Serenity

To celebrate the new millennium, the editors of the World Almanac compiled a list of memorable quotes by Americans in the one hundred leading up to the turn of this past century.  In the top ten, surprisingly, is a short prayer.  Perhaps you know it:

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference. Continue reading

10, 9, 8, 7, 6…

If you have been reading the papers or watching the news, you will know something of the unfolding drama, set right here in Cambridge, between the professor and the policeman—and which now, unfortunately, includes the president and the press—and probably too many other people. The ensuing parallel monologues—no dialogue here—of the primary parties, recorded with painstaking detail by the media, have generated a lot of heat, but very little light. And whatever else we may eventually learn from this sad affair, it surely serves as a reminder of the power of language and of words.  What words are said, how those words are said, by whom and to whom those words are said.  There is a lot at stake because words, in what ever context, matter.  Words matter. Continue reading

Shepherds & Sheep

If we were to do a survey of images for God (and by extension, for Jesus) found in the Scriptures, surely the word shepherd would be near the top of the list.  Given the pervasive presence of shepherds and sheep in the Middle East, this is not really a surprise.  It is today and has been for thousands of years a culturally relevant metaphor, and makes immediate sense in that context.  But in North America, not so much.  In fact, if we really understood what shepherds do, we might reconsider our fondness of the image. Continue reading

Breathe!

Eastertide Preaching Series: A World Turned Upside Down

This evening marks the beginning of our Eastertide sermon series, A World Turned Upside Down.  Each week, a brother will reflect on a theme drawn from the Acts of the Apostles, which can rightly be described as Luke’s “sequel” to the Gospel which bears his name. The title for the series derives from a phrase that he uses in the Acts 17.3, in which the community of believers was rightly accused of turning the known world upside down with their preaching and their new way of living and being.

Continue reading

Life Here and Now

As we brothers have occasion to walk along Memorial Drive, we have often witnessed people, passers by unknown to us as well as our friends, standing on the top steps of the Monastery Church, craning their necks to peer over the fence to see our cloister garden.  Some of that is fueled by curiosity about the Brothers, but most of it, I think, is simply a desire to look at something which is quite beautiful. Continue reading

Becoming Silence

We Brothers occasionally host local elementary and middle schools students for tours of our chapel when they are studying the Middle Ages.  The aspect of those visits I enjoy most is watching the hush fall over an otherwise chattering bunch of children as they enter the chapel. No one has to tell them to be quiet—they simply become still as they cross the threshold from the claustrophobic echo chamber of the narthex into vast openness of the slightly darkened chapel. Continue reading

Repent!

During this coming liturgical year we are going to be making our way through the Gospel according to Matthew, and I have a confession:  Matthew is not my favorite.  No other Gospel demands so much from ordinary people who are trying to follow Jesus faithfully.  No other Gospel proffers more specific proscriptions and practices for life as the people of God.  No other Gospel offer more insight to the challenges of Christian community. Continue reading

Asking for Help

One of the aspects of Christian life that I find so intriguing and reassuring is the frank recognition of weakness and failure as a normative.  Not desirable, perhaps, but certainly normative.  In the Scriptures, God has given an ideal which is held before us, a standard to which we aspire, but there is also the pragmatic recognition that we will miss the mark much of the time, maybe most of the time, and that we will need help in order to be and do what we and God most deeply desire. Continue reading

The Politics of Prophecy

Most of us are aware that the Democratic National Convention is about to descend on the city of Boston, and everywhere you look, people are getting ready for the onslaught. Windows are getting washed. The visible parts of the Big Dig are going to be nearly finished. Potholes that are decades old are disappearing. There’s hardly a corner of the city that is not getting spruced up. Continue reading

On the Sixth Day of Christmas

A sword will pierce your soul. Luke 2.25 NRSV

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, our new CD received quite a bit of media attention, for which we were very grateful – it was a boon to sales! Not surprisingly, the hook for most of the press coverage was the distinctive nature of Christmas in a monastery. Those of you who worship with us regularly will have some sense of what that means. It includes the absence, for instance, of Christmas decorations until December 24 th . Continue reading

Common Misconceptions

Gabriel said, “The Lord is with you…do not be afraid.”

Most of you will have noticed from your order of service that this evening we are observing the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s not a feast that you will find on most Anglican calendars. We’ve borrowed it from the Romans, who call it by a slightly different name, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, which makes it least a little confusing, since we’ve just read a gospel story that describes not Mary’s conception but Jesus’. Mary’s conception, so the 19 th century dogma goes, was miraculously immaculate; Jesus’ was merely miraculous. Continue reading

Crowning Achievements

The Feast of Christ the King

Most of you are aware that Saturday was the 40 th anniversary of one of our great national tragedies, the assassination of President Kennedy. Memorial events were held across the country, including Cambridge , with modest observances of the day at the JFK School of Government and in the JFK Memorial Park , both adjacent to our monastery. Continue reading

Crucial Matters

Feast of the Holy Cross

Those of you who are attuned to the subtleties of the church year and the liturgical environment of the monastery will have noticed that the color of the hangings and vestments and flowers today is red rather than the green which is customary during the long string of Sundays after Pentecost. The reason is we are celebrating the feast of the Holy Cross today. Continue reading