Struck Silent by Love – Br. Lain Wilson

Isaiah 44:1-8
Psalm 92:1-2, 11-14
John 20:1-9

The summer after I graduated from college, I received a phone call. The caller introduced himself as Agent So-and-so, of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

I was struck silent for a moment or two. Not least because I was having a mild panic attack: “What did you do, Lain?!”

After I recovered, I learned that a college friend had listed me as a reference on his application to the FBI. I don’t recall what I said during the phone call, but I do remember two emotions. Profound gratitude—for being thought worthy of this, for being trusted. And a profound sense of responsibility—my testimony, in however a small way, had power.

Testify, witness, confess—these words recur throughout our readings this morning, as does the underlying sense of revealing some truth about God. “You are my witnesses!” God tells God’s people through the prophet Isaiah, after the promise to restore God’s blessings: I will pour my spirit upon your descendants” (Is 44:8, 3). “It is a good thing to give thanks to the LORD,” the psalmist sings, “to sing praises to your Name . . . to tell of your loving-kindness” (Ps 92:1-2). And two millennia later, these words by Robert Herrick, whose poem we sang before the service: “All these, and better Thou dost send Me, to this end, That I should render, for my part, A thankfull heart.” Read More

Overlightened by Good News – Br. Jack Crowley

Br. Jack Crowley headshot

Br. Jack Crowley

John 20:1-9

Don’t worry, each of these sermons is only five minutes long. You won’t be here all day. There will be plenty of time for the garden party.

One of my favorite parts of today’s Gospel passage is how it is overshadowed by good news. Overshadowed is probably not the right word, so I’ll make one up, maybe overlightened would be better.

The good news of Jesus’ resurrection overlightens the bad news of how this Gospel passage starts. That morning started really dimly. The only thing the Beloved Disciple knew that morning was that Jesus was dead and his body was missing.

So he ran. The Beloved Disciple ran, but he did not run away. He did the opposite. He ran to the tomb.

I always try to imagine how the Beloved Disciple’s felt during that run to the tomb. At some point in life, we all get acquainted with that feeling of anxiety and excitement swirling together. That feeling that makes your leg wobble, but you keep moving because sometimes that’s the only thing you can do.

The race to the tomb was an act of desperation, an act of faith, and an act of life. We all have our own race to the tomb. More importantly, we all have our own race to the resurrection. Our own jagged journey to the realization that life continues after death. This is not it. This thing of ours keeps going after we die.

Can you imagine the joy the Beloved Disciple must have felt when he realized what had happened? The good news that Jesus had in fact risen. The Beloved Disciple realized not only what had happened, but what Jesus’ resurrection implied. We too will rise again.

Until we get there, we too have lives to live. Lives mixed with action and contemplation. Lives full of running and realization. The good news is that we know the good news. We have time. We have time and more than a lifetime to figure it all out. What we cannot get done now, we will get done on the other side of this life.

Of course this does not mean we get to be lazy. The Christian life is a demanding life. It’s a life that demands meaning, and for us to make that meaning with God, ourselves, and one another. We must do this every day of our lives and beyond.

And These Three Agree – Br. Keith Nelson

1 John 5:1-13 & John 20:1-9

Note:  This is the third and final part of a sermon preached by three Brothers: Jack Crowley, n/SSJE; Sean Glenn, SSJE; and Keith Nelson, SSJE.

I want to circle back to that obscure but evocative passage in John’s first Epistle:

The Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. There are three that testify: the Spirit and the water and the blood, and these three agree.

The testimony is one, as the Spirit is one, but it seems the encountering of it is (at least) three-fold: in the baptism we share; in the costly self-offering we must each make; and in the speaking of the Spirit of Truth on the tongue of each believer in living witness.

Three preachers do not regularly step up to this ambo on a single occasion, but the fact that today we are three merely underscores something essential about this life: the mutuality of our common witness and the complementarity of our testimony to the Truth. We are a community of preachers because we need each other’s help to lay hold of and live in the Truth. As the nucleus of a wider fellowship we are “sustained by many energies of mutual service”: the Truth proclaimed from many mouths, moving in many hearts, and lived in many lives. Read More

Telegrammes from God – Br. James Koester

Br. James Koester

Feast of Saint Edward the Confessor and Requiem for Brother John Goldring SSJE

Wisdom 3: 1-6
Psalm 23
1 John 3: 1-2
John 20: 1-9

I first met John in the fall of 1981. I was at the Mission House in Bracebridge with a group of my fellow divinity students from Trinity College, Toronto for our annual fall retreat. I remember a number of things about that weekend. I remember that it was a wonderful fall weekend, much like the last several days have been here. Father Dalby, whom some of our will remember, was our retreat leader. And John preached at the Sunday Eucharist.

