Remembering Chris Mitchell

On the eve of the last of four celebrations we are hosting that mark the life and death of C.S. Lewis, we at the C.S. Lewis Foundation find ourselves shocked and profoundly saddened at the news of another death that has come to us too soon.

Others have written well of the life and impact of Dr. Christopher Mitchell, the former director of the Marion E. Wade Center. We feel his loss particularly due to his wonderful time leading two Summer Seminars in Residence at the Kilns in 2008 and 2011. Those who had the pleasure of hearing Chris’s enthusiastic and informative talks will remember many of those moments for a lifetime; we certainly cherished hope of working together again in the years to come.

A personal memorial note from Andrew Lazo:

I personally got to know Chris during several research trips to the Wade Center and will miss him sorely. He breadth and depth of knowledge not only of the Wade’s seven authors, but also of historical theology always dazzled me. But even more, his kindness toward me and his warm hospitality both at the Wade and in the beautiful home he made with Julie and his children I count as golden moments. My greatest memories are of much excited talk, not only of the Inklings, but also of his favorite musicians such as Béla Fleck and Phil Keaggy.

It blessed me to take Chris to his first concert with Phil, the man who started me on Lewis, and to introduce these two kind men to each other. For me, each encounter with Chris was filled with life, passion, learning, and was always marked by his incredible energy and that constant, joyful twinkle in his eyes.

C. S. Lewis said that when he became a man, one of the childish things he put away was the desire to be grown up and the fear of appearing childlike. Chris Mitchell certainly embodied this principle as well; with an almost boyish enthusiasm fueling his depths of study and wisdom, Chris eagerly looked forward to what lay before him, and generously shared all he was learning and each exciting plan that lay before him.

But for all this, Chris delighted most in being a dad, and in loving Julie through the years. Once when I was visiting the Wade, Chris came to ask a favor. He had a previous commitment; would I mind taking Walter Hooper to dinner? Of course I accepted, and I’ll cherish that meal for the rest of my life. Chris’s commitment? Attending his son’s soccer game. His commitment to the childlike remains for me a permanent and inspirational memory.

Not only did Chris continue to change in order to become like a child, he also continued to change lives of those he met, with a generous and bright joy that will continue to form his legacy. Losing him leaves this world darker, even as his legacy serves to light our way.

Because of Chris Mitchell, so many of us too seek to follow Christ more deeply, as Chris followed Him, and to shine like the stars of the heavens.

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Word of Grace – July 14, 2014

Monday Grace

Dear Friends,

This week’s message is a bit of a travelogue about a worship experience that I had late Thursday afternoon, July 3, near Astoria, Oregon. I hope it refreshes you during these hot days.

Late afternoon sunlight floods over the Clatsop Spit. Everything is flowing at high tide. Five and six foot swells off the North Pacific crash on and over the South Jetty that seeks to prevent the migrating sands from overtaking the shipping channel at the mouth of the Columbia River.

The northwest wind blows in an uninterrupted stream off the open sea. It bends the beach grass and the pines to its will and scours the beach down to a hard pan depositing the excess grains in the dunes. Read more »

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Word of Grace – June 2, 2014

Monday Grace

Dear Friends,

The Apostle James writes, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective” (Js 5:16). That matter-of-fact statement is our hope, but is it our belief? Here is a little story that explores that question.

The dry, still air smells like fresh-laid kindling this warm May morning in inland Southern California. It hints of fire waiting to happen

My neck is damp with perspiration as I lug my brief case, heavy with contracts and documents, from vehicle to office. The sweat is from pain, not effort. I have the strength and appearance of an ox in a blue blazer. Read more »

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Word of Grace – May 19, 2014

Monday Grace

Dear Friends,

So on the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp, and they entered the audience hall with the military tribunes and the prominent men of the city. Then Festus gave the order and Paul was brought in (Acts 25:23).

The Apostle Paul is taken into protective custody by the Roman Army. Then he is falsely accused of stirring up sectarian strife. From that point on he is passed from centurion to tribune to governor to king– a cast of characters worthy of a comic opera. None of them makes much effort to understand his case, or exerts himself to make a finding and render justice (Acts 23 -27).

Among the special hells experienced on this earth surely must be having your fate in the hands of a pompous, but indecisive bureaucrat. Every lawyer appearing before a judge who refuses to read the papers submitted in the case and rules out of convenience rather than understanding will know what I am talking about. Consider their clients whose case is snared in the procedural maze of a legal system in which the difference between being right and proving it is money. Read more »

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Word of Grace – May 12, 2014

Monday Grace

Dear Friends,

Now the servants and the police had made a charcoal fire because it was cold, and they were standing around it warming themselves. Peter also was standing with them and warming himself (John 18:18).

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it and bread. . . Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast” (John 22:9, 12).
If this message were to be illustrated, it should be sketched in charcoals.

Charcoal is a wonderful grace. Since ancient times, this product of charred wood has permitted hotter fires for cooking and metalworking, purified water of toxins and served as an antidote for poison. It is a medium for artists attracted by its capacity for nuanced shading. Charcoal is again coming into vogue as an alternative to coal as cleaner burning industrial fuel. Read more »

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