Pastor’s Letter for May 2023


Pastor Jim Martin of St. Matthew United Methodist Church in Weston, WV
Pastor Jim Martin

So often I find myself at arm’s length from that which I need to embrace.  I have felt frustration in others who contemplate life with Jesus without embracing Jesus, without standing with Jesus and looking along his  perspective, or to even imagine what Christ’s perspective might be in given situations or circumstances.  The old football term of stiff-arming comes to mind.  Jesus is running after to grab, to embrace, even tackle us, and yet we often throw up a stiff-arm which essentially says, that’s close enough. 

I found myself reading an essay about an essay the other day.  The author of the essay, Jared Alcantara, was reflecting on John 14:1-14 and an essay entitled “Meditation in a Toolshed” written by C.S. Lewis in 1945.  And it really resonated with me. 

Lewis shared in his essay that he was sitting in a toolshed and contemplated a sunbeam coming through a crack above the shed’s door.  He was mesmerized staring at the beam of light as dust danced in the light.  But everything else was obscured and unobservable to him as he gazed at that beam of light, but he was still aware of the shed and his surroundings. 

Lewis wrote: “I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.”  But then Lewis moved his physical position in the shed “so that the beam fell on my eyes.”  And something remarkable happened to Lewis.  The former scene that he was experiencing “vanished.”  Suddenly to Lewis there was no toolshed, and in his words “above all, no [sun]beam.  Looking through the crack that allowed the beam to cast light into the shed, “looking along the beam,” Lewis encountered a completely different perspective. 

The shed disappeared to his consciousness as he gazed through the crack to the leaves of trees with the blue sky framing the background, and beyond that, “90 million miles away, the sun.”  Lewis reflected then on this “very simple example of the difference between looking at and looking along.”

It is quite easy and perhaps more comfortable to look at the beam.  Or to look at other things in this life that we find before us.  Alcantara extends this reflection to John 14 by pointing out, and I believe rightly, that “this is not what Jesus is asking us to do when he says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life.’”  Alcantara says that too many of us hear Jesus say these words with sternness in his voice.  Rather, he reads this verse , indeed sees this verse, from Jesus’s words as far more hopeful for us. 

“We come to him to know about the way, and [Jesus] says to us: I am the way.  We come to [Jesus] to know about the truth, and he answers us:  I am the truth.  We come to [Jesus] to know about life, and he tells us: I am the life.”

Alcantara continues: “What if we looked along the beam, stepped into it, experienced it?  No doubt we would see God’s light in a new way and appreciate God’s beauty more than we do now. But it would also change our perspective on our world – which, by the way, God loves far more that we do.  If we looked along the beam, it would help us see and love the blue sky beyond the door.”

I going to be more intentional about looking along the beam.  How about you?

Pastor Jim