The pulpit from which Lewis preached The Weight of Glory
I have a number of favorite passages in today’s reading. 2 Corinthians 1:3-9, 20; 2:14-16; 3:2, 17-18; and 4:8-10 are among some of my favorite verses in the Bible. However, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, perhaps, ranks higher than all the rest. I remember seeing these verses carved on a rock in Corinth when I visited the ruins of that ancient city in 1984:
So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure. Because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.
I cannot hear or read that phrase, “an eternal weight of glory,” without thinking of C. S. Lewis and his marvelous sermon of the same title, preached in the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, on June 8, 1941. I commend the entire sermon to your reading pleasure. It is reprinted in a collection of sermons and essays by Lewis entitled, The Weight of Glory. Though it is tempting to quote many parts here, allow me to simply share, or remind you of the marvelous conclusion to that sermon….
It may be possible for each to think too much of his own potential glory hereafter; it is hardly possible for him to think too often or too deeply about that of his neighbour. The load, or weight, or burden of my neighbour’s glory should be laid on my back, a load so heavy that only humility can carry it, and the backs of the proud will be broken. It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously---no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption. And our charity must be a real and costly love, with deep feeling for the sins in spite of which we love the sinner—no mere tolerance, or indulgence which parodies love as flippancy parodies merriment. Next to the Blessed Sacrament itself, your neighbour is the holiest object presented to your senses. If he is your Christian neighbour, he is holy in almost the same way, for in him also Christ vere latitat—the glorifier and the glorified, Glory Himself, is truly hidden. (The Weight of Glory, pp. 18-19)