From Ashes to Easter – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

The Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

Leviticus 19: 1 – 2, 9 – 18
Psalm 119: 33 – 40
1 Corinthians 3: 10 – 11, 16 – 23
Matthew 5: 38 – 48

It is hard to believe that our journey from the ashes of Ash Wednesday to the baptismal waters of the Easter Vigil begins in only ten days. It seems that just a few days ago we were gathered here, around the Christmas crèche, singing carols and celebrating the Feast of the Nativity. Already, the season of Epiphany is almost over and we stand at the threshold of Lent. Our Lenten journey will begin, as it does every year, with the mark of our mortality, which we will wear on our foreheads, until newly washed and smelling of the oil of chrism, we emerge dripping wet from the baptismal font. This journey which we take each Lent is not simply a liturgical or sacramental journey, it is a journey through life, when we face again the paradox of our humanity, which is that we are both fallen and redeemed. We are both sinners and saints. We live both in the wasteland outside the gates of Eden and in the garden outside the Empty tomb. We have something about us both of our First Parents, Adam and Eve, and the Second Adam, our Lord and Saviour. Continue reading

Choosing the Lowest Place – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

Luke 14:1, 7-11

This story is reminiscent of another Gospel story, when Jesus found his disciples arguing about which of them would be greatest in the kingdom of God (see Luke 9:46-48 or Mark 9:33-37).  He realized that they had not yet understood the import of his message: that what is valued and sought after in the world is not what is most prized in the kingdom of God.  On that occasion he taught them, saying, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all” (Mk 9:35).  The aim of life in the kingdom was not self-exaltation, but self-offering, the laying down of one’s life in service to God and to one’s neighbor.

Here we see a similar situation – not among Jesus’ disciples, but among the dinner guests at a Pharisee’s house.  Jesus notices them seeking the places of honor, motivated no doubt by the desire to be noticed and deemed important by the other guests.  He tells them that when they attend such a banquet, they should deliberately choose the lowest place, because “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (v.11). Continue reading

Waiting in Advent – Br. Curtis Almquist

The name for this season in the Church year, “Advent,” derives from the Latin, adventus, which means arrival: the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ, whom we as Christians know as Jesus.  Meanwhile, as we anticipate this arrival, we wait.  If we were to open the Gospel accounts according to Matthew and Luke, we discover a great many people waiting for the Messiah, the Christ.  Mary is waiting.  Jo­seph is waiting.  Zechariah and Elizabeth are waiting. Symeon and Anna are wait­ing.  Most everyone, it seems, is waiting.  They’re waiting for an arrival.  There are also shepherds who are waiting. There are some sages from the east – wisemen – who are waiting.  The threatened govern­ment of Herod the Tetrarch is waiting, rather anxiously.  The only persons who are not waiting are in Bethlehem, the keepers of an inn.  And there’s no room in the inn.  They’re all full up.  It is nigh unto impossible to wait if you are full up, because waiting takes space; to be able to wait requires an emptiness.  And that’s a problem.  I think it’s problematic for many of us who live in North America. Continue reading