Br. Keith Nelson

Ezekiel 37:1-14 & John 11:1-45

Lord, he whom you love is ill.
Mortal, can these bones live?
This illness does not lead to death.
And they lived and stood on their feet, a vast multitude.

The words of Scripture we hear on this Fifth Sunday in Lent vibrate with a unique beauty, power, and density. Bones and sinew; breath and skin and stench; illness and tears; rattling and sighing and loud, crying voices; graves opened, hands unbound, feet planted on native soil. These scenes from Ezekiel and the gospel of John captivate us again and again because the intensifying momentum of their drama unfolds amid the props and set pieces of the everyday. These are passages filled with the raw materials of familiar, sensory experience: bones fit together and sinews stretch; tears tremble and spill over; stench assaults and offends; breath makes hair stand on end. Bones and sinew, breath and tears orient us on the way through stories that become slowly less familiar, more surreal, more densely charged with a mysterious meaning rising from the deep. We blink and stare in disbelief as the invisible power, beauty, and density of God’s ways is made visible – so undeniably visible that our gawking melts into gazing as it is met by the unblinking eyes of Love. In John’s vocabulary, this is glory: the manifest presence of God. 

Lord, he whom you love is ill.
Mortal, can these bones live?
This illness does not lead to death.
Rather, it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.
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Br. James Koester

Fifth Sunday in Lent

Ezekiel 37: 1 – 14
Psalm 130
Romans 8: 6 – 11
John 11: 1 – 45

I’m not sure how old I was. I might have been around 13 or so. One Sunday, our Rector, Mr. Pasterfield, challenged us in his sermon to find the shortest verse in the Bible. The one clue he gave us, was that this verse could be found in the Gospels. The rest was up to us. As the Brothers here in the community will tell you, I am often up for a challenge, and this one tweaked my budding inner theologian, so home I went, to see what I could find.

If I remember correctly, it took most of Sunday afternoon for me to find it, and I didn’t have any help from my parents. (In fact, I am not convinced that they knew either what the shortest verse was, or where to find it.) I started by skimming the chapters, and if I thought I had found it, I would count words, and then letters. Slowly I narrowed down the possibilities. At some point in the afternoon, much to my delight, I found it, right there on the thin onion skin pages of the King James Version of the Bible that sat on our bookshelves. It was just two words and only nine letters long: Jesus wept.[1] Read More

Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11; John 11:1-45

Yesterday was a spectacular day! The weather made it a perfect spring day and so I decided to make the best of it and spend the afternoon in the bee yard at Emery House. Of the nine bee hives I had last fall, eight survived the winter. The ninth hive unfortunately died. It must have starved sometime in January when it was so cold that the bees could no longer access the food they had stored last summer. Of the eight hives that survived the winter, seven are bursting with bees. The eighth hive seems to be a little slower in recovering. For the last several weeks I have been feeding the bees a sugar candy to make sure they survived the last of the cold, snowy days and that they had enough food to get them through until the nectar begins to flow and the flowers produce their pollen. Yesterday I decided to switch their food and feed them sugar syrup, into which I was able to put some antibiotics in order to give them a boost as they head into the spring honey flow. As I peered into the hives, I couldn’t help but see how they were bursting with bees and while I only looked down into them through the open top I knew they were thriving. It seems that wherever I looked yesterday life was literally erupting around me. Read More