Magnificat – Br. David Allen

Homily for the Feast of the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, preached at Emery House

1 Sam. 2:1-10; Lk. 1:39-57

On the surface of it this story from the Gospel narrative of the events around Jesus’ birth might seem like a small event.  We are not given very much detail, not even the name of the town in which Zechariah and Elizabeth lived, only that it was in the hill country of Judea.  We are not told how Mary travelled, nor exactly why, only that she went in haste, which may have meant that she went eagerly when she learned of the pregnancy of Elizabeth; and she stayed there for about three months. Continue reading

The Secret of Self-Surrender – Br. David Vryhof

During this Eastertide preaching series we have been focusing on the theme, “Towards Larger Life.”  The theme is well-chosen, I think, and especially appropriate for this season in the Church’s year.  But it is a theme that could just as well be taken to describe the whole of God’s purpose for us and for all who turn to God for help.  God’s desire is to bring us into larger life, to join us to that eternal life that the Father shares with the Spirit and the Son – not only in heaven, but now and here, in our daily lived experience.  “I came that (you) may have life,” Jesus told his followers, “and have it abundantly!” (John 10:10) Larger life.  Eternal life.  Abundant life. Nothing less than the God’s own life, abounding within us.

“All the dealings of God with the soul of the believer are in order to bring it into oneness with Himself,” writes the 19th century Quaker, Hannah Whitall Smith. “This Divine union was the glorious purpose in the heart of God for His people before the foundation of the world.  It was the mystery hid from ages and generations.  It was accomplished in the death of Christ.  It has been made known by the Scriptures; and it is realized as an actual experience by many of God’s dear children.”1 Continue reading

Bowed But Not Bound – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

For most of my life, growing up in England, the first item on the news every evening was Northern Ireland.  The Troubles.  Every day, of every month, of every year, more atrocities, and a terrible sense of hopelessness.  In the first year of the 1980s after I had been ordained, I spent a succession of summers in Belfast, meeting with youngsters from both the Loyalist and Republican sides, and helping organize joint summer camps for them.  There were moments of grace, but more often a deep sense of hopelessness, as the youngsters slowly imbibed their own side’s version of history, attitudes hardened and reconciliation seemed further away than ever.

Yet, by the grace of God and through sacrificial and patient work of so many, 1998 saw the Good Friday agreement and 2006 the power sharing government in Belfast.  And most amazingly, this week saw the visit of the Queen to the Irish Republic.  There were so many moving moments in that visit, none more so perhaps than when the Queen bowed her head at the memorial in Dublin’s Parnell Square to Irish patriots who died in the long struggle for freedom, a bow which the Financial Times described as “a simple but transcendent gesture designed to heal the wounds of more than seven centuries of English colonial rule.” Continue reading

Cavemen and Potatoes – Br. Mark Brown

John 10:1-10

We continue on our journey this morning toward larger life. Which is what we’re calling this series of Easter sermons: “Toward Larger Life”.  Larger life is what the Good Shepherd is leading us toward: “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  He calls us by name and leads us out into larger life; we enter through the gate, which is Christ himself.  Though like lost sheep, he finds us and saves us from the thieves of our humanity. With rod and staff he leads us to the green pastures of larger life, abundant life, Resurrection life.

He does this primarily through love.  Love of God, love of neighbor, love of one’s own being opens us to that which is larger, that which is beyond the confines of our individual identities.  But because love of God and neighbor gets regular coverage in sermons, I’d like to speak to something else, to another way that God leads us toward larger life, toward abundant life, as today’s gospel puts it. Continue reading

Believe In It? I’ve Seen It! – Br. James Koester

Acts 2: 14a, 36-41; Psalm 116: 1-3, 10-17; 1 Peter 1: 17-23; Luke 24: 13-35

We continue today, our Easter preaching series “Toward Larger Life: Sermons on Resurrection” where the preacher of the day will take the Sunday texts and look at them through the prism of resurrection and see how they are inviting us into the larger life promised to us by Jesus in his resurrection. Last week Kevin looked at resurrection itself to discover the invitation to larger life. Next week Mark will hold before us Jesus the Good Shepherd and lead us into the larger life promised to us by the Shepherd of our souls. Today I want to ask you to come for a walk with me and see how the journey to Emmaus brings us to that larger life.

Not far from Jerusalem, just off the highway that leads to Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean, on the edge of a small village there is an overgrown right of way used by an Israeli utility company to service the power lines that run above it. It’s a curious spot to take a group of pilgrims but I have been there two of three times in the last number of years, because buried in the brush, and under the tangled and matted grass, lies the scattered remains of an old Roman road running from Jerusalem to Joppa on the Mediterranean coast. When I was first there over ten years ago the curbs and paving stones were quite easy to find. Ten years later, after a decade of rain, the road continues to be washed away, but if you look hard enough (and know what you are looking for) you can find bits and pieces of stone that has obviously been dressed and used for some sort of building project. Continue reading

This Way to Eden – The Very Rev. Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury

Friends, I cannot tell you what a loving privilege it is to stand here on this very special occasion with representatives of all those who love and support this community, which is so precious to us.

Holy Week always begins with an entry back into the place of worship.  When we gathered at Canterbury Cathedral—not in the Cathedral but in the Chapter House, as a sign of reentering our holy place of worship—I was encouraged and really thrilled by the news from Br. Geoffrey, that you would be re-entering this holy place in a very real way after so many months of (shall we not call it exile but) dislocation.  I know this is only a beginning, but it feels a very joyful beginning. And you were in my mind and heart throughout Holy Week. Continue reading

Psalm 92

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree

It is a good thing to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to tell of your loving kindness early in the morning, and of your faithfulness in the night season.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree, and shall spread abroad like a cedar of Lebanon.
Those who are planted in the house of the Lord shall flourish in the courts of our God.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree

They shall bear fruit in old age; they shall be green and succulent,
that they may show how upright the Lord is; my rock, in whom there is no fault.

The righteous shall flourish like a palm tree