Life Beyond Your Wildest Expectations – Br. John Braught

Br. John BraughtMatthew 4:18-22.

As Jesus walked by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea – for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.

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Old Picture, New Frame – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299I could be confused, but I think I remember that the guidelines for a proper celebration of Thanksgiving Day call for “something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.”  It’s either Thanksgiving or weddings …perhaps I’m very confused…

In any event, I’ve brought something old with me to the ambo today—an old sermon.  I’ve even printed it out in the Goudy Old Style font. Actually this sermon is only four years old—but lots can happen in four years.  So, with your permission I will now quote myself and leave the new, the borrowed and the blue to you. Continue reading

End Times – Br. Curtis Almquist

curtis4Luke 21:5-9

For several reasons, we are in a bit of a time warp listening here to what Jesus said.  Jesus would have spoken these words in about year 30 c.e., making his prediction about the temple’s impending destruction.  It did happen, but not until forty years later, in 70 c.e., when the Roman Empire’s occupation forces did completely destroy the temple.[i]  Not one stone was left upon another, just as Jesus predicted.  Luke is writing his Gospel account 15 years later than that, in about year 85 c.e.  Luke is quoting Jesus based on what Luke has been told by eyewitnesses to Jesus, plus what other people have remembered Jesus’ saying.  The temple was destroyed; there were indeed wars and insurrections, which increasingly compromised the pax Romana; and in the midst of these horrific experiences, Luke had his own experience of Jesus’ good news: how who Jesus claimed to be and what he promised to do was all true.  Luke was a believer. Continue reading

Christ the King – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

geoffrey 150xFifty years ago John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.  Over the past few days we have seen those horrific images repeated over and over again.  And we watch the horror with a strange fascination, rather like 12 years ago on September 11th, as we watched again and again the horrific images of the falling twin towers, as they were repeated over and over again.

Evil has always been a source of fascination.  We can hardly bear to look, but find it hard to look away.  Writers over the centuries have been drawn to it constantly.  In Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio we have a riotous and fantastic description of hell and purgatory.  By comparison, his depiction of heaven – Paradiso – is rather dull. Continue reading

Treasure Trove – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299St. Elizabeth touched so many hearts by her generosity and holiness of life that she was canonized four years after her death. She was only 24 years old when she died in 1231.  She was born in 1207, a daughter of the King of Hungary. When Elizabeth was 14 she was married to Louis IV, Landgrave of Thuringia.  When she was 16 and two years into her marriage, she was deeply inspired by some Franciscan friars who had appeared on the scene (St. Francis was still living at the time). With the encouragement of her husband she took up charitable work and some of the disciplines of the religious life. Continue reading

Signs of Hope in Times of Trouble – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150Where do people of faith find hope in times of trouble?  Where do they turn in times of duress, when their world has been turned upside-down, when their expectations have been shattered, when their beliefs and assumptions have been called into question?  Today’s lessons may give us a clue.

Scripture scholars tell us that Luke was writing to a group of predominantly Gentile believers near the end of the first century.  Some ten or twenty years earlier, in the year 70, they had witnessed the destruction of the Temple and of the city of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans.  It’s difficult for us to imagine how devastating these events were for the Jews and for these early Christians. Continue reading

Vultures and Corpses? – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299It may be difficult to imagine the Savior of the World being a mischievous tease, but there may be evidence of this in these very strange words. The disciples have asked a perfectly good question about what would later be referred to as the “rapture”. When some are taken, where will they be taken?  His answer: “Where the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.”  A bizarre non sequitur. A weird thought.

Commentaries struggle to make sense of this, offering a range of not very convincing interpretations.  I think it’s possible that Jesus was being intentionally obscure, even mischievous or playful.  We don’t know for sure what these words mean–which may be the point. We may  need to be comfortable with some level of obscurity in religion—and be wary of religion that is too tidy, too wrapped in neat packages, too sensible, too domesticated, too useful. Continue reading

As They Went – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke DitewigTen lepers called out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, Jesus said: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” As they went, they were made clean.

