St. Ignatius of Antioch – Br. David Allen

When I think of the early martyrs I often think of Tertullian’s words, “The blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.” (Apologeticus Ch. 50) That simple sentence contains the answer to many questions about the martyrs’ willingness to face death.

Ignatius of Antioch was one of those martyrs, a century earlier than Tertullian.

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Corpus Christi – Br. David Allen

This sermon for Corpus Christi was preached at Emery House

1 Cor. 11:23-29; Jn 6:47-58

Today we are keeping the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, historically called Corpus Christi. On this solemn feast day we acknowledge and celebrate the meaning of the Holy Eucharist wherein we are spiritually fed by the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ under the forms of consecrated bread and wine, and fed also by the prayers of the whole Church.

All of the Post Communion prayers that we use during the year recognize the importance that the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist has for us, but there is one of those that I think particularly points up that importance in ways that go beyond our daily spiritual nourishment to touch on the cosmic dimensions of what takes place when we have participated in this Holy Sacrament.  That is the prayer that begins with the words, “God of abundance”. Read More

A River Runs Through Us – Br. James Koester

Baptism of Our Lord Jesus Christ

Isaiah 42: 1 – 9; Psalm 29; Acts 10: 34 – 43; Matthew 3: 13 – 17

I don’t know if I actually saw it the first time. I think I did, but I can’t swear to it. It was on my first visit to Jerusalem and the course I was taking at St. George’s College had spent a few days in and around the Old City. We had then departed for Egypt and had been to Cairo and then on to St. Anthony’s Monastery and to St. Catharine’s in the Sinai. We had crossed the Gulf of Aqaba on the Red Sea and had visited Madaba, Petra and Nebo in Jordan. We were finally heading back to Jerusalem and had just passed through the border crossing into the West Bank and were driving over the Allenby Bridge when our course director announced that at that moment we were crossing the Jordon River. Luckily I had a window seat, but even in the moment it took me to turn my head and look out the window, we were over the river and all that could be seen as we drove off was the lush growth of trees, scrub and brush that outlined the river bank. I remember seeing that, but I don’t actually remember seeing any water, much less anything that passed as a river, at least to my mind.

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Easter Innocence – Br. Curtis Almquist

John 20:1-18

We have this old phrase, “misery loves company.” Peter and the Beloved Disciple were keeping company in their misery, but not for the same reasons. The Beloved Disciple was grief stricken over the horrendous crucifixion of his dearest friend, Jesus, with whom he had stayed until it was finished. Peter, on the other hand, was frightened and appalled by his own betrayal of Jesus, whom he had denied and abandoned from the bitter outset. The two disciples were together but in very different places when they hear the news from Mary Magdalene that Jesus’ body is gone. They run towards the tomb independently, no surprise. The Beloved Disciple would be ecstatic, remembering Jesus’ promise that if he were killed, he would come back to life; he would be resurrected. Peter, on the other hand, would be in agony. He, too, had heard Jesus’ prediction about his resurrection. But Jesus’ resurrection for Peter would be so very, very difficult because of his having to face Jesus. Peter would need to ask Jesus’ forgiveness… again. Not that Jesus would not forgive Peter, but that he would, as Jesus had undoubtedly forgiven him so many times before. How many times had Jesus forgiven Peter already? More than Peter could imagine.[i] You may recall Jesus had renamed Peter “his rock,” not just because he was so strong, but because he was so hard-headed.[ii] Peter here is running in very familiar territory as he races to Jesus’ tomb, only this time it’s much worse. This time, Peter has crossed a line; he now is more a follower of Judas and than Jesus.

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“To Live is to Change” – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

When I first started high school my two elder brothers, Christopher and Michael, were already there.  It was a rather old-fashioned school, and we were called by our surname.  “Come in Tristram,” the teachers would say.  With three Tristrams in the school that could sometimes be confusing.  So to distinguish us, rather light-heartedly, Christopher was referred to as Tristram.  He was the oldest.  Michael was known as Tristram Minor.  Then I arrived.  I was to be Tristram Minimus – which I didn’t much like!

