A Shady Principle Is Brought to Light – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Pentecost XVIII

Jesus said to the disciples,“There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property… 29And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes…”  10 Luke 16:1-13

We could easily find this Gospel lesson appointed for today either confusing or offending.  It seems that Jesus is praising the practices of a dishonest account manager.  The manager falsifies the amounts owed to his employer so that when this manager is out of a job – mind you, he’s being fired because of his dishonesty! – these same creditors with whom he is currying illicit favor would admire him or owe him, and ultimately welcome him into their homes! Continue reading

The Risks of Baptism – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David VryhofFeast of the Baptism of our Lord Jesus Christ

Mark 1:4-11

Take a moment to remember the last baptism you witnessed.  Perhaps you can recall the proud parents and godparents, dressed in their Sunday best, standing around the baptismal font.  In their arms they hold their young, freshly-bathed child, hoping that she won’t create a fuss.  Before them stands the minister or priest, neatly dressed in suit and tie, or robe, or colorful vestments.  The font stands ready.  The congregation looks on with curiosity and pleasure, wondering how the child will respond to what is about to happen.  The atmosphere is peaceful and serene.  It is a family occasion, a beautiful moment that will long be remembered. Continue reading

In Between – Br. James Koester

Br. James KoesterIsaiah 60: 1-6
Psalm 72: 1-7, 10-14
Ephesians 3: 1-12
Matthew 2: 1-12

We’ve all had that experience of living “in between” things. As children we lived most of our lives “in between” weekends, or vacations and holidays. We would count off the days until the next holiday came along so that we could escape school, even if just few a few days. Later we lived in that “in between” time between relationships, or jobs or children. Now some of us live “in between” seasons of Downton Abbey, anxiously awaiting the next fix to see what will become of Lady Edith or who Lady Mary will marry next. Continue reading

The Holy Name of Jesus – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150In the ancient worlds of Greece and Rome, the power of a name was very real.  It was widely assumed that the essence of a being resided in its name, and that if people could gain access to the names of supernatural beings they could manipulate them into serving their own purposes.  Magicians and sorcerers abounded who promised to reveal their secrets to common people.  Their spells often included dozens of divine names.  It was hoped that at least one of them would hit the mark and force a supernatural being to bring about the desired result. Continue reading

Holy Cross Day – Br. Curtis Almquist

curtis4Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen. Continue reading

Be a Servant of the Servants of God – Br. Curtis Almquist

curtis4Mark 10:42-45

Here Jesus is speaking about following him by becoming a servant, being a slave.  It would have been very difficult to hear this teaching in his own day,  It is even more difficult for us, here in this culture.  We know how Jesus’ teaching and also St. Paul’s writing about servanthood and slavery were twisted in the most appalling ways to justify the most cruel, ignominious practice of slavery of African peoples in our own land.  And then there is the subsequent, unconscionable residue of discrimination that has carried into this very day.  Hearing Jesus talk about becoming a servant, being a slave-for-Jesus, is very difficult to hear, and should be, given our own history.

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Mary or Martha – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299I wonder if Isabel Myers and Katharine Briggs ever considered adding a Mary and Martha continuum to their MBTI: the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.  What type of person are you? Are you an introvert or an extravert?  Are you sensing or intuitive, thinking or feeling, judging or perceiving? Those are the various “dichotomies” in the Myers-Briggs test, which measures how far you lean to one side or the other or if you hit the sweet spot right in the middle.

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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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Seeing as Jesus Sees – Br. Ruben Alexis

Ruben AlexisJesus never ceases to amaze me. We read in this passage how he lived his mission. He taught wherever he travelled. He told the people how transformative love can truly be. And he manifested that love through “curing every disease and every sickness.” While travelling he interacted with many people who were “harassed and helpless”. He met and saw people who were abused, mistreated, and left for dead.  People who had lost their trust and hope.  People whose outlook in life was diminished by living day to day without a hint of change.  People who found more comfort in death than in life, because life can be incredibly painful. Continue reading

Priests Forever – Br. Mark Brown

Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299“I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”  The last words at the Last Supper.