Now I don’t remember what John said in his homily, but I do remember that I, like my other classmates, was stunned by its simplicity, its brevity and its depth.Little did I know at the time, that John’s sermons would become a regular and important part of my spiritual life.  Nor would I have ever guessed on that Sunday in the chapel at Brace bridge, that I would be standing here, 35 years later, presiding at his funeral as his brother and Superior. Read More

Recognizing the Risen Christ – Columba Stewart, OSB


Saint John the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple
and the Centenary of Richard Meux Benson (1824-1915)

John 20:1-9

The emptiness of the tomb marks a caesura, a break, in the story of Jesus.  There was his life of ministry, then his passion and death, and then…. The empty tomb. Now what? Then the encounters with the Risen Christ began. The accounts of those meetings have a spooky air about them, rather like Elvis sightings. Is it him or is it not? Immediately following this Gospel, Mary turns and sees a man she presumes to be a gardener. He asks why she is weeping, and she tells him why, begging him to give her the body of her crucified Teacher. The gardener then calls her by name, “Mary,” and she knows it’s Jesus: “Rabbouni.” Her instinct is to reach out, to embrace, but he tells her no. Things have changed: between them, between him and all the disciples.

We see that change in other stories about the Risen Lord. We meet a curiously learned stranger on the road. Only after hours spent together does he pick up a loaf of bread, bless and break it, and suddenly we know: it is Jesus. And just as we recognize him, he is gone.

We’ve been fishing all night, catching nothing, and a guy on the shore shouts a fishing tip at us. We’re desperate, so we give it a try, and are amazed: the fish really are on the right side of the boat.  And then we know…. it is the Lord. Read More

How Can We Know the Divine? – Jane Shaw

A Sermon preached for SSJE Fellowship Day, 3 May 2014.
Jane Shaw, Dean of Grace Cathedral, San Francisco.

Texts: Isaiah 44:1-8; Psalm 92:1-2, 11-14; 1 John 5:1-13 John 20: 1 – 9.

In the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thank you Brother Geoffrey, and all Brothers of this Society, for the kind invitation to preach here on this special occasion. I am honored to do so.

In 1950, the English novelist Dame Rose Macaulay, then living in London, received an airmail letter from one John Hamilton Cowper Johnson of
980 Memorial Drive, Cambridge, Massachusetts, better known as Father Johnson of SSJE. Father Johnson had known Rose Macaulay slightly when he had been at St Edward’s House in Westminster some 30 years earlier. He was writing now because he had enjoyed her most recent novel. (It’s nice to think that monks, too, write fan letters!) Macaulay replied, and so began a correspondence that lasted for eight years, until her death. (1) Read More

John, Beloved Disciple: SSJE Patronal Festival – The Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Isaiah 44:1-8; Psalm 92:1-2, 11-14; I John 5: 1-13; John 20:1-9

Well, beloved, it is a blessed day to celebrate.  It’s hard not to know oneself beloved in the midst of a community gathered in love, enfolded by the warmth of the sun/son and the tender wind of God.  The greenness all around us is evidence of the promise of resurrection to restore all creation.  The greenness within us is equal evidence of connection with the source of belovedness.

We opened by praying those remarkable words about Jesus, who drew the beloved disciple into deep intimacy, giving him the grace of resurrection in his inmost being.  That is also the prayer for each one here.

The mystery of the beloved disciple is his identity, and the blessing is that it’s not quite fixed.  The debates over whether it’s John bar Zebedee, or Lazarus, or even Mary Magdalene make a place for others to enter in.  As Jesus is ‘the son of the man,’ the beloved disciple becomes a way we may be the human disciple, beloved of God. Read More

Running to the Empty Tomb

Preached by the Rev. Dr. Margaret Bullitt-Jonas

Sermon for the Feast Day of St. John, The Beloved Disciple

Isaiah 44:1-8                                    1 John 5:1-13
Psalm 92:1-2, 11-14                           John 20:1-9

Friends, I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be back in this chapel and to share this service with you.  One of my great losses in moving away from Cambridge four years ago was the loss of easy contact with this place, and with you Brothers, and with this community of faith.  I rejoice to be with you today and to have a chance to reflect on this morning’s Gospel. Read More

Fellowship of St. John Day

Preached by the Most Rev. Michael G. Peers

John 20:1-9

The Most Reverend Michael G. Peers, a long-time friend of the SSJE community and member of our Fellowship of Saint John, retired from office as Primate of the Anglican Church of Canada on February 1st after having served as Primate since 1986. A hallmark of his tenure as Primate has been his witness for greater inclusiveness in the life of the church. Archbishop Peers is a linguist – fluent in French, German, and Russian as well as English – and has traveled widely on behalf of the Church. He continues to serve as President of the Metropolitan Council of Cuba, providing a personal link between the Cuban Episcopal Church and the rest of the Anglican Communion. He and his wife, Dorothy, live in Toronto and have three grown children and two grandchildren. Read More