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5MarksofLove

Marks of Mission Sermons

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Proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom – Br. Nicholas Bartoli

How Can I Keep From Singing? – Br. Jim Woodrum

The Marks of Mission: Teaching, Baptizing, and Nurturing Believers – Br. Curtis Almquist

Baptizing, Teaching and Nurturing: The Second Mark of Mission – Br. David Vryhof

Marks of Mission: True Confessions – Br. Mark Brown

Marks of Love (Where Nails Have Been): Reflecting on the Third Mark of Mission – Br. Keith Nelson

Behold, I Make All Things New – Br. David Vryhof

Radical Radishes – Br. James Koester

Common Connection – Br. Luke Ditewig

Date with Creation: Week 6 | Day 7

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.

Activity: Date with Creation


Transcript: So I did this exercise twice.  And the first time I did it where I was completely still, out in a place that I genuinely cared about.  So I went out to what I call my sacred spot, which is a small bench that nobody knows about at Fresh Pond.  So I went out there and I completed the whole exercise, basically not speaking.  I couldn’t see anybody else.  I couldn’t hear any construction sounds or anything, just far away from everything in my solitude.  And I could hear wind blowing and leaves rustling and other things that you wouldn’t even think of, like a woodpecker like 100 miles away.  That’s what it felt like.  Things that you would have never even think of.

Then the thing that really got me, and I actually started kind of tearing up a little bit, was when in the exercise, the second column, when it asks to offer thanks. I was sort of thinking about all of the things that Fresh Pond has done for me, because Fresh Pond is sort of my place of solitude.  I go there when I’m sad, when I’m sort of—when I need to sort of take a breath out of fast, busy paced life, and kind of go out into nature and really connect.  And I sort of had a really deep connection to this place and sort of just said thanks in my own way to what this place has done for me.

And by doing that, it sort of helped me do all the other things in the exercise, like kind of be present where I was.  Sort of thinking about how this place has affected me, how it’s affecting me right now, what I’m doing, how I’m sitting, how my posture is, how the world is interacting around me.  It was a really, really great experience.

And then I did the exercises a second time and this time I did it physically on a bike.  I rode – because I’ve really started kind of getting into road biking a little bit – I went out as far as I possibly could.  I ended up – I don’t even know where I was, honestly.  I was way past Chelmsford or something.  So I was in the middle of nowhere.  And at that point, you’re just surrounded by trees, and you’re on these deserted roads, and then you start sort of getting into this Zen zone where you’re by yourself and it’s just you and nature.

So again, I heard the wind going by me.  I could feel the wind on my face.  I could feel the sun coming through the trees.  I heard the woodpecker 100 miles away.  It was very similar to the sort of feeling I had felt at Fresh Pond and it just sort of made me realize that nature is sort of around us all the time even if you’re not really thinking about it.  So if you’re in the city, you need to sort of make an effort a little bit to get out there.  But once you get there, it’s all the same to connect with what’s around you.

– Atticus Olivet

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

All Ground is Holy Ground: Week 6 | Day 6

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.

Question: When did you last recognize creation as “sacred”? How can we foster that sense of awareness?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Date with Creation


Transcript: This week we’re looking at the fifth Mark of Mission, striving to safeguard the integrity of creation.  And one thing that I find really important here is looking at our motivation to safeguard the integrity of creation.

You know we could talk a lot about biodiversity, saving habitats for certain species; we could talk about pollution; we could talk about a lot of things.  But for me, the most important way that I feel motivated to protect the integrity of creation, is remembering that all of creation is sacred.

One of my favorite hymns that we often sing during morning prayer is Morning Has Broken, Hymn number eight in the hymnal.  And I think I like it so much because it really powerfully speaks to this idea of creation being sacred.  And not only as sacred, but as something that God is creating in each moment that creation is sort of ongoing.  And in a way, God’s participation here and now in each moment is Eden, and that we never really left Eden.  We just have somehow fallen asleep, and each moment could be a good morning, a morning where we awake to find that yes, we’re still in Eden, and creation is so infinitely precious and beautiful, but it deserves protecting.  It’s a way of recognizing that all ground is holy ground, and so of course, it needs to be protected not because of anything it can give us, but simply because it’s been created by God, and we share it, and we cultivate it.

