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GrowRule

Week 6: Create a Solid Garden Plot – Compilation


Workbook Exercise: My Rule of Life

Watch: Week 6 Day 1: When Life Is Very Difficult
What has sustained you through challenging seasons in the past?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 6 Day 2: Say Thank You
How does gratitude show up in your life?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 6 Day 3: What I Shall Be
How will your Rule help you grow into the person you can be?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 6 Day 4: Companions on the Journey
How might others support you on this journey?
Answer: Click here to write your answer
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Watch: Week 6 Day 5: Redirect Growth
How will you direct your energies towards that which gives life?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 6 Day 6: Boundaries
What boundaries would it be helpful to put in place for yourself?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 6 Day 7: Do It in Pencil
Draft a written Rule of Life that will enrich and enliven your relationships.
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Living in Rhythm and Balance – Br. Luke Ditewig

Play

This sermon is part of a Lenten preaching series on “Growing a Rule of Life.

Preaching SeriesSQRules of Life & the Rhythms of Nature – Br. James Koester
Our Relationship with God – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Our Relationship with Self – Br. Mark Brown
Our Relationship with Others – Br. David Vryhof
Our Relationship with Creation – Br. Keith Nelson
Living in Rhythm and Balance – Br. Luke Ditewig

Growing a Rule of Life: To subscribe to a daily morning email with a short video and download a PDF of the accompanying workbook enter your name and email.
More information here: SSJE.org/growrule


Br. Luke DitewigMark 1:29-39
Philippians 4:8-9

This Lent we’ve been reflecting on Growing a Rule of Life, a list of goals and practices of how to live well with gardening as the primary image. We have considered various relational garden plots in which to grow our relationship with God, with ourselves, with others, and with creation. Today we conclude by looking at the whole, looking to Jesus for how to balance these relationships, and for many of us reviewing the personal rule we’ve drafted with suggestions for how to live in rhythm.

Touching your neck or chest, feel your heart beat. We are rhythm at the core. Whether relaxed or stressed, the heart pulses our beat, sounds the rhythm of our life’s dance. Rhythm is the pattern of presence and absence of sound, of notes and rests, long and short, more and less, doing and refraining, ebb and flow. Rule of life may also be considered rhythm of life. What’s your beat? What’s the tempo? What are the steps or style of your dance? Where’s the emphasis? As in music, rests, the seeming absence, define notes and create the rhythm.

What was Jesus’ rhythm? How does his life inform how to live? Jesus went to the synagogue, worshiping God in community on the Sabbath. In our gospel lesson, Jesus is just leaving and he goes to the house of Simon, one of his disciples. Jesus goes to synagogue, spends time with friends, and he responds to those in needs. Many crowd the house that evening, and he heals them.

“In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.” Jesus knew what was coming. People would gather with requests. The “to do” list would sprout. Jesus knew the pain and questions of his own human heart would be present. Jesus knew waiting with God to be primary and sustaining. Jesus stopped and went away to pray. Jesus taught in the synagogue and on the road, healed at home, and people were constantly coming to him asking more. Jesus’ rhythm has lots of activity, lots of serving, and significantly, Jesus stops to pray.

Jesus also invites us to stop and rest with him. Sometimes he sends the disciples off ahead of him while he dismisses the crowd. “Come to me, all you who are weary and carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. … my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28, 30) Like animals yoked together to share the work, Jesus says he will work with us, easing the burden.

How does Jesus do this? Not simply taking over. Jesus teaches modeling that amid hard work and relating to many, stopping to rest and pray is humanity’s natural rhythm, how we were created to live well. Jesus invites us to be his companions and friends, choosing a life yoked to him, a life regulated by God, or we might say following a pattern, a rule, a rhythm of God.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases it this way: “Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:29-30 in The Message)

Choosing to be regulated, to grow a rule, a pattern, a rhythm of life is challenging. As with a garden, it takes planning what’s appropriate and possible, establishing boundaries, providing nutrients, tender care and pruning. It requires a lot of showing up and patience. Growing plants or a rule of life is also learning the “unforced rhythms of grace.” We cannot control what is grown. We invest but we do not produce. God gives the growth. We receive what we do not deserve and often can’t request. Keeping company with Jesus, we face again and again that we are dust, learning humility, that we are not God.

With humble honesty and gentle grace, I invite you to consider the rule of life you are planning, and perhaps review what you’ve thought or written about through this series. Here are three suggestions.

First, focus on freedom. Does what you plan feel like increasing burden? It’s supposed to be helpful. The point is becoming more fully alive. Philippians reminds us to seek what is honorable, just, commendable, excellent, and worthy of praise. These bring us freedom. Following Jesus is challenging and incremental. Beware of taking on too much. Be gentle with yourself. Start small, and ask for help.

