Br. James Koester

Feast of Saint James of Jerusalem, Brother of Our Lord, and Martyr, c 62

Acts 15: 12 – 22a
Psalm 1
1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 11
Matthew 13: 54 – 58

If you have ever been to Jerusalem, you have perhaps found two of my favourite places. The first is quite easy to find, the Armenian Cathedral of St. James’, just near Jaffa Gate. The problem with the Cathedral is that it is only open when there are services on, and the best time to go is late afternoon for Vespers. It is sung by the cathedral clergy and students who attend the seminary across from the Cathedral. Once Vespers is over you have about 15 minutes to look around before being ushered out. I love the Cathedral, for obvious reasons. Who couldn’t love a cathedral dedicated not to one St. James but two!

The first St. James, the more familiar, is St. James the Apostle, brother of St. John and son of Zebedee. It is he, whose shrine at Compostela in Spain is at the end of the Camino, the pilgrim way that has become so popular in recent years. This St. James was beheaded by order of Herod Antipas and in a side chapel of the Cathedral, near the door, is his shrine. Spain has his body, but the Armenians in Jerusalem have his head. Read More

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Acts 15:12-22a
1 Cor. 15:1-11
Mt. 13:54-58

Today we commemorate James of Jerusalem and the First Council of the Church.

        The Gospel Reading for today identifies James as a brother of Jesus (v.55).  The First reading, from the Book of Acts tells us of the decision reached by James as the Spokesperson of the First Council of Jerusalem (vv. 19-21). The reading from Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians gives us evidence of Jesus’ appearance to James following his Resurrection (v.7).  From this the inclusion of James as an apostle and his leadership of the Council are implied.

That Council, and the decision made by James, are of tremendous importance for the identity of the Church.  Freed from bondage to the Law of Moses it would no longer be considered as a sect of Judaism. While not denying roots in the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament, never the less, those coming to believe in Jesus Christ and his promises could begin to be a Body of Faithful believers, showing Jesus Christ to the World. Read More

Br. James KoesterActs 10: 34-43
Psalm 118: 1-2, 14-24
1 Corinthians 15: 1-11
John 20: 1-18

Something happened. Something happened and something is happening.

Something happened on a hill, in a garden and in an upper room long ago in Jerusalem. Something is happening on beaches, in churches, shopping malls, hotels and university campuses today; in villages we have never heard of and cities and towns where many of us have never been and where most of us will probably never go.

Something happened and something is happening.

What happened, on first glance, was not all that unusual. It was a brief encounter between a grief stricken woman and a caring gardener. But what actually happened changed lives and set in motion a tidal wave that continues to toss and turn people nearly 2000 years later. A question asked. A name spoken. A pair of eyes opened. A command given. A breathless run taken. Read More

In this sermon, originally preached Feb. 7, 2010, Br. James Koester encourages each of us to trust that God is indeed calling us and urges us to be ready to listen, even when God uses his “inside voice.”

Isaiah 6: 1 – 8 (9 – 13); Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 11; Luke 5: 1 -11

Did you hear it? Did you hear that just a moment ago?

No? You didn’t?

I thought I heard something. Maybe I am hearing things!

There! There it is again! Did you hear it this time?

Ah you, you, back there. You heard it too didn’t you?

So I’m not hearing things, or rather I really am hearing things.

There, there it is again! Very faint. Almost a whisper.

James. James. James

There you heard it too this time, didn’t you? Read More

Br. James Koester

Isaiah 6: 1 – 8 (9 – 13); Psalm 138; 1 Corinthians 15: 1 – 11; Luke 5: 1 -11

Did you hear it? Did you hear that just a moment ago?

No? You didn’t?

I thought I heard something. Maybe I am hearing things!

There! There it is again! Did you hear it this time?

Ah you, you, back there. You heard it too didn’t you?

So I’m not hearing things, or rather I really am hearing things.

There, there it is again! Very faint. Almost a whisper.

James. James. James

There you heard it too this time, didn’t you?

That’s the problem isn’t it? It always seems to be a whisper. It never seems to be a shout. Or, at least, not for me. For whatever reason, God never seems to shout when trying to get my attention. God always uses his “inside voice” as my mother used to call it: “Jamie,” she would say, “use you inside voice,” whenever I shouted, or spoke too loudly or cried out something. That’s the voice that God always seems to use, at least with me: his “inside voice”. Shouting, and calling, and crying out, and throwing people off their horses is great stuff, but that’s not how I hear God. I hear God in a whisper; in a look; in a turn of the head; in a subtle expression on a face. That’s how I hear God. Not in shouts and cries and loud calls.

It seems that it was easier for those first disciples. It seems that Jesus spoke to them, spoke to them directly, and in no uncertain terms. To Simon Peter and his companions today he says: “Do not be afraid: from now on you will be catching people.”[1] In other places, Jesus was even more specific. He says to those two followers of John the Baptist, Andrew and his companion: “Come and see.”[2] And to Matthew as he sat at the tax booth “Follow me.”[3] It would have been so much easier if that were the case for me. Instead with me there is just a small voice saying over and over and over: James, James, James. Read More

1 Corinthians 15:1-11
Matthew 13:54-58

We remember today a follower of Christ, a certain James of Jerusalem, but our memory fails us.  We are not completely sure who this James is.  In the Gospel according to Matthew, we hear that James is called Jesus’ brother.  The same is true in Saint Paul’s Letter to the Galatians: James being named as Jesus’ brother.i Read More