Broader Horizons – Br. David Allen


Mk. 7:24-30
(Also cf. Mt. 15:21-28)s

Today’s Gospel reading is the story of Jesus and a woman whose little daughter was afflicted with an unclean spirit.  The woman was a Gentile of Syrophoenician origin.  This story occurs in only two of the Gospels, the Gospel According to Mark, which we heard this morning, and that of Matthew.

I have been praying with these two versions of that story for several weeks, since I was asked to preach on this lesson.

There are several small differences between the two versions; differences in how those who recorded this event saw it.  I think that these differences are of far less importance than the final result. Continue reading

Sermon for Saturday of Pr. 18 – Br. David Allen


Mt. 28:16-20

Today we remember Edmund James Peck, a missionary to the Inuit in Canada for 40 years in the northern Arctic.  His mission service began in the later part of the 19th Century and continued until he retired to Toronto in 1921.  He died in 1924.

We are told that early in his ministry to the Inuit people he got the feeling that they did not really understand what he was trying to do.  One day he overheard a group of the Inuit talking about him.  “Oh, him, he came down from heaven to save the Inuit.”  He knew that he had not come down from heaven. But from that time on he tried his best to make the last part of what he had heard come true.  He had come to bring the message of Jesus’ saving love to the Inuit people. He tried to make it true.  I think he did.  Continue reading

Emotional Labor – Br. Mark Brown

“Emotional labor” is a term for the work we do when weMark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299 disguise our feelings.  If we’re sad, we may pretend to be cheerful; if we’re angry or irritated, we may affect a calm, untroubled façade; if we’re tired, we may put on a perky face.  We’re all socialized to do this when circumstances call for it, or seem to call for it.  Some professions require a great deal of emotional labor—ordination usually entails a great deal of emotional labor to meet peoples’ high expectations of clergy. 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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The First Book of Comon Prayer – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031I don’t know if today’s readings from Acts and the Fourth Gospel were in the minds of Thomas Cranmer and the other compilers of the First Prayer Book in 1549; but the sentiments expressed in those readings must certainly have been in their thinking—devotion to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship; the breaking of bread and the prayers—worship in spirit and truth.

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Jesus’ Words of Encouragement – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031Jn 16:20-23a

This day in the Christian Year marks the day after Jesus’ Ascension into heaven when the Disciples knew that Jesus was no longer with them in the way that he had been.

Today’s Gospel is a flash-back to Jesus preparing his Disciples for that time when he would no longer be with them physically.  After speaking of pain and joy Jesus said to his Disciples; “I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.”  (Jn 16:22) Continue reading

Truth – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031Jn 8:31-42

Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus told some Jews who had believed in Jesus previously, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” They responded, “We have never been slaves to anyone.” That was not the response that was expected. They must have been following different premises than Jesus. They must have heard something different from what Jesus had said to them.  Continue reading

What is Love? – Br. David Vryhof

davidv150x150Matthew 5:43-48

Anthony de Mello, the late Jesuit priest and spiritual writer, describes the nature of true love in this way: “Take a look at a rose.  Is it possible for the rose to say, ‘I shall offer my fragrance to good people and withhold it from bad people?’  Or can you imagine a lamp that withholds its rays from a wicked person who seeks its light?  It could only do that by ceasing to be a lamp.  And observe how helplessly and indiscriminately a tree gives its shade to everyone, good and bad, young and old, high and low; to animals and humans and every living creature – even to the one who seeks to cut it down.” (The Way to Love, p.77)  Continue reading

God’s Love – Br. David Allen

DavidA_2008_031The first reading for today’s Eucharist tells us about God’s love. It also tells us what we need to know about God and our love.

At the beginning of today’s first reading you heard these words:  “We love because God first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19).  This tells us that all godly love comes from God, not only this, but all love that is true comes from God.  Our love for God is not an automatic response. It is the free gift of God to us and to everyone who believes and accepts God’s love. Continue reading

Mothers of God – Br. David Vryhof

David Vryhof SSJE  2010Meister Eckhart was a 13th century German Dominican who distinguished himself as a theologian and mystic.  He taught that the real meaning of Christmas is not only that God’s Son was born in a stable, but that Christ is born in us.  His most famous sermon, usually presented first in collections of his writings, was preached on Christmas morning.  It begins with this summary:

Here in time we celebrate the eternal birth that God the Father bore and still bears constantly in eternity, and which is also now born in time, in human nature. St. Augustine says that this birth is happening continually. We should ask ourselves: If it doesn’t happen in me, what good is that birth after all? What ultimately matters is that God’s birth should happen in me.

What good is it, Meister Eckhart asks, that Christ was born in a stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago if he is not also born in me?  Continue reading

An Open Heart – Br. David Vryhof

davidv“[You are] like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not mourn.” These words of Jesus may seem a bit perplexing at first, but Jesus’ subsequent explanation of them reveals that what he is objecting to in his opponents is their hardness of heart.
“John came neither eating nor drinking, and [you] say, ‘He has a demon’” Jesus observes; “the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and [you] say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” Two messengers have come to you, Jesus is saying, and you have refused to believe both. One came as a desert ascetic, “neither eating nor drinking”; the other came as “a friend of sinners,” eating and drinking with all manner of persons. You rejected both. You would not open yourself to God’s call to repent and believe.

This word challenges us today to look into our own hearts, to see if they are open or closed, to notice if they are turning towards God or away from God. It seems especially important that our hearts be open during this season of Advent, as we attentively await the coming of the Lord. Continue reading

Faith Will Show Us How – Br. David Allen

Today is the feast of the Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

When I was a small boy, about 4 or 5 years old, My paternal grandmother, who had been a Presbyterian missionary to the American Indians for about 40 years, told me that when God wanted his Son, Jesus, to be born into this world as a human baby, God chose Mary to be the mother of Jesus, and made her to be born pure; without sin.

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Little Gidding – Br. David Allen

In 1991, when we in the SSJE celebrated the 125th anniversary of our founding, the whole SSJE community made a pilgrimage to England and Scotland to visit places where the Society worked or had once worked, and other significant Anglican sites.  One of these was Little Gidding. We stopped there for lunch on our way to Oxford and saw the place where Nicholas Ferrar had lived in the 17th Century with his little community.  Today is his feast day.

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Steadfastness of Faith – Br. David Allen

1 Cor. 1:18-25; Jn 12:44-50

Today we honor Justin, martyred in Rome in the year 167 (A.D.)

What is there about a martyr that makes him, or her, significant?  How can any of the martyrs help us to grow in the Christian faith?  One way is for us to be mindful of the witness of the martyrs. (cf. SSJE Rule. of Life, Ch. 38) Continue reading