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.
Feast of Saint Edward the Confessor and Requiem for Brother John Goldring SSJE
Wisdom 3: 1-6
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.
Saint John the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple
and the Centenary of Richard Meux Benson (1824-1915)
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.
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)
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.
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.
Preached by the Most Rev. Michael G. Peers
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.