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A Love Supreme

There are those now last who will be first, and those now first who will be last
Isaiah 66:18-21; Psalm 117:1-2; Hebrews 12:5-7,11-13; Luke 13:22-30

Sermon Week Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time Cycle C

Scripture Summary Luke 13:30

With a seemingly profound sense of humility, the great saxophonist, John Coltrane, wrote the following in the liner notes of his breakthrough album entitled, "A Love Supreme."

"During the year 1957, I experienced, by the grace of God, a spiritual awakening which has led me to a richer, fuller, more productive life. At that time, in gratitude, I asked to be given the means and privilege to make others happy through music… to inspire them to realize more and more of their capacities for living meaningful lives because there certainly is meaning to life. I feel like this has been granted through His grace."

Note that Coltrane emphasized his ability to make others happy through music -- his ability to impress people with his music. He thought about it and asked for it. And while these are wonderful abilities to aspire to, there is a difference between impressing others and simply expressing yourself -- in spirit and truth.

Christian author C.S. Lewis observed, "You will never make a good impression on other people until you stop thinking about what sort of impression you are making. Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth, without caring one bit how often it has been told before, you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. Give up yourself, and you will find your real self."

After the release of Coltrane's album, something happened to him that would, in a sense, reveal his true self. One night after an exceptionally brilliant performance of the title piece, "A Love Supreme" -- a thirty-two-minute outpouring of praise to God -- he stepped off the stage and was heard to say, "Nunc dimittis," which translates roughly to "I could die happy now." Coltrane said that he had experienced God's love in a way that liberated him from his need to make a good impression. He said he "stopped making the music for his own sake, and instead did it for the music's sake, the listeners' sake, and for [...]

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