and Christine from New Zealand.

That's Oxford for you: an embarrassment of riches.

Oxford Day 3

I began the day by walking past the Headington Shark on my way into Oxford.


Once in town I made my way up the tower of The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin and enjoyed this lovely view of the High Street.


I have tried to do some things on this trip that I have never done before, like using my Bodleian Reader's Card to see the inside of the Radcliffe Camera. Sorry I don't have any photos for you of the inside. That is rather frowned upon I think. However, I did make my way through the underground Gladstone Link (seeing the Bodleian copy of my book "Mere Theology" along the way). Traversing the underground link I "arose from the grave" into the Old Bodleian and saw parts of that I had not seen before. Beautiful! Here's a photo of the outside of the Old Bodleian....


Continuing my photographic journey across central Oxford we come to a place quite familiar to viewers of Inspector Morse and Lewis....


Not far from the Thames Valley Police Headquarters I n…