Sermon for St. Aelred of Rievaulx – Br. David Allen

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Phil. 2:1-4
Mk 12:28-34a

Saint Aelred, whose feast we keep today, was born in 1109 in Northumbria, England, and became a Cistercian Monk in 1133.

        In August of 1991 members of the North American Congregation of the SSJE made a three week visit to the U.K. to places significant in the life of our Society.  After a week of retreat on Iona we made a short visit to the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey before going on to Durham Cathedral. Traveling east through the outskirts of Edinburgh we proceeded westward across England following the course of Hadrian’s Wall.  At a point where we could just see York Minster at a distance, shrouded with scaffolding, we turned north onto a smaller road through wooded hills heading for Rievaulx. When we descended into the valley we came to the ruins of the abbey, high walls and no roof.  It was hard to imagine what the Abbey Church must have looked like with windows and a roof. Nevertheless, it was thrilling to see the beautiful valley where Aelred had lived and prayed.  After our visit to Durham we went on to other significant places before returning to Oxford and then the USA. Continue reading

Our Coming to Christ Changes Everything – Br. James Koester

Preached at Christ Church Cathedral, Vancouver

Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
Psalm 119:137-144
2 Thess 1:1-4, 11-12
Luke 19:1-10

Several years ago, I found myself in Jericho. I was there with a group of pilgrims and we had stopped off to see the excavations. Jericho is thought to be the oldest city in the world and is of course the scene of that famous battle when the people of Israel marched around Jericho and the walls came tumbling down.[1] But we hear about Jericho in the gospels as well. It was to Jericho that the man who fell among thieves was going and about whom Jesus tells the parable of the Good Samaritan.[2] It was in Jericho that Jesus healed the blind man, whom Mark names at Bartimaeus.[3] And it is of course where our gospel story takes place today. Continue reading

Letter from the FSJ: Pilgrimage to the Holy Land

IMG_0986Two students asked a rabbi, “Why does God command us to put the word of God on our hearts. Why did God not say to put God’s word in our hearts?” The rabbi responded, “We are commanded to place the word of God on our hearts because our hearts are closed and the word of God cannot get in. So God commands us to place the word of God on our hearts. And there it sits and waits for the day when our hearts will be broken. When they are broken, then the word of God will fall gently inside.” This parable was shared early on in the FSJ pilgrimage to the Holy Land by one of our leaders, and this pilgrimage indeed broke open my heart. We talk of God-moments in our lives; these were God-days. Continue reading