So we might ask ourselves, “When was the last time we can recall when we recognized creation as sacred?”  And having recognized it as such, is there a way we can foster that sense of awareness of creation being sacred, even all the time, in every moment, so we can help foster this sense of desiring to preserve it, and nurture it, and protect it?

– Br. Nicholas Bartoli

Question: When did you last recognize creation as “sacred”?  How can we foster that sense of awareness?

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

To God’s Glory: Week 6 | Day 5

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.

Question: What is it in creation that captures your passion?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Date with Creation


Transcript: Creation is teaming with God’s glory, with God’s infinite creativity, and God’s oneness with all that God has created.  As Anglicans, we embrace a sacramental theology – Now do you remember from your confirmation days what is a sacrament? A sacrament is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace” – that the whole of creation is sacramental.  The whole of creation points us to God.

In the ancient vocabulary of the church there is a word for this, and it’s panentheism.  I’m not saying pantheism.  Pantheism is “God is all,” so God is rock, God is tree, God is sky, God is water.  Pantheism: theos, God, pan, everything.  But I’m saying panentheism, that everything is in God.  That everything points us back to God.  That the whole of creation is iconic, like an icon.  That God is always more than we experience in creation, but God is not less.

I’ll leave you with a question.  As you experience creation that surrounds you, what is it that captures your passion?  Now it may be passion in the sense of love, of deep love, something to which you’re greatly attracted because of its beauty, its glory.  Or it may be passion because of suffering.  Something of creation that is suffering, diminishing – to use St. Paul’s phrase – “groaning with travail.”  Is there something that you could do on behalf of something in creation to God’s glory?

– Br. Curtis Almquist

Question: What is it in creation that captures your passion?

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Treasure Creation: Week 6 | Day 4

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.

Question: How do you really view creation – as “I-it” or as “I-Thou”?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Date with Creation


Transcript: As we treasure creation, remember that language shapes and indicates our perspective.  The 20th-century philosopher, Martin Buber, distinguished two types of relating, “I-it” and “I-Thou.”  I-it sees the other as objectified: I am superior, I use the other for my own use, for my need, and I can disregard it because it’s only for my purpose.  When I see the other as I-Thou, the other is equal, has dignity of its own right, has worth, belovedness that’s equal to me, and as I open myself up to it, I am changed by the other because I respect it.

If we see all of creation as I-it, as an object simply for our own use, then it’s a natural resource, just something to be used when I want to, and also to be disregarded if I don’t want to.  But if we see creation as I-Thou, then the water, the air, the soil, each has its own dignity, its own worth, indeed its own belovedness, simply as it is.  My use or preference is secondary.  I need to treat it with dignity and respect, simply as a creation of God.

So how do you treasure creation?  How do you relate to it?  As an object, something for your own use, or is it a brother or sister like St. Francis said?  Is it one who has been created with love as we ourselves are, as dignity and worth, and as something for us to cherish, to listen to, indeed to be changed by, as we relate to it.

Here is something to ponder today: How do I really view creation?  Is it as an I-it or as an I-Thou?

– Br. Luke Ditewig

Question: How do you really view creation – as “I-it” or as “I-Thou”?

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

The Best Thing We Can Do: Week 6 | Day 3

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.

Question: Have you discounted the power of prayer with regard to the restoration of creation?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Date with Creation


Transcript: I think for many people it’s easy to feel powerless in the face of the overwhelming degradation of our environment.  It can be difficult to know what one individual or one group can do.  Most of us recycle, maybe we’re involved in some organization that’s trying to make a difference.  But in the face of the world we live in, and the choices that are being made that are much bigger than any one individual or group, it can seem like an uphill slog a lot of the time.

Now I think all of us definitely need to do whatever we can do to help restore and shape the environment.  But this is a problem that really only God can solve.  It’s much bigger than any one of us, and I think it’s healthy to admit that.  At the end of the day, this is God’s world, and it’s God’s creation, and God will have the final word.

And so I think perhaps the best thing we can do, but not the only thing, but perhaps the best thing we can do is to pray.  Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in faith will be given to you.”  And I think we should take Jesus at his word.  We should take God at his word.  That prayer is powerful.  Prayer can change things.  God comes to us in our darkest hour.  God comes to us in our place of need.  And in no area of our lives are we in greater need than with regard to our relationship to the environment.  We need God to restore the environment, to help us restore the environment, to show us how the environment can be restored.  So the best thing that we can do, but not the only thing, is to pray.

