Sermons preached at various occasions by Brothers of St Benedict’s Priory

First Sunday of Advent

(readings for today)

We should have noise makers and such – since this is New Year’s Day… We should be celebrating just as they will do in a few weeks at Times Square in New York, the Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh (where its Hogmanay, not New Year’s), or the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, which I gather is a major New Year’s hub. But that’s all in a few weeks. This week the Church celebrates the new Liturgical Year with the first Sunday of Advent. Hold the fireworks and noise makers for the other new year’s…  

Feast of Christ the King – Volmoed 

(Readings for the day)

Happy feast of Christ the King – a relatively new feast in the Church. It dates back all the way to the to Pope Pius VI in 1925. It was created to make a sort of bookend for the Pentecost season – The Day of Pentecost at one end and Christ the King at the other. Because otherwise we might not notice that it was Advent next week…  

Sermon for the Twenty Third Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

Perhaps it was the contrast that prompted Jesus to interrupt. He had just been considering the plight of a poor widow who had donated all she had to live on to the temple treasury and now here were some people speaking admiringly about the opulence of that Herodian temple itself. Jesus tells them it’s all going to come crashing down, and goes on to describe vividly what would happen before that.

Sermon for Nov 6 – A Special Occasion…

(readings for Lent 1A) (It is not lent… but this sermon is for a particular occasion – so be patient…)

Some of us have spent the past few days here at Volmoed thinking about acedia, the “noonday demon,” or what is sometimes referred to as “the sin of sloth.” This morning we’ll continue that exploration a bit. So, I wanted to start today with the readings that normally bring us into Lent – the temptation of Christ in the desert. It may not be apparent yet, but I think there is a connection… 

Sermon for Proper 26C – Volmoed 2022

Readings for the day

I find the reading from Isaiah irresistible right from the very start with its reference to Sodom and Gomorrah. Our collective understanding of the sin of Sodom is an interesting thing. A great many people over the years have assumed it was a sexual sin. More recently others have begun to understand it as a violation of hospitality. Three things are sure: Sodom was a really bad place – filled with really bad people. And things ended really badly for those nasty folks. 

Sermon for the Nineteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

In the section of Luke’s Gospel leading up to our reading this morning, Jesus has been asked by some Pharisees when the kingdom of God would be coming. Somewhat startlingly, Jesus responds by saying, in effect, that the kingdom of God has come, and that it is among them already, though not necessarily easy to discern and certainly not welcomed by everyone.

Jesus then goes on to speak with his disciples about another event, the revealing of an intriguing character he refers to as the Son of Man. This revealing seems to refer to the conclusion of the present age, an age which has continued since Jesus’ time on earth, and which is characterised by the suffering and rejection of the Son of Man and of those who would follow him into the kingdom he has come to establish. The Son of Man is thus to be identified with Jesus himself, who is warning his disciples that there will be difficulties associated with following him under the prevailing conditions.

These difficulties will require perseverance in prayer and steadfastness of heart, and are such as to leave Jesus seemingly uncertain as to whether faith will endure until the end of the age. Jesus chooses to illustrate his point by telling a story about a widow and an unjust judge, a judge for whom the gospel of the kingdom would be anything but good news. There is humour in the story, which Jesus’ original audience might have appreciated more readily than we are able to.

Sermon for Oct 9 (Proper 23C)

(Readings for the day)

Part of the joy of using a lectionary to determine the readings for any given Sunday is first that somebody else has done the work of selecting texts so… one less thing to think about. And second, that it causes us to consider texts together that we might never consider otherwise. The reading from Kings and from Luke are certainly an unlikely match. And yet the lectionary asks us to consider them together…

Sermon for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

In the first part of our first reading this morning, the prophet Habakkuk describes his experience in terms that we might use in our own time, and raises questions that we might be asking. He sees wrong-doing and trouble, destruction and violence, strife and contention. The law is too often slack, with justice not prevailing and judgement coming forth perverted. It all sounds quite familiar. Why are we made to see these things? How long do we need to cry for help before we are saved?

The prophet’s response is to stand and watch and wait. His observation is that the spirit of the proud is not right in them. There is something wrong inside all of us that needs to be put right, but the righteous live by their faith.

As if in continuation of Habakkuk’s writing, the first words out of the mouths of the apostles in our Gospel reading are: “Increase our faith!” This seems a reasonable request: if the righteous live by their faith and the world is in a mess, presumably what we need is more faith so that there can be more righteousness. The only problem is that Jesus doesn’t seem to agree, and provides a metaphorical response followed by an analogy that don’t seem immediately helpful.