The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

We Brothers welcome you to a share one of our daily practices: listening to and reflecting on a chapter of our Rule of Life.

In addition the Brothers have a series of other resources that we hope might be helpful to you in exploring living with a Rule.

Living Intentionally: Creating a Rule of Life

We invite you to download our Living Intentionally Workbook for Creating a Personal Rule of Life. Walk with Br. David Vryhof step-by-step through the process of writing your own Rule.

A Framework for Freedom:

We invite you to discover the freedom that comes from living by a rule of life, by journeying through “A Framework for Freedom,” a 7-week self-guided video course to help you say “Yes” to your life.  Watch the series now.  Subscribe to a daily email.

In Lent 2012, we preached a series on the challenges and rewards of living by a rule of life. Drawing on chapters from SSJE’s Rule. Read and listen to the sermons.

A Living Tradition:

Each day of Lent 2011, we posted a short “living commentary” on our Rule, with a Brother or two offering his unique perspective on the document which shapes and forms our prayer and practice more than any other apart from Scripture and The Book of Common PrayerTo read that conversation, click here.


The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist

We Brothers welcome you to a share one of our daily practices: listening to and reflecting on a chapter of our Rule of Life.

  • To listen to the SSJE Rule of Life, read aloud by a brother, click on the chapters to the left.
  • To read a Guide to Personal Reflection, click here
  • To Subscribe to the SSJE Rule of Life, click the subscribe buttons on the left.
  • We welcome comments on each chapter.
  • To purchase a copy of the book The Rule of Life, click here


The audio book, The Twelve Days of Christmas, is read by Br. Curtis Almquist and accompanied by carols sung by the Brothers.

The Twelve Days of Christmas follow from December 25 until January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany, the traditional date when the Magi arrived to present gifts to infant Jesus. For many, the meaning of these days is lost. By Christmas night we are saturated with the holiday hype, overfed by music and food, and may already be disappointed that the presents received are not enough. This audio book is not a bah humbug about Christmas customs and presents.

This is simply an invitation to go deeper than the tinsel and wrappings, beyond the presents given and received, to the source of all the good gifts in life. Readers are invited to unwrap gifts that will last, praying the twelve days of Christmas.


We cannot be channels of God’s comfort and compassion if we continue to be bound by fear and anxiety, which is why God urges us to cast our burdens upon him, to trust his presence with us and his work within us, and to leave behind all fear. Trust in God and discover the glorious freedom of the children of God, who need never be afraid.

Br. David Vryhof, SSJE
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Thomas told his companions: this won’t work for me; I need more. Then he waited, and they waited with him. If you are waiting for new life, tell a trusted companion or group, and let them wait with you. Like Thomas, speak your truth and stay in community. Together, wait and weep to witness the resurrected Christ.

Br. Luke Ditewig, SSJE
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Death and Life – Br. Lain Wilson

Acts 5:27-33
Psalm 34:15-22
John 3:31-36

Have you ever faced a life-or-death situation?

For many of us, the honest answer will be no. Proportionally few of us serve in the armed forces, or are subsistence farmers, or fetch water by walking down long, dangerous roads. Or do as Peter and the apostles did, defying the authorities to preach in the name of Jesus, witnessing to the truth and risking death for it (Acts 5:28-29).

What allows those facing such danger, such precariousness, to go on? Need, for sure—the need to act or harvest or fetch or preach that impels them forward. But more than that. Trust. Trust in training and comrades; trust that the earth will bear fruit; trust that the spring will provide water. Trust, as the psalmist sings, that God is near to the brokenhearted, that God will deliver the righteous out of all their troubles and will keep safe all their bones (Ps 34:18, 19, 20).

And while we may not face life-or-death situations, trust is still embedded deeply in our lives. Trust in government and economies, in safety nets and supply chains, in smartphones and airplane doors. We trust these things will always exist, that they will provide or support or protect. We trust, until something shakes that trust and reveals that we may be closer to life-and-death situations than we think. The chapter in our Rule on “Holy Death” gets at this: in our “hardships, renunciations, losses, bereavements, frustrations, and risks . . . death is at work in advance” in our lives.[1]

But if what results when trust fails—all the bad and scary parts of life—can point us toward death, so can trust that succeeds, trust in what won’t fail us. And that trust points us to a death that is not final but transformed: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (Jn 3:36) and “has passed from death to life” (Jn 5:24). If our daily experiences of loss and failure and frustration prepare us for the certainty of our deaths, our daily experiences of trust—and the hope and joy and love that accompany them—do so as well. The also prepare us for death, show us how death is at work in advance in our lives, but a death transformed by Jesus’s saving work: “In Christ we are still one with [the departed],” our Rule goes on, and we believe, we trust, “that we will be reunited when Christ gathers all creation to himself, so that God may be all in all.”[2]

You may not face a life-or-death situation every day. But our trust that “God is true,” that God hears our cry, that God is near to us, that God saves us, makes every day a death-and-life proposition.


[1] The Rule of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist (Lanham, MD, 1997), 97.

[2] Ibid.


Death no longer shocks us, whether it comes quietly, after a long life, well-lived; suddenly, in a blaze of bullets; agonizingly, with a knee at the neck; or slowly, gasping for breath, alone in a hospital room. We may grieve, but it does not shock us. What shocks, alarms, terrifies, amazes, and makes us afraid is life – especially the kind of life Jesus offers us in the resurrection.

Br. James Koester, SSJE
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There is a paradox in Jesus’ promise, “Not a hair of your head will perish.” This is simply untrue. Yet these words are a promise that these bodies – this flesh – even these hairs – however mysteriously changed and transfigured they will be at the end of all things – will be loved back together again in a form entirely glorified and whole.

Br. Keith Nelson, SSJE
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Meeting Us Where We Are, and Sending Us Out – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

John 20:19-31

Has the Risen Christ ever come to you when you were in a place of need?  If so, how did he come?

I’m moved by the resurrection accounts in the Fourth Gospel, in which Jesus returns to his broken-hearted disciples as the Risen One, meeting them just where they are.

Early in the morning of the first day of the week, he appears to Mary Magdalene just outside the tomb.[i]  She is confused and desperate, weighed down with grief and loss, and can only imagine that someone has, for reasons incomprehensible to her, removed the body from the tomb and laid it somewhere else.  Her teary eyes fail to recognize the One who speaks to her.  She assumes he is the gardener and pleads with him to tell her where they have laid him.  Then Jesus speaks her name.  “Mary.”  And her world immediately brightens.  Instantly, the weight of grief is lifted from her shoulders; hope springs anew; her teacher is alive!

Recall how Jesus appears to Peter, the faithful and devoted disciple who, swept up in a moment of fear, denied knowing his Lord three times.[ii]  Now he meets Jesus on the shores of Lake Galilee, where he has been fishing with the others.[iii]  Jesus speaks to him so tenderly.  “Peter, do you love me?”  Never a word of blame is spoken; Jesus does not criticize or shame. Three times the question is asked; three times Peter affirms his love for Jesus; three times the charge is given, “Feed my sheep.”[iv]  Jesus offers forgiveness, accepts Peter’s pledge of love, and restores him to a position of leadership among the disciples.  So kind, so tender, so sensitive to Peter’s pain, Jesus absolves him. Read More


We will never be abandoned. The Good Shepherd has accomplished – and opened for us – the way of salvation. He who laid down his life for us has won and freely offers to us eternal deliverance from sin, disease, and death. The grace, healing and protecting love which flow from Jesus’s self-offering still lead us through every circumstance of life.

Br. Jonathan Maury, SSJE
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