The BreadCast (Sunday)
Daily Exposition of the Readings of Catholic Mass, from the book 'Our Daily Bread' by James H. Kurt (now with Chanted Verses, and added text of Prayer for the Day). Additional cast - SaintsCast, entries from the book 'Prayers to the Saints' (also by James Kurt). Both books bear imprimatur.

(Bar.5:1-9;   Ps.126:1-6;   Phil.1:4-6,8-11;   Lk.3:1-6) 

“All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 

Yes, at a particular point in time, in the year delineated so precisely by Luke in our gospel, “the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert.”  The Holy Spirit whispered in his ear, set his heart on fire, and so called him to cry out the coming of the Lord upon the nation.  And “John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan,” calling all souls to “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins”; being thus inspired, what else could he do?  The Spirit so powerfully upon him, of what else could he think?  The long-awaited Savior is finally near – and the people must be ready.

And so, sinful flesh is made clean in the Jordan River.  And so “the rough ways [are] made smooth,” “the winding roads… made straight,” for nothing crooked shall meet the Messiah.  We do not come to Him in sinful garb.  O “Jerusalem, take off your robe of mourning and misery; put on the splendor of glory from God forever.”  Plunge yourself into the waters that make new.  Let all of the old man be washed away.  “For God will show all the earth your splendor; you will be named by God forever the peace of justice, the glory of God’s worship.”  “See your children gathered from the east and the west at the word of the Holy One, rejoicing that they are remembered by God,” joyful that He has come.  All the earth shall be blessed through you and the royal tree that grows in your midst.

“When the Lord brought back the captives of Zion, we were like men dreaming.”  How can it be our salvation has come?  And now “God is leading Israel in joy by the light of His glory, with His mercy and justice for company.”  In His Church this day we dwell; into His presence ever we come.  Obedient to the cry of the prophet’s voice, we turn from our sins and are made anew.  And now our daily bread we consume.

What joy should fill our hearts, brothers and sisters! that the Lord has come to dwell with us.  We eat “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God,” and the strength we find herein He will “complete” on the day of His coming again.  Let our hearts be set on fire as was John’s.  Let us cry out to all flesh that the salvation of God is nigh.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Please Even Me Out" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, tear down the mountains of pride

and fill in the valleys of fear

that we might come to you on straight paths.

YHWH, how shall our flesh see your salvation?  How shall we come to your glory, we poor, miserable creatures?  Only because you call us to redemption.  Only because you desire us to share in your heavenly majesty.  And only if we make straight the way for your Son to come into our hearts.

O LORD, let us ever increase in knowledge of what is good and lasting, that we might be made pure and blameless for the day of Christ, that we might become as He is, blessed to be called your sons.  O let us give glory and praise to you for such a blessing!

Restore our fortunes, dear God; may we who have been separated from you and sent into exile be brought back to your holy City, to your mountain.  As on royal thrones let us be borne aloft to gaze upon your splendor and glory, O King of all the nations.  Great things you have indeed done for us, for now our weeping is turned to joy and we enter your presence bearing great fruit.  Alleluia!

Direct download: BC-120912-Su_2_Adv_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Gn.3:9-15,20;   Ps.98:1-4;   Eph.1:3-6,11-12;   Lk.1:26-38)

 

“He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world,

to be holy and without blemish before Him.”

 

And she is the sign of such preservation from evil.

 “Hail, full of grace!  The Lord is with you.”  And so the Virgin Mother is greeted by the power of the Most High.  So she is called – “full of grace” is her title.  She whom all generations will call blessed is revealed in this simple greeting as having “found favor with God.”  And so, “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God,” the Son of her who has been preserved by grace.

“In accord with the favor of His will, for the praise of the glory of His grace,” this has been done – she has been immaculately conceived, kept from the stain of sin.  Not that she herself might be worshiped is the Virgin kept pure, but indeed she does “exist for the praise of His glory.”  “My soul magnifies the Lord,” she has proclaimed… and it is so.  She is but the sign that “His right hand has won victory for Him”; she is the instrument through which “the Lord has made His salvation known.”

How wonderfully this is expressed in her own words of consent to His call: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.”  Here in this blessed obedience she sets in motion the cleansing of our sin of disobedience she shall bring by the fruit of her womb, a disobedience painfully recounted for us in our first reading – a disobedience which has caused us to hide from the face of God.  But no longer will we be trapped in this hell.  No more will we flee from the presence of Him who is our Creator, for by her humble obedience, and our own, in the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we will have our nakedness covered over and become holy as He.

The Virgin is our Mother.  She who has “no relations with a man” has brought about the salvation of all men “in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of His will.”  And so the curse is removed from us.  And so we might “sing joyfully to the Lord,” for “in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice”; through this simple virgin He has brought us His grace.  And now we may be pure as He.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music By Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, the serpent comes to Eve, and we fall;

the angel comes to Mary, and we rise –

in selfish disobedience we do the devil’s work;

in selfless obedience we serve you…

O let us be your children! 

YHWH, full of grace is the Mother of your Son; by your will you have made her pure that she might carry Him who is perfect into this world.  We praise you for your goodness to her, for it means goodness to us – it means our salvation has come!

With every spiritual blessing in the heavens you have showered us by your grace and mercy, O LORD, by the love you offer us in Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord.  And so we might stand holy and without blemish before you; and so we might be even as Mary our Mother, even as Jesus her Son.  O let us be incorporated into your glory, dear God!

Our sin has been grievous.  We have turned away from you.  Our disobedience has wrought your just punishment, LORD.  But salvation you bring to us this day by the word of the angel.  And so we praise you for your faithfulness in saving us; and so we offer our lives with Mary your handmaiden – in our lives let your Word be accomplished.

Direct download: Immaculate_Conception_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Jer.33:14-16;   Ps.25:4-5,8-10,14;   1Thes.3:12-4:2;   Lk.21:25-28,34-36)

“You are God my savior,

and for you I wait all the day.”

So does David sing of the “just shoot” that will be raised up after him; so does he anticipate the coming of Jesus into our midst.  But, though the Messiah has been born, though He has come among us now, yet the Lord will not “fulfill the promise [He] made to the house of Israel and Judah” until Jesus returns on the last day.  And so, we too await our Savior.

And how should we wait?  Brothers and sisters, you know “how you should conduct yourselves to please God,” to be found “blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His holy ones.”  You have been guided in His truth and instructed by the one who “teaches the humble His way.”  “The friendship of the Lord is with those who fear Him, and His covenant, for their instruction.”  And you fear Him, and so receive His instruction.  Continue to do so.  Continue to “increase and abound in love for one another.”  Let not the sum of your good works diminish in the least, but “strengthen your hearts,” and what you have been doing for Him, “do so even more.”  Until the Day He comes your justice must increase.

And “what is coming upon the world” you know as well.  The end of the world is upon us and has been since Christ’s crucifixion.  All is passing away and shall soon be no more.  The nations will look, but they will not see the things they trusted in so vainly.  Only “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” will be known; He will be all that is seen.  And will you recognize Him?  And will He recognize you?

Brothers and sisters, with the Lord’s own words I will leave you: “Be vigilant at all times and pray that you have the strength to escape the tribulations that are imminent and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Wait expectantly.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, in your justice make us blameless in holiness

for the return of your Son in glory.

YHWH, help us to increase and abound in love even as we await the return of your Son.  Though His coming be with great tribulation, let us not fear but welcome Him with open arms and heads raised to His glory.

Jesus is the just shoot you have raised up for the House of Israel; He is the fulfillment of your promise to all who strive toward you.  He has come and made Himself known with signs and wonders.  He has walked among us to show us the way to you.  Let us follow Him in humility, LORD, and we shall reign with Him on the last day.

Guide us in your truth, O LORD; teach us your way.  Let us remain constant on the path that leads to you, conducting ourselves as has your Son.  His apostles exhort us to remain faithful at all times, to be vigilant and pray.  His love will indeed increase within us, rising unto glory on the Day of judgment, if we do not turn away from His call, from His kindness upon our souls.

Soon shall come the end, O LORD; let us indeed be found ready and waiting.

Direct download: BC-120212-Su_1_Adv_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Rm.10:9-18;   Ps.19:2-5;   Mt.4:18-22)

 

“How beautiful are the feet of those who announce good news!”

 

Alleluia!

We must have “faith in the heart” and “confess with [our] lips that Jesus is Lord”; but how can we believe in Him and call on Him if we have not heard of Him?  “And how can [we] hear unless there is someone to preach?  And how can men preach unless they are sent?”  Thank the Lord that He has sent the apostles out to the ends of the earth, that “their voice has sounded over the whole earth.”  Where would we be without them?

“Come after me and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus says to His first apostles, two brothers.  And two brothers Jesus chooses after them, as if He is looking for brothers to call to emphasize our solidarity with Him and with one another.  Indeed, we are family in the Lord.  We are His mother and His brothers.  David’s psalm today speaks of Him who would be called his Son, and illustrates the work of His brothers to come.  All are one in Him, through time, through space… for He who is the beginning and end truly becomes our brother.

I thank God today for Andrew and his brother Peter, their brothers James and John, and all brothers and sisters in the Lord.  I thank God especially for their answering His call, their readiness to respond.  “They immediately abandoned their nets and became His followers.”  And so strong in the Lord they would become.  And so clearly their words would be spoken of Him who is risen from the dead, of Him in whom our hearts trust – of Him of whom we now speak.

A joy fills me this day, and should fill us all, for the beauty of the apostles and of their call.  For now our ears ring with the love of our Jesus, the truth of the ages.  Now through these faithful disciples we have heard “the word of Christ” and find it abiding in our souls.  Let us open our mouths and proclaim Him Lord of all!

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us follow where the apostles lead,

for they follow in our Savior’s footsteps. 

YHWH, help us to abandon our hearts, to leave our moorings in this world that we might follow your Son, that He might lead us to the shores of Heaven.  And help us to preach as your apostles have preached, to speak of your salvation to all men, that indeed the message of the Gospel may reach to the ends of the earth and all souls come to believe.

O LORD, Jesus has been raised from the dead – let us believe in our hearts that He lives now and confess with our lips that He is Lord, and by our faith we shall be saved and bring others to redemption.  The voice of your apostles has indeed gone out to the limits of the world; all peoples are now blessed to hear your Word and so are given the opportunity to believe.  May all souls turn resolutely to your Son and follow Him in His way.

On the shores of Galilee first came the call from the mouth of Jesus.  May He speak to our hearts, LORD, even this day, that we might leave all for your kingdom.

Direct download: Nov._30_-_St._Andrew_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Dn.7:13-14;   Ps.93:1-2,5;   Rv.1:5-8;   Jn.18:33b-37) 

“My kingdom does not belong to this world.”

“The Lord is King, in splendor robed,” our psalmist cries.  “King” is our word for our great Lord; it is the best our imperfect thoughts and pale vocabulary can utter.  But much more than king is our Lord Jesus Christ, for kings do come and go but “His kingship shall not be destroyed”; His “throne stands firm from of old” – it is “from everlasting” to everlasting.  More than a king… He is God.

“‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty.’”  He has no beginning or end but is Himself the beginning and end of all things.  He “came into the world to testify to the truth,” and now His truth is spoken, and His kingdom is coming.  “Behold, He is coming amid the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him.  All the people of the earth will lament Him.  Yes.  Amen.”  None shall be able to hide from the Truth, from the King of “all peoples, nations, and languages.”  And the same vision as John has Daniel had so many centuries before: “I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven,” He whom the Ancient One gives “dominion, glory, and kingship.”  And the testimony of two witnesses holds truth, cannot be broken.  He is coming, and all are called to “serve Him.”

Brothers and sisters, He “loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood,” which He offers without a fight before Pilate this day.  By His sacrifice He “has made us into a kingdom, priests for His God and Father.”  And the kingdom we are is not of this earth, is “not here”; and the sacrifice we offer now is heavenly – it comes down to us from above… this miraculous blood we drink and shed ourselves in His Name.

Here our King stands before us, standing in the hearts of all His holy ones.  He who lives forever now draws us into the kingdom where He ever remains.  Not of this world, we come before His radiant majesty.  “To Him be glory and power forever and ever.  Amen.”

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Vision of Children" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, your Son’s kingdom is not here,

is not of this world, but remains forever in Heaven –

let us meet Him in His reign.

YHWH, from you Jesus has received dominion, glory, and kingship.  From all eternity He is your Son.  To Him be glory and power forever, and may we join Him at your side.

To testify to the Truth He came into the world, to reveal your presence unto us, dear LORD.  And so that we might become holy as He, as you, He died to take away our sins.  May our hearts be set upon the Truth you are, the Truth He declares by His very presence among us, and may we follow Him through this world on His way to Heaven.

To this world He does not belong, and so should we transcend this place.  Its honors and its power are as the dust, but with Him is life everlasting.  He is the One who is and who was and who is to come – He is all things, dear God.  And with Him we shall be made into a kingdom, and share in your eternal glory.

Direct download: Christ_the_King_Sun._-_Year_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Dn.12:1-3;   Ps.16:5,8-11;   Heb.10:11-14,18;   Mk.13:24-32)

“He will send out the angels

and gather His elect from the four winds,

from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.”

On that Day “the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from the sky.”  On that Day we “will see ‘the Son of Man coming in the clouds’ with great power and glory.”  “It shall be a time unsurpassed in distress,” but “everyone who is found written in the book” of Life “shall escape”; all His chosen He shall rescue.  For He will not “suffer [His] faithful one to undergo corruption,” but “show [him] the path to life” and give him “fullness of joys in [His] presence.”

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has taken “His seat forever at the right hand of God; now He waits until His enemies are made His footstool.”  Though “He has made perfect forever those who are being consecrated” and “there is no longer offering for sin,” the time is yet to be fulfilled for all His chosen to partake of His “one sacrifice for sins” – He who is our “allotted portion and [our] cup” must be drunk to the full by all His elect, must be made perfect as He by joining in His sacrifice.  And though “He is near, at the gates,” ready to break in upon our world in His time and according to His ways, yet “this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place”: all the tribulations must come upon this earth, and all His children must be made ready for His Day.

Brothers and sisters, He “hold[s] fast [our] lot” and “with Him at [our] right hand [we] shall not be disturbed.”  “Heaven and earth will pass away, but [His] words will not pass away,” and it is in His word we trust.  So let your heart and soul rejoice and your body abide “in confidence” for “the wise shall shine brightly like the splendor of the firmament” on the Day of the Lord’s return.  We shall not join those who “shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace” but “shall live forever” in the light of His face.  Hear the word the Lord speaks to your heart; see the signs before your eyes.  Join yourself to His holy sacrifice, and you shall know “the delights at [His] right hand forever” in heaven where He now reigns.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Salvation Army" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

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O LORD, let us shine brightly in Jesus’ presence

when He comes.

YHWH, how could we escape the judgment coming upon the face of the earth and stand in your presence forever except that Jesus has offered His sacrifice for our sins and now waits with you in Heaven for us to turn to Him and join you there?  He is our assurance of your blessing.  When He returns again may we be found ready to be gathered to you.

Send your angels forth, O LORD, to save us from all tribulation, to strengthen us to stand in peace even as the stars fall from the sky.  The darkness let us not fear; rather, let us be purged by it of all our attachment to this forsaken place.  O let us not be counted among those who have forsaken you!  Abandon us not to the nether world, but let our souls rejoice in the light of your face – let us shine with you forever.

The path to life you show us, LORD, that we might find the fullness of joy in your presence.  Open our eyes and hearts to your glorious coming.

Direct download: BC-111812-Su_33_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(1Kgs.17:10-16;   Ps.146:1,7-10;   Heb.9:24-28;   Mk.12:38-44) 

“She, from her poverty, has contributed all she had,

her whole livelihood.”

Jesus sits in the temple and watches as “the crowd put[s] money into the treasury.”  When He sees “a poor widow… put in two small coins worth a few cents,” He calls His disciples over, and speaks the truth to them: “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury.”  Whatever wealth anyone else might have stuffed into the box cannot begin to compare to her whole sacrifice – it mimics His own.

And in our first reading we find another poor widow sacrificing her livelihood to the Lord and His prophet.  It is the time of a great famine upon the land (called down from heaven by Elijah himself) and the widow has nothing left to eat but “a handful of flour in [her] jar and a little oil in [her] jug.”  She tells us her situation: “Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks, to go in and prepare something for myself and my son; when we have eaten it, we shall die.”  A last supper.  Straits most of us can only imagine.  Yet when the prophet Elijah asks her, “First make me a little cake and bring it to me,” invoking the name of the God of Israel and promising His blessings, this woman who is not even of the house of Israel does not hesitate to give first to this stranger of the only sustenance she has for herself and her son.  Another sacrifice mimicking Christ’s own.

