Text: Acts 8:1-14
For the joy of discovering the Gospel anew
For those trapped by the past or the future
IN A WONDERFUL BOOK called The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis explores the experience of “travel” or “moving” either toward heaven or hell. Beginning at a shadowy bus station, the main point of the story is that the experience of moving deeper into heaven is that a person simultaneously becomes “lighter,” as old burdens, nursed grudges and long excuses are set aside and yet more “solid,” more real as the journey continues. Not everyone will make the journey; many abandon the trip. The change in substance is painful, and the travelers prefer to hold to their old ways and turn back rather than go deeper into heaven’s mysteries.
An exchange with a woman and her long-dead brother, who has gone deep into heaven but has returned to its edge to greet her, is illustrative:
Of course they didn’t care. I know that. I soon learned to expect no real sympathy from [my husband or my daughter].’
‘You’re wrong. No man ever felt his son’s death more than Dick. Not many girls loved their brothers better than Muriel. It wasn’t against Michael they revolted: it was against you—against having their whole life dominated by the tyranny of the past: and not really even Michael’s past, but your past.’
‘You are heartless. Everyone is heartless. The past was all I had.’
‘It was all you chose to have. It was the wrong way to deal with a sorrow. It was Egyptian—like embalming a dead body.’
‘Oh, of course. I’m wrong. Everything I say or do is wrong, according to you.’
‘But of course!’ said the Spirit, shining with love and mirth so that my eyes were dazzled. ‘That’s what we all find when we reach this country. We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke. There’s no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.’
I thought of this brief exchange as we are introduced to Simon. The Church is on the move; far from being daunted by the outbreak of persecution, the Word, like seeds of a dandelion, begin to blow far and wide on the breath of the Spirit. That Word, that promise of new life, of freedom, of reconciliation accomplishes great things, such as showing Simon how wrong he is. Do you wonder if he will find the gladsome humor in it?
May your day be grace-filled ~ Pr. Dave Brooks
--Image: detail of front cover, C.S. Lewis Goes to Heaven by David G. Clark