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

Thursdays at Volmoed – Sermon for the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle

Scripture Readings

Today in the Church calendar is the feast day of the Conversion of St Paul the Apostle. Last Thursday was the feast day of the Confession of St Peter the Apostle. What with one being designated the apostle to the Gentiles and the other the apostle to the Jews, the week in between has been dedicated to an intensification of prayer for Christian unity.

The story of Paul’s conversion is very prominent in the New Testament. The story itself is told three times in various ways in the Acts of the Apostles, the last of which telling we heard this morning. We also heard Paul allude to it in his letter to the Galatians, as he does in several of his other letters.

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Sermon for the First Sunday after Christmas

Scripture Readings

The Gospel of John has no shepherds directed by angels nor magi guided by a star. There is no baby born to bewildered parents. Instead, we are given what seems closer to a God’s eye view of the Christmas story. The eternal Word of God, the One through whom all things were made and by whom all things are sustained, came into the world, becoming flesh and blood and living among us, in the form of Jesus Christ. The details of how it all came about seem not to matter much to John the Evangelist, the mystic who seems more interested in what it all means.

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Feast of Holy Innocents – Volmoed 2023

Readings for the day

Today a few things come together that may not seem to have much in common. We are in the Octave of Christmas. And today is the Feast of the Holy Innocents, which is part of Matthew’s story of Jesus’ birth. It is also, as chance would have it, the twentieth anniversary of my Monastic Profession in the Order of the Holy Cross.  

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1st Sunday of Advent 2023 

Readings for the day

Well – happy new year! That big event coming up where all the world watches a lighted globe drop atop a building at Times Square and fireworks at the V&A waterfront, or in various places (and, giving my ancestors their due) celebrates Hogmanay, is all an imposter. In the Church Year – the one that matters – the first Sunday of Advent is the beginning of a new year, the true new year… The church has no grand title for the year of our Lord 2024. It’s just humble year B… but a new year nonetheless… 

Now if we go hang about the Whale Coast Mall, everything will assure us that this season is all about getting ready for Christmas, the coming of Jesus into the world. I’m not sure our retailing brothers and sisters are all that clear about Jesus’ role in the season. But it is beautiful and comforting to have decorations and Christmas Trees strewn about, so I’m all for it. This world could use a little comfort. 

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Thursdays at Volmoed – Sermon for the Feast of St Andrew

Scripture Readings

Today is the Feast Day of St Andrew, one of the twelve apostles who formed the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples as recorded in the Gospels. Andrew is most commonly identified as the brother of Simon Peter. I wonder if he ever got tired of that. Peter and Andrew are often associated with James and John, who were their fishing partners before responding to Jesus’ call to follow him. The four of them shared many experiences with Jesus, but sometimes it was just the three – Peter, James and John – without Andrew. I wonder how he felt about that. I feel sad for Andrew that he missed out on the Transfiguration.

Andrew is perhaps more highly regarded in the Eastern Orthodox church than in the West. The Eastern church has given him the honorific Protokletos, the First-Called, based on the account early in John’s Gospel in which John the Baptist points out Jesus to two of his own disciples, one of whom is Andrew, who immediately goes after Jesus and spends the rest of the day in his company at his invitation to come and see. Andrew then goes to find his brother Simon, tells him he has found the Messiah, and takes him to Jesus, who gives him the name Peter.

As one of the Twelve, Andrew was given authority by Jesus and sent out to proclaim the good news in word and deed, sharing peace with those who would receive it. Andrew continued doing this after Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. Throughout the rest of his life, Andrew is said to have travelled far and wide, sharing Jesus’ teachings, and his influence endured long after his death.

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Sunday Sermon – November 5 at Volmoed

Readings for this day :: Gospel for this day

A few things come together this week – in a random sort of way… It is the week of All Saints Day. In fact, many churches keep All Saints on this very day. All Hallows or All Saints Eve, Halloween as it is popularly known, was also this week; a day built around bringing many fearful superstitions to life. While many congregations keep All Saints on a Sunday, nobody seems to move Halloween… 

It is also the conclusion of the Colloquium here at Volmoed – a colloquium that has been considering faith in an age of darkness, fear, anxiety, doubt… It might not seem like the most obvious pairing, but just as Halloween pairs well with All Saints Day, I think the Colloquium pairs well with All Saints. Darkness makes the Saints seem brighter. And without a dose of darkness, All Saints runs the risk of being a shallow, triumphant and unnourishing sort of pudding. 

So, let’s add a dolop of darkness. 

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Sermon for the Twenty Second Sunday after Pentecost

Scripture Readings

This morning’s Gospel reading comes at the end of a lengthy section in which the evangelist Matthew records a series of challenging encounters between Jesus and the religious authorities. Jesus has generally been quite circumspect and even evasive in his responses to the challenges put to him. This time, he answers the question asked him very directly. What is the greatest commandment in the law? Love is the answer, love of God and love of neighbour. Love is what really matters. Everything else in the law is commentary.

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Thursdays at Volmoed – The Greatest Commandment – Sermon by Mpumelelo Khambule, P/OHC

Scripture Readings

In this morning’s Gospel we see JESUS answering one of the Pharisees who is a lawyer, in the question he asked—Which is the Greatest Commandment in the Law. JESUS quoted the commandment that is the basis of our faith from the book of Deuteronomy 6:5. The commandment to love GOD with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind, which is accompanied by the second one which says to Love your neighbor as you love yourself.

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Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost – Sermon by Br Daniel

Scripture Readings

br daniel ohc
Br Daniel

Breyten Breytenbach, the well-known Afrikaans poet, painter, and anti-apartheid activist, wrote the following line in one of his poems: “Die liefde is ‘n aaklige woord wat op ‘n toiletmuur uitgekrap is.”  Loosely translated it says, “Love is a disgusting word that is scratched out on a toilet wall.”  Of course, he used a more colourful word for toilet, which starts with an s and ends in house.

After reading the Gospel passage for today, it seems one can also add that life is a disgusting word that is scratched out on a toilet wall. Especially when we look at the news and sees what is going on in the world.

And, as with every story and every atrocity and with every good thing, there are two sides at least to all of them, and not least with today’s parable.

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Sermon for the 22 Sunday of 2023- Volmoed 

Readings for the day

Part of the genius of the Gospels is that they teach in parables. Fables, myths, and parables fall into the same category of literary tools that are often called allegories. Allegories stay fresh even as cultures change because they speak in symbols – and symbols have meaning across generations. So, the parables of Jesus are as relevant now as two thousand years ago when Jesus told them. 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 might it have meant when Jesus told it and what might it mean today… 

We have a vineyard with its winepress and watch tower, an absentee landowner, a group of difficult tenants, abused servants, and some obligatory priests and pharisees.  

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