Both widows’ sacrifices shall be blessed by the Lord; we can be assured of this.  For “the widow He sustains”; it is He who “gives food to the hungry” and “protects strangers”… and any offering made in His name can only be multiplied.  Indeed, Elijah proves himself not to be as the Pharisees who “devour the houses of widows,” for by his presence with his benefactor “she was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well,” the flour and the oil remaining until the rains returned.  “The Lord keeps faith forever.”

Brothers and sisters, Christ “has appeared at the end of the age to take away sins by His sacrifice.”  He does this “once for all,” and so does not “offer Himself repeatedly.”  But we, brothers and sisters, we must join with that sacrifice – it is for us to offer ourselves as He has, as these widows have, if we are to partake of its graces.  As it is manifested on our altar each day, we renew our commitment to be sharers in the blood He shed.  As we drink from His cup let us remember always that it is our very lives that we are giving up.  And the Lord will bless us as His own.  And with these widows we shall sit at His table in heaven.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Under God" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

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O LORD, we must give what we have to you

or we shall have nothing.

YHWH, help us to give our whole livelihood to you, to join in the sacrifice of your Son.  For you will not abandon those who hunger for your love but bless them with all they need for their journey to Heaven.

The widow you sustain, dear God; those who believe in you, you indeed bless.  And we must show that we eagerly await the Second Coming of your Son by not being attached to the things of this passing earth.  We must rather make known our faith in you by entrusting all into your hands.  For Jesus, who has entered Heaven on our behalf, taking our sins with Him that we might be purged, will not abandon us on the last day if we offer ourselves in union with His sacrifice.

All we have let us give to you, O LORD, even our food for the day, and you shall feed us from Heaven with the Bread that sustains all poor souls unto eternity.  Our jar of flour shall not go empty nor our jug of oil run dry, for in them are the Body and Blood of your only Son.

Direct download: BC-111112-Su_32_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Ez.47:1-2,8-9,12;   Ps.46:1-3,5-6,8-9;   1Cor.3:9c-11,16-17;   Jn.2:13-22)

 

“There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God,

the holy dwelling of the Most High.”

 

On this the feast set aside to commemorate the cathedral of Peter, the Bishop of Rome, himself the founding stone upon which Christ builds His Church, we hear much of temples.  In our first reading Ezekial sees in his vision, “water flowing out from beneath the threshold of the temple,” water which brings life to the great sea and the fruit that grows upon its banks; the water that gladdens the holy dwelling of the Most High is spoken of in our psalm; Paul tells us we are “the temple of God,” “God’s building”; and zeal for the Father’s house consumes the Lord, and so He purges it with whip in hand in our gospel today.  But perhaps the most revelatory statement is, “He was speaking of the temple of His body,” also from our gospel, and noted as explanation of Jesus’ challenge to the Jews to destroy the temple and He would rebuild it in three days.  This essential truth of the nature of the temple is substantiated by Paul’s teaching of the care needed by those who build within the Church: “No one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ.”  Though he then goes on to say that we are the temple of God, wrought in all holiness, and though this is an equal truth, yet neither this truth, nor that which holds Peter as the founding “rock” of this Temple in which we dwell, have any basis without the essential understanding that Jesus is at the very heart of all our worship, of the Church we are.  The Lord has indeed wrought “astounding things… on earth.”  He has made us as those trees along the banks of His river of life, bearing His fruit each month for the benefit of the world.  He has made us His holy dwelling place and placed His Spirit upon us for the building up of His kingdom…  But all of this has its source in the water of life itself, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Brothers and sisters, as we celebrate our Church this day and the glorious blessings the Lord has bestowed upon us as His temple, as His children, let us not forget our Savior who has been the cause of and continues to be the cause of our joy.  Let us be washed in the water from His side and be built up in His Body and His Blood.  May we have His same zeal for the Father’s House.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, purify this temple, destroyed by sin;

let us truly be your House, dear God. 

YHWH, you are with us in the midst of your Church, your Son the very foundation of this Temple.  And He is the Temple itself, we His very Body; and so, how holy we should be.  Indeed, we should be as holy as you, our Most High God, as perfect as your only Son.

It is Jesus’ blood and the water flowing from His side that washes us clean and nourishes the growth of His holy Church.  The waters of this River gladden the hearts of all who dwell in your House, O LORD.  Upon the banks of this River let us ever remain, bearing fruit each month, each day, each hour, in your holy NAME.

Beneath the Cross let us make our home, O holy LORD and God.  Here alone in the shadow of Jesus’ arms will we be made whole, will our temple be cleansed and we become your house of prayer.  May the zeal of the Christ chastise our hearts and prepare them for your kingdom.  May we be raised with Him on His Day and remain in your presence forever. 

Direct download: St._John_Lateran_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Dt.6:2-6;   Ps.18:2-4,47,51;   Heb.7:23-28;   Mk.12:28-34) 

“You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

If you “fear the Lord, your God, and keep, throughout the days of your lives, all His statutes and commandments,” you will have “long life”; the Lord will “give you a land flowing with milk and honey.”  The promise spoken by Moses to the people stands true, and truer, today.  If we “take to heart these words which [both Moses and Jesus] enjoin on [us] today,” the kingdom shall indeed be not far from us.  For these words are life-giving, they are the heart of the law, the heart of God’s love, and so breathe the breath of life upon the obedient soul: “Hear, O Israel!  The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.”  (And the seconding of the Commandment is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”)  This Command, this word of Truth and Life, the ancient Israelites inscribed upon their doorposts and lintels, and wore upon their person, never to forget what wisdom had been imparted unto them. 

And now we, where shall we wear this essential Command, which silences even the hardest skeptics…?  It should be inscribed upon our hearts.  It should pour forth as praise from the mouth of all, all the faithful exclaiming with David in song, “I love you, O Lord, my strength.”  “The Lord lives!  And blessed be my rock!”  Our hearts indeed should overflow with love of God, who is so near us.

Oh brothers and sisters, do you not know how near He is to you now?  Do you not know that Jesus “is always able to save those who approach God through Him, since He lives forever to make intercession for [us]”?  Do you not know that you have a high priest who is “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, higher than the heavens,” and that He draws you unto the Heaven where He dwells?  No longer do we turn to weak men, as even Moses was, but to “a Son, who has been made perfect forever.”  And His Sonship we share even this day when we love as He has loved.

Love God, brothers and sisters.  Love Him with heart and soul, mind and body.  Let the four corners of the universe declare His praise and honor His Name in unending love of all.  It is Jesus’ blood, Jesus’ love, which courses through our veins now.  How much closer can we come than this Bread of Life?  Heaven has come to earth in flesh of love, and raises these earthen vessels we are unto the gates of the kingdom.  On the doorstep you stand; only enter in.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Love, The Meaning Of (Liars Don't Love, Lovers Don't Lie)" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

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O LORD, if we love you and our neighbor,

indeed we draw close to your kingdom.

YHWH, if we but keep your Word, we shall be blessed; if we but love you, O LORD our God, we shall know your love.  If we worship you alone, we shall soon come to Heaven.  O let your love fill us with praise of your NAME!  And may that love overflow to all souls.

We love you, O LORD; we praise your holy NAME.  You are exalted above all gods and your reign endures forever.  And that reign you would share with all who are obedient to your Word, to your call to love.

And so your Son has come among us as our high priest; as priest and victim He stands in our midst and calls us to your kingdom through His holy sacrifice.  Once for all He offered Himself that we might be saved, that He might live to make intercession for us all our days – that we might learn to love as He loves, as you love, dear God, giving all our lives for your sake and that of our neighbor.  Alleluia!

Direct download: BC-110412-Su_31_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Wis.3:1-9;   Ps.23:1-6;   1Cor.15:51-57;   Jn.6:37-40

Note: there are any number of readings possible for this day)

 

“The souls of the just are in the hand of God,

and no torment shall touch them.”

 

Is this not what it means to be a Christian?  To have faith in the resurrection from the dead.  To believe that after our time of trial there shall be peace, that we shall be refined by the hand of God to stand in His presence, to share in His kingship.  “Grace and mercy are with His holy ones, and His care is with His elect.”  This is our faith.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”  And so we have no fear.  The Lord watches over us and guides our path, and in His blessing we take refuge, knowing we shall come to be with Him, knowing He is with us even this day, knowing even death we shall conquer in His Name.  “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come.”  Nothing shall remove us from His presence.  “We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed.”  Indeed, though all die, all shall come to life.  None can remain as they are; all must be changed.  All that is mortal must take on immortality, and in this immortality, in this incorruptibility we gain, death is swallowed up – it is no more.  “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”  It is an eternal victory.

“Everything that the Father gives me will come to me.”  It cannot be that the Father’s will not be done.  Jesus awaits us with open arms.  He has gone before us, He has prepared a place for us, and we must but come to Him as drawn by the will of the Father.  “Everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have eternal life, and I shall raise Him up on the last day.”  Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ!

Death is not our realm, brothers and sisters.  Though it comes to us all, it is but a passageway into Heaven, it is but the Lord’s means of preparing us for the kingdom.  And so, whether we experience it today or tomorrow or yesterday is of no consequence.  It is there.  It shall come to us all.  But all who believe are preserved from its clutches and drawn into the life the Father offers.  Let us pray this day for all holy souls to come by the Son into the hands of the Father.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, help us find victory over death in Jesus,

your Son, and so come to dwell with you forever. 

YHWH, though we walk through the dark valley, we fear no evil – for you are at our side.  Though death close its mouth upon us, we remain courageous, for your Son has given us victory over sin and death by His sacrifice on the Cross; and as we take refuge in Him, we are raised to dwell with you in eternal life.  Let all souls be raised to your side with Him!

Where in this world can we turn where there is not sin, where there is not darkness, where there is not death?  O LORD, it is so, that this world is clothed with corruption, with mortality.  All is now doomed to die for the sin that besets Creation.  But where does the grace of your Son not penetrate?  To whom would He not bring new life?  And what need we but faith in Him to find that life dwelling in us even this day?

Soon the end will come – the end of sin and the end of death.  Let us not die with death, LORD, but find the victory you desire to impart to all souls through your Son.  May your goodness and kindness follow us all our days and lead us to your eternal kingdom.  May all who have died be at your side.

Direct download: All_Souls_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Rv.7:2-4,9-14;   Ps.24:1-6;   1Jn.3:1-3;   Mt.5:1-12)

 

“Everyone who has this hope based on Him

makes himself pure, as He is pure.”

 

All our readings speak of this purity this holy day.  In the first reading we hear of the saints who “have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”  Our psalm tells us it is “one whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,” who stands in God’s presence.  The above quote is from our second reading, and Jesus tells us in our gospel, “Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God.”  Indeed, this purity of heart is the essential characteristic possessed by all the saints in heaven; and so we must strive to achieve it.

I note a striking parallel particularly between our first reading from Revelation and David’s psalm: the reading begins with the image of the four angels (at the four corners of the universe) being prevented from their call “to damage the land and the sea” until the seal of God is placed upon the foreheads of the “one hundred and forty-four thousand [symbolizing absolute fullness in number] marked from every tribe of Israel”; and our psalm begins by proclaiming, “The Lord’s are the earth and its fullness; the world and those who dwell in it.”  The reading continues with John’s “vision of a great multitude” who “stood before the throne and the Lamb” in their white robes; while, as it continues, our psalm tells us that only the pure of heart “can ascend the mountain of the Lord” or “stand in His holy place.”  Then the reading from Revelation cries out, “Salvation comes from our God” and exclaims of the blessings upon the Lord and so His faithful; and David’s psalm concludes that it is he who seeks Him who “shall receive a blessing from the Lord, a reward from God his savior.”

What does all this tell us but what John states quite simply in his letter, our second reading: “Beloved, we are God’s children now,” and that when “what we shall be… is revealed we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”  Yes, we are anointed by Him as His own creation and shall come to stand in His presence with all the angels and saints, proclaiming the blessing He is and the salvation He has provided us.

And in our gospel Jesus climbs the mountain and sits and teaches those who gather around Him.  And how blessed are these eyes that see Him!  How blessed are these ears that hear Him!  And how blessed are we, too, insofar as we hear Him this holy day as He calls to our hearts to have faith in Him and in the kingdom of heaven, to set our hearts on the hope of which He speaks.  And blessed are we most when we suffer insult and persecution for the sake of the Lord, for by this we are purified, and through this “our reward will be great in heaven.”  For we must die in Him before we rise in Him with all the saints in glory.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be made pure as you are pure,

as your saints have been made pure

in the blood of the Lamb. 

YHWH, let us seek you with all our hearts, that we may find you and share in your glory with all the saints in Heaven.  Help us to wash our robes clean, that they may be white, that we may be pure and so able to stand in your light.  Make us your children, O LORD, blessed to dwell in your sight forever.

If we must be purified by persecution in this world, what should that matter to us, LORD; why should that cause us concern?  We should rejoice in this blessing even as we rejoice in the blessing of Heaven, for does not one lead to the other – do we not find Heaven even here, even now, in our suffering with your Son?  But give us your love, LORD, and all shall be cause for celebration for us.

O how we long to worship you in your kingdom, LORD!  How we long to bow before your throne with all your angels and saints.  How we long to sing your praise with them.  Let it be so, LORD.  Let it be so even this day in our souls.

Direct download: All_Saints_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Jer.31:7-9;   Ps.126:1-6;   Heb.5:1-6;   Mk.10:46-52) 

“They departed in tears,

but I will console them and guide them.”

Through Jeremiah the Lord prophesies that His people Israel “shall return as an immense throng,” that He will “gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst.”  And in our gospel we see Jesus “leaving Jericho with His disciples and a sizable crowd,” picking up the blind Bartimaeus along the way.  How the Lord fulfills the ancient prophecies.  And now Jesus stands as our high priest in heaven, “offer[ing] gifts and sacrifices for sins,” bringing all by His cross to the kingdom of God.

“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.”  Brothers and sisters, we are all like the blind Bartimaeus, sitting “by the roadside begging,” calling out to the Lord for forgiveness and guidance, saying to Him as He calls us before Himself, “Master, I want to see.”  How blind we all are, how deaf and how lame.  How we need our vision renewed by the Lord of all, that indeed we might see as He sees, with a purity beyond the scope of our race, to penetrate the mysteries which shroud us like the blind man’s cloak in this life.  We must throw off the darkness, cast aside the shroud of death that weighs upon our shoulders by our sins and take upon ourselves the cross of Christ and walk with Him “on the way,” on the road to the New Jerusalem.  How shall we know the “brooks of water” which satiate our thirst, “the torrents in the southern desert” that cleanse our arid souls and bring them to life once more, except by the tears we cry, except with hearts reaching out and voices reaching up to Him who is so far above our ways?  In His way alone we will find the “level road” on which “none shall stumble.”  Only by this cry will we know the graces our high priest offers all our lives.

“Although [we] go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, [we] shall come back rejoicing, carrying [our] sheaves.”  For the Lord shall not forget us; He will not pass us by and leave us in our tears alone.  But through our tears we shall see His holy light descend like a dove of peace upon our souls.  Yes, we shall see; our eyes will be opened and our path will be set.  And He shall guide us every step of our way.  And “our mouth [will be] filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing” on that holy Day.  Praise our merciful God!

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "No Paranoia" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us follow Jesus on the way to the Cross

that we might follow Him to Heaven.

YHWH, in Jesus your Son we are returned to sonship with you; we who had been exiled because of our sins are brought back to your presence, and as a Father you embrace us and open our eyes to see your glory.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD.  In tears we come before you, to your Son we cry out for mercy, and He cannot but hear and answer our call, He cannot but call us before Himself and grant the desire of our heart.  O let us have the faith needed to believe in Him and so find the blessing only He holds.

Jesus, you are our high priest, you are Son of David and Son of God.  Let us run to you for healing of our blindness and lameness that we might see you and follow you along the way to the New Jerusalem.  In the peace of the Father let us rest, in the joy of our salvation.

With all your saints let us enter your gates, O Father in Heaven, by the grace that comes to us in your only Son.

Direct download: BC-102812-Su_30_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.53:10-11;   Ps.33:4-5,18-20,22;   Heb.4:14-16;   Mk.10:35-45) 

“We have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens,

Jesus, the Son of God.”

And this is He who is both priest and victim, for “He gives His life as an offering for sin” – He Himself is our sacrifice.  Here is one who is able “to sympathize with our weaknesses… one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin.”  Here is He who has suffered the affliction of our fallen state but to raise us up with Himself from the mire, from the lowly condition we have come to know as our own.  Here is He who “give[s] His life as a ransom for many.”

But why?  Why is the Lord “pleased to crush Him in His infirmity”?  Why is our high priest so humbled in the sight of all?  Why is there such suffering in the world…?  Why need you ask?  Why need you question the will of God?  Do you not believe that “upright is the word of the Lord, and all His works are trustworthy”?  Do you not realize that the Lord looks with kindness upon all “those who fear Him… to deliver them from death and preserve them in spite of famine”?  Do you trust your own eyes more than the vision of God?

