And let us hold unwaveringly to the hope that we confess, for the one who made the promise is trustworthy. And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:23-25, NET)
Yesterday, Marion and I travelled to Oxford and had a late lunch in the renowned Eagle and Child pub, where a group of famous Christians met regularly to encourage one another. We sat in the same nook where J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and others discussed ideas that shaped some of the most significant English literature to come out of the twentieth century. I couldn’t help feeling a little exuberant, so I took a few snaps with my cell phone and sent them off to friends and family.
I really didn’t want to write this post. I’ve never read any Tolkien. I’m no C.S. Lewis scholar. I find it difficult to read Lewis’ philosophical theology, preferring instead to listen to his books using Audible. His writing is undeniably brilliant and packed with words that connect the intellect to our faith. But as Dick Woodward once told me, “C.S. Lewis made things complicated, but I spent my entire ministry trying to make them simple—so people would understand.” One of the great wonders of the Christian Faith is that it works on both very simple and very complex levels.
When Clarke received our photos from the Eagle and Child, he prodded me, reluctantly, into writing this post. But it occurred to me while sitting in the Eagle and Child that I have experienced and benefitted from the encouragement of some wonderful brothers and sisters. Brothers like Dave Thompson who will send long, deep, profound emails of encouragement at all hours of the night. And Dave Rudy, who always can add to any topic I may bring up (it’s amazing how much Dave has studied and absorbed). And Rob Campbell, who is the most devotionally devoted person I have ever met (and a finer friend you could not have). And Clarke Morledge himself, with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things theological and hermeneutical (his zeal is as contagious as his heart). And Ken Petzinger, a Princeton-educated physicist who is living proof that Christians also come with extreme intellectual capacity (and who always has something current to share from his personal studies). And Dick Woodward, who was such an encourager and gifted teacher. And Iris Rudy, who is such a good listener (and who commands respect when she speaks). And Tina Campbell, who works at being the most compassionate and hospitable person I know (and succeeds magnificently). And Marion, whom I could never thank appropriately for being such a wonderful, selfless person (and in whom I continually see the Gospel lived out).
So when the writer of Hebrews states, “And let us take thought of how to spur one another on to love and good works, not abandoning our own meetings, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and even more so because you see the day drawing near,” l get it. I am thankful for the Eagle and Child that all of us have experienced.
February 2nd, 2016 at 7:50 am
Really appreciated your thoughts today!
Sounds like you’re really having a great experience on your trip !
February 2nd, 2016 at 4:00 pm
Thanks for the encouragement, Sonny. We are having a great time. We threw this trip together at the last minute, but have really enjoyed being together and experiencing a different culture–not necessarily English (about 1 in 10 or so conversations heard on the street are between native Englishmen). Still, everyone has been very friendly and helpful. I hope you can get to Oxford if you haven’t been already. My best to you and Carolyn. God bless!
February 4th, 2016 at 7:15 pm
John, I loved reading this (thanks to Ken), and reliving our own time there. The photos are wonderful, as is your commentary, especially on your own personal group of scholars (there’s probably a more creative word – know Ken had some thoughts on that 🙂
February 5th, 2016 at 10:04 am
Mary, thanks for the encouragement. The photos are the product of the latest cell phone technology (a Galaxy S6 edge +). We took a fancy camera along, but after the first day of touring we left it behind. I got incredible photos just pointing and shooting, particularly in low light situations.
Anyway, it did occur to me while sitting in the Eagle & Child how much my faith has grown through time spent with some amazing people. I just thought it was time to let them know.
Thanks, and God bless.