From the Rector

In the early 1900s, The Times of London invited people to write in letters addressing the question, “What is wrong with the world.” They received all manner of replies, as you might expect, and the momentum of naming the failings of others was building, until the paper received its shortest reply, this one from the famed writer and philosopher G.K. Chesterton.

“Dear Sir,

I am.

G.K. Chesterton.”

In response, The Times immediately pulled the series.

I think of Chesterton each Lent, because that’s what we’re about this holy season. In contrast to a society that more than willing to list all the problems of the world, beginning with everyone else, Christians are invited to consider the truth that the problems start within ourselves. We are not who we were made to be. We have not loved others as we have been loved. We have done those things we ought not to have done, and we have not done those things we ought to have done. In Lent, in response to the question of what is wrong with the world, we are invited to find the courage to say, “I am.”

I have always loved The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, in which a wise old demon named Screwtape writes to his mentee, a young demon named Wormwood, to advise him on how to be more effective in influencing the minds and hearts of humans. It’s a brilliant piece of Christian fiction, because Lewis writes about demonic influence as something much more subtle and subversive than we typically imagine. Instead of trying to get his “patient” to act cruelly or diabolically, Screwtape advises him to nudge the person into complacency, doubt, and fixation on others. If you’ve never read The Screwtape Letters, I recommend it for your Lenten reading. But it’s genius is also it’s challenge, for it may cause you to reconsider actions and behaviors that you always thought innocent enough, but may just be gently leading you away from God.

This weekend in my sermon I’ll be talking about Chesterton and Lewis and the goals of Lent. This is a holy time for us to stretch and grow as Christians, to challenge ourselves in new and sacred ways, and to attend to those areas in our lives that weaken our ability to love God and neighbor alike. Just a few days into this season, it’s certainly not too late to think about how you will use this time to try new disciplines to strengthen your faith, and where you may need to change. Because the goal of Lent is not to name the failings and failures of the world at large, or of others, but to focus our energy on becoming more and more like Christ.

See you this weekend.