As they went. Not at the moment Jesus spoke. Not at the moment they met the priests. As they went. As they followed Jesus’ invitation. As they did the next thing asked, as they journeyed. As they went, they were healed. Healing may happen in motion, in process, as we go, as we live, as we follow. During a short walk or over a long journey. At a particular point in time or as a process into which we receive glimpses of insight. Continue reading

God Made Us in the Image of His Own Eternity – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

GeoffreyYesterday was Veterans Day – also known throughout the world as Remembrance or Armistice Day.  It marks the armistice signed in Compiègne, France, between the Allies and Germany at the 11th hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, 1918, which brought an end to hostilities on the Western Front in the First World War.  A time to remember with thanksgiving those who died in the two world wars. Continue reading

Facing Suffering – Br. Curtis Almquist

Job 19:23-27

For several years prior to my coming to the Monastery I was a parish priest.  A number of us pastors in the area took a monthly rotation as a night chaplain in the local community hospital.  During these night shifts, we chaplains would spend most of our time on-call in the intensive care unit and in the emergency room, helping care for very sick, sometimes traumatized patients, family members, and the medical staff.  On more than a few occasions I recall standing beside a hospital gurney that was weighted down by a tragedy-in-the-making, and my having little or nothing to say to the patient or loved ones or to the staff.  What we often shared in those moments were tears, but I had few, if any, words.  What’s to be said?  Less rather than more, and for several reasons. Continue reading

Responsibility and Accountability – Br. David Allen

Read by Br. David Allen

Read by Br. David Allen

When I read the first words of today’s Epistle reading from Romans, “We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves,” I thought immediately of the theme of the 1963 Toronto Anglican Congress, “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ.”      I remembered the excitement that theme brought to the Churches of the Anglican Communion when the delegates reported to their Churches throughout the world.

I was living in Japan at that time.  I remember reading the report sent to Anglican Missionaries in Japan.  I think we all shared the excitement and hope expressed in that report; “Mutual Responsibility and Interdependence in the Body of Christ.” Continue reading

I Love You More – Br. Jim Woodrum

Read by Br. Jim WoodrumI remember a simple little game I used play with my parents when I was a child.  At bedtime I would tell my mom or dad, whoever was tucking me in that night, that I loved them.  The response was always, “I love you too,” in which I would reply, “I love you MORE!”  That would begin banter ‘ad nauseam’ of “No you don’t, I love YOU more!!!”  This would finally end with Mom or Dad saying, “Jimmy, you’ve got school early in the morning, GET TO SLEEP!!!”  I would go to sleep with a little smile on my face knowing that I had won the battle of wills.  But winning the battle didn’t exactly mean that the sentiment was true.  While I did love my parents, I know now as an adult that the love of a mother and father for their child is a love beyond limits or conditions.  As I grow older and am starting to see my parents entering the autumn and winter of their lives, roles are switching to the extent they can, and I am concerned with their health and well being.  My love grows more and more with the intensity of a parent who is watching their college aged child from afar, hoping that they’re okay and have everything they need. Continue reading

Remember, Remember… – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

geoffrey 150x“Remember, remember the 5th of November: gunpowder, treason and plot.”

Those words I remember learning as a young child, for every year throughout Britain, on this night millions of people celebrate what is known as Bonfire Night, or Guy Fawkes Night.  Millions of bonfires are lit and millions of fireworks are ignited. Continue reading

Today salvation has come! – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150If any of you were present at the Red Sox’ victory parade in Boston yesterday, you may have some sympathy for Zaccheus, the undersized tax collector who scrambled up a tree to catch a glimpse of a local celebrity as he passed by.  It was a bold move, one which would have invited the ridicule of others, but Zaccheus, I think, was used to the ridicule of others.  As a chief tax collector, Zaccheus was implicated in the corrupt and oppressive rule of the Romans over the Jews.  He was a man on the margins of society, despised by his fellow-Jews and used by the Romans.  But some strong desire – perhaps the fruit of his own unhappiness – compels him to look for Jesus, about whom he had undoubtedly heard so much. He climbs a tree to see Jesus, but is surprised when Jesus sees him, and invites him to come down and share a meal with him, an act of generosity that upsets the crowd.  “All that saw it began to grumble, and said, ‘he has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner’” (vs.7).  The result of the meeting, however, is a dramatic conversion, in which Zaccheus promises to give half of his worldly goods to the poor, and to make restitution to all those whom he has cheated.

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Heroes in the Faith – Br. Curtis Almquist

curtis4Ephesians 1:15-23

The story is told from India about a woman who came with her young son to have a conver­sation with Mahatma Gandhi.  This mother was concerned about her son’s attraction to sweets: he ate them all the time and they were rotting his teeth and ruining his health, she said.  Would Gandhi speak with her son, she asked?  Gandhi paused to consider the request, and then said, yes, he would… in four days’ time.  The days passed and again the mother appeared at Gandhi’s home, this time with her nine-year old son.  Gandhi asked the mother if he could speak with the boy alone.  He invited the boy to sit down with him on the floor of his porch.  Continue reading