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Posts Tagged ‘Silence’

And the Twelve Told Him All – Br. James Koester

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Br. James Koester1 John 4:7 – 12
Psalm 72: 1 – 8
Mark 6: 30 – 44

Those of you who have heard me preach before know that when reading Scripture, my attention is often caught, not by the soaring passages, or the amazing miracles, but the details that often creep in around the edge. Yes, the majesty of the Prologue of John, or the poignancy of the Foot Washing at the Last Supper, or the beauty of the Psalms are not to be missed. However, there is more to Scripture than majesty, poignancy and beauty. There is also the ordinary routine of daily living. It is there, in the ordinary routine of daily living, that God can be found as well. And that is why I am drawn, not to the miracle of the loaves and the fish, but to what comes before.

Chapter Six in the Gospel according to Mark is one of those breathless sections of Mark. A lot happens, and I mean a lot. It begins with Jesus’ rejection by his hometown and carries on to the sending out of the Twelve on their mission, the dance of Herodias and the death of John the Baptist, the return of the Twelve from their mission, the Feeding of the Five Thousand, the calming of the sea, and there arrival at Gennesaret. As I mentioned, in 56 breathless verses, Mark crams in an awful lot of action, so much so, that if it were read all at once, our heads would be spinning!

As you may know, this kind of concentrated action is typical of Mark’s Gospel. It reminds me of an excited child coming home from a great adventure trying to condense a whole day’s activity into a few sentences: and then we did this! Then we did that! Then this other thing happened! Then, guess what happened???!!! Read More

No word from God will be without power – Br. Sean Glenn

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“Br.Luke 1:26-38

And the angel said, “For with God nothing will be impossible.” Or, as another translation has it, “for no word from God will be without power.”[1]These angelic words of assurance to Mary can sometimes pass our ears quickly. For my own part (depending on my state of mind), they not only pass my ears with haste, they manage to leave behind an echo that always seems to ring a little trite. Yet Luke begs us not to hear them with such haste or detachment.

The first chapter of Luke presents two annunciation scenes, one to Zechariah and one to Mary. Each angelic scene bears an almost identical, four-fold structure, the message with which Gabriel greets both Mary and Zechariah perplexes each of them, and it is my hunch that Luke places these two similarly constructed annunciations next to each other at the opening of his gospel for a reason.

Both Zechariah and Mary question Gabriel; yet the question asked by each is met with—we might be tempted to say—a somewhat disproportionate response. Mary receives a word of assurance, while the angel gives Zechariah not a word, but rather takes Zechariah’s words themselves from him.

No word from God will be without power. Read More

Reflections from the 2016 Monastic Internship Program

IMG_9355There was a Sunday afternoon when I was a child that I sat my mother down and demanded to know about life and death, where babies come from, and where we go. When my mother had answered all my questions to my satisfaction, I announced, “I’ve learned a lot today,” and left the room confident in my grasp of existence. Read More

Sermons for the Beach: Listening to God

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During the month of August, while the Chapel is closed, we are reposting sermons that we hope will inspire you to embrace play, silence, solitude, and recreation. 

Br. David Vryhof“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (I Samuel 3:10)

I once had a deaf friend, an earnest Christian, who asked me whether hearing people could hear God’s voice as clearly as they could hear one another’s voices. He had often observed hear­ing people responding to one another’s voices, mysteriously communicating meaning to one an­other through the movements of their jaws and lips, and understanding one another even when they weren’t look­ing at each other, or when the speaker was in another room. He had learned that they pos­sessed a mysterious ability that he had never had, and now he wondered if the same ability that enabled them to communicate with one another even when sep­arated by a wall or a door enabled them also to com­­­municate with God. “Does God talk to you?” he asked; “Can you hear God?” Read More

Sermons for the Beach: The Soul of Sound and Silence

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During the month of August, while the Chapel is closed, we are reposting sermons that we hope will inspire you to embrace play, silence, solitude, and recreation. 

Br. Jim WoodrumBr. Jim’s sermon, “The Soul of Sound and Silence,” was originally preached as part of the series, “Finding God in Harvard Square.” Learn more here.

1 Kings 19:9-13 a; Psalm 62; Mark 4:35-41

Last week there was an interesting factoid released on Boston.com rating the ten busiest Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority stations in Boston.You’ll be very proud to know that our very own Harvard Square Station ranked third just under South Station (#1) and Downtown Crossing (#2) with an average of 23,199 travelers entering the station on weekdays.[i]  So it comes as no surprise that at any time of day you can find a diverse and frenetic populace bustling through the Square and its surroundings on an infinite variety of missions be it school, work, or play.  And with all this activity comes a cacophony of sound that you’d expect to accompany the bronze medalist of busyness.  At any moment you could witness a motorcade transporting high ranking government officials or foreign dignitaries speaking at Harvard’s Kennedy School, or an acrobat thrilling an audience with an impromptu performance of stunts, or hear any and all kinds of music being played live while waiting for the T to arrive.  Sometimes the sounds are not so pleasant.  The other day when I was taking a run along the Charles River, I experienced someone laying on their car horn to signal their displeasure at someone trying to make a illegal left turn onto JFK Street from Memorial Drive.  The sound was immensely disconcerting. Read More

Hear My Voice – Br. Luke Ditewig

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John 10:22-30

Jesus says in our gospel text: “My sheep hear my voice.” They hear my voice. They are listening to me. The greatest prayer in Judaism begins: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” This prayer is called the shema, from the first word “hear” or “listen.” This is the central prayer repeated over and over through life and the first one children are taught. When people asked Jesus what is the most important commandment, he quoted the shema: “Hear, O Israel” That’s number one, the most important thing to do: listen.

God continually invites people to listen through the Bible. The prophets call: “Listen to me, my people” (Isaiah 51). The psalmist cries, “Hear, O my people … oh, that you would listen to me.” (Psalm 81) Trouble comes when people do not listen to God. Blessing and healing occurs when they do listen, for listening is the beginning of conversion.  Read More

The Sound of Silence – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

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geoffrey 150xOne of the questions that I get asked as a monk quite often when I travel around is, “Are you a silent order?”  Kind of a difficult one to answer.  No – we don’t take a vow of silence, and we do talk quite a lot.  But silence is a hugely important part of our monastic life.  Guests sometimes say – “Oh, being silent – is that sort of part of the Brothers’ penance?”

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Praying with Sacred Texts – Br. Mark Brown

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Mark-Brown-SSJE-2010-300x299Today we remember St. Joseph. We are celebrating his feast day liturgically, but the sermon this evening is the last installment in our Lenten preaching series on prayer.  I’ll be talking about praying with sacred texts.  St. Joseph, being a very humble man, would surely approve.  You are all invited, by the way, to join the Brothers in the undercroft following the service for soup and conversation with the preacher.

Praying with sacred texts. There haven’t always been sacred texts; there haven’t always been texts, or even words.  It took a long time for there to be such things –roughly 13.77 billion years. God’s creation seems to have been wordless for all but the last 100,000 years or so, depending on who you ask (a mere blink of the eye).  Written texts are not much more than 5,000 years old.  The oldest texts that we think of as sacred are only about 3,000 years old—practically just yesterday.  Read More

Praying in the Present Moment – Br. Geoffrey Tristram

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geoffrey 150xIn this third sermon from the “Living Prayer” preaching series, Br. Geoffrey Tristram hints at how we meet God not in the past, or in the future, but in the present moment. Now is where God is to be found. The sermon includes meditative time to try this prayer approach.