Br Roger Stewart

Thursday at Volmoed – Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 22B)

Readings for Sunday

Given that the Pharisees supply an answer to their own question readily enough when Jesus prompts them to do so, they certainly don’t seem to have been seeking enlightenment from Jesus. If, as Mark tells us, their question was asked as a trap, it doesn’t appear to have been much of one.

However, I’m told that marriage had come to be regarded mostly as a legal arrangement between families, and divorce raised the question of how that legal arrangement could be terminated. It seems this was a hot topic of debate among religious scholars of the time.

The Pharisees were trying to catch Jesus in a position of unorthodoxy. There was also a deeper trap: John the Baptist had literally lost his head by directly challenging the divorce and remarriage proceedings of King Herod.

Thursday at Volmoed – Sermon for Trinity Sunday by Br Daniel

Scripture Readings for Trinity Sunday

Brother Daniel
Br Daniel

The desert father, Evagrius of Pontus, once observed: “God cannot be grasped by the mind. If he could be grasped, he would not be God.”

This coming Sunday is Trinity Sunday, and Evagrius might have had this in mind when he made the above statement.

It is certainly true that the doctrine of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – has been the source of much confusion, misuse, and controversy through the ages.

Day of Pentecost – Conversation with a Benedictine monk

I recently came across a 2016 podcast in the On Being series by Krista Tippett, in which she interviews Br. David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk at the Gut Aich Priory in St. Gilgen in Austria and a teacher and author on the subject of gratitude, who is the founder and senior advisor for A Network for Grateful Living. A Benedictine monk for over 60 years, Br. David was formed by 20th-century catastrophes. He calls joy “the happiness that doesn’t depend on what happens”. And his gratefulness is not an easy gratitude or thanksgiving — but a full-blooded, reality-based practice and choice.

Why do I share this at Pentecost? Because he defines “spirituality” from “spiritus” that means “life”, “breath”, “aliveness”. Spirituality is aliveness on all levels. It must start with our bodily aliveness. But of course, when we say “spirituality”, we also mean aliveness to interrelationships, aliveness to our confrontation with that great divine mystery with which we are confronted as human beings and which we can look away from or forget or be dead to. We come alive to it. When people are grateful, they come alive.

Easter V on Thursday at Volmoed

Scripture Readings

This morning, we have a different agricultural image to consider. Last week, it was sheep farming; this week, it’s vine growing, which is somewhat more familiar to us, here in this part of the country. In today’s metaphor, Jesus says that he is the vine and his disciples are the branches, and by extension so are we, who have been brought to life by him.

Sermon for the Second Sunday of Easter – Thomas the Realist, by Br Daniel

Readings for Today

Brother Daniel
Br Daniel

So, Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen, indeed, and the Easter cry isn’t only for Easter, of course. For while each and every Sunday is a celebration of the resurrection, we have 49 days between Easter and Pentecost in which to focus our attention on the resurrection and all that God accomplishes through it.

At the same time, I am also mindful, on this day and with this text, of what God does not accomplish and, I suspect, so are all of us. We are in the midst of a seemingly endless pandemic, our economy is dismal, we are swamped by crime and corruption, infrastructure is collapsing around us, thank goodness not so much in our part of the world, and each one of us has personal difficulties or tragedies to contend with.

And so, sometimes we come to church on Easter or in the weeks after, and our alleluias ring hollow and Easter acclamations wear a bit thin. If this is you, or if you think it might characterize some of your friends and family, then the story of Thomas is right on the money!

Palm Sunday 2021

I share with you a reflection and a prayer for Palm Sunday. May you have a blessed Holy Week.

From an Oration by Andrew of Crete:

Let us go together to meet Christ on the Mount of Olives. Today he … comes of his own free will to make his journey to Jerusalem … and proceeds of his own free will towards his holy and blessed passion, to consummate the mystery of our salvation. He comes without pomp or ostentation. He will be meek and humble, and he will make his entry in simplicity.

Let the Redeemed Pray the Psalms – A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Lent

Scripture Readings for Today

Why do monastics spend so much time with the Psalms? I think the following reflection by Kerry Hasler-Brooks goes some way towards answering that question.


Two years ago, I heard Kathleen Norris read her poetry, and I immediately got a copy of her much-loved book Dakota: A Spiritual Geography and read it straight through.

South Dakota

I have since read the book three times and some portions many more, used it in a sermon, and discussed it with first-year college students in a class on reading, faith, and place. In the book, Norris tells of an abandoned faith resurrected in a small South Dakota town and in an ancient monastic liturgy that taught her to read, recite, hear, and know the Psalms deeply, beyond time, beyond herself.

The First Sunday after Epiphany – The Baptism of Christ

Christ is bathed in light; let us also be bathed in light. Christ is baptized; let us also go down with him, and rise with him.

John is baptizing when Jesus draws near. Perhaps he comes to sanctify his baptizer; certainly … he comes to sanctify the Jordan for our sake and in readiness for us; he who is spirit and flesh comes to begin a new creation through the Spirit and water.