But if you must know, the Lord God tells you, “Through His suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt He shall bear.”  If you must inquire, hear that it is for your sin there is suffering in the world and the Lord and His followers must carry the cross.  You need look no further than the blood on your hands…  But seeing this, do not fear – rejoice.  Rejoice, for now we may “confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.”  Now the Savior does “lord it over” us by His sacrifice.  Now this “slave of all” has “authority over [us]” by the suffering He has undergone.  And now we must join Him on this cross.

“The cup that I drink, you will drink, and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized” – His words to James and John are spoken to us all.  Glorious is the sacrifice to which we are called.  For He who is both priest and victim would now lift us with Himself through the veil of pain to the holy heavens, that knowing the fruit of “His affliction,” with Him all might “see the light in fullness of days.”

“Our soul waits for the Lord”; it suffers with Him.  And it is not disappointed by the sacrifice it shares.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "The Sunset Bleeds Me Clean" (2nd half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, He who is slave of all,

He who has shed His blood to save our souls –  

with Him let us be one.

YHWH, your Son has given His life as a ransom for sin, that we might approach the throne of grace and find mercy, and find the blessing of your kindness upon our souls.  He has borne our guilt, and so from it we are freed.  But we must bear the Cross with Him if we are to find our way to Heaven.

This is the greatest grace, is it not, O LORD –  that we are called to share in the suffering of your Son, to drink of His cup and be baptized with His baptism?  We are called to serve as He has served, to give our lives with Him, and so to come to the place He has come, to your right hand in the kingdom.  O if we could only be as slaves of all!

By His death He has ransomed many.  Sharing in our weakness, suffering for our sakes – bearing His affliction, He shall see the light in fullness of days.  And we poor souls who trust in Him find our hope fulfilled, dear LORD, in that same light of your face.

Direct download: BC-102112-Su_29_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Tm.4:9-17;   Ps.145:10-13,17-18;   Lk.10:1-9)

 

“The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength,

so that through me the preaching task might be completed

and all the nations might hear the Gospel.”

 

As I read of Jesus’ instruction to the disciples as He “sent them in pairs before Him to every town and place He intended to visit,” and particularly His words to them to “eat what they set before you,” I am reminded of the command given Peter in his dream to “take and eat” of the unclean animals (Acts 10:13), this just before the first Gentile converts came to him seeking the Word of God.  And, of course, similar terminology is present in Jesus’ sending his workers as if into a harvest: in this case, the Lord shall eat of the feast the disciples are sent forth to prepare.

We know our work is our food, that the labor the Lord imparts to us serves as our daily bread.  And we know that the wheat that becomes His precious Body and the Word that is cultivated by His apostles, by His preachers and prophets, is the food that sustains us, that strengthens us for our daily tasks.  All we do must be blessed by Him and be, as it were, a “discourse of the glory of [His] kingdom,” and His kingdom, which is “a kingdom for all ages,” and His dominion, which “endures through all generations,” shall become known in our midst.

It is not easy to eat of this food, to drink of this cup.  We see how alone Paul finds himself in our first reading.  “Everyone abandoned me,” he declares in reference to his trial before the courts of this world.  He pleads with Timothy to join him soon, for many have left his side: “I have no one with me but Luke.”  Indeed, he has nothing but the Word of God.  And most apparent in the Lord’s instruction to His disciples is the utter reliance on God we must find.  Impoverished He sends them forth, dependent only on their preaching and healing to feed themselves.  Yes, He sends them forth “as lambs in the midst of wolves.”  Not a happy prospect.  But they have the Word of the Lord to make them strong and protect them from all evil of this world, and nothing could be more sure than this.

Into so many homes Luke’s gospel has come, bringing its peace to all who abide in the Lord.  The proclamation by this great evangelist that “the reign of God is at hand” comes to our hearts even this day.  Let us make room for this Word within ourselves and it shall feed us on our journey to the kingdom, and by its grace we shall complete our work on this earth.  May the word of the Lord go ever forth.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, send forth your laborers

to declare the glory of your kingdom to all nations. 

YHWH, send forth workers into your harvest, that all might hear your Word preached to their souls and find your peace in their hearts.  Your reign be upon us this day.

O LORD, your kingdom endures through all generations; to your glory there is no end.  O let us share in your holiness, let us share in your glory! and let us share your glory with all souls on the face of this earth.  Though we must stand alone as has Paul, though we might be rejected by those to whom we come, yet let us be faithful to your Word and with great strength and confidence accomplish your will.

You are our strength, O LORD, and you are our peace; send us forth in your Name to preach and to heal.  Let your kingdom come into our midst through your blessed disciples, who speak only of your glory, who find refuge in your might.  Nothing do we need if we have you, LORD.  Please stand at our side.

Direct download: St._Luke_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Wis.7:7-11;   Ps.90:12-17;   Heb.4:12-13;   Mk.10:17-30) 

“The word of God is living and effective,

sharper than any two-edged sword.”

“Penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart… everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must render an account.”  Here is His Spirit of Wisdom, whose “splendor… never yields to sleep,” who has “countless riches at her hands.”  It is this penetrating Wisdom we must pray to be with us, if we are to save our immortal souls.  Without her nothing has any worth at all.

How shall we “number our days aright” and “gain wisdom of heart”?  How shall we walk the road the Lord leads us upon and find His “gracious care” to “prosper the work of our hands”?  How shall we avoid the emptiness the riches of this world inevitably bring and acquire the conviction needed to follow the Lord?  The allure of gold, of mammon, is so great, is so easy to set our hearts upon – how shall we hear what the Lord says in love to the man who falls on his knees before Him: “Go, sell what you have, and give to the poor and you will have treasure in heaven”?  How shall we give up house and family and lands all “for [His] sake and for the sake of the Gospel” to find “a hundred times more” these things, “with persecutions, and eternal life in heaven”?  Only by the Wisdom that comes from God, never by the thoughts of our own heart.

Clearly the disciples do not yet understand this or they would not ask with such amazement, “Then who can be saved?” when told of the difficulties riches bring.  For still, though not for long, their hearts are set on the things of this earth, and still they judge with a worldly eye.  The vision that comes of the pure light of Wisdom will not be theirs until the flame of the Holy Spirit burns in their souls.  Then their own spirits will be one with the Lord and they will be able to discern that “all gold, in view of her, is a little sand.”  Then the length and breadth and depth of their mission they will comprehend.

Let the word of God be heard by all, spoken by all His prophets and priests.  Let it pierce many hearts, that some may be saved by the grace that enters where it bleeds.  Here is the only way to life.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "In Your Eyes" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, do we desire life with you,

or the riches of this world?

YHWH, your Son stands in our midst looking at us with love.  To Himself He calls us that we might enter the kingdom.  And who would not follow?  What riches of this age are greater than the divine riches He offers?  What else could we need if we have eternal life?  With Him is true wisdom; let us give up all to follow in His way.

O LORD, all gold is as a little dust to the one who has been blessed to see with your eyes, to the one who has been graced with your Wisdom.  Though it be painful to stand in your light and be pierced by your sword, what glory it brings to your children!  Your truth upon our souls, we have all the food we need.

And so, what can persecutions bring us but greater joy?  What can we lose in your Name that we will not regain a hundred times over?  All things are in your hands, O LORD, and we live in your eyes.  Pierce us with your Wisdom, that we might number our days aright.

Direct download: BC-101412-Su_28_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Gn.2:18-24;   Ps.128:1-6;   Heb.2:9-11;   Mk.10:2-16)

“This one, at last, is bone of my bones

and flesh of my flesh.”

The beauty and blessing of marriage, the marvel it is, and how it reaches unto heaven.

“It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a suitable partner for him.”  This is the loving thought of our Lord God while looking upon the man He has created.  And so from the body of the man God creates woman.  How indelibly one are these two, in origin, in destiny, and in the eyes of their Creator.  Inseparable should they be: “one flesh.”

And if it were so, if these lived as He intended, the blessings sung of by our psalmist today would be upon all: “Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine in the recesses of your home; your children like olive plants around your table.”  Then would we reflect the glory of God and His love for His Church and its children.  Then would we “see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of [our] life.”

The love of man and woman, of husband and wife, is truly as the love of God for His bride, the Church.  Hear what St. Paul says of the Christ, who has come to bring “many children to glory”: “He who consecrates and those who are being consecrated all have one origin.”  Does he not say Jesus has become as our brother, made perfect through suffering – “flesh of [our] flesh”?  Does the Lord not thus wed Himself to us by the incarnation and death of His only Son?  And look at Jesus in our gospel, surrounded by children waist deep.  He has just spoken of the sanctity of marriage and now He clearly conveys its blessed fruits, both for husband and wife on earth, and for Him and His Church.  He declares of the children He has called to Himself, “The kingdom of God belongs to such as these,” and then “He embrace[s] them and bless[es] them,” wedding them unto His heart.

As woman is born out of the side of man, as she is flesh of his flesh, so the Church is born out of the pierced side of the Lord, from the blood and water that flow there, becoming one with His blessed Body.  And let all men and women know, every husband and wife understand, that their marriage is blessed alone by God and finds its life in Him.  It is He to whom they are truly wed, and their offenses against one another offend only Him.  If you seek to separate from one another, you work to separate yourself from God; for as He is love, so He is every marriage, and to Him you are beholden to bear fruit in His name.  Great will be the blessing upon your home if you cherish your oneness in Him – great as the blessings upon His Church, which in His love He does now form.  Make all your love one with Him.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Marriage" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, bring life forth in our midst

through the children you bless.

YHWH, let us be joined to you in the sacrificial flesh of your Son.  Bone of His bone let us be, one with Him forever.  As you join together man and wife on this earth, so join us to you in Heaven.

O let us never be divorced from love of one another or from you, dearest LORD!  Then we shall be blessed; then we shall remain in your presence and know your arms around us.  O let us have the faith of a child and come humbly before you to hear your Word of truth spoken of by your Son, and so let us share in His salvation.  Let us never harden our hearts against your good will for our lives and we shall prosper in your peace.

We are taken from you, O LORD, and must be united with you again.  But if we do not love one another and bear fruit in your Name, if man and wife do not stand as the paragon of your love, what shall become of the human race?

Direct download: BC-100712-Su_27_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Nm.11:25-29;   Ps.19:8-10,12-14;   Jas.5:1-6;   Mk.9:38-43,45,47-48) 

“Would that all the people to the Lord were prophets!

Would that the Lord might bestow His Spirit on them all!”

There is of course a striking similarity in our first reading and our gospel today.  In one, Joshua, “who from his youth had been Moses’ aide,” comes to his master to inform him that two men who had not gone as instructed to the mountain to receive God’s Spirit were “prophesying in the camp”: “Moses, my lord, stop them,” he zealously proclaims.  And in the other, John, the Lord’s beloved disciple, conveys his message to Jesus: “Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us,” he, too, attempting to thwart the Spirit of God which does not go forth in channels that seem proper.  But Moses’ answer above could not be more strongly stated, and Jesus says plainly to His disciples, “Do not prevent them.  There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me.”  And so, let goodness go forth, unto the ends of the earth.

Indeed, Moses’ cry is the Lord’s will, and it is this will Jesus has come to realize – that all may embrace what is right and true and so come to the kingdom of heaven.  However, inherent in Moses’ exclamation is also the unfortunate fact that most do not have the Spirit of God; most are not walking in His name.  More often than not the “wanton sin” which James so graphically presents to our eyes and ears is the state of man; and so the horrible miseries he even more graphically represents become their fate.  And so, to accomplish His work of salvation upon the face of the earth, the Christ must necessarily be severe in His speech, in His warning and His instruction: “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off…  If your foot causes you to sin, cut it off…  If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out” – better these measures than the fires of Gehenna… better any pain on this plane than the eternal punishments of the hell wrought by the sins so much a part of all our lives.

With great wisdom David speaks of the precepts of the Lord.  First he recognizes that “the law of the Lord is perfect, refreshing the soul” and “fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever”; then, seeking to endure forever with the Lord of all, he declares to God of His laws: “Though your servant is careful of them, very diligent in keeping them, yet who can detect failings?”  And even wiser is he to cry out, “Cleanse me from my unknown faults!” for he knows only this thorough cleansing will make him any prophet of God; only if he be “blameless and innocent” will he maintain the Lord’s Spirit within himself.  And so the same is true for all the Lord would gather into His arms, all who seek His eternal reward.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Open Air" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, that all were prophets!

that all would purify their souls in your undying light

and so enter into your kingdom.

YHWH, your Spirit be upon us this day.  Let us turn away from all sin that we might enter your kingdom.

How perfect you are, O LORD, and how perfect is your Law.  Your Word comes to us as a cleansing flame.  But if we turn our hearts from love of you, that flame becomes a devouring fire.  If we attach ourselves to the riches of this world, seeking its treasure by ungodly means, what can we be but separated from you on your holy Day.  For all that is wicked shall be cast into flame, and from it shall not be withdrawn.  But all your children will be refreshed by that flame, purified to stand in your presence.

O let us be innocent and blameless of serious sin, dearest LORD and God!  And let us not lead any astray, that we might not merit condemnation.  It is your will that all come to glory and you cannot but cast aside all who work against the bestowing of your Spirit upon souls.

Direct download: BC-093012-Su_26_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Dn7:9-10,13-14 or Rv.12:7-12;   Ps.138:1-5;   Jn.1:47-51

I shall treat of both first readings)

 

“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God

ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

 

And who shall see such visions?  He whose own vision is pure, he who is as Nathanael – he who has “no guile in him.”  Such is the case both with Daniel and John the Evangelist, of whose visions we hear in either first reading.  The angels are with them, indeed, and they lift them up to look upon the Most High God and His Anointed One.

Both first readings reveal vision of Jesus the Son, whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion” and by whom “salvation and power have come.”  In Daniel is shown the Ancient One, the Father, from whom all power comes as “surging streams of fire” from His throne; and in Revelation, John presents the defeat of Satan, who would presume to be like God but is “driven out” and “hurled down to earth” by the archangel Michael (whose name tells us that none is like God) before “the reign of our God” comes.  In Revelation is included, too, our own participation in “the blood of the Lamb,” that the Church, “by the word of their testimony,” will share in the Lord’s dominion.

And David’s psalm sings today: “Great is the glory of the Lord.”  His voice joins with the “thousands upon thousands… ministering to Him, and myriads upon myriads” attending Him.  “In the presence of the angels I will sing your praise,” he declares, and finds himself “worship[ing] at [His] holy temple” Him whose name is “great above all things.”  Is not the vision promised Nathanael and witnessed to by Daniel and John shared here with David, too; does he not glimpse, and share with us who long for the presence of the Lord, the ladder which reaches to heaven made known to Jacob in dream?  Is not Jesus, His Lord, with him even in this time before His coming?  It is one Jesus the eyes of all the pure of heart see and shall see.  And did not the Old Testament prophet see that which was to come?  Was not the eternal vision of heaven revealed to his eyes, as well as John’s?  And how can this be, that they see what we would call the future, except that it has always been?

Brothers and sisters, we must declare with Nathanael, “You are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel,” but we must do so as He does – in absolute honesty and utter faith.  We must believe without guile and declare without hesitation that Jesus is Lord.  To do so and to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him, our hearts and our eyes must be pure.  Let us pray that we shall come now to vision of heaven, where His angels and His saints do reign.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, give us eyes to see your angels

ministering to you,

and hearts to receive their blessed help.

YHWH, like flames of fire your angels surround you and your holy throne.  These myriads of spirits attend you, ministering to you day and night in the place where there is no night, where light shines seven times as brightly as the sun.  O may we join them in singing your praises and in doing your will upon this earth!  With eyes unveiled let us look upon your glory and unite with your angels in Heaven.

If only we had hearts without guile, O LORD; if only we were your true sons and daughters.  Then we would declare freely that Jesus is your Son and our King, He whose dominion is everlasting, whose glory is one with your own.  Then would the devil be cast from our souls, driven out from among us by your power at work in your angels.  Then would we worship in joy in your holy Temple all our days and become children of your blessed light.  O may your angels be with us always!

Direct download: Sept._29_-_Sts._Michael_Gabriel_Raphael_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Ws.2:12,17-20;   Ps.54:3-8;   Jas.3:16-4:3;   Mk.9:30-37) 

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,

there is disorder and every foul practice.”

And can there be any greater foul practice come from jealousy and selfish ambition than that of which we hear in our first reading from the Book of Wisdom, for here the wicked plot the death of the Son of God – here is spoken of the horrible persecutions which the Messiah and all His followers undergo at the hands of the proud souls: “With revilement and torture let us put the just one to the test that we may have proof of His gentleness and try His patience.”  And so the Lamb of God shall endure His “shameful death,” according to the dark threats they breathe.

