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The Weight of Glory

Pulpit of The University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford

Today is sort of an unusual anniversary, not one I think I have ever called attention to before. It is the anniversary of a sermon. In fact, it is the 75th anniversary of C. S. Lewis preaching one of his most famous sermons in the University Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Oxford, on June 8, 1941. The sermon was entitled "The Weight of Glory".

Now, as you probably know, C. S. Lewis was not a priest or a pastor or even a professional theologian. He was a teacher of English literature at Oxford, and by 1941 he was becoming known as a popular author of books, both fiction and nonfiction, some of the latter being in defense of the Christian faith.

Lewis' first sermon was also preached in the same church at Evensong on October 22, 1939, a little over a month after England had declared war on Germany. Lewis later gave to this sermon the title "Learning in War-Time". He was invited to give this sermon by Canon Milford who had appreciated Lewis' book, The Pilgrim's Regress. Milford felt that Lewis, as a former soldier himself and as a Christian, was a good choice to help students to gain the right perspective about their studies in the midst of war. This first sermon by Lewis was subsequently published in pamphlet form by the Student Christian Movement and later included in an anthology entitled Famous English Sermons. When the latter publication was announced, Lewis wrote to his brother saying that he could not make up his mind whether he should be grateful for the honor or fearful of looking a fool if his sermon should appear alongside the work of such historical figures as Bede, Latimer, and Donne.

At any rate, it is Lewis' sermon "The Weight of Glory" that is probably better known today, if only because it became the title of a collection of addresses Lewis had published in 1949 in the United States. You can read the sermon online here if you have never read it before: The Weight of Glory; I recommend it highly. Then, after reading the sermon, you may wish to listen to a podcast all about the sermon here: The Weight of Glory Podcast. I am one of several contributors to the podcast. Enjoy!

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