CS Lewis wrote a very interesting book on prayer called “LETTERS TO MALCOLM: CHIEFLY ON PRAYER”
I love this book that Lewis wrote, especially the concept he uses. Malcolm is a fake guy…he writes to him as if he is corresponding with a close friend who is asking him questions on prayer.
Lewis has never done a book this way before.
The first chapter is hauntingly prophetic . It is shouting to the modern church in America today with all it’s gimmicks and edgy innovations.
Written 50 years ago in 1964, please read this rather lengthy excerpt I pulled from this amazing book and tell me this is not something every contemporary pastor should read.
Before you go to your next conference and hear “the next new thing”….read this excerpt from C.S. Lewis.
Try pausing after each sentence and make sure you understood what he just said. It’s better read a sentence at a time. Lewis writes to Malcolm about the church in the very beginning of the book these words…..
“A still worse thing may happen (to our churches)….. Novelty may fix our attention not even on the service but on the celebrant. You know what I mean. Try as one may to exclude it, the question “What on earth is he up to now?” will intrude. It lays one’s devotion waste. There is really some excuse for the man who said, “I wish they’d remember that the charge to Peter was Feed my sheep; not Try experiments on my rats, or even, Teach my performing dogs new tricks.”
It looks as if they believed people can be lured to go to church by incessant brightenings, lightenings, lengthenings, abridgements, simplifications, and complications of the service. And it is probably true that a new, keen vicar will usually be able to form within his parish a minority who are in favour of his innovations. The majority, I believe, never are. Those who remain—many give up churchgoing altogether—merely endure. Is this simply because the majority are hide-bound? I think not. They have a good reason for their conservatism. Novelty, simply as such, can have only an entertainment value. And they don’t go to church to be entertained. They go to use the service, or, if you prefer, to enact it.
As long as you notice, and have to count, the steps, you are not yet dancing but only learning to dance. A good shoe is a shoe you don’t notice. Good reading becomes possible when you need not consciously think about eyes, or light, or print, or spelling. The perfect church service would be one we were almost unaware of; our attention would have been on God. But every novelty prevents this. It fixes our attention on the service itself; and thinking about worship is a different thing from worshipping.”
Then Lewis quote Shakespeare …
It’s from his play “Troilus and Cressida”
Just two sentences.
The important question about the Grail was “for what
does it serve?”…..
(this is amazing)
“‘Tis mad idolatry that makes the service greater than the god.”
THAT IS WHAT WE HAVE DONE …
WE HAVE MADE OUR SERVICES GREATER THAN GOD.