5 Marks of Love
Living Life Marked as Christ’s Own
In our Baptism, we were “sealed by the Holy Spirit” and “marked as Christ’s own forever” by God’s grace, we share in the Divine Life, given to us in Baptism. How does this Life express itself in and through us? If we are “marked as Christ’s own,” what are the “marks of love” that characterize the Divine Life abiding and at work within us?
This six-week journey of reflection on the Anglican Marks of Mission is now available as an anytime series for individuals and groups. Observe and reflect on the ways in which the Divine Life expresses itself in and through us; individually, and in our faith communities, as well as in the world around us. Each week will explore the Anglican Marks of Mission (Tell, Teach, Tend, Transform and Treasure) through videos, questions, and exercises designed to help us speak more clearly and act truthfully, motivated always by hearts marked by God’s love.
Subscribe to receive the series' video meditations from the SSJE Brothers directly in your inbox, or scroll down and view the videos below. This video offering is accompanied by a helpful workbook, and facilitation guidance for small groups from the Center for the Ministry of Teaching at Virginia Theological Seminary.
To receive this offering in your inbox, as a daily email for six weeks, add the date you would like to begin. (We recommend that you start on a Sunday to maintain the weekly sequence). If you are going to follow this series as a group, we suggest that everyone coordinate the same start date to receive the videos in sync.
The Marks of Love are not simply a list of tasks to be checked off one after the other; they are signs that our life is rooted and grounded in the Being of God. The Brothers of SSJE will draw on their own monastic spirituality to help us balance action with contemplation, so that our words and deeds proceed from the deepest places of our hearts, where God dwells. The resource encourages us to reflect on how we should live, not what we should do.
This series is designed for use by individuals or small groups. In small groups, facilitators will guide the growing process as participants discuss and learn together. For individuals, daily videos and reflections will lead them through a similar process. Ultimately participants will learn to offer themselves, body and soul, to God’s Mission, and to live for God’s glory. Facilitator’s Guides and other additional supporting materials are available online here >
In Baptism, we are “sealed with the Holy Spirit and marked as Christ’s own forever.” This introduction to the six-week series,”5 Marks of Love,” from the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist, invites you to participate in God’s mission.Watch the video and share your reflections >
The first week, as we reflect on the meaning of our baptism, we are invited to participate in the meditative activity of writing a “Letter to God.” What might you say to God in response to this good news that you are valued and loved?Watch the video and share your reflections >
God says to each of us, “You are my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.” Br. Mark Brown explains how the very first sign of God’s Mission, before all the others, is that we are called into a mutual, reciprocal relationship of love with the Living God.
Q: Can you hear those words that Jesus heard spoken to you? Can you say those same words back to God?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Do the Five Marks of Mission feel overwhelming, rather like a big to-do list? Just “say your prayers,” Br. John Braught recommends, because the mission is God’s, not ours, and God will reveal to you how and who you are to serve – often in very small ways that arrive throughout the day.
Q: How, in small ways, could you carry out God’s Mission today?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Br. Keith Nelson shares his own personal devotion to praying with the five wounds of Christ, as remembered in medieval spirituality, especially in the visual illustration of the “arma christi,” Christ’s coat of arms. He asks us to imagine what a “coat of arms” based on the 5 Marks of Mission would look like for the contemporary Christian.
Q: Which “Mark of Mission” is closest to your wounded, sacred heart?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Who acts in mission? Not us, as we might often think, but God. Br. Jim Woodrum encourages us – before looking to begin acting in mission – to first look around us and see what God has been doing in and around our lives.
Q: Where do you see God at work?Watch the video and share your reflections >
When we worship, we can’t help but be changed. Br. James Koester discusses some of the moments in worship that have most changed him and urges us to “go” out into the world from our worship and bring the change with us.
Q: How are you going to be God’s hands in the world today?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Hannah Tadros shares her experience of completing the first week’s activity, writing a “Letter to God”: how reluctance and even fear turned into not one but four letters to the One who calls her “beloved.”Watch the video and share your reflections >
The first “Mark of Love” invites us to “proclaim the good news of the kingdom.” As Br. David Vryhof explains in this introduction to the second week of the series, when we receive good news, we want to share it. How has the good news of God touched your life?Watch the video and share your reflections >
The second week’s activity, “Listening Hand,” invites us to listen and learn as we share five conversations with people who embody the Life of God. How might their stories invite you to express your own?Watch the video and share your reflections >
It can be hard for others to know what the “good news” of Christ looks like, without a personal story of how God has acted in our lives. Br. John Braught admits that, for him, it is easiest to let God into his life in times of darkness. Thus good news often comes out of bad times.
Q: What difference has having a relationship with God made in your life?Watch the video and share your reflections >
“Evangelism” has become something of a dirty word in our moment, but it actually just means proclaiming good news. Br. Jim Woodrum reflects on what being an evangelist means to him.