Second, move and adapt. Planting the same thing in the same place depletes the soil. Changing what and where we grow enables further growth. A monastic virtue, and for some communities one of the vows, is stability, which comes from the word “to stand.” It’s hard to stand upright for long periods without moving. In the words of Br. Michael Casey, a Cistercian monk: “Stability is not immobility. It is the knack of remaining constant in the midst of change. … the important thing is to keep moving forward, to keep adapting to changed circumstances and to re-orient oneself toward the goal.”[i] A rule of life changes us, and it too will need adapting. Hold it lightly. See what emerges. Watch the weather. With the goal in mind, adapt to the life you receive.

Third, dance with others. Relationships help us stay in rhythm, help us balance. Do part of your rule with others. Share a practice. Perhaps a different person for each garden plot: relationship with God, with yourself, with creation. Notice together what you discover. Or stop to reflect with someone or some group about the experience as a whole, what it’s like living into your rhythm, your rule of life.

Every day presents many choices. A rule, a rhythm, helps us regulate and balance. What will you seek to grow or how will you dance in this season of life you’ve been given? Jesus says: Dance with me; follow my lead. “Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me, and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”


[i] Michael Casey, ocso (2005) Strangers to the City: Reflections on the Beliefs and Values of the Rule of Saint Benedict. Brewster, MA: Paraclete Press, p191.

Week 5: My Relationship with Creation – Compilation


Workbook Exercise: My Creation Collage

Watch: Week 5 Day 1: Good Soil
How would you describe the ‘soil’ of your heart and soul at this time in your life?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 5 Day 2: Simply Gaze
To what part of nature do you most feel connected, and why?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 5 Day 3: The Work of Human Hands
What spiritual practices help to strengthen your connection with the natural world?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 5 Day 4: Vocation
How would you describe your unique ‘vocation’ in the world?
Answer: Click here to write your answer
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Watch: Week 5 Day 5: Being Pruned
Where could your life be pruned to bear more fruit?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 5 Day 6: The Flow of Blessings
How can you connect with nature in ways that bring life?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 5 Day 7: Restoring Balance
How will you find a healthy and meaningful connection with the natural world?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Our Relationship with Creation – Br. Keith Nelson

Play

This sermon is part of a Lenten preaching series on “Growing a Rule of Life.

Preaching SeriesSQRules of Life & the Rhythms of Nature – Br. James Koester
Our Relationship with God – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Our Relationship with Self – Br. Mark Brown
Our Relationship with Others – Br. David Vryhof
Our Relationship with Creation – Br. Keith Nelson
Living in Rhythm and Balance – Br. Luke Ditewig

Growing a Rule of Life: To subscribe to a daily morning email with a short video and download a PDF of the accompanying workbook enter your name and email.
More information here: SSJE.org/growrule


Br. Keith NelsonGenesis 2:4b-8; 15-19; Psalm 8; Mark 1:9-13

In a small wooden box in my cell here at the monastery, I keep a few simple mementos: physical objects I can hold in my hand, objects that anchor or center me in the remembrance that I am beloved of God. The simplest and most treasured of all is a cow bone from the desert near Moab, Utah. My best friend and I went camping in Utah a few months before I came to the monastery as a postulant. The trip was a pilgrimage into a landscape wonderfully strange to us both.  In the desert, we hoped to taste something of God’s vast, untamed power, just as Jesus did, and just as generations of saints have done from the ancient Israelites to the desert fathers and mothers of Egypt. Perhaps because our eyes and ears were opened by this intention, this expectation to meet this desert God and to travel as fellow pilgrims into our own inner wilderness, God came to meet us everywhere we turned. Every horizon held our gaze and enlarged it, beckoning us beyond that vanishing point where endless blue sky and rippling red stone merged. As we hiked about this desert paradise we wept or fell silent or laughed in wonder, as unselfconsciously as the shooting stars or lightning that flashed in the night sky or the rainbows that shimmered in the rare desert rain. Each moment, we could have echoed the sentiment of author Annie Dillard as she wrote from Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains: “I see something, some event that would otherwise have been utterly missed and lost; or something sees me, some enormous power brushes me with its clean wing, and I resound like a beaten bell.” [i] Read More

Week 4: My Relationship with Others – Compilation


Workbook Exercise: My Web of Connections

Watch: Week 4 Day 1: Connections with Others
Who are the “others” in your life with whom you are called to be in relationship?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 4 Day 2: Forgiveness
Who has loved you well, and how did that love make you feel?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 4 Day 3: Conflict
What relationships in your life need mending or strengthening?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 4 Day 4: What Worked Yesterday?
What practices help you to thrive in your relationships with others?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 4 Day 5: Saying No
To what will you say ‘no’ in order to say ‘yes’ to what is most important?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 4 Day 6: Receive Love
How can you grow in the ways you give and receive love?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 4 Day 7: Grow into Greater Love
How will you love the people in your life?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Our Relationships with Others – Br. David Vryhof

Play

This sermon is part of a Lenten preaching series on “Growing a Rule of Life.

