The Eye is the Lamp of the Body – Br. Keith Nelson

Br. Keith Nelson

Luke 11.33-36

The short story writer Flannery O’Connor enjoyed a loyal but circumscribed following of readers during her lifetime.  The life and career of this brilliant young woman, a devout Roman Catholic who spent much of her life in Milledgeville, Georgia, ended in 1964 when she was just 39 years old. Since then, her work has increasingly gained the literary recognition it deserves.  Her stories weave together penetrating insight, acerbic humor, irony, and subtle allegory. Unlikely prophets abound and God’s grace lurks in absurd encounters.They are stories that deliver a visceral shock of self-knowledge for the reader with “eyes to see and ears to hear.” All of this of course, should sound like familiar terrain to us followers of a certain story-teller from ancient Galilee. In a talk given to a group of young writers, O’Connor offered the following words about the art of short story writing:

When you write, your beliefs will be the light by which you see, but they will not be what you see, and they will not be a substitute for seeing. For the writer of fiction, everything has its testing point in the eye, and the eye is an organ that eventually involves the whole personality, and as much of the world as can be got into it. It involves judgment. Judgment is something that begins in the act of vision, and when it does not, or when it becomes separated from vision, then a confusion exists in the mind which transfers itself to the story.[i] Continue reading

The Yoke of Freedom – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim Woodrum

Galatians 5:1, 13-25
Luke 9:51-62

One of my favorite windows in this chapel that I like to pray with is the last of the three in St. John’s Chapel which depicts fishermen mending their nets (probably James, John, and their father, Zebedee).  Jesus is standing on the shore beckoning them to follow him.  Many of the vocational stories in the Gospels have this mysterious quality about them:  John the Baptist points Jesus out to his disciples saying “Here is the Lamb of God!”  The two disciples follow Jesus a little ways at a distance until he turns and asks them, “What are you looking for?”  They reply “Rabbi, where are you staying?”  He answers, “Come and see !”  In another scene we wonder about the persuasive quality of Jesus’ call as he sees a tax collector named Levi sitting in his tax booth.  Jesus simply says, “Follow me!”  And Levi got up, left everything and followed Jesus.  In Matthew’s gospel we read:  As Jesus walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. 19And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” 20Immediately they left their nets and followed him. Continue reading

Sermon for Saturday of Proper 7 – Br. David Allen


Mt. 8:5-13

The 1st story in today’s Gospel was the Centurion asking Jesus to heal his servant. It is an example of faith which I think should be familiar to most of you.

But now I want to share some thoughts about the importance of faith which came to me as I was reading a book about a very different kind of setting.  That book is The Boys in the Boat, by Daniel J. Brown. It is the story of nine students at the University of Washington, Seattle, preparing for the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Continue reading

Beloved: Marks of Mission, Marks of Love


Marks of Love - CoverThis theological reflection is also available as an online magazine and a printable PDF download.

Everything God does is “mission”: The creation of space and time and the elementary components of the universe, living things, human beings, a moral and ethical realm encompassing all creation; sending the Son as teacher, healer, redeemer, savior, and lover of those created in God’s own image and likeness; gathering and inspiring a people, a Church, to carry on the work of creation, re-creation, and mission.

One Church within the Universal Church, the Anglican Communion, has embarked on a now decades-long conversation about God’s mission and the Church’s role in it. So far, five “marks” or signs of the Church’s participation in the mission of God have been identified:

  • To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom
  • To teach, baptize and nurture new believers
  • To respond to human need by loving service
  • To transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation
  • To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth

Pastors, teachers, theologians, missionaries, historians, and other scholars have offered their various perspectives on these signs of God’s mission. But what might monastics and contemplatives have to contribute to the broader conversation? Perhaps the reminder that any “Marks of Mission” begin in lives marked by God’s love.  Continue reading

Friends, Food and Rest – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

2 Kings 19: 9-21, 31-36
Psalm 48
Matthew 7: 6, 12-24

A number of years ago I was in Jerusalem. A small group of us had made our way from St. George’s College into the Old City. We had ended up at the Church of the Resurrection and after spending some time there, were on our way back to the College. Now I had walked to and from the Church and College dozens of times before, and depending on the route I took, would often pass the Mission of the Russian Orthodox Church, which is literally just around the corner from the Church of the Resurrection. The grey steel doors of the Russian Mission were always closed and locked, in spite of a sign posted by the door telling you what hours it was open. It was never open. It was never open, at least until that day. Continue reading

The Song of the Sea – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

Feast of St Basil the Great

1 Corinthians 2: 6-13
Psalm 139: 1-9
Luke 10: 21-24

Those of you who have worshipped with us for any length of time will no doubt have spent some time gazing at our windows. Made by the Connick Studios here in Boston in the late 1940’s they are quite distinctive in their use of colours, especially reds, blues and greens. Having lived with these windows for nearly 30 years, I now notice Connick windows whenever I go into a church that has them.

The windows here in the chapel follow a number of themes. In the Lady Chapel the five lancet windows depict the rosary. Read horizontally each of the bottom, middle and upper sections show the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. The back Rose Window shows in the bottom section images of the Nativity and in the upper section the Twelve Ranks of Angels and in the centre medallion, the Coronation of the Virgin. Over by the door that leads out into the cloister is a window depicting St. Jean Vianney, Patron Saint of Parish Priests and Confessors. That window is located there, because in the days when confessions were heard here in a confessional, that was located near that door. The windows in the St. John’s Chapel show the vision of St. John from the book Revelation. The two windows by the High Altar are of the Virgin and the Beloved Disciple standing at the foot of the cross. The windows of St. Luke and St. Joseph here by the door to the Guest House were given by the workmen who built the chapel and are known as the Workmen’s Windows. If you haven’t looked at them before do so, as you’ll find the various tradesmen shown, including my favourite, a plumber trying to fix a leaky tap. Continue reading