Tedi, Ruben, Rob and Nancy – Br. Mark Brown

1 Peter 1: 10-16; Psalm 98; Mark 10:28-31

The Brothers are just finishing the first stage of an experiment—an experiment in bio-diversity. In the natural world strong ecological systems thrive on a multiplicity of organisms living together, all interdependent and each contributing its unique properties to the vitality of the whole. A similar principle is at work in ecosystems of people: communities thrive on the particular gifts and attributes of a diversity of peoples.

Last September we launched a new initiative here at the Monastery and at Emery House: a Monastic Internship Program—a kind of experiment in monastic bio-diversity. And this Thursday is the last day of this nine month program. Continue reading

Orans – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Today is the Day of Pentecost.  On this day the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of divine power, came to the disciples, and there was no mistaking it.  For it was accompanied by an experience which pounded the senses.  Divine power was invading them: an intense catastrophic experience.  It sounded like the rush of a violent wind.  Tongues, as of fire, rested on each one of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Continue reading

The Good News of God’s Grace – Br. David Vryhof

Acts 20:17-38

I would like to direct my words this morning to those of you who are preparing for ordination and who are with us in retreat this week.  In classes, seminars and field placements, you have studied and practiced the skills you will need for the ministries you will soon be taking up.  But you may well feel that you have only begun, that there is so much more that you need to know.  And you will be right about that.  Your formation is not yet complete; in fact, formation is a life-long process that extends far beyond the formal training you have received.  You will need to be constantly learning, constantly observing, reflecting, evaluating, and growing.  Continue reading

You Are My Witnesses – Br. James Koester

Acts 1: 15-17, 21-26; Psalm 1; 1 John 5: 9-13; John 17: 6-19

There is a word, or at least the implication of a word that pops up frequently during these days of Easter. Jesus implies it when he tells Mary Magdalene in the Garden on that first Easter Day to “… go to my brothers and say to them ….”1 And Mary certainly acts on it when she proclaims to the disciples ‘“I have seen the Lord” and [then] she told them that he had said these things to her.’2 Jesus himself uses it when he says to the assembled disciples “you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”3 Continue reading

Seeing with New Eyes – Br. Curtis Almquist

Matthew 6:19-24

Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

I remember as a young lad being given a wonderful gift by my parents: a telescope on a tripod.  I was maybe 12 years old, and for several years I had been fascinated by searching the sky at night to recognize stars and constellations.  I knew where to look for the Big Dipper; I could spy out the North Star and Orion; I could whisk with my eyes through the night and find the Milky Way.  The stars probably told stories about life, I thought, and I had a childlike sense, like with the Psalmist, that the heavens declared God’s glory and splendor.1 I loved what I saw at night, lying on my back on the grass of our front lawn, peering into the night sky with my hands cupped behind my head.  And so the gift of a telescope was so exciting.  It was also a huge disappointment.  Continue reading

From Fear to Love – Br. Luke Ditewig

When I entered seminary, I was confident that I would become a hospital chaplain. In college, I had a very positive experience in a small hospital chaplaincy internship, and I thought this was the path for me. So my whole first year of seminary I eagerly looked forward to the summer for a full-fledged internship. I thought this would be a little step up from what I had done in college.

Instead it was a huge leap and huge disappointment. Not long into the program, I found I didn’t like it at all. I had an excellent teacher in a wonderful department and hospital. They weren’t the problem. I just didn’t fit. This wasn’t my path. It was the opposite of what I expected, a 180. My dream shattered. I was sad and confused. Why had I been so excited? Did I not hear correctly? Did I make a huge mistake? Should I return to seminary in the fall? If not, what in the world should I do next? Continue reading

The Essence of Belief – Br. David Allen

Jn 15:9-11

“What is the essence of Christian belief?” That is a question we who are in the Church are sometimes asked. I think that today’s Gospel reading gives us as good an answer to that question as we might hope to find anywhere else.

At the Last Supper before his Passion and Crucifixion, Jesus said to his disciples “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:9-11)  Continue reading

60 Seconds – Br. Mark Brown

Hebrews 10:19-24; Psalm 27: 5-11; John 4: 23-26

“Do you wish to know your Lord’s meaning in this thing? Know it well, love was his meaning. Who reveals it to you? Love. What did he reveal to you? Love.  Why does he reveal it to you? For love… So I was taught that love was his meaning.”

