How Are Keys Made?

One of the most important stages of writing sermons is editing. It's also the last stage, so you can always tell when my prep was rushed. (Sorry, kids ministry workers!) 

More could always be said about any passage of Scripture, but not without watering down what should be said. Unfortunately for the teacher, this often means that a great insight, quote, or illustration is left on the cutting floor. 

I'd like to occasionally share those clippings with you, in a series called The Chopping Block. Here's one from this past week's sermon.

Poet and pastor Malcolm Guite has been a thought-provoking guide to the rich metaphors behind the O Antiphons. Each week, he has helped CJ and I probe these titles for their spiritual nourishment. I really wish I could have included this insight on how keys are made.


The other, deeper and older memory was of being taken by my mother as a child to see a key being cut; not a little Yale one, but a big, old-fashioned, complex one. I remember the locksmith clamping the blank in the vice beside the key to which it would conform, and then the noise and violence of what followed, the high-pitched scream and whine of the metal cutter -- in Seamus Heaney's words, 'the unpredictable fantail of sparks' -- and the miracle of the finished thing, still cooling in the hand. Suddenly I came to see Christ's Passion, the hammering blows he received, the searching wounds, as somehow the cutting that makes Chrsit a key that finally fits, unlocks, opens and heals our woundedness.

(Malcolm Guite, Waiting on the Word: A poem a day for Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, 78)