Saturday, August 21, 2010

Tim Jones+: A Chink in the Curtains

My friend Tim Jones+ recently posted this at his blog, Life-Changing Prayer and has given permission for its reposting here. Where do you find the chinks?


I was reading along, not expecting to find a startling spiritual image in a twentieth-century novel by a writer not exactly known for his praying.

But W. Somerset Maugham’s character, Larry, the aimless and likeable protagonist in The Razor’s Edge, is recounting the chats he had with a hulking uncouth Polish miner. It turns out that Kosti (a simplified Polish name for the unlikely spiritual guide) had a secret love of spiritual writers (indeed, the man only had the courage to reveal his hidden longings when drunk). He ends up being a kind of spiritual mentor to Larry.
“It was all new to me and I was confused and excited,” Larry told a friend of his conversations with Kosti. And what Larry said next was what struck me: “I was like someone who’s lain awake in a darkened room and suddenly a chink of light shoots through the curtains and he knows he only has to draw them and there the country will be spread before him in a glory of the dawn.”
I wonder what that image meant to Maugham, the author. Certainly something, sometime had felt to him like at least a glimmer or a glimpse: “A chink of light shoots through the curtains.”
And to know that to draw the curtains means seeing a “country … spread out before [us] in a glory of the dawn!” I wonder what intimations he had of the spiritual possibilities.
I know that I can go along, not expecting much, not staying much on the lookout, but then I come awake, maybe for just an instant or so, to a world just out of view, one with a spreading glory, just beyond the curtains of everyday occupations.
No wonder Paul spoke in Ephesians 3:18-19 of how he hoped those hearing him would “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.”
That glory seems to appear to us sometimes through a chink or in a corner or crevice. But sometimes I have the wherewithal to wonder what more lies beyond the glimmer. I might even go looking.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Sermon on the Feast Day of St. Mary the Virgin

Date: August 15, 2010
Sermon Texts: Isaiah 7:10-15; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 1:46-55

Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in you sight, O Lord, our strength and our redeemer.

Someone asked me this week what success looked like.  We had a good, long conversation about it.  For as long and good as it was, it was still far too short.  I confess that I brought the question into my office with me as I started preparing this sermon.  What does success look like?  What does it mean to be successful?  There are, of course, a lot of different answers to that question, all of which depend on a person’s situation and perspective.  But, in today’s readings, as we celebrate and remember St. Mary the Virgin, I think we have the beginnings of a Christian answer to the question.

Sermon: Jesus Makes Space at His Feet

Date: July 18, 2010
Sermon Text: Luke 10:38-42

Last week, the Gospel passage ended with Jesus’ command, “Go and do likewise.”  In the parable of the Good Samaritan, I said that the lawyer (and we) should see ourselves, in the first instance, as the man beaten and left in the ditch to die, and I encouraged us to hold our hand open to let God rescue us.  I should say, now, that only the first foot dropped last week.  In the first instance, we are to recognize that we are in need of God’s rescue.  The second foot is what Jesus says at the end of the parable: “Go and do likewise.”  Go and rescue others from their ditches.  Go bring people back to Jesus and His Church.

Our Gospel passage today falls right on the heels of Jesus’ “Go and do likewise.”  St. Luke tells the story of someone who heard the “Go and do” and took it too seriously and too far.  This is Martha.

Sermon: The Good Samaritan

This is the first sermon I preached at my new parish home, St. Matthew's Riverdale.

Date: July 11, 2010
Sermon Text:
Luke 10:25-37

It wasn’t too long ago, when I was in high school. And I was in love. There was a girl in my church’s youth group who seemed to me, at the time, to be everything I could have ever wanted.

I remember trying to get this girl just to like me back. I didn’t know what to do. Nothing seemed to work. I talked to people. I even read a best-selling Christian book on high school dating. After months of frustration, sitting at the kitchen table, I finally blurted out to my mother: “I don’t understand. What I have done wrong? I’ve done everything right. And it’s not working out!” My mother did what good mother’s do and gave me a hug. But, the unspoken question lay there on the table: “Really, what do I have to do to make her love me?

Contra Factum - out of retirement

It's been long, too long, since I've posted here at Contra Factum. I intend to rectify that as I clean up the remnants of old blogs around the web. Soon, this will be the one-stop shop for all things Jason, including sermons, photos, news stories, etc.