Words of Julian of Norwich, the 14th century English mystic whom we remember today. In her “Revelations of Divine Love”, the “Showings,” she recalls that “when she was young” she desired and prayed for “three graces by the gift of God”: 1) recollection of the Passion of Christ, 2) bodily sickness to the point of death, 3) the gift of three spiritual wounds. “When she was young” she wanted these things to happen at the age of thirty—and they did. Continue reading

Given to One Another – Festival Eucharist of Saint John – The Right Reverend Jeffrey Lee

I have the strange inkling that a few weeks ago I met the Risen Jesus.  It happened again where it so reliably does that it shouldn’t be surprising and yet always seems to be.  I was presiding at the Great Vigil of Easter in our cathedral in Chicago.  It is a rather splendid liturgy and we often have folks from a number of parishes around the city and beyond who come.  Many students from our campus chaplaincies are there too and so the whole thing is quite an event.   This year I had the privilege of assisting with the baptisms of several adults and children.  When the time came, in the semi-darkness I navigated my way through the crowd toward the font, trying to keep my sleeves away from errant candle flames.  Thank God the deacons and vergers were well rehearsed because I couldn’t remember who was to come to the water first or which sponsors went with which baptismal candidate … Or who had the baptismal candles to present to them.  Try as I might to stay centered, as usual in these big liturgies I was a little distracted.  In any case, the candidates were washed in the font and I began to anoint them.  I came to a young woman whose name is Scheherazade.  I knew she had grown up in a Muslim household and that her journey to Christianity had been deliberate and difficult.  As I began to anoint her she looked up at me with tears streaming down her face, really weeping — that doesn’t happen a lot at the Cathedral of St. James.  I tried to smile reassuringly back at her and moved along to anoint the others.  Later at the Peace I looked for Scheherazade in particular.  I asked her if she was alright.  She said to me, “I was crying because my family would not come tonight — they told me it’s like I have died.  But I’m alive.  I am crying because I have been born into a new family now.  This is my family.”  Continue reading

How to Abide – Br. David Vryhof

“Abide in me as I abide in you.” John 15:4

In these few words Jesus reveals the secret of the abundant life he is bringing into the world and which he offers to each of his disciples. This is the secret not only to our own happiness and fulfillment, but also to our fruitfulness, our ability to positively influence others by bringing them to share in the Divine Life. This is the abundant life he is offering us, a life lived in union with the Triune God, a life of untold blessings and riches, far beyond any abundance that the world can offer us.

When we pause to think of how desperately people in our world seek for happiness and of the ends to which they are willing to go to find personal fulfillment, we can wonder that such a simple path has been outlined for us.  “Abide in me as I abide in you,” says Jesus. “Join your life to mine, and my life will be yours.” All that I am and have I give to Jesus, and all that he is and has he gives to me. And in this union there is joy and safety and happiness and riches beyond measure. “I came that [you] might have life,” he reminds us, “and have it abundantly!” (John 10:10) Continue reading

Invited to Pray – Br. David Vryhof

We Brothers often have occasions to listen to people speak about their life with God.  It is not uncommon for those we see to begin by expressing regret or dissatisfaction about their inability to pray as frequently or as effectively as they feel they should.  “My prayer life has really fallen away,” they say, or “I know I should be praying more but I just can’t find the time.”  I am sure that they feel they are being summoned to prayer by God, but the God who is calling seems to be wagging a celestial finger and saying in a blaming tone, “You should be praying, more and better!”  While I agree that God is summoning us to prayer, I believe that the finger is not wagging but beckoning.  I now think of God as being like a friend I had in school who used to sit in the student lounge.  Upon seeing any one of us pass by, he would pat the chair next to him and say, “Talk to me.”  Prayer is likewise an invitation to conversation and communion, not a task or duty that we are obliged to carry out.  As the author of First John puts it, “We love because he first loved us.” The invitation to pray is an invitation to love, generously given by the One who created us and loves us as no one else can.  Prayer is not our gift to God, but God’s gift to us. Continue reading

Saints Philip and James – Br. Curtis Almquist

John 14:6-14

In the calendar of the church we remember today Saint Philip and Saint James, both of them chosen by Jesus for his original circle of twelve Apostles.  But here I must make a disclaimer: we know almost nothing about them.  This Apostle James is not James, son of Zebedee, who, with his brother, John, had lobbied Jesus to sit at his right hand and left hand when Jesus came into power in Jerusalem.1  Nor is this James, brother of Jesus, traditionally known as the author of the Epistle of James and sometime Bishop of Jerusalem.2  This is James #3, son of Alphaeus, whom we know nothing about.3   This James is often called “James the Less,” which is not exactly flattering, but helps avoid some confusion with James #1 and James #2, about whom we know more. Continue reading