The Gift of Disillusionment – Br. Keith Nelson

Br. Keith Nelson1 Corinthians 13:8-12 & Mark 8:22-26

Because children have a limited capacity to understand certain standard operating procedures of the adult world, they often come to conclusions that are very logical, but alas, entirely incorrect. National Public Radio’s Ira Glass calls this universal phenomenon “kid logic.”[i] For example, my younger sister was convinced that any building called a warehouse was a designated habitat for a werewolf, since these were the only two words she ever encountered with that particular prefix. Similarly, after overhearing an adult conversation featuring the improbable word “concubine” I became convinced that this was a rare species related to the porcupine. My parents patiently let us discover the errors of our “kid logic” on our own, and when we realized the inaccuracy of our theories, we were able to laugh at ourselves — and recalibrate. As children get closer to adolescence, they have a harder time with this gradual approach to revising their narratives. It’s a stage when many instances of “kid logic” collapse, often rapidly and ungracefully, in the face of new evidence about the world. That pre-teen struggle to integrate a vast range of new knowledge – along with the inner imperative to project a persona of effortless maturity to keep up with one’s peers – can make junior high school an unusually cruel boot-camp in disillusionment. Read More

Why Comparisions May Be Graceful – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis AlmquistMatthew 20:1-16

One of my favorite music recordings is of Arthur Rubenstein, the great Polish-American classical pianist, playing Chopin.[i]  Rubenstein was known to be the greatest interpreter of Chopin in his time.  This particular recording is brilliant.  It’s not just the music; it’s also the jacket cover.  The recording was originally made in 1965, when Rubenstein was still at his height.  This newer recording is actually a remix of the 1965 recording released again in 1981, about a year before he died at age 95.  The photo on the jacket cover captures the elderly Rubenstein in deep concentration, with his hands at work on the keyboard… except the keyboard and the piano are non-existent.  Rubenstein is pictured, clad in his shirtsleeves, sitting in his apartment, with his hands outstretched above his coffee table, playing “in the air” what it must have been like for him to play in the great concert halls of the world.  In this cover photo, Rubenstein is absolutely engrossed in the music which he no longer actually plays, but remembers and rehearses on his invisible piano.  He is a man at peace.  This informal portrait of Rubenstein is stunning. Read More

You can change! – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Luke 11:29-32

There’s a word that shows up in this Gospel lesson appointed for today; the word shows up continually in the Scriptures and in the vocabulary of the church: repent.  Repentance is both better and worse than you might imagine.  The English word translated as “repentance” is the Greek word “metanoia”: a preposition “meta (after) and “noia” (to think or observe).  “Metanoia” – repentance – is something we conclude in hindsight where we realize we had it wrong: something we have done or left undone, said or left unsaid that was wrong.  Maybe a conclusion or a judgment call about something or someone which we now see wasn’t right.  It may be a whole pattern of actions, brazenly in the open or in the secrecy of darkness that may have snowballed out of control, and it’s wrong.  It’s got to stop; we can see it, sadly. And so that’s the other piece about repentance.  Repentance isn’t just wisdom gleaned from experience; repentance is regret gleaned from sorrow.  We cannot go on, we simply cannot live with ourselves that way any longer.  Repentance is hindsight teeming with regret, enough so to fuel a change in life.  Repentance is both better and worse than you might imagine.  Read More

St. Vincent de Paul: A Transformed Life – David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

I Peter 5:1-4
Psalm 23
John 21:15-17

The Christian life is a life of transformation.  The call to follow Christ is a call to a lifelong process of conversion.  It requires us to let go of our former identities – built on our gifts, our achievements, and our social standing – in order to embrace a new identity in Christ.  It asks us to set aside our selfish goals and pursuits to take on a new set of priorities and values.  It invites us to become changed people: people whose lives are characterized by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness and humility.  It summons us to treat every person we meet with dignity and respect, seeing that they too are made in the image of God.  “If anyone is in Christ,” writes St. Paul, “there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, there is a new creation!” (II Cor. 5:17) Read More

Change is Possible and Promised – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

Feast of the Presentation of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Luke 2:22-24

I think it’s quite intriguing to consider how Jesus developed from his childhood onward.  As Luke says, Jesus grows in wisdom and stature[i], and Jesus also grows in freedom to be fully himself, fully alive.  How Jesus perceives himself, and how he perceives others, and how others perceive him grows, and develops, and changes.  People will change for good – we will change for good – when three things are present: when we are eagerly desirous or absolutely desperate to change; where we can imagine a thread reaching from our past to our present and into our future, which gives us a sense of continuity so that we don’t get lost.  And then there’s one other important component in our being able to change, which I’ll say in a moment. Read More

As They Went – Br. Luke Ditewig

Br. Luke DitewigTen lepers called out: “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When he saw them, Jesus said: “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” As they went, they were made clean.

As they went. Not at the moment Jesus spoke. Not at the moment they met the priests. As they went. As they followed Jesus’ invitation. As they did the next thing asked, as they journeyed. As they went, they were healed. Healing may happen in motion, in process, as we go, as we live, as we follow. During a short walk or over a long journey. At a particular point in time or as a process into which we receive glimpses of insight. Read More