“Joy is the Serious Business of Heaven” – C.S. Lewis
This quote by C.S. Lewis comes from his Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (San Diego: Harvest, 1964), 92-93. I have been thinking a lot about this: The juxtaposition of joy and doing serious business.
Serious business abounds. Ever since the curse entered the earth realm , things have been serious. The degrees may vary, but serious business is everywhere. In our:
- bodies ranging from a pesky cold to a terminal diagnosis or chronic pain
- finances from living paycheck to paycheck to bankruptcy to poverty
- minds plagued with worry, fear and doubt about, well life.
- relationship burbles to complete brokenness.
- then there are the thousands of unknowns to fear…
Well, you get the idea.
Dealing With Serious Business
Yes, there is no lack of serious business every day. Most cope in one way or another. Even those of faith face the realities of life on this round ball, that is, by the way is spinning around the sun at 1,000 MPH as you read this! Not that we needed anything else to fret about….
When something serious occurs to someone, to yourself, a loved one, even on the news, we are taught to “take it seriously”. That usually means with gasps, head shaking and “oh my’s” along with the accompanying negative emotions. Protocol says that is the respectful thing to do: Empathize.
There is a place for that, I suppose, but what does it help really? The bible does say: “weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.” So we are allowed some time to weep. If one takes this literally, we get 24 hours to weep.
What is needed ultimately,though, is a dose of heaven on earth in that moment. Something from outside this mess to be grasped, invited in, so that the ugliness of whatever “serious business” is about can be moved, changed.
C.S. Lewis Says It Best:
“I do not think that the life of Heaven bears any analogy to play or dance in respect of frivolity. I do think that while we are in this ‘valley of tears,’ cursed with labour, hemmed round with necessities, tripped up with frustrations, doomed to perpetual plannings, puzzlings, and anxieties, certain qualities that must belong to the celestial condition have no chance to get through, can project no image of themselves, except in activities which, for us here and now, are frivolous.
For surely we must suppose the life of the blessed to be an end in itself, indeed The End: to be utterly spontaneous; to be the complete reconciliation of boundless freedom with order–with the most delicately adjusted, supple, intricate, and beautiful order?
How can you find any image of this in the ‘serious’ activities either of our natural or of our (present) spiritual life? Either in our precarious and heart-broken affections or in the Way which is always, in some degree, a via crucis?
No, Malcolm. It is only in our ‘hours-off,’ only in our moments of permitted festivity, that we find an analogy. Dance and game are frivolous, unimportant down here; for ‘down here’ is not their natural place. Here, they are a moment’s rest from the life we were place here to live.
But in this world everything is upside down. That which , if it could be prolonged here, would be a truancy, is likest that which in a better country is the End of ends. Joy is the serious business of Heaven.”
The Third Advent Candle – Joy
“Dance and Game on earth is not their natural place”…, but we can bring it here. We can do serious business by rejoicing, dancing and giving thanks not for the ugly stuff, but IN the middle of it. It takes a step of faith.
The reason we can do that is about the third Advent Candle, the Shepherds candle, the one associated with Joy. The heavens opened up and angel choirs gave the grandest of birth announcements ever: It’s a BOY! The Messiah King is born! Jesus is here.
He is here to fix things, to intervene in yours and my serious business. That’s enough to rejoice about. While heaven is taking care of the mess, I can join the atmosphere of heaven and rejoice. As we burst out laughing, whatever the trigger, remember that in that laugh, serious business is being taken care of by the One who cares more than we can imagine.
Right now, make a list of impossibly serious stuff in your life. Now, just laugh at it! Do it in private if needed (others may not understand) and give it your best belly laugh.
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