Q: What is God doing in your life? How can you be an evangelist of the Good News?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Do you sometimes forget how God has been faithful in your life? Br. Luke Ditewig shares his daily practice of stopping at the end of the day to see where God has been present, so that he can claim and share his good news.
Q: What stones do you carry? What do they mean?Watch the video and share your reflections >
What is the kingdom we are called to proclaim? Br. Nicholas Bartoli reflects on Jesus’ description of the kingdom being “within us” and shares how taking time to rest in stillness can help us to become aware of that kingdom.
Q: What can you let go of to foster “the kingdom within you”?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Mark’s Gospel opens with John the Baptist proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” Br. Robert L’Esperance explains how the gospel concept of repentance – which literally means having a change of mind – is the essence of the kingdom, because it means that the world does not have to be the way it is. We have the power to change it.
Q: How can you make a difference in your own life, and in the lives of others?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Sitraka Andriam shares how the experience of completing the second week’s “Listening Hand” activity expanded his heart and transformed his life. How might talking with five people who have been Christ for you transform your relationship with them – and yourself?Watch the video and share your reflections >
As Christians, we belong to God and to one another. In the second “Mark of Love” we are called to help nurture God’s love with and in one another. As Br. David Vryhof explains, in this introduction to the third week of the series, community is a necessity of Christian life because we are people of love who are called to encourage one another in this new life.Watch the video and share your reflections >
Br. David Vryhof introduces the third week’s activity, the “Well of Life,” which invites us to pray with and reflect on the Baptismal Covenant throughout our day.Watch the video and share your reflections >
Are you familiar with Jesus’ teaching of the “great commandment”: to love God “with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength,” and to “love your neighbor as yourself”? Br. Jonathan Maury hears in these familiar words not an imperative, but an invitation; not something we need to achieve, but something we are called to receive.
Q: How have you experienced God’s love? How does that experience inform how you love others?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Jesus constantly asks questions that force people to pause, to reach down within themselves, and to discover their own deepest desires. Br. Keith Nelson encourages us to bring such a questioning approach to our experiences of worship.
Q: How is your experience of worship an expression of God in your life?Watch the video and share your reflections >
We are called to the continual work of formation in the Christian life, yet it can be easy to drift into complacency. Br. John Braught discusses how the sacraments of the church help ground us in the accountability of true Christian fellowship.
Q: In what ways are you helping form others? In what ways are you being formed?Watch the video and share your reflections >
The second “Mark of Mission” invites us all to share in baptizing new believers. Br. Nicholas Bartoli explores how we can help others share in the “baptism of Spirit,” the inward grace that baptism by water recognizes and remembers.
Q: Who in your life can you help by bringing the baptism of the Spirit to them?Watch the video and share your reflections >
The truth that, in the Christian life we belong to and need one another, is easier to accept with some people than others. Br. Curtis Almquist invites us to the practice of “philonexia,” love of the stranger, for in the Good News of Christ, there are no strangers.
Q: What is the core of the Gospel (“Good News”) for you?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Do the promises of the Baptismal Covenant ever feel abstract or distant to you? Patrick Burrows shares how completing the “Well of Life” activity helped him to claim and commit to these promises in his daily life.Watch the video and share your reflections >
Suffering is a part of the human condition that none of us completely escapes. As Br. David Vryhof explains in this introduction to the fourth week of the series, it is a “Mark” of God’s love operating in our lives when we respond to human need by loving service. First we must seek to see how God is already working in the lives of those in need, and then discover how we can be channels of that mission in the world.Watch the video and share your reflections >
Br. David Vryhof introduces the fourth week’s activity, the “God Sighting Map,” which aims to make us aware of God’s presence and activity in our life, in our surroundings, and in our interactions with others.Watch the video and share your reflections >
What if you were asked to confess…to all the good you’ve done? Br. Mark Brown shares how important it is that we acknowledge all the ways that God’s power is and has been active in our lives.
Q: How are you already responding to human need?Watch the video and share your reflections >
How can prayer address human suffering and unjust structures in the world? Br. James Koester shares his own experiences of the power of prayer around the struggles in South Africa and Northern Ireland.
Q: For what place or situation in the world will you devote yourself to pray?Watch the video and share your reflections >
It can be too easy to make assumptions or presumptions about what we or others need. Br. Keith Nelson explores how listening itself can be an act of loving service.
Q: What is the balance between your listening and your speaking?Watch the video and share your reflections >
“Love one another as I have loved you,” Jesus said after washing the feet of his disciples. Br. Luke Ditewig notes that love comes out of being loved; it is in allowing our own need to be seen and touched that we can then reach out and touch others’ lives.
Q: Who is “washing your feet”? How are you “washing” others?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Everywhere we look, we see a world in desperate need of healing. So where do we even begin? Br. Jim Woodrum invites us to consider mission through the lens of “vocation”: what is the unique way in which you are being called to participate in God’s mission?
