Friday marks the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, and on that day he will receive the rare honor of being memorialized in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey with the likes of William Shakespeare and Geoffrey Chaucer.
This week, on Nov. 17, the festivities began with BBC Radio 4 broadcasting live from the parish in Oxford where Lewis worshipped throughout his adult life and where he is buried. The full name of the Anglican parish is "Holy Trinity Church: Headington Quarry,” a small country church with a path that winds through several trees and eventually reveals a light stone building and well-kept gravestones.
The broadcast featured a sermon from Dr. Alister McGrath, who has a Doctorate degree from Oxford in molecular biophysics and theology, and whose latest book, “C. S. Lewis: A Life," has been receiving positive reviews.
In his sermon, Dr. McGrath, who is also a reverend, taught about Lewis' vision of heaven by saying, “Like many other Christian writers before him, Lewis declares that the hope of heaven enables us to see this world in its true perspective. This life is the preparation for that greater reality.”
In describing heaven as a concrete concept, Lewis was hoping to counter the arguments brought forth by his agnostic contemporaries. Anglican priest Angela Tilby, who also spoke at the service, added this to his argument: “He was particularly aware of the way belief in an afterlife had come to be ridiculed by critics of Christianity as ‘pie in the sky when you die.’ Lewis’ response was to argue that hope for a better world could never deliver unless it was grounded in something more than the here and now.”
It was a moving tribute to Lewis with some members of the congregation in attendance who had actually worshipped with Lewis in that same chapel. The service also included hymns by the lay choir and prayers offered by the local reverend.