Tell the Story, Live the Glory by Mike Parsons 31/12/2017

Tell the Story, Live the Glory

Notes of a sermon at 8am Dec 31st 2017

Revd Canon Dr Mike Parsons

Liberally plagiarised from a sermon by C S Lewis, The Weight of Glory, preached in the University Church of St Mary the Virgin, Oxford on June 8th 1942


What is the prime Christian virtue? Many would say “Unselfishness” and there is much to be said for this – but this is not the New Testament’s view:  it would be “Love”, with no doubt.

Why have we substituted a negative for a positive? There is nothing wrong with being unselfish, but equally there is nothing wrong with a right view of our well-being and correct rewards.

Self-denial, while good for a purpose ought not to be an end in itself.  We ought to desire our own good and hope to enjoy it. A pervading impression among Christians that we ought to be entirely focussed on others to the neglect of ourselves owes more to Kant and the Stoics than to Christian theology.  The so called St Francis prayer illustrates this with its chorus theme: “grant that I seek not to be consoled but to console” etc.  Sheer Stoicism and theological nonsense.

One of our problems is our view is so narrow – look what is on offer, eternal life, reigning with Christ etc: and so often we settle for wealth, sex or status.

Complaint: but this is so mercenary!  Not so if the reward is the natural result of the action. If marriage is the result of love, if promotion the result of ability.

The reward is the activity itself in consummation - and glory is the consummation of Christian love.

“I want to be famous”, as often young people are heard to desire.  Not a moral or realistic objective. Do not seek the glory – for it will seek you as a consequence of your actions.

Who does not remember being praised by some more distinguished revered or important person – and the feeling of pure delight, pleasure, humble gratitude all rolled into one and the realisation (before pride catches us) “I am good, I’m not worthless”.  Pride and arrogant boasting can spoil the glory if allowed to grow, but the glory is pure for that time.   Some of the New Year’s honours list recipients showed this innocent, pure, delight.

This is the glory that we live out and own, by being known by Jesus and named his friend “Did you hear that, he called me his friend!” one might enthuse to another.

This is the right glory that we seek and is ours: the word in Greek means of “good report”.

“Well, done, my good and faithful servant” are the words that lead to glory

And the most aweful and awesome truth is that we are surrounded by others who are on the path to glory, to becoming like Christ. As we share the body and blood of Christ, his very presence in tokens of bread and wine: we share them with others who are like him. The glory is all about us if only we can see it.

Tell the story, live the glory.


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