Sermon for Nov 26 – in which we explore American Thanksgiving, the Order of the Holy Cross, Advent, and the challenge of saying goodbye to dear friends (all in one sermon)

Today we have an intriguing confluence of things to talk about. It is American Thanksgiving. As an American, I can’t let that go unremarked… Yesterday was the feast of the Founder of the Order of the Holy Cross. And as a member of the Order, I can’t let that go unremarked either… This coming Sunday is the First Sunday of Advent, New Year’s Day for the Church. A big deal… But of all these things there is something that is an even bigger deal here at Volmoed.  

Today we acknowledge the powerful presence of Bernard and Jane Turkstra and face the reality that they are moving on – and so Volmoed, too, will move on…  

It’s a lot to cover… so I’m thinking we should have coffee now… 

Thursday 25 November – The Feast of James Otis Sargent Huntington

This week saw our celebration for the second time at Volmoed of our Order’s Founder’s Day. We were pleased to host the other Volmoed residents and staff to a festive lunch following the midday Eucharist.

Fr. James Otis Sargent Huntington was the first member of the Order of the Holy Cross to make his life profession, doing so on 25 November 1884 in New York, NY, USA. James Huntington was a passionate advocate of social justice, seeing prayer and action as inextricably intertwined. He has been described as forward-reaching, looking for enriching change and development, interested in the future.

We ask for your prayers for us and for our brothers throughout this Order that was established by the confident endurance of that remarkable man, that we may continue faithful to the spirit of our Founder.

Sermon for 28th Sunday after Pentecost – O those talented slaves…

Readings for today

One of the marvelous aspects of Jesus teaching throughout scripture is that it is generally in the form of parables… Marvelous and frustrating. It’s marvelous because parables don’t go out of date. And frustrating because there is always ambiguity in a parable – even those that seem to have a nice little summary of the meaning at the end. The parable we heard this morning is one that has shaped us in ways we may hardly realize.  

We hear of a very wealthy man who, before going away for a long trip gives certain amounts of money over to three of his slaves. And the parable seems to concern itself with how the slaves proceed. 

Part of the ambiguity of a parable is that we can look at what the parable might have meant when it was told – in that time, in that place, and to that audience. We can also look at what it means to us, in this time, in this place. Both ways of understanding are important, but the second one may be the most important. It focuses us on what we are going to do in response. 

So, lets dig in. 

Sermon for All Saints Day, 2020 at Volmoed

Readings for the day

Preached by Br Daniel

We as monks take three vows on the occasion of our life profession; and they are obedience, stability, and conversion to the monastic way of life.  This last vow is a bit of a hold all.  Apart from the obvious, that of conversion, it also contains that which helps to lead to conversion, like simplicity of life, celibate chastity, humility, and other such easy things.   

This is very helpful to me when I look at today’s gospel reading. 

Sermon for Thursday at Volmoed

Readings for All Saints’ Day

Much of the Church celebrates All Saints’ Day on 1 November, which this year falls on this coming Sunday. We are having a foretaste this morning.

Such a celebration has been part of the life of the Church for a very long time. The idea is to remember and to honour those Christians who have lived the life of faith with particular distinction and to rejoice with them that they now have passed beyond the struggles of this life, gathered into the presence of God. The reading from the Revelation to John indicated by the Revised Common Lectionary provides a compelling image of such a gathering, sheltered and guided, with all tears finally wiped away. We should note that the multitude consists of those from all peoples and languages.

Sermon for the 25 Sunday after Pentecost – in which Jesus has another fight

Readings for the day

Today’s reading finds us at the end of the twenty-second chapter of Matthew. This is a chapter in which it seems anyone and everyone has a go at Jesus. Sadducees, Herodians, Scribes… This morning Pharisees… One after the other, they have all picked fights with Jesus. And one after the other, they have all failed. 

In today’s Gospel, the Pharisees are, more or less, taking a second shot. They’ve already lost round one… This time they want Jesus to tell them what the greatest commandment is. Mind you, there are 613 commands in the tradition… So, which of these is number one?  

Sermon for Thursday at Volmoed – Preached by Br Daniel

Readings for this sermon (Proper 24A)

Br Daniel preparing food

Many years ago, in another life, I had an older colleague who had an interesting way of interpreting Scripture. Even though he was a devout Christian, he had very clear ideas about paying taxes, but not tithing to the church. He paid taxes with lots of grumbling simply because he was legally required. Not because he didn’t believe in giving to Caesar what is his, but because of what Caesar is doing with the taxes. As far as tithing was concerned, he did contribute to the collection plate, but he emphatically did not give his tenth as required, because he said that much of what the church historically did, was now supposed to be done by the government. And he said that giving to God what is owed to God shouldn’t cost money, anyway. As such he was unstinting in his charity work.

Sermon for Sunday – the trouble with wedding guests…

Scripture readings for the day (Proper 23A)

Today’s Gospel tells us a wonderful parable – though with a fair amount of violence and other disturbing details. Like all parables, it is a bit murky in its meaning. Let’s review…

The King – from different story…

The King, standing in for God, throws a party – a wedding party to be specific. A wedding party puts us in mind of Jesus – the bridegroom.

And God invites the “A” list of guests. This will be a great party and all the right people will be there. Except there is a problem… The “A” list people decide God’s little party is not quite the social event of the season. In fact, they decide it’s completely miss-able.

Happy Arch Birthday

Today is the celebration of the 89th birthday of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. St Benedict’s Priory joins with folks across the globe in wishing him great blessings on this day. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Stilted Anglican terminology applies the preface “The Most Reverend” to Archbishops. It’s hard to imagine someone who more embodies this description. The importance of Desmond Tutu to the Anglican Church of South Africa, the Worldwide Anglican Communion, and indeed the wider world cannot be overstated. God speaks to mortals through prophets. Anyone who thinks God is silent these days has simply not heard Desmond Tutu.  

Sermon for Sunday – October 4

How do we move in faith and let go of fear?

Scripture readings for the sermon

Part of the genius of the Gospel is that it teaches in parables – so the teachings are as relevant now as two thousand years ago. But the price of that relevance is that the meaning is not necessarily plain or obvious… Take for example the parable in this morning’s Gospel. It is a familiar story but what it might mean…

We have a vineyard with its winepress and watch tower, an absentee landowner, a group of difficult tenants, a set of abused servants, and some obligatory priests and Pharisees. It’s not a big leap to see the vineyard as a symbol of our world. The absentee landowner seems pretty clearly to symbolize God. The priests and Pharisees are the religious leaders of the time. And then we have difficult tenants and the abused servants – two groups in which I think I might locate myself. But which one?