God's Epiphany – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

Br. Geoffrey Tristram

“Wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, asking ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews?  For we observed his star in the east, and have come to pay him homage.”

Who were these extraordinary people?  Only Matthew mentions them, but they have worked on the imaginations of centuries of worshippers.  By the 5th century these wise men had become kings.  By the 8th century they each had a name, and by the 14th century one was Asian, one European and one African, to represent the three continents of the known world – so Christ reveals himself, his Epiphany – to the whole world.

What fascinates me about them is what it is which caused these men who were probably wealthy, well-respected, comfortable – what made them leave their homes, and go on this long, dangerous journey?  The poet W. H. Auden put it this way, “We three know that this journey is much too long, that we want our dinners, and miss our wives, our books, our dogs.  But have only the vaguest idea why we are what we are.  To discover how to be human now, is the reason we follow the star.” Read More

God Has Spoken to Us By a Son – Br. David Vryhof

Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-4; John 1:1-14

A Christmas story – not from Dickens, but from Kierkegaard:

Once upon a time, there was a powerful and wise king who fell in love with a beautiful maiden who lived in his kingdom.  The king’s problem was this: how to tell her of his love?  He called for the best and brightest of his consultants and asked their advice.  He wanted to do this in the best and most proper way – and, of course, he hoped his love would be cherished by the maiden and returned.  But when all of his advisors had had their say, the king was left disappointed.  For every one of them had counseled him in the same way.  “Show up at the maiden’s house,” they said, “dressed in all your royal finery.  Dazzle her with the power of your presence and with your riches.  Overwhelm her with expensive gifts.  What girl could resist?  Who would reject such an opportunity, or turn away from such an honor?  Who would possibly refuse a king?  And if need be,” they added, “you can always command her to become your wife.” Read More

Christmas Eve Sermon – Br. Curtis Almquist

Br. Curtis Almquist

O God, you have caused this holy night to shine with the

brightness of the true Light: Grant that we, who have known

the mystery of that Light on earth, may also enjoy him

perfectly in heaven; where with you and the Holy Spirit he

lives and reigns, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

This great olive-wood crèche scene which trails down the center of the chapel came to us through the craftsmanship of Palestinian woodcarvers in Bethlehem.  Aside from the baby Jesus, whom we’ve all come to adore, my favorite piece is the biggest camel, with its majestic green saddle skirt, and the wise man at its side.  The Gospel tradition tells the story of wise men, living in Arabia, who brought treasure chests full of gold, and frankincense, and myrrh to present to Mary and Joseph, parents of this infant child Jesus, who was prophesied to be the Messiah.[i] There’s no record that the wise men were Jewish.  They were among the many, “outside the household of faith,” who were awaiting the coming of the Messiah.  They reportedly followed the sign of a star which led them to Bethlehem.   Today we would probably call these wise men “astrologers” or “shamen” or “soothsayers.”  There’s very little recorded about their encounter with the Holy Family.  We read that they shared in the homage and joy of all those around that original crèche.  However there’s no record that they “changed religions” upon meeting Jesus.  (Maybe so; maybe not.  We know even among our Jewish and Muslim sisters and brothers that Jesus is revered, and so, perhaps this was the case for these “wise men.”  We don’t know.)  We do know that King Herod was quite threatened by the birth of this so-called infant king, a potential rival.  And Herod wanted a full report from the wise men after they had visited the newborn child.  Herod was up to no good, a realization the wise men woke up to in a dream.  The Gospel record reports that they avoided Herod by changing their course of travel, and “went to their home country by another way.” Read More

Adoration: Prayer of Adoration – Br. Eldridge Pendleton

Br. Eldridge Pendleton (1940-2015) offered this homily on the prayer of adoration at the Monastery as part four of the Teach Us to Pray series, October 27, 2009.

Exodus 3: 1-15; 1 John 4: 7-19; Matthew 13: 44-53

Remember! Remember that in this chapel we are on holy ground. It is as holy as the place on Mount Horeb where Moses saw the burning bush and encountered God, and for the same reason. In this chapel for over seventy years many thousands of men and women have had equally momentous encounters with God, encounters that have changed their lives in profound ways. Some have discovered God for the first time here. Others, suffering or at life’s crossroads have found comfort and the answers they needed to make major decisions. The walls of this holy place have been hallowed and impregnated by their prayers. Many who worship in this space over time tend to forget its numinous quality, but are reminded of it by the comments of those who enter it for the first time and find themselves enveloped by its holiness. They tell us of the sense of peace they find here. Some even mention their conviction that God is in this chapel. We are on holy ground and should treat it with reverence and awe. Read More

Intercession – Br Geoffrey Tristram – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

geoffrey 150xBr. Geoffrey Tristram offered this homily on the prayer of intercession at the Monastery as part of the Teach Us to Pray series, October 20, 2009.

One of the most wonderful experiences of my life was some years ago when living in England I had a sabbatical, and I spent a few months living in Egypt. Most of the time I lived in Cairo, and the part of Cairo I loved most of all, was not the famous parts with the pyramids and the sphinx, or even the medieval Islamic City of Cairo, but Old Cairo, Al-Qahira, south of the modern city, next to the Nile. The small walled city is Christian, Coptic Christian, and it is full of ancient churches like St. Barbara’s, St. John the Baptist, St. George, St. Mark. Read More

Praise: Our True Vocation -Br. David Vryhof

“It’s not about you.”

With those words, evangelical pastor Rick Warren opens his best-selling book, The Purpose Driven Life.

“The purpose of your life is far greater than your own personal fulfillment, your peace of mind, or even your happiness,” writes Pastor Warren. “It’s far greater than your family, your career, or even your wildest dreams and ambitions. If you want to know why you were placed on this planet, you must begin with God. You were born by his purpose and for his purpose.” Read More

The Armor of God – Br. Curtis Almquist

Ephesians 6:10-18

The lesson this morning from the Letter to the Ephesians speaks of our need for spiritual armor.  This is so we can withstand evil forces, “for our struggle [in this world] is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places…”  For many people, perhaps many of you gathered here, “spiritual armor” is not something quite in vogue.  That’s my hunch.  You probably have up-to-date anti-virus software on your computer; you will take seriously your doctor’s recommendation to have an H1-N1 swine flu vaccination this fall; you wash your hands before you eat; you accept our country’s need for military defense to guard us against adversaries…  All of these are protections to ward against enemy forces, whether armed confrontation or in the form of viruses and germs.   But your sense of need for “spiritual armor” may not garner much of attention.  It should. Read More

Holy Fools for God – Br. James Koester

2 Samuel 6: 1 – 5, 12b – 19
Psalm 24
Ephesians 1: 3 – 14
Mark 6: 14 – 29

There is a wonderful tradition in the church, more familiar in the churches of the Orthodox east than in the west, but one which we catch glimpses of none the less. That tradition is of the holy fool; people who make themselves look foolish in the eyes of the world for the sake of their devotion to Christ. Here in the west, Francis of Assisi is often thought of as one of Christ’s fools.

We catch occasional glimpses of this foolishness for God in scripture, including in today’s lesson from Samuel where we watch David danced with wild abandon before the ark of God and not (if you’ll pardon the expression) giving a damn what people (and least of all his wife) thought.

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