Hi! I’m really excited about exploring Out of the Depths with the readers of Literary Life in April. This is a collection of sermons and essays that centers around a verse that has guided my life for decades. After a being out all night on the Sea of Galilee and catching nothing, Jesus said to Simon Peter,
“Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4).
When Jesus says to put out into the deep, I can’t help but hear this as a summons to go down and in, to enter into the depths of my being, my soul, my heart, my psyche—they’re all synonymous for me. The sea is a metaphor for the heart, a symbol of the unconscious, that which lives below the surface of awareness. It’s an invitation to go down and in, to an abundance, an overabundant yield that cannot be contained. When we go down and into the depths of psyche or soul we discover a richness that can’t be found when we live on the surface. By going inward, I don’t mean being self-focused or egocentric or narcissistic. Just the opposite. In the depths we discover a clearer, truer sense of who we are and whom we are called to be. I resonate with the psalmist who spoke to God from the deepest recesses of his psyche.
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord. Lord hear my voice” (Psalm 130:1).
De profundis. It’s from out of the depths that we experience the pain and anguish, the pain and doubt and fears and anxieties, as well as the joy, love, grace, and the deepest desires of our hearts. From that inner place, we cry out to God and relate to God. In the depths we encounter the Abundance who dwells in the dark waters of the soul and calls us into life in the service of others.
The sermons in this collection emerged out of the depths of my experience. They were all preached at Catonsville Presbyterian Church, where I’ve been blessed to serve as pastor since 1999.
The sermons and essays also have a psychological dimension. The writings of depth psychologist/psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung (1875-1961) have allowed me to go deeper. Jung has been companion along my way since my college years, even more so in recent years. Jung was not afraid to encounter the depths of his own unconscious and discovered there an abundance that the psychoanalytic world has yet to fully fathom. While I’m not a “Jungian,” I do believe that Jung has much to say to the contemporary Church and to the discipline of theology. Increasingly, I feel called to help bridge the worlds of depth psychology and theology. Jung’s ideas have informed my theology and my preaching (especially over the last ten years) and you’ll find evidence of this throughout, both explicitly and implicitly.
When I’m not preaching, or teaching or writing or doing research, I love to travel! My heart is never far from my beloved Scotland. There’s no place that feeds my soul more than the Highlands or the Isle of Iona. I enjoy leading pilgrimages/tour to Scotland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Switzerland, and France. And sometimes I’m the pilgrim. Two years ago, I walked 500+ miles pilgrim way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.
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In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Kenneth E. Kovacs is pastor of the Catonsville Presbyterian Church, Catonsville, Maryland, and has served congregations in St. Andrews, Scotland, and Mendham, New Jersey. Ken studied at Rutgers College, Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, and received his Ph.D. in practical theology from the University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland. He is also an analyst-in-training at the C. G. Jung Institute-Zürich. Author of The Relational Theology of James E. Loder: Encounter & Conviction (New York: Peter Lang, 2011) and Out of the Depths: Sermons and Essays (Parson’s Porch, 2016), his current research areas include C. G. Jung and contemporary Christian experience. Ken has served on the board of the Johnson C. Smith Theological Seminary in Atlanta, is a current board member of the Presbyterian Writers Guild, and a book reviewer for The Presbyterian Outlook.
Ken’s weekly sermons at CPC can be found at http://kekovacs.blogspot.com/