Br. James Koester

Feast of Christ the King: Proper 29A
Ezekiel 34: 11 – 16, 20 – 24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1: 15 – 23
Matthew 25: 31 – 46

We all know that a shift has taken place in the world, and we see it most clearly in last year’s election in this country and the BREXIT referendum in the UK. The shift appears to be away from a global, universal outlook to a more individual, nationalist one. Me First appears to be the watchword, and that has become true about nations as well as individuals. We see this in foreign as well as domestic policy, ranging from trade, to immigration, to security, to health, to education, to gun laws, to the environment, to civil and human rights. We see this as society becomes more stratified and neighbourhoods and communities more uniform. We are losing, or perhaps have lost, our concern for the other and appear to live in a culture that says that I can do whatever I want, and the other person, or neighbourhood, or nation, simply doesn’t matter. Some political commentators see evidence of this, not just at one end of the political spectrum, but at both ends. And some argue that this isn’t a recent phenomenon, but has its roots back several decades.

But this Me First attitude is in stark contrast to the kind of life we are trying to live as Christians, and as a Christian community. It is such a stark contrast, that I have spent some time pondering what it is that sets us apart from the world, and shapes our life as Christians in a fundamentally different way, so much so, that not only are we set apart from the world, sooner or later our values as Christians will set us in conflict with a world where a Me First attitude is king. And that, I think, is the key for us, at least for today: who or what is king over our lives? Who or what rules supreme in our lives? To whom or to what do we owe our ultimate allegiance? Read More

Br. David VryhofMatthew 25:31-46

I have to confess that I haven’t always felt that this familiar gospel story of Jesus separating the sheep from the goats was necessarily ‘good news.’   As a boy I was reasonably sure I’d be numbered among the sheep – (I did go to church regularly and did my best to be good) – but there was always a bit of uncertainty in my mind about whether I’d done enough to actually get in.  Plus, I hadn’t actually given clothes to someone who was naked – (I think I would have remembered that!) – or gone to visit anyone in prison.  It was a bit worrisome.

I don’t think I’m alone on this.  Our first reaction to this story might be “Yikes!”  Not only does it feel a bit threatening, but it also seems to run contrary to much of our inherited theology about being saved by grace and not by works.  So what should we make of this? Read More

Matthew 25:31-46

Some of you might know that we Brothers follow an ancient monastic practice of taking our meals in silence, often accompanied by a brother reading aloud.  As of late, we have been reading a biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Bonhoeffer was an early twentieth century theologian and Lutheran pastor.  In popular memory, he is known chiefly for his staunch opposition to the Nazi’s murderous regime and the Christian Church’s shameful acquiescence in the horror.

After a long period of fearless soul-searching examination, and tremendous spiritual anguish, Bonhoeffer become complicit in a plot to kill Adolf Hitler.  The conspiracy was uncovered and Bonhoeffer, along with his co-conspirators, was butchered in an execution specifically designed to prolong the throes of painful death.  The SS carried out the execution on Hitler’s orders in April, 1945 just days before his suicide and Germany’s surrender ending World War II in Europe.  Read More

In this sermon, originally preached on July 5, 2009, Br. David Vryhof challenges our traditional views of what the judgment of God entails, finding in this concept far more proof of salvation than damnation.

Matthew 25:31-46

You may have noticed that my brothers have allowed me to choose a different gospel lesson from the one designated for this day.  I chose this passage from Matthew because I want to talk about judgment.  Now before you say, “Oh-oh, what are we in for now,” I want to assure you that I rarely deliver ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons and that, in spite of my background as a Calvinist, I am not likely to preach a sermon entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”i Judgment is not a favorite theme of mine.

I suppose that if I were to write my own gospel, “The Gospel According to David,” I might be tempted to delete from my scriptures words like these about God’s forthcoming judgment.  I might be tempted to take a passage like the one we’ve read and simply cut out all the language of judgment.  Read More

Matthew 25:31-46

You may have noticed that my brothers have allowed me to choose a different gospel lesson from the one designated for this day.  I chose this passage from Matthew because I want to talk about judgment.  Now before you say, “Oh-oh, what are we in for now,” I want to assure you that I rarely deliver ‘fire and brimstone’ sermons and that, in spite of my background as a Calvinist, I am not likely to preach a sermon entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.”i Judgment is not a favorite theme of mine.

Read More