My Brothers here know that I am an avid reader of mystery stories. Today’s Gospel reading is, in a sense, a kind of mystery story. When I say this I don’t mean a story like a “detective story.” The relationship of Jesus with his Father is the one true mystery. The relationship of Jesus and his disciples is another. The feast we keep today, Mary the God Bearer, is an important part of that Mystery. The link between Jesus and his disciples and us is also.
Jesus’ presence with his disciples, and their relationship with him is truly a kind of mystery. Jesus told the disciples of John that as long as he and his disciples were together they would not fast, as the Gospel lesson today told us. (Cf. v. 15)
At the beginning of today’s Gospel reading there are some words of advice. Those words have to do with practices of Piety or devotion. “Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” (Mt. 6:1) This advice follows through the next few paragraphs which have to do with alms giving, prayer, and other practices of devotion and the reward for such practices.
From an early age I had been taught that some of the early chapters of the Gospel according to Matthew, 5 through 7, are known as the Sermon on the Mount. Those words give to us some of the basic teachings of Jesus from early in his ministry. The teachings in today’s Gospel Reading are those which have to do with familiar practices of piety and worship and the rewards related with them
Sermon for The Restoration of Religious Life in the Anglican Communion, 1841
The leaders of the Oxford Movement in the Church of England in the 19th Century came to a general agreement that there was a need to establish Monastic communities. This was because in the four years between 1536 and 1541 over 800 monasteries and convents had been dissolved and destroyed, or given over to other uses. This was a regrettable part of that tumultuous period of the Anglican Reformation.
Finally, on June 5, 1841, under the guidance of Dr. Edward Bouverie Pusey, a young woman, Marian Rebecca Hughes, made solemn monastic vows in St. Mary’s Church, Oxford. That event marks the restoration of the Religious Life in the Anglican Communion. The vows that she took that June morning were an act of love for God, who loves us.
In the following years a number of communities for women were founded. Several unsuccessful attempts were made to establish communities for men. Eventually our own Society of Saint John the Evangelist was successfully founded in 1866, and others soon followed.
It is of significance for us who are living the monastic life here today, and for you who come here to worship with us, because from that event which we commemorate today other communities did develop and flourish. Many good works have developed from those communities. These have become centers for teaching deeper understanding of the spiritual life of the whole Church. This witness to the life of prayer continues today here and in many other parts if the world.
Will you pray with us for more vocations to the Religious life? Pray also for a deeper understanding of that life and of all that it stands for in the life of the whole Church.
Although the verses read as today’s Gospel reading come from an earlier part of the Gospel according to St. John, the theme of that passage fits well into the Easter Season. If we think prayerfully about it I think you can see that it is possible to understand it on several levels. In the original context of these verses I think that Jesus was speaking of bread as representing the spirit of his teaching about God and about love.
When those words were spoken at the synagogue in Capernaum nobody would have understood them as we can today. At most it might only have been seen in terms of the love that God has for us, and the love that we have for one another.
Only when we think about it prayerfully can the Gospel Reading for today’s Eucharist be understood as referring to the Bread and Wine of the Holy Eucharist as Jesus presence with us and for us in the Holy Eucharist, as well as being his presence with us in his teaching. But that would be reading a later meaning into it than either Jesus or St. John may have intended originally when those words were first spoken..
1 Tim 3:14-16
The 1st Reading for today is an excerpt from a letter of Paul to Timothy. Before we come to the verses that are actually used for the 1st Reading of today’s Eucharist, there are almost three chapters of Paul’s first letter to Timothy as it appears in our Bibles that are background for our reading.
In the first part of that letter, after the usual greetings to Timothy and his fellow workers, there are a number of instructions about the teachings received as followers of Jesus. This is followed by reminders about behavior appropriate to bishops and deacons, and other workers in the household of God.
Here is the sermon I preached this morning. I realized that most of those attending this morning’s Eucharist were members of the SSJE, so I altered the first sentence for clarification. I also realized as I was writing the sermon that I could not include reference to all of the places that we visited and keep within the time limit that we have established for the length of our weekday sermons. Some of the place that we visited were a short visit to Lindisfarne, our retreat on Iona at Bishop’s House (where members of the English SSJE had live for about 10 years over 100 years ago), the visit we made to Walsingham differed sufficiently from the other places that it did not fit in well with the general theme I adopted, and the visit to Little Gidding, while significant, was too short. We also had an overnight stay in Glasgow so that those members of SSJE who wanted to return to America sooner, or wanted to see other places. Perhaps other members of SSJE can include those places in other ways. – David Allen, SSJE
[Col. 1:9-14 / Lk. 5:1-11]
As you who are not members of the S.S.J.E. may have heard, since we returned from our Pilgrimage to Great Britain, we had a wonderful time. In each of the places we visited we shared in what Paul termed, “the inheritance of the saints in the light.” (Col. 1:12) In all of those places we were given warm hospitality. In some places the tour guides gave us a very good glimpse of the heritage of some of the early saints of those regions. In the places we visited we could taste something of the holiness of those who had gone before us.
Here is my sermon that I preached today. I was struck immediately by the reference to God’s Compassion when I began meditating on the Scripture readings for today’s Eucharist. The reference to Sarah’s behavior being like an angry bear protecting her cub came from mention of bears in Quebec in several of Louise Penny’s Mystery Novels about a fictional village in Quebec. The rest of the sermon just developed from there.
Gen. 21:5, 8-20
Today’s first reading is a story of Sarah, the wife of Abraham, acting something like an angry mother bear protecting her cub. We also see God, acting in contrast to that with great compassion.
The story began by telling us that Abraham was one hundred years old when his son Isaac was born. This alone was something outside of ordinary norms. Sarah herself was not much younger. Having a son born at such an age is a miracle.
1 Cor. 1:18-25
Today is the Feast of Justin, martyred in Rome, 167 A.D.
Justin was born early in the 2nd Century, near Shechem in Samaria. He was brought up as a pagan. In his youth he began to study philosophy. He searched for a philosophy that would be true to his view of life. After some searching he adopted Platonism. But not long after he had chosen that he met an old man at the sea shore who convinced him of the truth of Christian teaching. It was a chance meeting, but one having great significance. Justin said of this encounter, “Straightway a flame was kindled in my soul!” Soon after that he was baptized. As a Christian Philosopher, wearing the robe of a philosopher he taught Christianity.
At about the middle of that century he gathered some students and formed a school of Christian philosophy in the city of Rome. During this period he began writing in defense of Christian doctrine and beliefs. Three of these writings have survived.
Today is the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What does the Bible tell us about this Feast?
At the end of Matthew’s Gospel we can read that “The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. … Then Jesus came and to them, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, that I am with you always, to the end of the age.’”
(Cf. Mt. 28:16-20)
The Gospel Reading for today is a discourse of Jesus making it clear that he did not come into the world on his own as an individual. We heard; “Whoever believes in me believes not in me but in him who sent me. And whoever sees me sees him who sent me.” (Jn 12: 44-45)