Pastor Allen’s Sermon/Study Series Looks At
T.S. Eliot’s “Four Quartets”

Twitter Hashtag: #TSE4quartets

From February 9th through March 2nd Pastor Allen will lead a Sunday School class and preach a sermon series, “On the Journey with Faith and Poetry: a Faith-based Study of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Four Quartets.’” This study, and the sermon helps which accompany it, were created by his best friend, the Rev. Mary Kay Totty and are part of a Doctor of Ministry degree in Arts and Theology at Wesley Theological Seminary which she is completing. The series is being offered by four other friends and colleagues of Mary Kay’s. Members of the church will have the opportunity to purchase at a very low cost the book of poems, but it will not be necessary to have read them to find meaningful either the study or the sermons. Each week short selections from the poems will be given to the participants and read in worship.


T.S. Eliot, 1930

T.S. Eliot, 1930

Thomas Stearns Eliot (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) was an essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic and “one of the twentieth century’s major poets.” Born in St. Louis, Missouri in the United States, he moved to the United Kingdom in 1914 (at age 25) and was naturalized as a British subject in 1927 at age 39. Eliot attracted widespread attention for his poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915), which is seen as a masterpiece of the Modernist movement. It was followed by some of the best-known poems in the English language, including The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930) and Four Quartets (1945). He is also known for his seven plays, particularly Murder in the Cathedral (1935). He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.” Eliot also wrote “Old Possums Book of Practical Cats” which is the basis for the popular musical, “Cats.”
An overview of the themes include:
Week One: “Burnt Norton” – an invitation to stillness and meditation with the hope of releasing regrets and “what-if’s.” Scripture include: “Be still and know that I am God”; Jesus in the wilderness
Week Two: “East Coker” – the importance of ritual and sacraments as a means of grace and an invitation to examine the rituals that have evolved in our lives to ascertain their meaning and importance. Scripture include: Jesus’ Last Supper and the start of our Eucharist sacrament; “To everything there is a season”
Week Three: “Dry Salvages” – the third of the quartets, offers some vivid images of the sea, of the church as a hospital, and of the incarnation. It also calls the reader to a disciplined life. We will consider the spiritual disciplines that sustain us and draw us closer to God. Scripture include: “Remember the Sabbath and keep it Holy” and/or “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”
Week Four: “Little Gidding” – mystical encounters — the refiners fire. Scripture include: separating wheat and chaff, the gift of the Holy Spirit (tongues of fire).
Your feedback will also be part of the learning experience for Mary Kay, so I hope as many folks if our congregation will participate!