Have you discounted the power of prayer with regard to the restoration of creation?

– Br. John Braught

Question: Have you discounted the power of prayer with regard to the restoration of creation?

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Everything is Connected: Week 6 | Day 2

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.

Question: 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?
Share your answer in the comments below or using #5marksoflove
Activity: Date with Creation


Transcript: So I want to talk about – I want to say a word about – ecology. And I want to say something that I think for me is more and more becoming a guiding principle in my view about ecology and what that means.

First of all, ecology is not environmentalism.  Ecology is not about protecting the environment.  Ecology is about recognizing that everything, both living and inanimate are connected.  We are all connected.  There is an intimate connection between everything, and everything affects everything else.  And one of the amazing things about quantum physics is discovering this thing about the quarks, you know, where if you change the charge of one quark on one side of the world, then you have the opposite quark on the other side of the world – that these things will change simultaneously.  It’s the sub-atomic proof of what I’m alluding to here.  And just as if you sit in a room with other people, you’re continuously exchanging atoms with them.  The atoms in your body are passing to their body and coming back.  So there is this incredible web of interconnection, and this is what ecology tries to look at, all of the various connections that link everything to everything.

And we’re even connected to the inanimate objects around us, and everything is interchangeable.  This chair that I’m sitting in is – in a sense – this is energy that is in a solid form right now, temporarily, and my body is energy, which is in this form right now, and will someday return to the cosmos and be all mixed up again.

So I think that the guiding principle behind sustaining creation is for us to begin to recognize the fact that every time we make a choice we are affecting other living and non-living beings.  Nothing we do is neutral.  And we have to begin to think about that.  We have to begin to think about the fact that we share this existence with everything else that is existing with us. And we need to begin to start breaking down this sense of hierarchy, that human beings are at the top and anything we decide to do for our own convenience basically, anything we want to do, we can do without affecting everything that goes beyond that.

So here is a question I would like you to ask yourself.  Recognizing the fact that we are all part of a web of being, how will one choice that you’re making today affect that web of being?

– Br. Robert L’Esperance

Question: 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?

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Activity Guidance – Date with Creation: Week 6

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

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.


Transcript: In this final week of our program, we’re asking you to consider the Fifth Mark of Love, which is “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain, and renew the life of the earth.”

This week we’ve offered you an activity called A Date with Creation.  And we’re inviting you to go to a beautiful place in nature, perhaps a park, or the seashore, or a mountain, or even in your backyard.  Some place that is peaceful, in which you’re surrounded by the beauty of the natural world.  And in that place, we’re asking you to do this meditative exercise.  There are five parts to this exercise and we’d like you to just set aside some time, maybe not just one visit but maybe a couple of visits to this place and exploring these different ways of praying in this space.

The first is just to listen, to become still, and to listen carefully to the noises that surround you and to the presence that you’re in.  The second is to offer thanks.  How would you express your gratitude for creation?  What might you do or what might you say that would give expression to the gratitude you feel for being surrounded by the beauty of the natural world?  The third is an exercise in being more present to the creation and it involves employing all of our senses.  Not just our auditory sense or our sight, but touching, feeling, smelling — really engaging with the environment.  Paying close attention to the things that are around us.  You might study the bark on a tree or the petals of a flower.  Look carefully at it and appreciate its beauty, touch it, smell it, experience it.  The fourth step is to offer a prayer, to join your voice with the voice of all creation, that is constantly giving thanks and praise to God.  Write out a short prayer in this section.  And the fifth is to consider how you’re being invited to participate in safeguarding the integrity of creation, of protecting the environment and renewing the environment.  What is God calling you to do that would help the earth?

– Br. David Vryhof

We Are One with Creation: Week 6 | Day 1

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. This is critical work in our moment.

Activity: Date with Creation


Transcript: I’m sure that all of you have had the experience of being captivated at some point or another by the beauty of the natural world in which we live.  We have our breath taken away repeatedly by brilliant sunsets, or by the view from a mountain peak, or the babbling of a brook, or the sounds of birds.  There is so much in nature that engenders in us a spirit of gratitude and of praise to God.  We have been marvelously made ourselves, and we live in a creation that is full of marvels and wonders.