John’s Gospel likes to be obscure at times.  What was the name Jesus made known to the disciples?  The pronunciation of the Hebrew name for God was supposedly only known by the High Priest; he only pronounced it, whispering, once a year on the Day of Atonement inside the Holy of Holies.  Is this the name Jesus made known to the disciples? How did he find out the divine name? Does that mean he was conferring a kind of priesthood upon the disciples?  Who knows? Continue reading

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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Chosen as Friends – Br. David Vryhof

David Vryhof SSJE  2010John 15:12-17                                                                                                         

“You did not choose me but I chose you.” –John 15:16

It is an honor to be chosen.  When we are chosen to fill a job opening, chosen to be a friend or partner, chosen to take on a special role or responsibility… it is a sign of affirmation.  Someone wants us, needs us, trusts us, believes in us.  We feel honored to have been selected.  And yet, even the highest earthly honors pale in comparison to the honor that has been bestowed on us in Christ, who has chosen us in love to be his friends.[i]  Imagine!  “You are my friends,” he says to us, “I have chosen you.”

For what has he chosen us? Continue reading

Listen and Look While You Weep – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke DitewigBr. Luke Ditewig assures us that Jesus Christ comes; the question is not “if” but “how.”  In what “surprising yet ordinary” ways have you noticed God calling your name? How might looking for God in the ordinary make you more aware of God’s presence already taking place in your life?

This sermon is currently only available in audio format.

Maundy Thursday Remembrance – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Tonight we are remembering the words and example of Jesus at his last. What we do with the water basin for washing feet and at the altar for receiving the bread and wine, we do “in remembrance” of Christ (1). The Greek sense of this word “remember” is not so much to jog the memory, like tying a string to our finger so we don’t forget what Jesus said. No, it’s a much more profound remembering. It’s to remember like a surgeon “re-members,” when a surgeon re-attaches and sutures some membrane of the body that has been severed. It’s to take something that otherwise would be cut off, broken, lost, detached from our own life, in our relationship with God, to be reattached, reconnected, remembered. To re-member or be remembered in this way is to quite literally get in touch with Jesus, and at the deepest possible level. Continue reading

“That We Might Lovely Be” – Br. Luke Ditewig


Br. Luke DitewigHere we kneel at the tomb once more, watching, waiting, numb and grieving. We stare at love embodied and remember love received. Our song is love unknown, our Savior’s love—to you, to me—love to the loveless shown that we might lovely be.

Love shown to a woman crippled 18 years. Jesus called, healed and set her free. That we might lovely be.  Continue reading

When You’re Discouraged – Br. David Vryhof

David Vryhof SSJE  2010Jeremiah 20:7-13
John 10:31-42

You may recall that when God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, he tried to avoid the call by protesting that he was too young.  God reassured him that God would be with him and that he would be given the words to speak.  Unfortunately for Jeremiah, the words that God gave him were harsh words: he was to warn the Israelites that unless they turned from their wicked ways, God would deliver them into the hands of their enemies and they would be carried into captivity. Continue reading

The Fulfilling of the Law – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031When we consider the things that Jesus said and taught, things like those in today’s Gospel Reading, we need to remember that Jesus was born and brought up in a Jewish family, in a Jewish country.

What we call the Old Testament; especially the Books of the Law, the Books of the Prophets, and the Psalms; were the only Scriptures that Jesus knew as Scriptures.

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Jesus’ Temptations and Ours – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

So we hear, just after Jesus’ baptism, he is driven by the Spirit into the desert where he’s alone and tempted.  The image of desert recurs repeatedly in the Scriptures, and I would say the desert experience recurs repeatedly in our own lives.  We know the desert of barren senselessness when we have trouble seeing our way through the chaos and confusion which surrounds us… when we have a sense of being lost or abandoned or desiccated, feeling like we’re trudging on the surface of sinking sand, unable to find our own way out.  In those desert times of our lives, life may seem like a vicious circle, as senseless as a dog chasing its tail.  That is a sense of the desert, even if you happen to be living in or visiting New England.

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