“The haughty have risen up against me, the ruthless seek my life; they set not God before their eyes,” David cries unto the Lord.  He too knows those who “kill and envy,” who “fight and wage war” against the righteous one because he puts them to shame, because he “reproaches [them] for transgressions of the law,” his justice and truth ever a sign of contradiction against “the passions that make war in [their] members,” from which they refuse to be released.

But it is indeed so, as even their own words condemn the wicked, that “God will take care of [the just one],” that “God will defend him and deliver him from the hand of his foes.”  “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord sustains my life,” David exclaims in the midst of his trial – for indeed the help of the Lord is ever with us; He shall always “defend [our] cause.”  And the wicked shall ever be put to death for their sins against Him.

And what of the disciples today?  It is true that “they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.”  At this point in the journey they still are “arguing about” petty matters which lead but to condemnation, even as Jesus speaks of His imminent death.  But their vain pride shall not last the day.  For even in the Lord’s placing a child in their midst there is a kind of turning point; ashamed they can only be now, and soon, so soon, they will follow their blessed Lord to their own cross of crucifixion. 

Set yourselves on the right path, brothers and sisters.  Be not afraid to ask the Lord of His way and of the help you need to follow.  But do not ask in vain or your evil desires will destroy you, and you shall not know His kingdom.  Let no jealousy rule your hearts, but order your lives according to the Lord’s pure wisdom, and be “full of mercy and good fruits,” as even our “gentle” and “compliant” Lord.  Keep this Child ever before your eyes.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Unbind Yourself" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, only you will deliver us

from the hands of our foes

and from our own transgressions.

YHWH, your Son was condemned to a shameful death by the haughty hearts of men, but you sustained His life, as you do our own.  If we but set our hearts on serving you and the least of our brothers, if we but keep our arms around those you place in our care – if we but die with your Son and in His love, with Him we shall rise again.

O LORD, let arrogance and pride find no place in our lives.  Let us not be tortured by selfish ambition or torture others because of our impatience with you and your holy will.  If we fight against your goodness, allowing our passions to rule us, what shall we find but death to our souls and blindness to your glory among us?  Your Son let us but follow, even on the path to crucifixion, and your protection will be with us all our days.  Your arms you will keep around us, embracing us as your own dear Child.  In peace we shall remain.

Direct download: BC-092312-Su_25_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Eph.4:1-7,11-13;   Ps.19:2-5;   Mt.9:9-13)

 

“Through all the earth their voice resounds,

and to the ends of the world, their message.”

 

“Till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature,” the Word of the Lord shall be carried forth by all His “apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers”; indeed, “each of us has received God’s favor in the measure in which Christ bestows it,” and each of us plays a role in bringing to fulfillment the Gospel of our “one Lord.”

“Matthew got up and followed Him.”  He was called, he was chosen, and he answered the Lord’s call without hesitation.  And he brought the Lord in immediately to dine with Him, welcoming Him fully at his table.  And because of his openness to God and His Word, and because of his generous response, we see that it is Jesus who in fact feeds him, that he in turn might feed others with the true teaching, “the one faith” in the “one God and Father of all, who is over all, and works through all, and is in all,” from the least of sinners to the greatest of apostles.  We are all thus called to follow Jesus Christ, to find the mercy He so greatly desires to impart to our sinful lives, that we might be whole and able to serve Him well.

One day we shall come to perfection in Him; in Him it is already fulfilled.  And now insofar as we share His love, insofar as we “live a life worthy of the calling [we] have received, with perfect humility, meekness, and patience,” the Spirit who is indeed the origin of our unity in Him works through us and we, even with the twelve apostles, serve to bring His blessed peace, His divine life of salvation, to the world.  Yes, “day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge,” and soon that Word will reach to the ends of the earth; and soon it will come to fulfillment in our sight.

Brothers and sisters, we are called to a great hope, and to a great mission to bring it to light.  Let us keep our hearts set on the Gospel and the promise it contains, and “build up the Body of Christ” until we stand with Him, as Him, in His eternal kingdom which stands in our midst even today through the words of His apostle and evangelist, in the breath of the Spirit upon us and in its message.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let us all be drawn as one

into the Body of your Son,

that we poor sinners may become His saints. 

YHWH, you are over all and work through all and in all, and your Gospel message goes out to all the world through your apostles and evangelists.  O let us listen to your voice as it comes to us in the words of Scripture and through your prophets’ preaching!  Let us be quick as Matthew to answer your call, that the Body of your Son might be built up on this earth and soon come to fulfillment in Heaven.

We are all sinners, O LORD; you see this and you know this.  Help us to see this as you do and so come readily to the table Jesus spreads before us, a table of mercy and grace in answer to our repentance.  Let us recognize that only in Him will we find our place with you in the kingdom.  And help us to proclaim your love and your peace with your apostles, that in the one faith all might be baptized and come as your children to praise your Name.

You are our hope, O LORD; let your Spirit go forth.

Direct download: St._Matthew_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Is.50:5-9a;   Ps.116:1-6,8-9;   Jas.2:14-18;   Mk.8:27-35)

“I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.”

A simple enough statement made by our psalmist today, or so it seems.  For what does it mean to walk with Jesus along the way of the Almighty God?  What does such travel entail?  Is it but to impart a word of peace and blessing to those in need, and continue merrily along?  Is it but to say, “I have faith in God”?  Words alone will not get us where we expect to be; we must walk in the way of the Lord, and to walk means to work.

And what is this work with which faith cannot dispense; what does it entail?  It could not be more succinctly stated than it is by Jesus to the crowds and His disciples in today’s gospel: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  It is in the Lord’s steps we must walk, and, yes, those steps lead inevitably to crucifixion.  This cannot be avoided.  Do you not hear the Lord’s rebuke of Peter?  Then how can you begin to explicate a life in Christ without His cross fixed firmly upon your shoulder?  How can you think that “the land of the living” may be found by easy means?  It cannot.

Listen to the words of the Servant spoken through the prophet Isaiah: “I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard.”  This and more the Lord did willingly to reveal the way you must walk – this all the children of Israel, all God’s holy ones, take upon themselves all for the sake of the Gospel.

But lest you lose heart in the face of all you must undergo, all the suffering you must accept to gain the kingdom, let me tell you something else.  All those who take up the cross say also with the Servant, “He is near who upholds my right.”  Do you hear what He says?  “The Lord God is my help”!  Do you understand its significance?  We are with Christ and Christ is with God and so none of the blows of this world can hurt us.  Indeed, they do not touch us, for it is Jesus who suffers all these blows for our sake.  Though the cords may lacerate our skin, they cannot approach our soul, for the Lord indeed takes from us all “distress and sorrow” and saves our very lives.  Thus the psalmist sings, “He has freed my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.”  For He in whose sight we live our lives has already endured all evil, and now preserves us from its clutches.  And so in this cross which seems so dark and foreboding, there is ultimate joy.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Weightless Crucifixion" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us to lose our lives

for the sake of the Gospel;

if we take up our cross, you will certainly defend us,

and bring us to everlasting life.

YHWH, your work accomplish in us; the path of your Son let us walk.  If we walk with you unto the Cross, we shall walk with you in Heaven.  If from the Cross we turn, where shall we find our salvation?  It is in suffering for the sake of the kingdom we find our freedom – let us lose our lives for you and your Son’s Gospel.

We must not think as men do, dear LORD, but as your Son instructs.  If we wish to come to you, we cannot follow the way of the world.  You are in Heaven and if to Heaven we wish to come then die we must to this empty life.  Let not the darkness of this place encompass us, let it not touch our hearts, but let us take our refuge in the death of your Son and we shall be raised from the nether world.

Buffets and spitting may be our fate in this life, but if we endure all with faith in you, with your Son we will be made strong, and be justified in His Day.

Direct download: BC-091612-Su_24_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Nm.21:4b-9;   Ps.78:1-2,7,34-38;   Phil.2:6-11;   Jn.3:13-17)

 

“God greatly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him

the name which is above every name.”

 

And why is it that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bend”?  Why does “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord”?  It is because “He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  It is precisely because “He emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness” and dying as a cursed criminal, that this innocent dove who was “in the form of God” became the praise of our race and the source of our salvation.

Yes, He and His cross are now the source of our salvation.  By His cross we find the forgiveness of our sins.  Now that “the Son of Man has been lifted up… everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life.”  Now that we have been shown both our sins and the love God has for us sinners in the Lord’s being nailed to the cross, we may find the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.  Just as the Israelites looked upon their sin, recognizing their guilt in the serpents God had sent among them – and finding also its conquering in the serpent’s being bronzed and “mounted on a pole” – so now we who look upon our crucified Lord cannot help but see how we have injured our God, and at the same moment find cleansing for those sins in His blood upon the cross to which we have nailed Him. 

 Do not be afraid to come to His cross, brothers and sisters.  Do not shy away from His love or turn away from the recognition of your guilt.  By it alone will you, too, be exalted with the Lord who has humbled Himself and died for you.  By it alone will you find glory in God eternally.

He loves us so, brothers and sisters.  “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that He who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  And so the cross becomes a sign of triumph not only for our Lord, but for ourselves; for indeed by it we are saved – without it we would yet be lost in our sin.  But as it is He “has come down from heaven.”  As it is He has been “lifted up” before our eyes.  As it is He has sacrificed Himself in absolute love to draw us unto Him and His love.  As with the Israelites “He, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not,” so now He forgives our sins and carries us “up to heaven,” whence He has come.  And so we rejoice in the victory of His holy cross.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let us be saved from our sin

by the sacrifice of your only Son. 

YHWH, to be saved from our sin we needed first to recognize our sin and repent of it.  And how could our sin be made clearer to our eyes than in the crucifixion of God Himself, than in the suffering and death of your only Son?  What could better bring us to repentance than to see the effects of our sin so graphically displayed?

And how could we better know your love for us, LORD, than in Jesus’ willingness to undergo all the tortures the sins of men could inflict upon Him, all only that these same men might be saved from the hatred that had taken hold of our hearts?  Your Son has humbled Himself even to the point of death, death on a Cross; and so, what should we do but glorify His Name and the Cross which is the source of our salvation?

Forgive us, O LORD, our bitterness toward you.  Raise us up with Christ, your Son.

Direct download: Triumph_of_the_Cross_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Is.35:4-7a;   Ps.146:2,6-10;   Jas.2:1-5;   Mk.7:31-37) 

“He makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”

The Lord makes all whole.  He “sets captives free” from all their afflictions as He redeems us from all our sin.  “Here is your God, He comes with vindication; with divine recompense He comes to save you.”  This is He who “has done all things well”; this is the Lord Jesus Christ.

“And immediately the man’s ears were opened, his speech impediment was removed, and he spoke plainly.”  By a word: “‘Ephphatha!’ – that is, ‘Be opened!’” the deaf mute is healed by Jesus, causing all to be “exceedingly astonished.”  And in their astonishment their eyes are opened, for “the Lord gives sight to the blind.”  And so He who sustains “the fatherless and the widow” and “gives food to the hungry” stands before the eyes of all now; and so indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf be cleared…  Then the tongue of the dumb will sing.”  And so streams “burst forth in the desert” and “the lame leap like a stag,” for He comes – He comes to heal all nations.

Brothers and sisters, God chose “those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that He promised to those who love Him.”  He chose the blind; He chose the lame; He chose the deaf and the mute – He chose the hungry and oppressed.  He chose you and me in all our sin, in all our weakness before Him, and came to release us from all fear.  Making no distinction except to favor the soul who thirsts for Him, He came bringing “springs of water.”  And these waters heal.  And these waters set us free.  And these waters remove our “shabby clothes” and don us “with gold rings and fine clothes” spun by the hand of God.

Brothers and sisters, “adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.”  For He is glorious indeed, and coming into His assembly with all your imperfections purged from your soul, you shall know such glory and not be able to withhold yourself from proclaiming such glory.  Yes, you shall be one with “the Lord [who] shall reign forever.”  He shall be “your God, O Zion, through all generations,” and with tongue loosened and renewed you shall sing “Alleluia” to the Lord forevermore.  Know now His power upon you.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Beauty Is in the Eye of the Beholder" (2nd half) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, open our ears that we might hear your voice

and follow in your way.

YHWH, you chose the poor to inherit your kingdom.  The deaf, the blind, the lame – to these you bring your healing touch.  You come to those who recognize their need for you and take them to yourself.  In your Son you fulfill your will for the good of all who desire you.  For this we can but praise you.

O LORD God, you keep faith forever, you eternally offer forth love to us, the rivers of grace known in the work of Jesus.  You can but love us; you can but desire our good.  For you are all good, you are all love, and so you look with pity upon those in need, upon fallen man so separated from your love.

O may we all be cleansed of our sin!  O may we all be made whole in your sight!  Let the touch of your Son be upon us, dear LORD, that we might sing of your glory forever.  O let our hearts be open to your love!

Direct download: BC-090912-Su_23_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Mic.5:1-4 or Rm.8:28-30;   Ps.13:6,Is.61:9;   Mt.1:1-16,18-23

Note:  I shall treat of both first readings)

 

“It is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived this child.”

 

“God is with us,” brothers and sisters, and how has He chosen to come among us but through a woman, but through a virgin found with child?  And this Virgin daughter of Israel from “Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah” – she the humblest of the chosen people, the meekest servant of our race – has been thus greatly blessed “according to His decree,” for she is the first whom God “predestined to share the image of His Son.”  She is the first of Christians prepared and called by the Lord, and now “in turn glorified” in His presence.  It is her birth, it is her role in our salvation we celebrate today, for by her complicity with the will of God “now His greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; He shall be peace.”

The fact that “God makes all things work together for the good of those who have been called” is evident both in the situation of Mary’s life as Mother of the Lord and in the very fact of her call itself.  First of all, God chooses this woman, this humble creature of the chosen race of His most humble creation to participate with Him in bringing His Son and His salvation into the world.  The lengthy genealogy at the start of our gospel also bears witness to the very human nature of Jesus, whose “family record” can indeed be traced so precisely, and among whose ancestors are many who were far less perfect than He – including a prostitute, an adulterer, and evil kings.  God chooses to come through man, through a woman, to make quite real His redemptive power over the sins of our race, to put flesh to the eternal Word of the Father.

And in the particular situations of Mary’s life, we see how difficulties, how “bitterness,” if you will, is turned to sweetness, too, for we note that Joseph was prepared to divorce his yet-to-be wife when found with child, and we know that the prophet tells us a sword shall pierce her heart as well as her Son’s; but that notwithstanding, and indeed through that cross she bears with Him, she shall find the glorification promised all children of the Most High.  She certainly shares now in the fruits of His redemption.

And we also share in these same fruits, brothers and sisters.  We are likewise predestined and called and justified and glorified if we make ourselves as obedient as our Mother in the faith.  He “whose origin is from of old” is with us now, too, and so we should “sing of the Lord, ‘He has been good to me’” as we “rejoice in [His] salvation” at work within us, a salvation whose coming was prepared in the birth of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the power of the Holy Spirit brought to us through she who shares our own flesh.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary

you have sent your only Son to save us from our sins –

may He be always with us.

YHWH, your Son has come among us through the Virgin Mary, to be with us and save us from our sins.  May we welcome Him into our lives as has Mary, as has Joseph, and so find ourselves led to glory with you.  In you do we trust; let us sing of your salvation.

So humbly Jesus has come to us, through a humble virgin, a child called by you to share His image, to encompass Him with devotion that she might bear Him to us – and He has allowed Himself to be made so humble, to be found in her womb as a child of our race.  He has come to this place, O LORD, as the leaven of peace and truth that the darkness which surrounds us might be dispelled by His majestic presence.  O let His glory reach to the ends of the earth!

By the Holy Spirit, Mary has conceived and served to bring Christ to us.  Prepare us, O LORD, as you have prepared her to fulfill your Word among us.

Direct download: Birth_of_Mary_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Dt.4:1-2,6-8;   Ps.15:1-5;   Jas.1:17-18,21b-22,27;   Mk.7:1-8,14-15,21-23) 

“Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you

and is able to save your souls.”

Welcome it, yes, and “be doers of the word and not hearers only.”  For how else shall you show that the word of God is planted in you except that you bear fruit?  All that is planted well indeed grows and bears fruit in the light of God.

Brothers and sisters, God “willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits.”  “What great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law?”  Indeed the Law of God is whole, the Law of God is perfect – the Law of God gives life.  For this reason Moses instructs the people: “You shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it,” for the Law is holy as He, and keeping it we prove ourselves to be so holy; keeping it we cannot but “give evidence of [our] wisdom and intelligence to the nations.”  Yes, with the Lord “there is no alteration or shadow caused by change.”  His light is perfect, and His light is eternal, and we must be children of His holy light.