But this creation has also been spoiled and damaged by human greed, by human misuse, and abuse of created things, of living beings of all sorts.  And part of God’s mission in the world is to restore the creation to its original beauty and design.

So part of our mission as well, part of the Marks of Mission, the Marks of Love that characterize our lives as believers, is this mark, the Fifth Mark, “to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and to sustain and renew the life of the earth.”  This is God’s work and we are invited to participate in this work of renewal, and of sustaining, of encouraging the life of all living beings and all created things.

It was St. Francis of Assisi who taught us that we are one with creation.  He called the sun his brother and he called the moon his sister.  He saw dignity and beauty in all created things.  He wondered at God’s presence in creation.  And when we have that kind of relationship with creation, a relationship of respect and of honoring, we’re less likely to abuse the creation, to assume that we can use it for whatever we choose, to destroy forests, and to kill species of animals because we are pursuing our own ends.

And so this mark calls us to, first of all, appreciate the beauty of the world, to give thanks for it.  And second of all, to commit ourselves to its preservation, to protecting its integrity, and to nurturing its life and beauty.  It calls us to oppose actions that are destructive to the world, to its peoples, to its environments, to its creatures, to its habitats.  We’re called to challenge and expose these ways of abuse and to find instead ways to restore the earth.  And this is critical work in our day and age, as we know.  Life is threatened on this planet and we have much to do here.

But let us enter into this Fifth Mark of Mission with the spirit of humility, of receptivity, of listening.  How is it that we are meant to live on this earth and how is it that we are to be in relationship with the creation and all created beings?  Let’s reflect on those things this week and challenge ourselves to live in a way that protects the integrity of creation and that nurtures and renews the life of the earth.

– Br. David Vryhof

Week 6 Activity: Date with Creation
Nurturing a healthy relationship with Creation takes time and intention. This week, schedule a few “dates” with Creation, finding a favorite spot in nature to return to each day. Nurture your relationship with Creation by offering thanks, being present, listening, protecting, and praying in this spot.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

Icons of Hope: Week 5 | Day 7

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.

Activity: Icons of Hope


Transcript: Hi, I’m Sarah, and I’ve been reflecting this past week on the theme of transformation, and specifically how to transform and challenge unjust structures in our society.

The initial issue that I am thinking about is the issue of racial violence in the U.S. happening right now.  And I feel very strongly that I want to and pray that I can in some way contribute to pushing against that, and challenging it, and transforming it.  However, the issue and what I chose to reflect on this past week was the power and the empowerment of courageous and strong women that have personally inspired me.  One of those women is Missy Copeland who is an absolutely beautiful and courageous and strong ballerina who has overcome lots of prejudice and lots of personal challenges, including age and how her body is perceived.  And I have had this on my wall for the past week as I prepare for the San Francisco Marathon and she’s been very inspiring to me.

And I tried to reflect on what particularly is so inspiring about people like Missy.  And for me it is that she is embodying the gifts that God has given her so fully, and with so much strength, that the light just shines out from her.  And she shares God’s joy and God’s light with everyone who she is able to connect with and to reach.

So my prayer is that I can in some way embody and just take on and live into the gifts that God has given me in a way that is so powerful that I can’t help but share God’s light through the action of doing that.

So I wanted to reflect on Hebrews 12:1 and this is a powerful verse for me that I am going to carry with me to the marathon and then also throughout the whole marathon.  It speaks about a cloud of witnesses surrounding you and I have felt that so much during this past training cycle both through my running mates, my friends, everyone who has loved and supported me through the process.

I also resonate with the idea of setting aside the weight and the sins.  To physically run such a distance, and to put your body through such a huge challenge, you have to address, sometimes painfully, the habits and the weights that you carry with you to transform your body and to transform your ability to run such a distance.

So ultimately, we’re doing this for the sake of God’s joy and the promise of joy with God.  So I will finish with this verse from the Bible, Hebrews 12:1:  “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely.  And let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of joy that was set before Him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Thank you and I hope that you enjoy and get as much out of this exercise as I did.

– Sarah Hill

Week 5 Activity: Icons of Hope
Icons are images that open us up. They act as windows that let the light of God shine in. This week’s activity invites you to compose your own “icon” for the Kingdom of God. Draw or paste in pictures that help you recall God’s vision, to create a collage that lets God’s light shine in.

Watch Video Guidance | Download Activity as PDF | Sample Completed Activity

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