Sermon for the Feast of St James the Great 

This week the Church keeps the feast of St James the Great. He is an important saint in many ways. He gets the title “Great” however, not as a mark of stature, but to distinguish him from the other James, James the Less, also a disciple… And while the Gospel reading is very specific to James the Great, the name does not appear. Instead, we hear about the sons of Zebedee, also known as the sons of thunder, also known as James and John… 

Sermon for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

I like the way today’s gospel reading begins, with Jesus going out to sit beside the sea. I can easily imagine that, as sitting beside the sea is one of my favourite things to do. I generally prefer my own company when I do that, so I would have been less happy with the crowd that gathered around Jesus. He doesn’t seem to mind, though; he just gets into a nearby boat, using it to create a bit of space while he tells the crowd some stories.

The crowd hears only the stories, we are told, while any explanations, such as in the second part of today’s reading, are reserved for the disciples. Perhaps that’s how one became a disciple, by listening to the stories Jesus told and finding oneself sufficiently intrigued by them that one later goes to Jesus and asks him what he’s talking about. Listening is what Jesus asks the crowd to do; hearing what his stories are really about is what Jesus invites the disciples into.

June 2023 News

Br Scott met with several clergy on retreat from the Rondebosch Archdeaconry in the days leading up to his departure for the US with Br Roger on 1 June. They attended the annual Chapter gathering of our Order at our Holy Cross Monastery in upstate New York. Brs Edwin and Josias were unable to accompany them due to difficulties with the US visa system. They did well to maintain the rhythm of the life of the Priory here in the absence of the other Brothers.

May 2023 News

Br Scott led a retreat for the Postulants from the Cape Town Diocese Fellowship of Vocation. The group attended our chapel prayers, and the Brothers and Rev Wilma met with them individually for conversation about their vocational journeys.

We also interacted with a group from the York Archdiocese in the UK who were in SA to strengthen the link with the three Anglican dioceses in the Western Cape. They joined us for some chapel prayers and we shared conversation with them around a meal.

We attended a gathering of Volmoed residents over soup and bread for conversation around the experiences of life at Volmoed and concerns about the future. It was a time of strengthening the sense of being community together.

Sermon for the 7 Sunday of Easter (Year A) Volmoed 2023

Readings for the day

Here we are at the tail end of Eastertide and on the verge of Pentecost. A very important event took place this past Thursday… Jesus ascended to heaven. A very important event happens next Sunday, the Holy Spirit comes to us. So here we are in the space between two momentous events; the interregnum if you will between Jesus and the Holy Spirit. This is the odd period when, it seems, nobody is in charge… We should be considering what kind of trouble we can get into in this unsupervised time. 

Of course, the truth is we hardly need to be left unsupervised to get into trouble. Some wag has a variation on the Lord’s prayer which says: “Lead us not into temptation, we can find our own way…” 

Sermon for the Sixth Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

Our Gospel passage this morning continues the conversation Jesus has been having with his disciples as he tries to prepare them for life without his physical presence after his departure to return to his heavenly Father, an event we will commemorate on Ascension Day, this coming Thursday. Last week, we heard Jesus talking about the need to believe that he is the revelation of God the Father to his disciples, so that they have come to know the Father as they have come to know Jesus. Perhaps even more startling is that Jesus tells his disciples that those who do believe in him will do even greater works than he has done, while waiting for Jesus to return to take them to be with him in the place he will prepare for them in his Father’s house.

This week, we hear Jesus assure his disciples that he is not abandoning them. The loving relationship of believing and knowing that Jesus has established with his disciples will continue through the agency of one he refers to as another Paraclete, in the form of the Spirit of Truth. The word Paraclete seems to have its origins in a legal context as an Advocate, one who comes alongside to speak on another’s behalf, but it has acquired broader associations as Helper, Guide, Comforter, Teacher, Counsellor. Jesus has been all of these to his disciples, but now the Spirit will continue in those roles, the initiation of which we will commemorate on Pentecost Sunday, in two weeks.

April 2023 News

A VYLTP Taizé Youth Day was held at Volmoed on the Saturday before Palm Sunday. Brs Edwin & Josias participated throughout the day in various ways, while Br Scott led a workshop on an aspect of prayer in the afternoon. All the Brothers attended the evening prayer around the cross together with the young people.

Palm Sunday was of course the beginning of Holy Week. In Br Daniel’s absence, we appreciated Rev Wilma’s availability to preside at the Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday observances. Serghay & Yohane of the Volmoed staff helped Brs Edwin & Josias create the altar of repose in the smaller chapel for use after the Maundy Thursday service in the evening.

It was good to have John de Gruchy with us to preside at the Easter Vigil which began in the darkness on Easter Sunday morning. John then celebrated at the joyful Eucharist which followed while the sun rose after the Vigil.

Fourth Sunday of Easter 2023 at Volmoed

Readings for the day

When I was growing up the Cold War was raging, and the US was in a particularly fearful and paranoid way. Communists, or as we said back then “godless communists” were spotted behind every shrub. The Soviet Union was the great instrument of Satan and all things bad – and so the US was the great instrument of God and all things good. The rest of the world, at least in the American mind, was left to fit into one or the other sphere of influence, the good sphere (ours) or the bad. In the US we like things to be very binary, very black or white.

Sermon for the Third Sunday of Easter

Scripture Readings

This past week, we have enjoyed having Benedict and Sabine Schubert here with us at Volmoed. I have been privileged on several occasions during the week to listen to them telling parts of their story in various contexts. I have appreciated how rich their story is, and how effectively they tell it. By speaking of the ways in which God has been present in the complexity of their lives, they invite their listeners to reflect on God’s presence in our own lives.

I think that this morning’s Gospel reading does much the same for us. The evangelist Luke lets the story unfold much as life does as he tells it, but he understands where the story is going and invites us to bring our lives into the light of the story he is telling. As we relate to the characters in Luke’s story, we can let their experience enrich our understanding of the mystery of our own lives.

Triduum at Volmoed 2023 

Readings for Maundy Thursday

Readings for Good Friday

Today we embark on a three-day period known as Triduum or Three Great Days: Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday… the days that lead up to Easter. 

The name, Maundy Thursday, comes from the Latin of the anthem that was part of this day’s liturgy in ancient times: Mandatum novum do vobis. It is from the Gospel according to John; “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another…” The Latin word for commandment is mandatum. Perhaps in ancient times this was known as ”the Thursday when we sing Mandatum Novum… “