But what of those for whom the washing of hands has become more important than keeping the commandments of God?  What about those over whom Isaiah prophesies: “This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me”?  Woe to these, for they have not the word of truth planted in them and so only evil things “come out from within,” and thereby they are defiled.  Oh may the Lord never pronounce over our souls: “In vain do they worship me”!  Oh let us never be producers of the evils of this world!

“Every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights,” and he “who thinks the truth in his heart and slanders not with his tongue” knows the gifts of the Creator and walks in His holy light.  No “great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon Him.”  For His truth is indeed within us and this word comes straight to His ear.  The beat of our hearts is known to our God as we worship in spirit and in truth.  The only food that saves souls is laid upon our table.  The Word of God we consume and so are made His children, caring for “orphans and widows in their affliction” and keeping ourselves “unstained by the world.”

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "What Is In Your Heart" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, if we walk according to your Word,

we shall be saved.

YHWH, your Word you have planted within us and so call us to follow in your way.  Your Law comes to our ears that we might observe your commandments and so have life.  But if we do not welcome the Word you give, if we do not do as we are commanded, we shall be empty vessels in which corruption may find a home.

O LORD, let us walk blamelessly before you, cherishing the truth in our hearts and guarding our tongues from all evil.  You give us the grace to approach perfection; you are close to us when we call upon you, when you and your glory are our desire.  May we be innocent of all sin, our hands clean from all defilement, and we shall be blessed all our days.

Let your Word live in us and grow in us, dear God.  Let there be no room in us for greed or deceit or any of the wickedness known to man.  With our very lives let us honor you – O let us be truly wise!

Direct download: BC-090212-Su_22_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Jos.24:1-2a,15-17,18b;   Ps.34:2-3,9,16-21;   Eph.5:21-32;   Jn.6:60-69) 

“Do you also want to leave?”

How like the questions pertaining to the marriage vows is our Lord’s inquiry of the Twelve, and Joshua’s statement to the Israelites he has just brought out of the wilderness into the Promised Land.  “If it does not please you to serve the Lord, decide today whom you will serve,” Joshua says, “as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.”  And Jesus seeks to find from His apostles if they will be like “many of His disciples [who] returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied Him” after His teaching on the Bread of Life.

Do you take Jesus to be your husband?  To honor and obey, to love… to “become one flesh” with Him who is “the Holy One of God”?  You are free to leave, or you are free to come unto Him.  Though He knows your heart and your choice, yet you are free to make it as you please.  How shall you answer the Lord?

Paul renders a beautiful account of the love of husband and wife, relating it well “to Christ and the Church.”  “Husbands should love their wives as their own bodies… no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the Church.”  And what can the good wife do when loved “as Christ loved the Church and handed Himself over for her,” bleeding and dying on the cross to wash away all our sins – what can she do when confronted with such utter sacrifice for her sake alone but revere her husband and respect his every wish?  In loving such a man she finds her joy.  (How the wife of Joshua must have beamed to hear her husband’s public declaration that he and his household would follow the Lord!  Who could argue with such blessed authority?)

And now, what of you and I, brothers and sisters, we who have the most faithful husband of all?  Do we “bless the Lord at all times”?  Does our “soul glory in the Lord” as King David’s today?  Do we realize how He “watches over all [our] bones” and makes them pure as His own?  Or will we be fool enough to leave His loving embrace?  The words must come from your mouths as well, and mean them: “We also will serve the Lord, for He is our God.”

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Marriage" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, to whom else shall we go,

to whom else shall we be wed…

for you alone are God?

YHWH, let us never leave you but be wed to your Son and become as His Body in this world.  O let His Spirit be upon us to bring us to eternal life!  What need we do but be obedient to Him and serve one another in His love?  You will certainly watch over and guide us safely in all things if we are united to Jesus.

He left you, O Father in Heaven, to be joined to us, to save us, to pour out His blood as a cleansing shower to purify us from all sin, that we might be able to join you in Heaven with Him.  In splendor may He present us to you; let us be faithful until the coming of His Day.

Flesh of His flesh and blood of His blood, you cannot but look upon us with favor, dear LORD.  And so, let us praise you all our days, never turning from worship of you, the one true God.  Let all your children serve you alone.

Direct download: BC-082612-Su_21_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Rv.21:9-14;   Ps.145:10-13,17-18;   Jn.1:45-51) 

“Come, I will show you the woman who is the bride of the Lamb.”

Nathanael (who is Bartholomew) is taken by Philip (whose name means “love”) to meet the bridegroom of his soul – and immediately he weds himself to the Lord, recognizing Him as the Son of God.  As Bartholomew is without guile, so must all His Church be so sincere to find the glory that awaits us “under the fig tree” in the absolute peace and splendor of His presence.  How else will we see Him?  How else can we recognize Him?  How else will we become one with Him if we don’t come to Him even with the faith of this innocent child?

“You shall see the sky opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son Man.”  He it is who stands in the breach between earth and heaven; He it is who is as the ladder we climb to find God’s eternal kingdom: by Him it is heaven comes to us and we fly to heaven – His angels are with us to guide us to the vision of His splendor and lead us to safety within the protective walls of His Church as His bride.  As the angel comes to John, leading him to vision of the heavenly kingdom, so by Jesus the angels come to us to carry us home in His arms.  May we find the peace that awaits us within His walls and enter through its gates.

And who are the foundation stones of this glorious kingdom but John and Bartholomew and the Lord’s blessed apostles?  These simple men who walked the earth as you and I have now become the radiant gems on which Holy Church is set – they serve now to support the Bride of the Lamb and bring her to His “dominion” which “endures through all generations.”  These generations include our own, and we simple men are now called and guided by the “discourse” of these “faithful ones” to enter in and take our own place in the city which has “the radiance of a precious jewel that sparkle[s] like a diamond.”  But to do so we must be like Him who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works.”  We must come as Nathanael, without guile, guided only by love, to find our place in the peaceful kingdom.

The Lord sees us all, brothers and sisters.  He knows us all.  He knows we are but simple men and women, but this is who He seeks.  Let us trust utterly in Him, and His angels will take us to the bridal chamber and we shall enter in and dwell with Him in His “kingdom for all ages” with all His holy ones redeemed in His blood.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let us see the sky opened and the Son of God

and His holy Bride coming down out of Heaven;

let us have eyes that look for Him,

hearts that long for Him.

YHWH, may the sky be opened and our eyes see the glorious splendor of your kingdom coming down unto us.  Let us be pure and innocent, without guile, as all your children must be, and indeed your glory shall be revealed to us.  And we shall declare with all your apostles that you are God and Jesus is your only Son.

Through all ages your kingdom lasts, O LORD; your dominion endures through all generations.  And that kingdom your Son comes to make known to us – and into that kingdom we must all be built.  The apostles are the foundation stones of your Church, and they speak of your might to all, but every soul must shine with your radiance in your holy City.

O LORD, let us be wed to your Lamb and to His sacrifice; then indeed we shall have our eyes opened to see the angels ascending and descending upon Him.  Then indeed we shall enter the gates of the New Jerusalem.

Direct download: St_Bartholomew_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Prv.9:1-6;   Ps.34:2-7;   Eph.5:15-20;   Jn.6:51-58) 

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink of His blood,

you do not have life within you.”

Wisdom “has spread her table”; “she has dressed her meat, mixed her wine.”  And now she sends out “her maidens,” calling “from the heights out over the city… ‘Come, eat of my food, and drink of the wine I have mixed!’”  Let the simple hearts, those who seek understanding and refreshment, “turn in here.”  Here is bread that He gives “for the life of the world.”  Yes, His “flesh is true food, and [His] blood is true drink.”  Jesus, the only Son, has come “down from heaven” and now spreads the table before us, in fulfillment of the Scriptures, in answer to all prayers.

Are not our priests His maidens calling souls forth to the altar where we feed?  Is the Church not His city where His voice resounds, where His blood is outpoured?  And so we should heed the instruction of Paul today and “watch carefully how [we] live, not as foolish persons but as wise,” seeking the precious bread that opens all eyes.  “Do not get drunk on wine, in which lies debauchery”; rather, “be filled with the Spirit” that comes to you in this wine made holy, in His sacred blood.

Brothers and sisters, let us “address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in [our] hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.”  For what greater joy could there be than this Blessed Sacrament?  And so, “glorify the Lord with me, let us together extol His name,” that we may indeed be “radiant with joy, and [our] faces may not blush with shame.”  For the wise come to this table and eat, and so have life everlasting.  For the Lord is here in our midst, in flesh and blood.  Here is the house with “seven columns” in which His children ever dwell.  The foolish may fall by the wayside, but the wise receive eternal life.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Love, the Meaning of" part c. "Love" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking His blood,

we gain understanding, we come to eternal life…

and so our mouths are filled with praise!

YHWH, feed us with the flesh and blood of your only Son, this spiritual bread and wine that nourishes us to eternal life.  The days are evil and the food the world offers brings man only death – give us wisdom to see the emptiness, the foolishness of feasting on such corrupted fare, and come to your table today.

O LORD, we praise you for your goodness to us, for when we sought you, when we recognized our lack of understanding and turned to you and to your Son, our shame you took from us and made us radiant with joy.  May Wisdom remain with us always; your Spirit ever sing in us of your surpassing glory.

To the banquet let us come, to the feast Jesus prepares for us by His sacrifice.  Let us eat His Body and drink His Blood and live forever in your heavenly kingdom.

Direct download: BC-081912-Su_20_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Rv.11:19a,12:1-6a,10ab;   Ps.45:10-12,16;   1Cor.15:20-26;   Lk.1:39-56)

 

“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,

with the moon beneath her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

 

The Queen of Heaven here appears to us in her glory.  She who has been taken up by her Son to His heavenly kingdom to stand at His side: “The queen takes her place at your right hand in gold of Ophir.”  Yes, Lord, the Mother you preserved from sin for all eternity you have preserved from the jaws of death; she who has suffered so intimately with you here on earth now shares your glory in heaven.  And as she has said, “All generations will call me blessed,” for you have “lifted up the lowly” and she your humblest and most holy of all creatures can be nowhere but with you in your eternal life.  May she bless us from her place with you this holy day.

In Mary we find our hope, brothers and sisters; in her we find it fulfilled, made real by the hand of God.  We know that “in Christ shall all be brought to life,” and “in proper order” she so blessed in life is now so blessed in death, having been preserved from its clutches and preceding us into God’s heavenly realm.  The devil would have devoured her and her child, but she and He, and we with them, have escaped his gaping mouth and the fire it breathes; this enemy and the death he wrought is destroyed by our Lord and His birth through the Virgin Mary, and so, “now have salvation and power come.”  “The kingdom of our God and the authority of His Anointed One” now reign supreme, and she who has been His special instrument in bringing such salvation now stands at His side in His paradise.

“How does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” asks Elizabeth in wonder at the blessed presence of Mary in her midst.  She who carries the Lord shares in His divinity in a way beyond our comprehension, for if her own kinswoman could be filled with such awe, recognizing whence Mary comes, how much more should we be filled with veneration for the Virgin daughter of Israel?  Indeed, it is her voice which causes the Baptist to leap for joy in the womb; with such joy we should approach this sacred day.

As intimately as she was with Jesus, and is with Jesus now, so intimately is she with His Church here on earth as well as in heaven.  From her place at His side she watches over us and cares for our needs as any mother for her son.  We are her sons and daughters, united to her through the One Lord, Jesus Christ.  She comes to us now at the end of the age, granting wisdom and direction to those who seek their place with her Son.  Call her blessed, brothers and sisters in Christ, and see her glory shining forth at the right hand of God.  In her you will find light greater than sun and moon and stars.  You will find the presence of our Lord and our God.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, look upon all your lowly servants with favor,

that we might join Mary at your Son’s side

in the kingdom. 

YHWH, your promise of mercy is fulfilled in our midst as she who is blessed comes to us bearing your Son.  And our hearts leap for joy at her approach, for indeed she brings salvation with her, and so the destruction of death.  In her Son is your kingdom, your power come, and to His glory we are all called.

Dearest Mary, who are we that you should come to us, O Mother of our Lord?  O what blessing you are for those who rejoice with you in God our Savior!  For as He has looked upon you, His lowly servant, so He looks upon all poor creatures and fills our emptiness with His presence.  O that we might stand with you at His side this day!

LORD, in Jesus death is conquered and all souls are brought to life again.  His Virgin Mother is the first to join Him in your glory, for you prepared a place for her.  May we all find the place prepared for us in your kingdom. 

Direct download: Assumption_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(1Kgs.19:4-8;   Ps.34:2-9;   Eph.4:30-5:2;   Jn.6:41-51)

“Strengthened by that food he walked forty days and forty nights

to the mountain of God, Horeb.”

As the forty days and forty nights Noah found himself protected from the rains by the Lord; as the forty years the Israelites were guided through the desert; as the forty days Jesus found strength in the Word of God while fasting in the wilderness… as Elijah is fed for his journey, so we for the fullness of our days feed upon “the bread of life” as we travel to the heavenly kingdom of our Lord.  Here is our ark; here is our manna – here is all the strength and protection we need.  He is our food.

“His praise shall be ever in my mouth,” for His food is ever on our altar, and this Sacrament fills us with nothing but joy.  If we had not this food, indeed “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling” would come from our mouths so poisoned by the fruit of the world.  But as it is “Christ loved us and handed Himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma,” and thus we “taste and see how good the Lord is” and cannot but “glorify the Lord” and “extol His name.”

That “the angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him and delivers them” is illustrated clearly in the trials of Elijah.  Overwhelmed by “all [his] fears,” the “afflicted” prophet “prayed for death, saying, ‘This is enough, O Lord!  Take my life.’”  But “from all his distress [God] saved him,” for an “angel of the Lord… touched him, and ordered, ‘Get up and eat, else the journey will be too long for you!’”  And Elijah “got up, ate, and drank” the food and water the Lord provided, and made it safely to the mountain where the Lord God would speak to him.

“This is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die.”  All strength and blessing come from the Lord through His only Son.  And being drawn to Him and so discovering the Father of all, what can our faces be but “radiant with joy,” the joy of His eternal, loving presence?  Let us come this day to the holy mountain of God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Body of Christ" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, you give us the flesh of your Son

that we might live,

and you send your angels to guard us.

YHWH, your Son has given His flesh as a sacrificial offering that we might eat of this Bread and be strengthened for our journey to eternal life on your holy mountain.  Help us to walk with you, to walk with Him as your beloved children, your angel at our side, your Holy Spirit within us to bless us and keep us faithful to you until the Day of redemption is fulfilled.  O let us be taught by you!  Let us come to your Son and be fed with His Body and Blood, with the Word He is, offered for our salvation.

Why should we murmur among ourselves, dearest LORD?  Why should we doubt and fear your presence among us and your care for us?  Why do we court death in our despair?  You are near!  You hear the afflicted man when he calls out – you have delivered us from death by sending us your Son.  Let us glory in the gift you give us.  Let us taste your goodness this day.

Direct download: BC-081212-Su_19_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Cor.9:6-10;   Ps.112:1-2,5-9;   Jn.12:24-26)

 

“The just man shall be in everlasting remembrance.”

 

The servant of the Lord lays down his life in His name.  Today we celebrate St. Lawrence, deacon, servant, and martyr, who gave his life and his death generously to God.  His life must be that of every Christian; his witness is one we are called to follow.

“The man who hates his life in this world preserves it to life eternal,” the Lord tells His disciples in today’s gospel.  As “the grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies,” so must we if we are to produce “much fruit.”  We cannot hold on to our lives and our pride but must give them over in service of God, or they will be nothing worth.  We must trust in the words of Paul that “God can multiply His favors” among us, that as much as we give generously of ourselves, the more He will provide; and the greater will thus be our reward as we draw ever closer to Him and His sacrifice.  “Where I am, there will my servant be.”  By these words Jesus both calls and assures all who would follow Him that the laying down of their lives will bring them “honor” in the presence of the Father.  To be so “exalted in glory,” we must be washed in His blood.

The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church; it is by their sacrifice, their total giving of themselves, that the Church does grow.  They bear witness to God’s power working in the world, and we must sow bountifully with them in order to “reap bountifully” the graces of the Lord.  He provides the seed we sow and will “multiply the seed” and its yield; as long as we remain “firm, trusting in the Lord,” our posterity shall endure unto heaven.  So let us plant our prayers and our works and our lives in the fertile earth where the martyrs found their joy, and whether we live or die, we “shall be blessed in His holy presence.”

May all the Church ring out their praises to the God who calls and blesses us with the holy example of those who serve Him and give their lives completely to Him.  “Lavishly He gives to the poor; His generosity shall endure forever,” so let us pray that this blessed yield the Lord provides will be increased in our own time, and that we may join in the grace of such sacrifice.  In His Spirit and in His blood may we ever grow away from the earth and the death it holds and unto the life of “everlasting remembrance” in heaven with God.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, if we serve you,

we will be where Jesus has been

– fixed to a cross –

and so, blessed will we be as He accepts our sacrifice,

for we will come to where He is now in Heaven. 

