Asking the question – Br. Robert L’Esperance

robertHilary of Poitiers

1 John 2:18-25
Luke 12:8-12

“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God; but whoever denies me before others will be denied before the angels of God.  And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.”

Hard words, very hard words; and words that seem to me rather uncharacteristic of the Jesus portrayed for us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ according to Luke. Continue reading

Benediction and Blessing – Br. Mark Brown

Today is the third Tuesday of Advent and the third installment in our Preaching Series.  The topic is desire and longing, which I’d like to approach by way of what is sometimes called the Third Advent.  The First Advent was the coming of Jesus 2000 years ago, the Incarnation.  A physical, human presence that could be seen and heard and touched.  We are now waiting for the Second Advent, that is, the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in glory, on clouds descending, every eye beholding.

Of course, Christ is not confined to the past or the future; all time and eternity belong to Christ.  Christ comes to us even now, in this life: the Third Advent.  In the Gospel of John, as we heard, Jesus promises not only to be with them, but to be in them. We are in him; he is in us. He is the light of the world, the light of all people.  Christ comes to us, abides in us, even now. Continue reading

Resources for the Journey – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031Ex. 12:37-42; Mt. 12:14-21

At today’s Eucharist our scripture readings gave us examples of two journeys, each of which has some of the elements of a pilgrimage; a journey of prayer, of faith and of hope, with salvation as the ultimate goal.

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Formed by Community – Br. Jonathan Maury

Jonathan Maury SSJEToday’s scriptures parallel one another in presenting us with images of brothers in community. Genesis portrays the sons of Jacob who are blood brothers, though born of different mothers. In Matthew, Jesus is gathering a community of “brothers” as followers. Some of these are pairs of blood brothers, namely Peter and Andrew, James and John. The others in the group have been paired together as “brothers” to share with the blood brothers in Jesus’ itinerant ministry of exorcism and the healing of diseases. But this group of twelve also has a representative role. Their number and gender symbolize a reconstituted Israel, the nation of twelve tribes descended from the patriarch’s sons. They are being chosen and given authority to act as a focus for the gathering Jesus movement. In company with other “brothers”—and sisters too—they are being empowered to proclaim in word and deed that the kingdom of heaven has come near.

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On a Mission from God – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150In his Spiritual Exercises, St Ignatius of Loyola asks us to imagine a charismatic leader whom we admire and whose life and mission have been an inspiration to us.  Think for a moment of who this person might be for you.  Whom do you admire?  Who has inspired you?… You believe in this person’s values and priorities.  You admire his/her integrity.  You are convinced that the cause he/she represents is so true, so important, so worthy, that you are ready to offer your full support.

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Don’t Look Back – Br. Geoffrey Tristram


Geoffrey_SSJE
I came to live in this country in 1999 – fourteen years ago.  When I first came here, I missed England so much.  In the first few months in the Monastery, I would spend much of my time remembering my former life: filled with a mixture of homesickness and nostalgia.  I think I lived most of my conscious life at a point somewhere half-way across the Atlantic!

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A Song for Independence Day: Christian Thoughts on ÷Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness’ – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299“For freedom Christ has set us free.”  St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians. Words like freedom and liberty will be in the air this week as we celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July.  Freedom, whatever that means, is the essence of what it means to be American and it was very much on the minds of the founders.  “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  Familiar words from the Declaration of Independence.   Our foundational documents and the principles they articulate with such extraordinary sonority have resonated far beyond our borders, and continue to do so. Continue reading

Faithful Even Unto Death – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews reminds us that “we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1).  By their example and by their prayers they support and encourage us, and give us strength to be faithful to Christ in our own day.

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Laying Down Our Lives – Br. Curtis Almquist

MizekiAlmighty and everlasting God, who kindled the flame of your Love in the heart of your holy martyr Bernard Mizeki: Grant to us, your humble servants, a like faith and power of love, that we who rejoice in his triumph may profit by his example; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Lord Saw Her and Had Compassion – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150Imagine this scene as if you were watching it from the outskirts of the village of Nain:

A funeral procession winds its way through the center of the village and passes through the city gates, heading for the place outside its bounds where the dead were laid to rest.  Hired mourners, weeping and wailing on behalf of the friends and relatives of the dead man, are leading the way, along with musicians with flutes and cymbals sounding their mournful tunes.  The mother of the dead man, already a widow, walks ahead of the open-faced coffin, her face worn and weary and her body bent with her double sadness.  Then comes the body of the dead man, lying in a long basket carried upon a stretcher and followed by a large crowd from the town, silently shuffling forward. Continue reading

Honor and Service – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031Mark 10:32-45

If we look back two or three chapters in the Gospel of Mark, we can find readings similar to the themes in today’s Gospel lesson. Twice earlier in Mark’s Gospel Jesus had foretold his suffering. When Jesus told the disciples that, they didn’t seem to get the point of why he was telling them.

