Longing for the Peace of Christ – Br. David Vryhof

Advent I

Today marks the beginning of the season of Advent, and thus the beginning of the Church’s year. Advent is a time of waiting, of longing, of anticipation. We are awaiting the coming of Christ. Over the next four Sundays, we will try to put into words what that means for us; we’ll describe what we are longing for and what we can expect to receive from the Christ who comes to us. The series is called, “Longing for Christ,” and the four parts are these:

I will be speaking today on the topic, “Longing for the Peace of Christ.”
Next week, Br. Geoffrey will speak about “Longing for the Judgment of Christ.”
Br. James will follow in week three with “Longing for the Salvation of Christ,”
and Br. Mark will complete the series by speaking on “Longing for the Light of Christ.”

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Human beings share a universal hope and longing for peace. It is a desire which seems to be deeply rooted in who we are. There are exceptions, of course: people so deeply damaged by life that their capacity to love and be loved is all but extinguished; wounded people whose lives are marked by hatred and fear, who wish others ill and who strike out at them with violent words and actions. But this is a distortion of what we are meant to be, a sign of our brokenness and of our separation from God. We were made to live in peace with one another and with the whole creation, and this desire is still present in most of us. We hope and long for peace.

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Kids4Peace: Tools and Torches – Br. Mark Brown

Isaiah 65:17-25; Psalm 87; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-13; Luke 21:5-19

One thing the early Christians didn’t get quite right was the future. They expected that any day, any hour, Jesus would return and usher in the new order. The New Testament ends on a note of expectancy: “Surely I am coming soon”, he says [Rev. 22:20]. And references to future generations virtually disappear. The early church didn’t have much to say about future generations because they didn’t think there would be any—or, at least, very few.

For a long range, forward looking plan we have to look back, ironically, to the Hebrew Scriptures, the “old” testament. All through the Hebrew Scriptures are countless references to the children and the children’s children—down through the generations. Ancient Israel was intensely interested in future generations. Abraham is promised the blessing of countless descendants–they would be as numerous as the particles of dust on the earth, he would be the father of a multitude of nations [Gen. 17:5]. To have many descendants, stretching far into the future, was a blessing from the Lord. Ancient Israel looked forward, far into the future.

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Discernment in Prayer: Hearing God’s Voice – Br. David Vryhof

Hearing God’s Voice

If God speaks, why don’t I hear anything?

In the Bible we read that God spoke to people like Abraham, Noah, Moses and the prophets. Sometimes they even carried on conversations with God, conversations we can read in the Bible. God also spoke directly to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, and Paul. Reading these conversations, have you ever wondered: Why doesn’t God speak to us today as clearly as God spoke to people in biblical times?

There are times when God speaks to an individual in a dramatic or unusual way. But most of the time, we receive God’s guidance in the deep places of our hearts rather than through a voice that audibly speaks to us. In fact, I suspect that much of the time this is what was happening with the people in the Bible as well. I suspect that Noah and Moses and Mary were no different than we are, even if they seem in the scriptures to have heard God’s voice more directly or clearly than we do. I suspect that they heard God much as we hear God, in the quiet movements of their hearts. The scriptures make explicit and dramatic in these stories the way that, most of the time, the quiet voice of God speaks within us.

It takes time and practice to learn to recognize the voice of God guiding us, challenging us, encouraging us, and loving us. Hearing the voice of God is like knowing a person really well, so that you can anticipate what he is thinking or how she is likely to respond. As we come to know God intimately, we will also come to recognize and respond to God’s voice.

The greatest problem we face in hearing God’s voice is taking the time to listen carefully for it. When we are constantly running about and filling our days with busyness, we are less likely to perceive the voice of God. This is why silence and solitude are important spiritual practices. They create the space in which we can ‘tune in’ to that voice. God’s voice is best heard in silence. Why not take some time to listen for it today?

If you’d like to learn more about discernment, vocation, and listening for the voice of God, register for the Saturday workshop at the Monastery . . . .

Workshop: Saturday, November 13, 2010

Join Br. David, for a day long workshop on Discernment in Prayer. The purpose of workshop is to explore the role of prayer in making life choices, great and small, and these choices make up the pattern of our lives.

The workshop will include teaching and group discussion, as well as some time for individual reflection.

Click here to register

Longing for Heaven – Br. James Koester

Haggai 1:15b-2:9
Psalm 145: 1-5, 18-22
2 Thessalonians 2: 1-5, 13-17
Luke 20: 27-38

I can’t tell you how many times I have been asked. And I know that the other members of the community have also been asked the same question. In fact, I was asked this question once again, just the other day and I was nearly 2000 miles away from here!

When will you be back in the monastery? When will the chapel be open? When will we be able to have services back in the chapel? When will the Tuesday evening Eucharist begin again?

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Discernment in Prayer: Trusting Vocation – Br. David Vryhof

Trusting Vocation

How do I know if I’m discerning God’s will or my own desires?

We often imagine that there is some vast divide between our desires and God’s desires. The phrase “God’s will” sounds heavy and onerous, as if God’s will must certainly be terrible and burdensome to fulfill. When we think about responding to God’s will for us, we certainly do not expect to fulfill our own desires in the process.

But in fact our deepest and most authentic desires are God-given. They reflect the unique gifts, talents and interests that God imprinted in us at our creation. Our best desires are given to us by God, so it’s important to pay attention to them. Now, having said that, it’s also true that not all of our desires are good – or good for us. Some desires are selfish and even destructive.  Some of our desires are not reliable indicators of God’s will for us.

Here are some things to consider as you try to determine if a desire comes from God or from your own selfish motives.  Ask yourself:

·     Will this choice I am making be of service or benefit to others?

·     Is this choice reflective of my true self, the person I know myself to be or the person that I want to become?

·     Will this choice I’m about to make bring glory to God?

·     What are my motives in choosing this option over others?

·     What other ‘voices’ are weighing in as I consider this choice (e.g. the voices of my parents? my friends? popular culture?)? ”

These kinds of questions help clarify our motives and help us to imagine what effect a choice might have on us and on others. You can probably think of some questions you would find helpful to ask yourself, perhaps even some questions you would find it hard to ask yourself.  Ask yourself those questions and meditate on the answers. This is what discernment is all about.

Discernment is the process of sifting through our desires to discover which ones reflect our deepest and most authentic self.  Our deepest and most authentic desires reflect who we are and who God wants us to be (or to become). When we locate our true desires, then we find ourselves coming alive! As Irenaeus said (in the 3rd century), “The glory of God is a human being fully alive!”

Next week we’ll talk more about how to hear the voice of God that speaks within us.

Workshop: Saturday, November 13, 2010

Join Br. David, for a day long workshop on Discernment in Prayer.  The purpose of workshop is to explore the role of prayer in making life choices, great and small, and these choices make up the pattern of our lives.

The workshop will include teaching and group discussion, as well as some time for individual reflection.

Click here to register