YHWH, the seed and its yield are both in your hand, and you give freely to all of your abundance.  Help us to be generous as you, trusting that you will always multiply and increase our yield, trusting that all we are and all we do are in your holy hand.

O LORD, let us unite ourselves with the Cross of your Son, let us plant our souls in His blessed death, that we might bear much fruit and endure unto eternal life.  Let us be so blessed to be His servants, to follow in His way, to be joined to His holy sacrifice.  Then we shall be honored with all your saints, with all who lay down their lives in your Name.

What is it to hate our lives in this world but to see ourselves as we are, small and insignificant as a grain of wheat?  Yet giving what little we have cheerfully to you and to others, our yield becomes abundant, dear God.

Direct download: St._Lawrence_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Dn.7:9-10,13-14;   Ps.97:1-2,5-6,9;   2Pt.1:16-19;

Mt.17:1-9 – Mk.9:2-10 – Lk.9:28b-36

Note: since the three gospel accounts vary only in detail,

they are treated as one in this one exposition for the day)

 

“I saw one like a son of man coming on the clouds of heaven.”

 

Daniel’s vision, as John’s vision in the Book of Revelation, is perceived in the flesh by the three apostles on MountTabor, and is known in all our hearts as “the morning star” of faith rises in our hearts.  It is the coming of Jesus in all His glory Peter, James, and John glimpse here in the Transfiguration, and it is this same glory to which we are all called.

The Lord wishes that the faith of the apostles and so the faith of the Church be strengthened against the “dark place” in which we find ourselves, so He here provides “a lamp shining” for them and for us, that we might not doubt the overwhelming “dominion, glory, and kingship” that are His and that will one day be ours as we join Him at the throne of God.  He is indeed “the Most High over all the earth, exalted far above all gods,” and the “flames of fire” which flow out from where He sits, the brightest of lights He is for “all peoples, nations, and languages,” we must ever be “attentive to.”

So Jesus leads His three principal apostles up the mountain.  Apart by themselves and in prayer Himself, Jesus is “transfigured before them”: “His face change[s] in appearance and His clothing [becomes] dazzling white.”  What a fearful, absolutely awesome scene it is for Peter, James, and John.  Moses the great lawgiver and Elijah the great prophet appear in glory as well before them, speaking with Jesus of His coming sacrifice.  If this is not enough to stir their hearts, and our own, they are overshadowed by a fearsome cloud and the Father’s own voice speaks to them: “This is my beloved Son.  Listen to Him.”  Now they see Jesus alone, the Son of God Himself before their wide-open eyes.  He tells them not to speak yet of the vision, but their mouths are already shut tight in awe.  After the resurrection and the coming of the Spirit they will speak openly of the Lord’s glory – as Peter does for us today in our second reading, saying, “We had been eyewitnesses of His Majesty” – but for now they cannot utter the truth of such glory.

“The power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” has been well documented for us now; “the prophetic message” reaches to the ends of the earth: Jesus is the Son of God and “all peoples shall see His glory.”  What the apostles glimpsed on MountTabor, what Daniel and the prophets foresaw, what the psalms sing about and that of which the proverbs and parables speak is come.  It dawns now on our human sight, the surpassing glory of the only Son; let us treasure that light with all our hearts.  He comes now on the clouds of heaven.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, how great is your power,

how bright your light,

and yet you make yourself known to our mortal eyes. 

YHWH, how great is your Majesty!  How wonderful your glory!  How brightly does your light shine!  You are a consuming fire, purging away all darkness, all the impurities of sinful man.

And does your Son not perfectly reflect your glorious Majesty?  Is He not your very image, O God?  And so, should we not listen to Him whom you have sent, Him who is your own, who carries your dominion among us?

How blessed were the eyes of the three apostles to see the transfigured glory of your Son, to glimpse the surpassing wonder to which all souls are called – and to hear your voice!  O LORD, how fearful a moment this must have been, and how much joy it must have brought to them, and should bring to us.

Let us be so blessed, dear LORD, to keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the light that is Jesus, and soon become one with your risen Son.

Direct download: Transfiguration_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Ex.16:2-4,12-15;   Ps.78:3-4,23-25,54;   Eph.4:17,20-24;   Jn.6:24-35) 

“Do not work for food that perishes

but for food that endures for eternal life,

which the Son of Man will give you.”

Their bellies rumbling in the desert, “the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron,” calling out for food to satiate their hunger.  How they long to be beside their “flesh pots” in Egypt, where they “ate [their] fill of bread” – even if they should die there.  Their great concern is for the food which perishes.

And in our gospel, too, Jesus upbraids the crowd who follow Him, saying, “You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled,” the Lord having just fed the five thousand.  They, too, seek the satiation of their physical hunger while remaining blind to the spiritual food Jesus is.

This lack of comprehension of the life in the Spirit the Lord would impart is exemplified in the name the Israelites give the bread from heaven God has provided for their pilgrimage.  “Manna” they call it, after the question they “asked one another, ‘What is this?’ for they did not know what it was.”  And how little do those who question Jesus understand of “the bread of God… which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”  Even as they say, “Sir, give us this bread always,” they do not see that He stands before them, and that they have already partaken of the bread He is.  And so, most will turn away, their hearts more set upon the belly than the spirit.  And so, with the belly many will perish.

Brothers and sisters, “You should put away the old self of your former way of life, corrupted through deceitful desires, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new self, created in God’s way of righteousness and holiness of truth.”  Listen to your brother Paul, for he speaks of Jesus and the new life He brings.  Here on our altar is “the bread of angels”; and would you turn to eating rotting flesh?  The Lord calls you into the heavenly kingdom; and would you choose slavery in the land of sin instead?  “Abundance” of food in “His holy land” is now set before us by the Son of Man – partake of this bread of everlasting life, the flesh and blood of Christ.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "The Spirit Rules the Body" from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us eat the Bread you give us,

the food that endures to eternal life.

YHWH, let our minds be renewed, our hearts set on you, on the Bread from Heaven you give us in your Son.  Why should we be concerned for the things of the belly and the corruption it brings?  Let us be men of the Spirit eating the Bread of angels, not of beasts.

If it is upon the flesh we set our sights, if we desire the food that perishes, we will perish with it.  But if, O LORD, we long for the food that endures to eternal life, eternal life will be ours by the grace at your hand.  O let us do your works and not those of the devil!

If we come to your Son, O LORD, He will feed us with His Body.  If we but believe in Him, He will quench our thirst.  We shall never be in want again if we but embrace the One you have sent.

O Jesus, let us look for you and we shall find the truth you are and no longer live in futility but have abundance in your Father’s holy land.

Direct download: BC-080512-Su_18_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Kgs.4:42-44;   Ps.145:10-11,15-18;   Eph.4:1-6;   Jn.6:1-15) 

“They shall eat and there shall be some left over.”

O Lord, “the eyes of all look hopefully to you, and you give them their food in due season; you open your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing.”  You are He who is “just in all His ways and holy in all His works,” and eating the food you offer, we become holy as well.

Brothers and sisters, if we “live in a manner worthy of the call [we] have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of spirit through the bond of peace,” what shall not be ours?  Will the cup upon our table not overflow?  For then we shall be holy as He is holy.  And what does it mean to be holy but to be perfect, to be complete?  Did not those reclining on the grass eat as much bread “and also as much fish as they wanted”?  Is it not true that they “had their fill”?  And will those who come to the table of the Lord today, to partake of the sacrifice offered on His altar, be found wanting?  No, certainly not.  For as far as Jesus’ miracle of feeding the five thousand with five loaves surpasses Elisha’s feeding the hundred with twenty loaves, thus far and more does Jesus’ feeding our bodies and souls with His Bread and Wine surpass the miracle we hear of today in our gospel.  For now billions eat.  Now all who come are fed.  Without limit souls are satisfied, and satisfied unto heaven.

Two notes I would make regarding our readings today.  The first is that when Jesus performed this miracle of feeding the five thousand, “the Jewish feast of the Passover was near.”  The Evangelist does not state this in vain: it is on the feast of the Passover Jesus shall offer Himself as the new Lamb of whose flesh all must partake – it is this day He shall institute the Eucharist.  And note, too, Elisha’s immediate words upon being offered the twenty barley loaves as a gift: “Give it to the people to eat.”  What is given him he offers to all, and so prefigures our Lord’s generous sacrifice of Himself – and so exemplifies the attitude we all must have to whatever the Lord provides.  For then it is we show faith in our God’s providential hand; and it is then we participate in the abundant outpouring of His gifts upon all who await His blessing.  “One body and one Spirit” are we all, and to this oneness there is no limit.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "The Whole Whale" (first third) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, it is by your hand we are fed –

let us look not upon the things of this earth.

YHWH, in our hunger our eyes look hopefully to you, and you do not disappoint our longing; you feed us by the hand of your only Son – upon His Body we feast.  For He gives Himself to us that we might never hunger again, for to the abundance of this food there is no end.  All who desire shall eat, and there shall be some left over.

We need not fear that the food you provide shall run short and we be left alone in a desert place.  No, to all who call upon you in truth you are very near, O LORD, very ready to answer our pleas.  How much closer could you be to us than in the flesh and blood of your only Son?  What more could you give us to eat than His presence?

We are one in you, O LORD, one in body and one in spirit through your Son; we are all your children, dear God and Father, and in the love of Jesus that oneness is fulfilled.  And so we praise your surpassing glory.

Direct download: BC-072912-Su_17_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Cor.4:7-15;   Ps.126:1-6;   Mt.20:20-28)

 

 “Continually we carry about in our bodies the dying of Jesus,

   so that in our bodies the life of Jesus may also be revealed.”

 

In His apostles the death and resurrection of Jesus are most clearly shown.  It is particularly their place to suffer persecution, to be “afflicted” and “crushed”, “constantly being delivered to death for Jesus’ sake”; and it is particularly their grace to show forth the glory of the resurrection.  In this selfless service of the Lord, what comes through them is the preaching of the Word; “the spirit of faith” prompts them to speak, and though it bring their death, they do not hesitate: “We believe and so we speak, knowing that he who raised up the Lord Jesus will raise us up along with Jesus and place both us and you in His presence.”  Paul speaks here for all the apostles, and for the grace which comes to us as well through their service.

The Son of Man has come “to give His life as ransom for the many,” and James truly moves quickly “to drink of the cup” of which the Lord partakes.  As the first apostle martyred for the faith, he leads all the apostles forth to such sacrifice, in which they shall all soon join him.  Once the Spirit is upon them, speaking through them, they will have the unquestioned faith necessary to confront without fear, but indeed with holy joy, the death to which each is called.  They “possess a treasure in earthen vessels” and the vessels must be broken for the “surpassing power” of God to come to fulfillment in them and through them.  Willingly do they lay down their lives once the Spirit inspires them, once their faith has been strengthened – once they have lost entirely any preoccupation with honors and attachments of this life, they come preaching and serving, facing the death the world inflicts therefore without a thought to run and hide, but knowing the joy it shall bring deep inside.

“Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.”  We are taken as captives from this world, our hands tied behind us.  But upon returning from this exile, after this death we suffer, we know our mouth will be “filled with laughter, and our tongue with rejoicing.”  So surpassing is the peace which awaits us, the troubles of this life of mission in His Name are as nothing.  Let us pray to the Lord that we shall always speak freely in His Name.  Let us pray to imitate James and all the apostles in their selfless service of Christ.  May we have always that Spirit of faith that led them forth, that in the death of our bodies, we, too, may know and reveal the life of Jesus Christ. 

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may the sacrifice of the apostles

bring many souls into the gates of your kingdom. 

YHWH, let us be ready to be delivered even to death for the sake of your Name and in union with your Son and the blood He has shed for our sakes.  All persecution let us gratefully endure, knowing it shall but lead to great joy in your kingdom.  Crushed in union with the sacrifice of Christ, let us rejoice for the blessings to come.

Let our hearts be set on service of you, O LORD, and not on the honors of this world.  Only those who lay down their lives for the sake of your Name shall find union with you in Heaven.  And so, let us drink of the cup of your Son that your glory may be known among all.

Though speaking of you bring our end in this world, we shall still continue as has James, for then we shall be raised up with him at Jesus’ side.  All power comes only from you, LORD.  We pray you work in all our lives that even our mortal flesh shall serve as a holy sacrifice.

Direct download: St._James_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Jer.23:1-6;   Ps.23:1-6;   Eph.2:13-18;   Mk.6:30-34) 

“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock

from all the lands to which I have driven them

and bring them back to their meadow.”

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  In verdant pastures He gives me repose.”  How true to Isaiah’s prophecy are King David’s words; and how true is Jesus as the “righteous shoot to David” who “shall reign and govern wisely,” who shepherds the people of God.  And how blessed “the house of the Lord” in which we dwell “for years to come.”

Brothers and sisters, is not that shore onto which Jesus disembarks in our gospel today the place where He “refreshes [our] soul”?  Does He not make these “restful waters” for all who are “like sheep without a shepherd”?  For is He Himself not the ocean in which we are cleansed and so find our peace; does His teaching not shepherd our wayward hearts into secure pastures?

“He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.”  Is Paul not true in his preaching when he claims that through Jesus all “have access in one Spirit to the Father”?  Though before there may have been Gentile and Jew and a “dividing wall of enmity” between the two, though still division may persist in the nations of man, yet the Son has come “that He might create in Himself one new person,” that He might reconcile both with God.”  And so all are one in His peace which He offers “through the cross.”

“This is the name they give Him: ‘The Lord our justice,’” for He does “what is just and right in the land.”  To this land He has come; upon this earth He has disembarked.  And now “moved with pity” He teaches us truth; “He guides [us] in right paths for His name’s sake.”  And faithful is He in His promise to “appoint shepherds” to lead us in His grace.  Already in our gospel we see the apostles rejoice in “all they have done and taught” by His authority.  And so, peace we should find now in the walls of His Church, our daily bread offered at His pulpit and upon His altar.

Thank you, Lord, for fulfilling your promise in our midst each day.

Thank you for shepherding us to eternal glory. 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "We Are God's Breath" (first half) from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, in Jesus we find our peace this day,

for He shepherds our souls with care.

YHWH, we are like sheep without a shepherd, scattered to the four corners of the earth, but your Son comes to gather us into His arms and make us one in His flesh.  For He looks upon our lost souls with pity and leads us kindly to your House.  In His blood let all be anointed, that we might find peaceful repose with you.

How blessed are those whom you look upon in your goodness, LORD; how blessed those who seek your Son.  For they shall find Him ready to bless them with His presence and the Word from His sacred lips.  And no longer shall we be wanting for anything – if we have Him we are indeed at peace.

To restful waters let us come with Him, He whom you raise up to do your will.  Then our souls shall be refreshed, LORD, and in security we shall ever dwell.  O the justice that rains down upon us by His presence in our midst!  Through His Cross, from all enmity we shall be set free.

Direct download: BC-072212-Su_16_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Amos 7:12-15;   Ps.85:8-14;   Eph.1:3-14;   Mk.6:7-13) 

“Justice shall walk before Him,

and prepare the way of His steps.”

And so when the disciples are sent out, the Lord “instruct[s] them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick.”  The walking stick signifies that the carrier is on an itinerant mission, and the walking stick serves to support the traveler along his way.  The walking stick is the cross of Christ, which does both these things and brings all the grace and guidance we need on our journey through life.  The walking stick is prepared in justice, the justice of the blood of Christ, and so it brings all who take it up to the kingdom of God.

The Father “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens,” and so, what more do we need than His cross, since in it “we have redemption by His blood”?  And now we are “sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession,” and thereby ready to walk the path He sets before us this day.  The cross of contradiction going before us, we join the apostles who “went off and preached repentance.”  Amos, too, heeded this call to chastise the people for their sins.  And for this he, too, suffered the cross, being commanded by the power of the world: “Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah!”  But still he continues to preach repentance, still he is faithful to the Lord’s instruction to “prophesy to [His] people Israel.”  And so must all His apostles be.

We need not fear the persecution upon us for “near indeed is [the Lord’s] salvation to those who fear Him.”  To those who are faithful to His call, “the Lord Himself will give all His benefits.”  We have all we need “in accord with the riches of His grace that He lavished upon us,” and we must only be “holy and without blemish before Him” – as is His desire – to find every blessing we require.  And He will give us “authority over unclean spirits”; He will enable us to cast all evil from His sight.  And so “to the praise of His glory” there will be “glory dwelling in our land.”  His justice walks now before us; let us go in the way of His steps.  His cross is all we need for the journey.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Give Me Strength" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, we have every spiritual blessing

in the heavens –

what more do we need than the Cross of Christ?

