Friday, December 22, 2006

A Message for Christmas and New Year

As I was working in the National Library of Wales over the Summer, I came across the typed letter from Evan Roberts to Sir John Herbert Lewis, politician. The date is December 1932. Roberts had been through a period of depression, and may even have been in a state of doubt as to his salvation. Lewis was paralysed from the waist down and seriously ill. He was to die the next year. These are the words of a man who has known God, and has known affliction.

52, Betwsycoed Road,
Xmas 1932

My Dear Sir Herbert –
Christmas is here again. Now what do I say when I say what thousands say? It is an admittance that time is to all men a conscious thing, but markedly so in the celebrations of our great days. In spite of industrial depressions, in spite of personal afflictions & withering vicissitudes amongst the masses, yet there is sounding out of the heart touched with pathos & wonder as we cry once again “Christmas is here”!

But what of us? If time has laid distress around us, pitching his armies against our feeble city walls, is there not a great amount of eternity itself within us that makes us scoff at the puny circles of time? What is a paltry year when we have been prodigal of centuries in our own experiences? We may well wink at time when eternity comes over its bulwarks, & floods our being with the sweep of the Almighty’s spirit!

But I find that it is not easy to exchange the lesser for the greater, fools that we are. We refuse to put time’s coin into the slot & take from the drawer eternity itself. But do as we will that is the lesson we have to learn. What is mortality? A gown we put on in the bedroom as we go into the Bathroom to get ready for the Eternal Day! Then is it so difficult to divest ourselves of so transient a thing? And is not “putting on immortality” a grander Investiture? And the more a Soul carries on the exchange is he not more like unto him who “inhabiteth eternity”?

We talk of compressed air. Here is Compression! Here is the infinite become incarnate! And on the Cross, pardon the tangency, if it seem irrelevant, we find eternity packed into time’s little vessel! Was it a wonder that the rocks were rent asunder? Is it a wonder that little mortal bodies go into bits when the infinite & the eternal come into them with explosive life? Does not the Yew tree laugh at death when it bursts the tomb? And when it twists the bits of Iron around the grave into comical shapes? Life is stronger than death, be death ever so strong!

Where is time where there is no night? And where is Death when Immortality sits on its Throne & sways its Sceptre?

Both of these, My Dear Sir Herbert, if I may speak in a grand & broad manner, are only nodding acquaintances of ours, when we remember the grand programme of everlasting Life. What is a speck of dust in comparison to the Earth, or to one of the majestic heavenly bodies? And what are our present sufferings compared to the glory that shall be revealed unto us?

Therefore, Dear Sir, we of good cheer. Accept my very humble expression of good-will & my Yuletide Greetings.

Yrs Sincerely, Evan Roberts

John Herbert Lewis Papers A1/692, Evan Roberts to Lewis


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