Q: What is God’s mission in the world? What is your unique way of participating in that mission?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Adwoa Lewis-Wilson shares her experience of completing the “God Sighting Map” activity, particularly reflecting on how we first become aware of human needs – especially our own – before we can offer any loving service.Watch the video and share your reflections >
In this introduction to the series’ fifth week, on the fourth Mark of Love, Br. David Vryhof explores how the prophetic witness of Christ calls us to recognize and fight for human unity. Christ came to tear down the walls that divide us. How can we continue this mission, challenging unjust structures, working for peace and reconciliation?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Br. David Vryhof introduces the fifth week’s activity, “Icons of Hope,” which invites us to envision God’s Kingdom.Watch the video and share your reflections >
As we cultivate God’s Kingdom within us, we naturally desire to foster God’s Kingdom among us, by selflessly serving others. Br. Nicholas Bartoli explores how each individual’s way of fostering the Kingdom will be responsive to our unique individuality and vocation as a member of Christ’s Body.
Q: What desire do you feel within yourself to change the world for the better?Watch the video and share your reflections >
The Marks of Love are not some check-list we need to get busy on. Br. Mark Brown encourages us, before setting out to “accomplish” the fourth Mark of Love, to reflect on how the power of God has transformed unjust structures of society in the past.
Q: How has the power of God transformed unjust structures of society?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Br. James Koester confesses that to him the fourth Mark of Love is the most daunting. “I’m only one person,” he exclaims. He encourages us to start small, start here, and start now.
Q: What’s the one small thing you can do today to transform unjust structures, to pursue peace and reconciliation, and to challenge violence of every kind?Watch the video and share your reflections >
As good as our intentions may be, we can become complicit in the evil we renounced in our baptism. Br. Jonathan Maury encourages us to reflect on how, in our daily life, we might contribute to the evils the fourth Mark of Love names, and to renounce them.
Q: Ask God for help in being aware of the choices you are making which contribute to the suffering of others. What actions could you take to transform that suffering?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Just as malpractice exists in medicine, a tragic history of malpractice exists in the Church, where the good intentions of mission have gotten corrupted. Br. Keith Nelson explores how we might do mission in a different way, with a curious, listening, open-hearted approach to others.
Q: Where have you seen a spirit of mission that is respectful and curious? Where have you noticed mission “malpractice”?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Sarah Hill shares her experience of reflecting on transformation this week with the “Icons of Hope” activity. She honors the witness of strong women who have inspired her, identifying how they embody the gifts God has given them.Watch the video and share your reflections >
In this introduction to the final week of the series, Br. David Vryhof reflects on the fifth Mark of Love, which invites us to participate in God’s work of safeguarding the creation. This mark calls us, first, to appreciate the beauty of the earth and then to commit ourselves to protecting it.Watch the video and share your reflections >
Br. David Vyrhof introduces the final week’s activity, a “Date with Creation,” which invites us to visit a beautiful spot in creation and to be fully present in our senses and our gratitude to God for the gift that this place represents.Watch the video and share your reflections >
Ecology is not about protecting the environment, but about realizing that everything – animate and inanimate – is connected. Br. Robert L’Esperance delves into quantum physics to marvel at our connection to the world and people around us.
Q: Recognizing the fact that we are all part of a web of being, how will one choice that you are making today affect that web?Watch the video and share your reflections >
In the face of the degradation of creation, it is easy and understandable to feel overwhelmed and powerless. Br. John Braught encourages us that God comes to us in our darkest hour and in our greatest need. The best thing that we can do right now, in the face of this situation, is pray.
Q: Have you discounted the power of prayer with regard to the restoration of creation?Watch the video and share your reflections >
The language we use to talk about something deeply shapes how we relate to that thing. Br. Luke Ditewig encourages us to consider the way our talk about creation might help us treasure creation, not as an object for our own use, but as a subject, created with dignity and love, just as we ourselves are.
Q: How do you really view creation – as “I-it” or as “I-Thou”?Watch the video and share your reflections >
The whole of creation is sacramental, pointing us to God. Br. Curtis Almquist suggests how an understanding of panentheism – that everything is in God – can ignite our passion and point us toward something we can do to safeguard the creation, and to God’s glory.
Q: What is it in creation that captures your passion?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Creation is not just sacred, but ongoing, something that God is creating each moment. Br. Nicholas Bartoli ponders along with the words of his favorite hymn, how we are still in Eden, where God is still at work creating. All ground is holy ground.
Q: When did you last recognize creation as “sacred”? How can we foster that sense of awareness?Watch the video and share your reflections >
Atticus Olivet shares how two separate experiences of this week’s activity, “Date with Creation,” opened him to a deeper appreciation of how the wonders of creation and the natural world can be experienced no matter where we are.Watch the video and share your reflections >