YHWH, you send forth your apostles and prophets to preach repentance, to proclaim salvation to those who turn to your Christ and wash themselves in the blood of His Cross.  This is all we need to find your peace; this is all we need to make our way through this world.  In the Cross let us take our refuge, and your Spirit will be with us.

O let us be healed, dear LORD! that we might praise your holy NAME for the redemption upon us.  Let us not turn away from those you send in Jesus’ Name, but seek rather to walk in His steps with them.  You look down from Heaven and send us your Son to be born amongst us and bring glory to this land…  Let His kindness and truth meet in us that we too might know your benefits and be your treasured possession forever.

What need we but the power of truth speaking in your Son – O LORD, drive out the demons from among us.

Direct download: BC-071512-Su_15_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Ez.2:2-5;   Ps.123:1-4;   2Cor.12:7-10;   Mk.6:1-6)

“My grace is sufficient for you,

for power is made perfect in weakness.”

And so Ezekial, though he is being sent to those “who have rebelled against [God],” to those who are “hard of face” and “obstinate of heart,” yet must declare, “Thus says the Lord,” yet must call to their rebellious hearts “whether they heed or resist.”  Likely they will resist him; likely they will persecute him, as they have all the prophets, but still he must “lift up [his] eyes” to Him who is “enthroned in heaven” – despite his weakness before these lions, he must stand strong with God.

And “so are our eyes on the Lord, our God”; so do we look to Him constantly for His mercy and protection.  “We are more than sated with contempt: our souls are more than sated with the mockery of the arrogant, with the contempt of the proud.”  The believing Christian cannot but be persecuted by the wickedness of the world, pervasive in all men’s hearts, for he stands in constant opposition to the lust and greed and violence with which fallen man seeks to fill his soul.  What can we be but weak in the face of such a hardened enemy.  And yet we must make that enemy our friend; yet we must say with Paul: “I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ.”  For we know that the power of God is with us despite our humiliation; we know that He acts just the same to thwart the wicked.

On the cross they mocked the Lord; they spurned His goodness and looked with contempt on His love, a love which died for them who beat Him.  And today we see that Jesus “came to His native place… to teach in the synagogue,” despite the fact that they would “[take] offense at Him.”  They cannot believe this humble carpenter’s son could teach with such wisdom: “Where did this man get all this?” they ask in doubt of His origin.  The Lord’s weak appearance belies the mighty Spirit which is upon Him; and those who are blind to truth and so slow of heart to believe cannot but mock and stone Him who alone would give them strength. 

Brothers and sisters, to whatever people you go let them know “that a prophet has been among them”; show them all that Christ has risen from the dead.  There may be some who will turn from their sin, and even if rebuked, you will maintain the power of the grace of God within.  Always remember, it is not you who speak but the Lord.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" (first half) from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, though so human and weak in ourselves,

in you we are strong.

YHWH, you call us to endure the mockery of the arrogant, the contempt of the proud.  Though persecuted for the Word we bring to rebellious souls, we must nonetheless speak in your NAME, content with such mistreatment.  If even your Son was rejected by His kin, to whom He came working wonders, what should we expect else, we who are but weak men?  Let us not be afraid to join in the suffering of Jesus, but rejoice that we are called to be as He is.

In humble stature your Christ walked amongst us, but great was your power upon Him.  Though we would inevitably reject His loving call and fix Him to a cross, He did not turn from such mockery of His divinity.  And so we call upon you, LORD, to give us the strength He showed, to be with us through all that comes with walking in His way.  Let your grace be at work in us as we go forth to hardened souls.

Direct download: BC-070812-Su_14_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Eph.2:19-22;   Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15;   Jn.20:24-29) 

“Blest are they who have not seen and have believed.”

The faith of Thomas.  By his faith we find faith.  In his desire to know beyond all doubt that the Lord has risen, all our doubt is taken away, and we declare with him, “My Lord and my God!”  If Thomas had not doubted so much, we would not believe so much his clear proclamation of the divinity of Jesus.  As it is, we no longer have room for doubt.  Indeed, Thomas’ ardent need to touch the nail marks in the Lord’s hands and sides is a cry to believe as firmly as bedrock, and indeed his declaration of faith is the strongest in all Scripture.  “My Lord and my God!”  In this we take refuge.

And how beautifully Paul speaks today of the faith, of the Church wherein we take refuge and dwell as one with “all the saints and members of the household of God… with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.”  It is architectural fact that in the cornerstone “the whole structure is fitted together and takes shape”; first it is laid, and then the rest of the foundation extends from it, giving the foundation its direction, its form.  And, of course, the entire building rests on and is supported by this cornerstone and foundation.  And so is the Church.  Christ is our cornerstone around which we are all formed, and the apostles, those who have seen Him and proclaimed His glory, are the foundation upon which our faith rests.  And we are all one structure, all made one in faith by the apostles and, of course, by the Lord, who is present in every stone of the building.

Let us firm up our faith this day, brothers and sisters.  Wherever we may be throughout the world and at whatever time, let us feel beneath our feet the solid foundation upon which we are built and the blessed cornerstone which is its very source and so the source of all the life and the faith within us.  Let us indeed be “built into this temple” and so become temples ourselves, knowing the surpassing blessing of becoming “a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.”   “A dwelling place for God in the Spirit”: my brothers and sisters, can there be a more marvelous call?  Let us have the faith of Thomas, crying out “My Lord and my God!” each day of our lives and in all we think, say, and do.  Let this faith permeate our very beings and we shall find ourselves standing firmly in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ and in His kingdom, which is beyond all that eye can see.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let us be blessed to know you

with a deep faith,

and so be built into your Temple.

YHWH, how good, how kind, how faithful you are to us!  For we are built into the Body of your only Son with the saints of Heaven and become as your holy Temple.  What more could we ask for, what more could we desire, than to be one with your apostles, upon whose faith your Church is founded?  Let us find our place in Jesus, the Christ.

You are God and your Son is God and we may become one with you, O God, if we but have faith in your surpassing glory, in your goodness and kindness toward us – in your Son who stands before us.  Jesus is LORD as you are LORD and we become as you are when we praise your glory and declare your Lordship over us. 

You are our LORD and our God.  Jesus is our LORD and our God.  May your Spirit be with us, O LORD, to fit us well into your Temple, into your Church, which rises this day on the foundation of your holy apostles.  Alleluia!

Direct download: St._Thomas_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Ws.1:13-15,2:23-24;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   2Cor.8:7,9,13-15;   Mk.5:21-43) 

“God formed man to be imperishable;

the image of His own nature He made him.”

“God did not make death, nor does He rejoice in the destruction of the living.”  “By the envy of the devil death entered the world, and they who belong to his company experience it,” but God has nothing to do with death: He is but Life, and would have us be with Him where He is.

It is the Lord’s will that all live, that all are rescued from death and destruction; and so Jesus “became poor, so that by His poverty [we] might become rich,” and so He died that we might live… and so He comes healing us of our disease and raising us from the dead.  David witnesses to His power in our psalm today – “You brought me up from the netherworld, you preserved me from among those going down into the pit” – and in our gospel Jesus heals the woman of her flow of blood and wakes Jairus’ daughter from her sleep.

“Little girl, I say to you, arise!” the Lord whispers to the child of twelve as He holds her by the hand, and “she [arises] immediately and walk[s] around.”  Despite the commotion and the ridicule of the crowd outside, the Lord enters her room and calls quite clearly to her heart…  Do you hear Him?  Do you hear Him speaking?  Does He not call to all our hearts to rise from the dead, from the death of sin or complacency, or whatever disease has gripped our lives?  What He speaks to the little girl He says to all: “Rise from your slumber, O sleeper!”

It is not death to which we are called, but life.  This Jesus clearly shows in His ministry upon the earth.  And though this life can only be fully known having entered the gates of heaven, and though each day we are called to lay down our lives, to die as the Lord has shown us – though this indeed be a world of suffering for the Christian soul who always carries His cross, we know the Mighty One, the Creator of the universe, holds us each in His loving hand, and He will turn our “mourning into dancing” as He breathes life upon us again.  “At nightfall weeping enters in, but with the dawn rejoicing,” as we see that never really do we die, as we discover in His presence among us our eternal life… as we sense even now our blessed immortality.  Remain with Him forever.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "To Eternal Life" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, lay your hands upon us

that death might flee and we be healed.

YHWH, in you death has no place, no power at all.  By a word from the mouth of your Son, the death we have brought upon ourselves is dispelled, and we are raised to life with you.  It is for life you have made us; bring us back to your side.

In this world we weep and mourn, O LORD; we cry out for the darkness that closes in.  But what is this death that seems to take hold to those who have faith in you?  Those who closely follow your Son shall be cured of their diseases, healed of every affliction – even from death they shall be raised, as if they were only sleeping.  For He will speak to our hearts, and hearing His voice we shall arise.  We shall live in peace forever.

Jesus has laid down His life that we might be brought up from the nether world.  Though death and sin and the envy of the devil threaten to take our posterity away, yet we shall sing praise to you, O LORD, for the salvation wrought in our midst.

Direct download: BC-070112-Su_13_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

Acts 12:1-11;   Ps.34:2-9;   2Tm.4:6-8,17-18;   Mt.16:13-19)

 

“On this rock I will build my Church,

and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.”

 

We go through death to life, for death has no power over us: the power of Jesus founded firmly on Peter, brought forward by Paul, and present in all the members of the Church and in its faith, has conquered death and leads us all to heaven.

Today we celebrate the solid foundation of the Church in Peter, the man of faith, first of the apostles and rock upon whom we are firmly set; and Paul, the great Apostle, through whom that faith went out to “all the nations.”  Our readings today clearly manifest the faith we possess, which overcomes even death, in Jesus’ commissioning of Peter and in the example shown in the lives of both Peter and Paul.

Our first reading describes Peter’s mystical release from prison and reveals in this act our own coming to the heavenly kingdom: the chains of sin fall from us, we are clothed in righteousness, and led through the snares of this world to freedom.  And it is he who holds “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” who is led out; and indeed by these keys, by this office and its grace, “the iron gate leading out to the city” opens before us “of itself.”  And in our second reading we find Paul declaring the faithful life he has led even unto the end, which he now faces, and that his fighting of the good fight has merited the crown which awaits him on the Day of Lord.  He is able to state with confidence, “The Lord will continue to rescue me from all attempts to do me harm and will bring me safe to His heavenly kingdom.”  Finally, our psalm confirms the protection the Lord grants His faithful ones: “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, and delivers them.”

We are sharers in this faith with Peter and Paul.  This is evident in the Church who “prayed fervently to God” on behalf of Peter, and whose prayers were answered in this astounding fashion, and is made certain in Paul’s proclaiming that Jesus gives the reward of a heavenly crown not only to Paul himself “but to all who have looked for His appearing with eager longing.”  The Church is one in all its members, and though the Lord has chosen certain of us to special places and granted them special blessings and powers, all are blessed by this same God.

So, today as we rejoice in this faith with which we have been gifted by the Lord, as we “together extol His name,” let us consider the place we have in His holy Church and the work to which He calls us.  And let us resolve to fulfill that call, pouring ourselves out unto death, that we might be assured of our entering through the heavenly gate.  Let us walk in faith the narrow path the Lord has set before us, for it leads beyond death to life.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by James Kurt.

Music by Carie Fortney; performed by Carie Fortney and Annette Meyer.  Used by permission.

*******

O LORD, may we be loosed

from the chains of this earth

that we might walk with you in Heaven. 

YHWH, the gates of the netherworld cannot prevail against you and your Church.  To Peter you have given the keys to the kingdom and these shall open every lock the devil can devise; the chains fall from our wrists by the angel you send to guide us.

You deliver us, LORD, from every evil and bring us into your heavenly kingdom.  The lion’s mouth shall not close upon us, nor any prison door keep us from you.  For we are redeemed by the sacrifice of your Son; in Him and in His blood your Church finds power and grace to facilitate release from all the wiles of the evil one. 

Jesus sets your people on solid rock through His commissioning of His apostle Peter.  And your Word goes forth to the ends of the earth through Paul and all your disciples.  And so, on the day of your Son’s appearance, all shall enter freely through the eternal gates to dwell in your presence forever.  You have heard our cries to you, O LORD, and bring us quickly to Heaven.

Direct download: Sts._Peter_and_Paul_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Is.49:1-6;   Ps.139:1-3,13-15;   Acts 13:22-26:   Lk.1:57-66,80)

 

“I will make you a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”

 

The voice of one crying in the wilderness, he who hails the coming of the Lord, is born today.  This voice speaks of the Word among us.  And from before his birth he is called, in the womb he is formed, to proclaim with the sword of truth God’s salvation for His people.  “Surely the hand of the Lord was with him,” and surely we find the grace of God by walking the path he blazed for us in the desert; for surely that way leads to the glory who is the Son of David.

Yes, “to us this word of salvation has been sent.”  To us this light has been brought forth.  We “distant peoples” hear now the call of the voice which pierces our souls: Make straight the way of the Lord!  The tongue now speaks; no longer silenced, no longer hidden, it has risen from “the depths of the earth” to plainly declare the coming of Christ.  Yes, in the womb of the Old Testament the Lord wonderfully formed the salvation of Israel, probing and scrutinizing all its ways and preparing it for birth in the light of day.  And now what He hid in His quiver He shoots forth to wound with amazement the hearts who have waited to hear the Word of life.  “John heralded His coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel”; by his voice a place is made for the Savior, Jesus.

At the turning point of the history of salvation John stands.  He has come to direct souls to the Promised Land.  For this he was made.  To this call he answers – to lead us to the Son of Man.  The old is passed away; now all is made new.  Fulfillment has come.  The womb has brought forth.  The time of salvation is here.  For He through whom time and the earth and heavens were made is now come to wash even the dirt from our feet.  Listen to the voice which hails the Word of God in our midst.  His call is for all ears; the light shines for all “who are God-fearing.”

Your recompense is upon you now.  You, too, make known His light to the world.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, your Word of salvation you speak

through the mouth of John,

whom you have blessed with your might and power.

YHWH, your Word of salvation goes forth to the ends of the earth, proclaimed through the mouth of John, the fulfillment of the prophets of Israel.  In his birth what is old passes away, and what is new comes.  Now the light of the nations enters this house.

Loose our tongues to declare your glory, dear LORD.  You who have formed us in the depths of the earth, in the womb of the Church, now gather us into your arms that we might be raised unto the glory of your Son, brought into union with you who are our Father and our God.  O may we share your Name as we are born into your kingdom!

Let your hand be upon us for good, O LORD; let your will be accomplished in us as it has been in John.  Let all souls know that it is you who probe us and know us, you who understand all our thoughts and ways.  May all our thoughts and actions be in accord with your own, and so in all things let us declare to all that your Son has come – O let us be His servants!

Direct download: Birth_of_St._John_the_Baptist_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Ez.17:22-24;   Ps.92:2-3,13-16;   2Cor.5:6-10;   Mk.4:26-34)

“They that are planted in the house of the Lord

shall flourish in the courts of our God.”

The imagery today is of trees and plants and the growth and strength of the kingdom of God.  “The just one shall flourish like a palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow,” our psalmist rejoices, and adds, “They shall bear fruit even in old age; vigorous and sturdy shall they be.”  In our gospel Jesus tells us that the kingdom of God is like the seed that grows gradually, imperceptibly into ripe grain ready for the harvest, and compares it also to the mustard seed, “the smallest of all the seeds on the earth,” which “springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”

God is the seed from which all is sprung.  Jesus is the “tender shoot” spoken of by Ezekial.  Taken from “the crest of the cedar,” the humble bloom of the house of Israel, He is “planted on a high and lofty mountain” – raised up to the right hand of the Father – and by the power of the Holy Spirit, thence He “put[s] forth branches and bear[s] fruit, and become[s] a majestic cedar”: His apostles and prophets go forth and plant the Word of God in all hearts; and as it grows unto heaven and blossoms forth in the works of every Christian, the Church is made to stand fast in the sight of the Lord.  “Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it”; everyone who seeks refuge from the heat of the sun that is this world of sin beating down upon the human soul shall find in His Church a place of peace and comfort, a house in which he is nourished and sent on his flight, carrying the love of our God across the heavens to all lands.

Brothers and sisters, let us be “courageous,” as indeed Paul declares we are.  Let us be strong and sturdy lowly trees growing by the grace of God to heavenly heights in all our deeds on earth.  Though “we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord,” though we would today see the kingdom of heaven fulfilled before our eyes, yet as long as we have the flesh of this tree enrobing our souls, let us always “aspire to please Him,” to please our God, to grow closer each day to where He sits on His throne in the kingdom, that when we “all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” we “each may receive recompense” and together “sing praise to… [the] Most High.”

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Gradual Heaven" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us dwell beneath the shade of your boughs

when harvest time has come,

when your Son returns.