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Now What Do I Do (With All This Religion) – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299The Book of Ecclesiasticus, also known as Sirach, has the distinction of being the only book in the Bible that counsels against putting your elbows on the table at dinner (41:19). Ecclesiasticus covers a wide swath of the human condition, from rapturous poetry in celebration of wisdom to the most mundane things, like how to behave at a dinner party.  Don’t eat too much, do enjoy the wine, but don’t drink too much.  Don’t interrupt the musicians. Don’t talk too much, don’t chew greedily.  Don’t be the last to leave. (Ch. 31-32)

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Mystical and Apostolic – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a phrase from our Rule of Life that refers to the “mystical and apostolic aspects of our vocation”.   The “mystical and apostolic”: it’s a way of encapsulating one of the polarities or we might say complementarities of the Christian life. The mystical and apostolic—or we could say the contemplative and the active—or prayer and service.  The SSJE has both in its DNA—as do many other religious orders.

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The Love of the Father – Br. Jim Woodrum

Br. Jim WoodrumIn my reflection and prayer on today’s gospel, one phrase jumped out at me and grabbed my attention.  Jesus says, “I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.”  For the Father himself loves you.  This is startling in its simplicity but it is the core theme of John’s gospel; the love of the Father for all of us.  This simple phrase from the 16th chapter of John:  “…for the Father himself loves you, mirrors the sentiment of love from way earlier in the 3rd chapter:  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.”

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Love No Matter What – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke Ditewig“I give you a new commandment that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”[i] Instead of telling us to be kind, respectful, compassionate or patient (which we are to be), Jesus tells us to love. In the New Testament Greek there are four words for love. One is about family, love between children and parents, between siblings. Another is the erotic, sexual, falling in love. Another is the love of close friends. Then there’s agape, different from the rest. It’s not based on a relationship or affinity.

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A Public Relations Nightmare in Jesus’ Hometown – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150There are times in the gospels when it seems like Jesus is his own worst enemy.  Here he returns to his hometown, where he gets a warm reception – initially.  The gospel writer reports that “all spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth” (v.22).  Then, suddenly, he seems to turn on the crowd, blasting them with words they find completely offensive, and the next thing we know, we’re reading that “all in the synagogue were filled with rage.  They got up, drove him out of the town, and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff!” (v.28-29).  How does he go from ‘warm reception’ to ‘angry mob’ in the span of a few minutes?  And why?

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The Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Temple – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

In the Gospel record, we read of three presentations of Jesus at the Temple.  Today, the first of the presentations, marks forty days following Jesus’ birth.  Two things were required of Mary and Joseph according to the Law of Moses: Jesus’ parents were required to present Jesus in the temple, dedicating him to God as their firstborn son.[i]  Also, there was Mary’s need for “purification.” We read in the Book of Leviticus that a new mother was to be cere­monially purified by a priest forty days after childbirth.[ii]  A second presentation was when Jesus was age 12, when he greatly impressed the temple authorities with his precocious knowledge.[iii]  And a third, when, as an adult, he was presented with the goings on of Temple – what was going on, outside and inside the temple.

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Ready! Set! Go! – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

If you are anything like me, and I have been around long enough to know that none of you are like me; but I have also been around long enough to know that you are all like me. You all have your own interior cycles of feasts and fasts. Sometimes this interior cycle is connected to the calendar. Sometimes it is even connected to the liturgical cycle of the church. But sometimes it is connected to your gut. You find yourself thinking or feeling or pondering something and you don’t know why or where it has come from and then, days or weeks later you understand. Right, you think. That’s where it is coming from.

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Holy Smoke – Br. Mark Brown

One of the catch phrases of the recent political landscape has been “It’s the economy, stupid.” It sounds like something Jesus might have said in one of his crankier moments. Jesus was very concerned with money and had a lot to say about it.

About this time of year parishes all over the country are having “Stewardship Sunday”. (Perhaps that’s why some of you are here!) Vestries are preparing annual budgets and figuring out ways to economize. Some preachers are reminding people of the Biblical standard of the tithe. People are wondering if that means 10% before taxes or after.

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The Dishonest Steward – Br. Jim Woodrum

adventword_startSo what do tycoons, embezzlers, and bribe takers have to teach us? We encounter these characters not just on the front pages of the newspaper, but in the pages of Scripture as well. In this sermon, Br. Jim Woodrum turns to Jesus’ parables to ask a question that touches us all: How will we be shrewd or savvy in managing Jesus’ business here on earth?

 

Today’s gospel lesson is a rather odd parable that Jesus tells his disciples. For the most part the manager in this story is embezzling his boss’s money and he gets found out. And so his employer fires him and the man then worries about what people will think of him and where he will find a job in the future with this on his record. So far the actions of the employer and the subsequent anxiety of the former manager are no surprise to us. What happens next is probably even LESS surprising: the man, before the news of his unemployment is made known attempts a manipulative cover-up which, if all goes according to his plan, will cast him in a favorable light to those who owe his former employer money, and perhaps secure him a new job. Again….no surprise, it’s as if we could see this story on the front page of the Boston Globe.

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