That stayed with me over the years at school.  I think it so often happens – in a family or a community – that although you have grown and changed, others still see you as you were, or remember something you once did, and still define you in those terms.  And we want to say, “I’m not that anymore – I’ve changed.  Haven’t you noticed?”

It was quite a liberation to leave school and go to university where no one had met Tristram Minimus – but only Geoffrey.  Like the lobster which grows and changes and needs to burst out of its old shell, it felt wonderful to make a new beginning, changed from a school boy into an undergraduate.

“To live is to change.  And to be perfect is to have changed often.”  Famous words of John Henry Newman.  They reflect one of the great inner dynamics of the Gospels, which is Christ’s call to each one of us to change.  It is not always welcome; it’s not always comfortable; it’s not always easy, but like it or not, if we refuse to change we will die.  That goes for us as individuals, and for us as Christian communities.  “To live is to change.  To be perfect is to have changed often.” Read More

Here Be Dragons – Br. James Koester

Br. James KoesterFeast of the Baptism of Our Lord: The First Sunday after the Epiphany

Isaiah 43: 1 – 7; Psalm 29; Acts 8: 14 – 17; Luke 3: 15 – 17, 21 – 22

Did you notice it? Did you notice something different this past Christmas? There was something palpably different with our Christmas celebrations this year and I believe it had to do with the crèche.

It’s not, I think, that the crèche itself that was especially unusual. We have had unusual and thought provoking crèches in Christmases past. Some of you may remember the year we had the Holy Family as street people seeking shelter from the wind in the back corner of the chapel with Mary looking like one of the bag ladies we often see in Harvard Square. There was also the year that Mary was faceless, and in place of her face was a mirror so that when you gazed at her you saw your own reflection and somehow you knew that you too were meant to bear, and carry and give birth to the Incarnate Son of God in our world today. You may remember the year we had the almost life sized iconographic depictions of the Mary and Joseph and the Christ Child with the ox and ass peering over the stall. And last year we had that wonderful shadow-box Nativity scene carved from a single piece of wood. No, we’ve had unusual crèche scenes before, and oddly enough the crèche we had displayed this year was not all that unusual. No, what was unusual about this year was not the crèche itself, but rather how it demanded you to encounter it. Read More

Waiting in Advent – Br. Curtis Almquist

The name for this season in the Church year, “Advent,” derives from the Latin, adventus, which means arrival: the arrival of the long-awaited Messiah, the Christ, whom we as Christians know as Jesus.  Meanwhile, as we anticipate this arrival, we wait.  If we were to open the Gospel accounts according to Matthew and Luke, we discover a great many people waiting for the Messiah, the Christ.  Mary is waiting.  Jo­seph is waiting.  Zechariah and Elizabeth are waiting. Symeon and Anna are wait­ing.  Most everyone, it seems, is waiting.  They’re waiting for an arrival.  There are also shepherds who are waiting. There are some sages from the east – wisemen – who are waiting.  The threatened govern­ment of Herod the Tetrarch is waiting, rather anxiously.  The only persons who are not waiting are in Bethlehem, the keepers of an inn.  And there’s no room in the inn.  They’re all full up.  It is nigh unto impossible to wait if you are full up, because waiting takes space; to be able to wait requires an emptiness.  And that’s a problem.  I think it’s problematic for many of us who live in North America. Read More

Feeding the Multitude – Br. Eldridge Pendleton

2 Kings 4:42-44; Psalm 145:10-19; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21

 

Our worship of God finds its fullest expression in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist.  It is the offering through which we return thanks for all that God has given us in creation, and in our redemption through the pouring out of Christ’s life-blood on the cross.  In this sacrifice of bread and wine all that we do and are is joined by the Holy Spirit to the eternal offering of Christ on behalf of the world.  It is the meal which intensifies our union with Christ, draws us together as a community, and nourishes us with the grace needed for our transformation and our mission.  It is the mystery through which we are caught up into the communion of saints on earth and in heaven, the mystical Body of Christ.  It is the gift through which we experience a foretaste of the life to come.

The Rule of the Society of St. John the Evangelist

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