On Sunday my birthday coincided with the international CS Lewis Institute's service at Ely Cathedral. For me, this was a big deal because I was the invited preacher. Arriving while the CS Lewis Chamber Choir was rehearsing Carol interrupted them by whispering into the conductor's ear that it was my birthday. Suddenly, a perfect Happy Birthday rang out with at least 6 parts to its harmony ...to my embarrassment and delight.
The choir director, John Dickson, is a long-standing friend who worked with the Institute Board to get my preaching invitation! And, as I reflect on the 13 minutes' sermon (I was timed by one of the academics who told me about it later...I think with relief!) I realize what a joy it was to preach in such a magnificent setting, with a large congregation and a great text: John 7: 37: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me!
Several friends took the trouble to attend the 4:00 Evensong Service - their presence meant a great deal - and afterwards Carol organized a thoroughly impromptu evening meal in a local restaurant.
Institute meetings continue this week in the University as CS Lewis aficionados work on aspects of Lewis' legacy. I cannot help but remember my father telling me that as a student in Oxford University he visited Lewis in his rooms for an informal discussion meeting. (I don't know how often that happened for him). But he commented how few of them recognized at the time just how famous Lewis would become. Indeed, my father found his fierce intellect rather intimidating as did others. Yet, how his influence continues and I was humbled to have a little part in this summer institute. I won't forget this birthday.