Preaching SeriesSQRules of Life & the Rhythms of Nature – Br. James Koester
Our Relationship with God – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Our Relationship with Self – Br. Mark Brown
Our Relationship with Others – Br. David Vryhof
Our Relationship with Creation – Br. Keith Nelson
Living in Rhythm and Balance – Br. Luke Ditewig

Growing a Rule of Life: To subscribe to a daily morning email with a short video and download a PDF of the accompanying workbook enter your name and email.
More information here: SSJE.org/growrule


Br. David VryhofRomans 12:9-21, Luke 6:27-36

This evening is the fourth in a series of sermons on “Growing a Rule of Life.”  In the three previous weeks, we have looked at how we might make use of the monastic concept of a “Rule of Life”

  • to weave healthy practices into the rhythms of our lives,
  • to focus our time and energies on what we value most,
  • and to live more intentionally the abundant life God offers us in Christ.

We have examined how a Rule of Life might support our relationship with God, and our relationship with our own selves.  Tonight we consider how a Rule might inform how we relate to others. Read More

Week 3: My Relationship with Self – Compilation

Our Relationship with Ourselves – Br. Mark Brown

Play

This sermon is part of a Lenten preaching series on “Growing a Rule of Life.

Preaching SeriesSQRules of Life & the Rhythms of Nature – Br. James Koester
Our Relationship with God – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Our Relationship with Self – Br. Mark Brown
Our Relationship with Others – Br. David Vryhof
Our Relationship with Creation – Br. Keith Nelson
Living in Rhythm and Balance – Br. Luke Ditewig

 

Growing a Rule of Life: To subscribe to a daily morning email with a short video and download a PDF of the accompanying workbook enter your name and email.
More information here: SSJE.org/growrule


Br. Mark BrownGen. 1:1-5, 26-27/Ps. 8/Matthew 17:1-8

We continue this evening with our sermon series on Rule of Life. These sermons are coordinated with our daily Lenten video offering “Growing a Rule of Life”. There are about 30,000 people sharing this project with us; many are using a workbook as a guide for the series—you can get one at the back of the chapel, or you can download it from our website www.ssje.org.

A rule of life is simply a rhythm or structure or framework meant to help create balance in our lives, to help us “keep the main thing the main thing”.  We’ve organized this series around four relationships: our relationship with God, our relationship with others, our relationship with creation, and our relationship with our own selves.  These are all interrelated, of course: you can’t really talk about one without the others.  But for the sake of discussion and focus, they’ve been divided up this way.  This evening’s topic: our relationship with our selves. Read More

Week 2: My Relationship with God – Compilation


Workbook Exercise: My Garden Plot

Watch: Week 2 Day 1: Consider the Lilies
Pick something in God’s creation to “consider” today. What did you notice or observe?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Weel 2 Day 2: Wherever Love Is
What makes you most aware of God’s love?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 2 Day 3: Be the Soil
Do you feel connected to God’s love on a daily basis?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 2 Day 4: Nature Takes Time
What do you long for in your relationship with God?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 2 Day 5: Where Am I Going?
What needs to be weeded or cultivated in your soul for you to grow closer to God?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 2 Day 6: Offer an Intention
What spiritual practice might help you grow?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Watch: Week 2 Day 7: Space to Grow
What would help you renew your relationship with God?
Answer: Click here to write your answer.

Rule of Life and Our Relationship with God – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Play

This sermon is part of a Lenten preaching series on “Growing a Rule of Life.

Preaching SeriesSQRules of Life & the Rhythms of Nature – Br. James Koester
Our Relationship with God – Br. Geoffrey Tristram
Our Relationship with Self – Br. Mark Brown
Our Relationship with Others – Br. David Vryhof
Our Relationship with Creation – Br. Keith Nelson
Living in Rhythm and Balance – Br. Luke Ditewig

 

Growing a Rule of Life: To subscribe to a daily morning email with a short video and download a PDF of the accompanying workbook enter your name and email.
More information here: SSJE.org/growrule


Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Jer. 29:11-14 / Ps. 8:1-6 / Matt. 7:24-27

My sermon today is part of our Lenten preaching series on the theme of “growing a Rule of Life.”  I want to explore how growing a personal rule of Life can transform our relationship with God.

At the age of 17 I went hitchhiking and backpacking through Europe with a friend of mine called Ian.  We had amazing adventures, and several disasters.  One of the disasters happened in Munich.  We got to the Youth Hostel too late and they wouldn’t let us in, and suggested we put up our tent in the park opposite.  We unpacked the tent, but we were so tired that we didn’t bother to bang in all the tent pegs.  “That’ll do!”  We got into our sleeping bags and fell asleep at once.  And of course the worst happened.  In the middle of the night there was a storm and terrific winds, and at 3:00 in the morning the tent fell on top of us, and we were soaked.  That experience reminded me of the words from today’s Gospel – about the wise man who built his house on the rock – who put his roots deeply into the rock of faith.  And when the wind and rain and storms came his house stood firm.  Ian and I were like the foolish man who built his house on sand, and when the storm came it fell down – like our tent.

The theme of these Lenten sermons is how we might build strong foundations in our lives of faith – how we might bang in tent pegs, so that when the storms of life come we stay upright, and don’t collapse. Read More