I Will Not Leave You Orphaned – Br. David Vryhof

Br. David Vryhof

Acts 17:22-31
I Peter 3:8-18
John 14:15-21

The Gospel passage we’ve read this morning is part of the “farewell discourse” of Jesus in the Gospel of John.  In John’s account, Jesus speaks these words to his disciples just after the Last Supper, before he is betrayed and arrested, brought to trial, and put to death.  It’s a lengthy discourse, spread over four chapters, offering further teaching, reassurance, and prayers.  The farewell discourse is packed full of theology, and it can be challenging for readers to understand all that Jesus is saying.  Some readers may feel like they’re pushing through a lengthy theological lecture, interesting at points, but definitely heavy-going.  There’s a lot here.

Tucked into these chapters of theological discourse is a short phrase that catches my attention.  Jesus says to his disciples, “I will not leave you orphaned.”

What prompted him to say that?

If we view this Final Discourse as a lengthy theological lecture, we’ll miss the significance of this phrase and of this entire section.  We shouldn’t imagine Jesus standing like a teacher at a lectern, explaining to his sleepy disciples complex theological concepts that he thought they ought to know.  Rather, we should picture him surrounded by his closest friends, speaking to them with great compassion, care, and concern.  This is a very intimate conversation, not a theological discourse. Read More

Peace, Comfort, Hope – Br. James Koester

Br. James KoesterIsaiah 40: 1 – 11
Psalm 85: 1 – 2, 8 – 13
2 Peter 3: 8 – 15a
Mark 1: 1 – 8

Each year I get a little crankier and a little more annoyed by Christmas.

Now, don’t get me wrong, before you write me off as some kind of a monastic Scrooge, let me explain what I mean.

If truth be told, I actually love Christmas. I love the lights, and the tinsel, and the tree. I love the decorations, and the carols, and the crèche, and the baking, (perhaps especially the baking!). I love Christmas. What makes me cranky, and annoyed, is that what many people really just want are the lights, and the tinsel, and the tree. What many people really just want are the decorations, and the carols, and the crèche, and the baking. What many people really just want is the baby and the celebration. What many people don’t want is a saviour. But isn’t that the whole point of Christmas? And you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.[1]

For many, Christmas is about a cute, pudgy, sweet smelling baby, nestled in a bed of clean straw, in a romantically quaint, clean, rustic looking barn, amidst softly falling snow, much as we had yesterday. What they don’t want, is a saviour. And they don’t want a saviour, because that would suggest that we need saving. That would suggest that life isn’t all that we so often pretend it to be. And who wants to admit that life, especially my life, is not perfect, or that I can’t fix it? Read More