YHWH, let us be planted in your House and grow by your grace into your kingdom, where you dwell in the highest Heaven.  We are but lowly creatures, weak and prone to sin, but by your Son and by His Word and His blood we are strengthened and rise, we know not how, to your throne, where He sits with you in eternal glory with all the angels and saints who have done your will in this world.

How can we be made worthy of your kingdom, O LORD?  How can we be courageous, believing that we shall be saved from this corruptible flesh and come home to you?  Is it not the lowly one you look upon?  Is it not to save just such as us that you have sent your Son, who has instructed His disciples, who have instructed us, and through whom we are blessed?  O let this Tree be a tree of life growing ever unto your kingdom, all souls entering there with songs of praise to your NAME!

Direct download: BC-061712-Su_11_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Gn.3:9-15;   Ps.130:1-8;   2Cor.4:13-5:1;   Mk.3:20-35)

“With the Lord is kindness

and with Him is plenteous redemption.”

     We hear today recounted in our first reading our first parents’ tragic fall from the grace of God into the boundaries of hell – for now they tend to hide themselves from His glorious face. Oh such disobedience that has caused such painful separation of the crown of creation from the Creator’s hand! And what greater punishment than this can we know: not to be eternally in His presence as was His intent? And for such sin inflicted upon our race our psalmist is caused to plea: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!” For release from the “iniquities” upon his soul he begs the Lord… and so is proclaimed the cry of us all.

     And does the Lord hear? He cannot help but hear, for “with [Him] is forgiveness, that [He] may be revered.” He draws His children back to His paradise by the cords that are the blood of Christ, “that the grace bestowed on more and more people may cause the thanksgiving to overflow for the glory of God.” “Knowing that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also… we are not discouraged… For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.” Sin may well be at work within us, causing the body to die, causing us to give up our lives – forcing us to put no stock in the passing things of this life; but through this sacrifice the Lord is at work building our home in heaven. Paul sums up this redemptive process so beautifully when he says, “This momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond comparison.” For the affliction indeed passes with these passing things, but His house is eternal.

     And in our gospel we see well that Jesus has come and “plunder[ed] the house” of Satan. “He drives out demons” from this decaying house in which we dwell, dividing it against itself and breaking the hold Satan has on souls by the corrupted influence of the flesh. Anointing fallen man with the purity of the Holy Spirit, as by fire sin is consumed. What devil can stand in this light? What influence has sin upon our souls with Jesus as our God? And so we poor fallen creatures become as His own, as His “brother and sister and mother,” for by the grace that comes only from the Son, again we become one with the Father – in joy we stand before His loving gaze. “More than sentinels wait for the dawn, let Israel wait for the Lord,” for now has our redemption come.

Written and produced by James Kurt; read by Sylvia Kurt.

Music: "Unbind Yourself" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, with hope we look to the dawn

when we shall be freed from sin

and joined to your Son.

     YHWH, how can we be forgiven our foolish disobedience, which has separated us from your presence, from the House in which you dwell? How shall we reenter there, we who are so bound by Satan because of our sin? Will you hear our cry, O LORD?

     You cannot but hear our cry, dearest God; you quickly answer those who seek forgiveness and the doing of your will. You will not turn your back on those who mourn for their iniquities, who long again to see your face. Indeed, Jesus you send to us.

     And from what does your Son hold back in redeeming our lives from the grave? What will He not do to convince us of your love for your wayward children? We must but accept His Word, His love, even as He hangs on the Cross for us, and not spurn the Spirit’s work in Him. He will make us as His brothers, plundering Satan’s possession of our soul and bestowing your glory upon us, if we but trust in you and your loving mercy.

Direct download: BC-061018-Su_10_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Hos.11:1,3-4,8-9;   Is.12:2-6;   Eph.3:8-12,14-19;   Jn.19:31-37)

“With joy you will draw water

at the fountain of salvation.”

“Shout with exultation, O city of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!”  From His pierced heart flow forth the waters of salvation; in Jesus’ blood we find our life.  Oh how wonderful to have a God whose “heart is overwhelmed,” whose “pity is stirred,” who bleeds and dies for us upon the cross to reveal the limitless nature of His love.  Here is “God’s manifold wisdom” made known, here in “the unfathomable riches of Christ” freely given to all, that all might “grasp fully, with all the holy ones, the breadth and length and height and depth of Christ’s love, and experience this love which surpasses all knowledge.”  Such unsurpassable grace can but leave us breathless in praising His name!

“When Israel was a child I loved him,” says the Lord through the prophet Hosea.  His love “like one who raises an infant to His cheeks” does not leave His blessed child; it only grows with time.  Even though “they did not know that [He] was their healer,” yet He did not turn away – He multiplied His love for us in the sacrificial offering of His Son.  Now having been redeemed of our sin in the cleansing shower of His blood, we can only claim to be “confident and unafraid.”  For with Isaiah we fully proclaim: “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior.”  What the prophet knew in shadow we see now in the fullness of the light that is the Son, and so “in Christ and through faith in Him we can speak freely to God, drawing near Him with confidence” and “attain[ing] to the fullness of God Himself” and to His love.

My dear brothers and sisters, let our prayer for one another be joined on this “solemn feast day” with Paul’s desire for the Ephesians: “May Christ dwell in your hearts through faith, and may charity be the root and foundation of your life.”  Then like this blessed Apostle who went from being “the least of all believers,” persecuting the Church of Christ, to being shown “the mysterious design which for all ages was hidden in God” – and indeed “enlighten[ing] all men” of the Father’s love revealed in Christ Jesus – we too will be raised from our lowly state in this world of sin to our place with the Son at the right hand of God.  The fountain of salvation is open now; come to the water and drink fully of His love, of His blood.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Cleansing" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, Jesus was pierced for our sins;

His blood pours upon us for our salvation.

YHWH, you are our healer.  Your Son is the fountain of our salvation; in His blood we are cleansed of our sins.  May we make our home in His Sacred Heart.

We praise you, LORD, for your love, for the care you have shown to your little ones.  To us you have sent your only Son to die on the Cross that we might live.  Though it is our lance that has pierced His Sacred Heart, yet His unfathomable love pours upon us and bestows on us the great riches of your glory.  For this gift what can we do but praise your holy Name?

O LORD, may your Christ dwell in our hearts through faith in Him; may charity be the root and foundation of our lives, that by the love of your Son we may draw near to you yourself, dear God.  No longer is your mysterious design hidden from men’s eyes – O let your great wisdom be known and all souls glorify your ineffable NAME through Jesus who speaks to us ever of your mercy!

Direct download: Sacred_Heart_Year_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Ex.24:3-8;   Ps.116:12-13,15-18;   Heb.9:11-15;   Mt.14:12-16,22-26) 

“The cup of salvation I will take up,

and I will call upon the name of the Lord.” 

The blood of sacrifice, the blood that seals all covenants with God, is upon all our readings today.  In our first reading, on the altar Moses has “erected at the foot of the mountain” where he received the commandments of the Lord – an altar surrounded by “twelve pillars for the twelve tribes” – “young men of the Israelites… offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord.”  Half of the blood of the bulls Moses “splashed on the altar”; the other half he “sprinkled… on the people, saying, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words of His.’”  And so the people promise to heed the Lord’s commands; and so the first covenant is instituted.

Our psalm tells us, “Precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of His faithful ones.”  And our second reading informs us just how precious is the death of the Lord’s Faithful One.  Yes, “Christ came as high priest”; as “mediator of a new covenant” He entered the “perfect tabernacle not made by hands… not belonging to this creation,” and offered not “the blood of goats and bulls” but rather “His own blood.”  His “death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant.”  And so does “the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself unblemished before God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God.”

And in our gospel, in anticipation of His crucifixion, on the feast of Passover – when the lamb was sacrificed and its blood used to anoint the houses of the Israelites to thus save them from death – Jesus institutes the New Covenant with His disciples.  First “He took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, ‘Take it.  This is my body.’”  Then with the cup He said, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many.”  It is, of course, this New Covenant we celebrate this day, as we come to the table where all the disciples of the Lord have eaten, where all His faithful have been washed clean in His blood.  Here we share not only with our minds – for then why should it be necessary to eat and drink (one does not eat and drink a symbol, but feasts with eyes alone) – but with our very bodies, with the fullness of our beings; and our very human nature is transformed by His sacrificial presence.  Brothers and sisters, the Lord gives Himself entirely for us; let us here lay down our lives in His flesh and blood.  Let us take up the cup of salvation and each day call upon His Name.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Blood in My Palate" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, is Jesus not our inheritance;

do we not eat the Body and Blood

He has given up for our salvation?

YHWH, the blood of the New Covenant be upon us for good, the blood of Christ upon our lips; and let us fulfill our vows before you, serving as the Body of your Son.  O let us be blessed with all the graces of Heaven as they pour upon us in the blood of Jesus, our Lord!

How can we make return to you, dear God, for all the good you have done for us, for your giving us your only Son to serve as sacrifice for our sins, as food for our journey to you?  You, O God, have come among us in His flesh and remain with us in the Sacrament – how can we grasp such a gift?  How can we thank you for your love toward us revealed in the blood of Jesus the Christ? 

Let us but take up the cup you offer and call upon your holy Name.  Let us but serve you with all our lives, worshiping you in all things, O living God, and the promised eternal inheritance will be ours.  O let us drink of the fruit of the vine with your Son in the kingdom!  Prepare our hearts to receive your Lamb.

Direct download: Body_and_Blood_of_Christ_Year_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Zeph.3:14-18  or  Rom.12:9-16;   Is.12:2-6;   Lk.1:39-56)

 

“Sing praise to the Lord for His glorious achievement;

let this be known throughout all the earth.”

 

How can we capture the joy of this day?  For here is the sign of our promised salvation; here we find the first apostolic act in Mary’s bringing the Word of God, so recently conceived in her womb, to Elizabeth, and to her son John the Baptist.

“Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!  Sing joyfully, O Israel!” Zephaniah encourages the holy nation.  And for what does Zion, and indeed the whole world, rejoice but that which we celebrate this day?  Here in these simple, lowly women we find all of Israel rejoicing as she brings to birth her Savior.  Yes, even now “the Lord, [her] God, is in [her] midst,” even in her womb; and already He begins to bring salvation forth.  Already we find a kind of first Pentecost as first, “Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and cried out in a loud voice: ‘Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb’…  and then Mary said: ‘My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit finds joy in God my savior?”  And already the Baptist in the womb of his aged mother has been inspired by the presence of the Son of God; already he has “stirred in [her] womb for joy,” just at the sound of Mary’s voice touching the ears of his mother, even as Jesus is but days old in Mary’s blessed womb.

And how does all this joy come but through humility.  “For He has looked upon His servant in her lowliness; all ages to come shall call [her] blessed.”  Yes, Mary is raised “to high places,” is become the Mother of God, because of her great humility before Him.  It is this lowliness she proclaims in her canticle today; it is this lowliness Elizabeth exudes when she asks, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” – and it is this same lowliness which is required of all the children of Israel, of all Abraham’s descendants, if we are to know that “the Lord has removed the judgment against [us],” if we are to “shout with exultation” for “the Holy One of Israel” in our midst.

Let us heed Paul’s instruction to the Romans to “put away ambitious thoughts and associate with those who are lowly” that we might “rejoice with those who rejoice.”  As our holy women today, these models of faith, let us “look on the needs of the saints as [our] own” and “be generous in offering hospitality.”  “Be fervent in spirit; He whom you serve is the Lord.”  For it is He who comes under your roof this day.  It is His holy name you should proclaim in all you do and say.  And the blessing of salvation shall be upon you.

 

Mother of God, bring to us this day our Savior,

that we might rejoice with you in heaven.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, you have looked upon us in our lowliness

and sent your Son to dwell among us –

may we praise you always for your glory!

YHWH, let us praise your holy NAME this day, for you have come into our midst and raised us poor creatures from the dust to dwell with you in your Temple.  Praise you, LORD!  Visit us this day in your love, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother.

O LORD, make us humble and lowly as she who carries your Son to us, humble and lowly as Israel your Chosen one – humble and lowly as Jesus Himself.  In Mary’s womb with Him let us dwell and so hear your voice calling to our hearts through all she speaks unto our poor ears.  In darkness we remain, in the cave of this world; but you bring us light and life – for such grace let us praise you!

Dispel all fear from our hearts, LORD, at the sound of your Mother’s voice, and so with her let us proclaim your greatness, and the salvation you have wrought in your mercy.  We are nothing, nothing but simple souls waiting on your Word…  Speak to us this day and awaken us to your glory, that our hearts might exult in your presence all our days. 

Mother of God, pray for your poor children.

Direct download: Visitation_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Dt.4:32-34,39-40;   Ps.33:4-6,9,12,18-20,22;   Rom.8:14-17;   Mt.28:16-20) 

“You must know now, and fix in your heart,

that ‘the Lord is God in the heavens above and on earth below,

and that there is no other.’”

“Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?” Moses asks the Israelite nation.  “Did any god venture to go and take a nation for Himself” with the great “signs and wonders” that accompanied Israel’s release from Egyptian bondage?  No.  For the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of heaven and earth, the one true God.  For “by the word of the Lord the heavens were made; by the breath of His mouth all their host.”  Yes, “He spoke, and it was made, He commanded and it stood forth.”  None is great as the Father in heaven.

And of the power of the Father, Jesus, the Son, shares: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me,” He declares in truth.  It is He who suffers and dies for us; it is He who thus reveals God’s love – it is He whom all nations adore in the holy court.  The words of the Father He brings to our ears; His commands, which bring life and “deliver… from death,” He speaks in our hearing.  Here is the Word by which all comes to be made flesh in our sight.

And we, “we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” – to this “the Spirit Himself bears witness,” speaking in our souls the NAME of God.  Yes, “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,” and the Spirit is now with us to lead us, to help us “keep His statutes and commandments,” that we might “have long life on the land which the Lord, [our] God, is giving [us] forever.”  And now so on fire with the Spirit of God, Jesus present with us always in body and soul, and standing as holy children of the Father… we must “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that [the Lord has] commanded.”

“Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield.”  His presence is upon us always for good, and we long now to know the fullness of the Trinity.  He whose “works are trustworthy” we seek to make our own, that we might be one with Him who is One.  “Of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.”  May He who “loves justice and right” be known in His fullness by all.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Speaking of God" (second half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us remain in your NAME

and in your power,

and carry our cross unto Heaven.

YHWH, you are God of Heaven and earth; there is none beside you.  By your Word all came to be, and all is held together by your love.  We can but hope for your kindness, LORD, to preserve us from the death we deserve.  We can but be baptized in your NAME and pray to be as your children.

O LORD, let us be your heirs with Christ.  Let us suffer with Him that we might be glorified by the Spirit and come to dwell as one with you in the kingdom.  To this earth bring your Word and let us be remade in His image.  For He is one with you and the Spirit, worthy of all our worship; and as we worship Him, the Spirit inspires us to cry out, “Abba, Father!” with your only Son.

O LORD, what great grace and mercy you have shown us!  You have taken us from the midst of darkness and sin and brought us into your marvelous light by the sacrifice of your Son.  In the fire of the Holy Spirit you speak to us and guide us on our journey to you.  Help us, LORD, to keep your commands that we might prosper and have eternal life with you in Heaven.

Direct download: Trinity_Sunday_Year_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 2:1-11;   Ps.104:1,24,29-31,34;   Gal.5:16-25;   Jn.15:26-27,16:12-15)

“The time for Pentecost was fulfilled.”

A driving wind comes from the sky.  It fills the house.  Tongues of fire come to rest on the disciples, and they speak in tongues of every nation.  The gathered crowd of “Jews from every nation under heaven” ask in wonder, “How does each of us hear them in his native language?”  How is such perfect communication possible?  How could such light fall upon mankind?  How can we be made one?

“The Advocate comes.”  “The Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,” sent by the Son to “guide [us] to all truth,” declares the glory of God in our midst, fulfills the Word among us, making us brothers and sisters in the light of the Lord.

“O Lord, my God, you are great indeed!”  What wonders you work before the eyes of man!  What glorious speech you bring to our ears!  So far are your ways above our ways; so little of the truth can we weak human beings bear.  But you strengthen us.  You give us your Word.  You anoint us with your Spirit to destroy this sinful flesh and prepare our hearts to receive the grace that comes only by your power.  We praise you, Lord, for the glory you impart to our souls.

“May the glory of the Lord endure forever,” and we endure forever in Him.  Let us never be separated from the blessing which comes from the One who never dies, the One who brings life to every creature upon the face of the earth, and in the heavens above.  “Brothers and sisters, live by the Spirit” now.  Hold closely to the gifts He offers freely and powerfully forth this holy day and every day of your lives.  In no other way will you be fulfilled; by no other means will you come to heaven.  The Spirit is the source of all truth and only by His guidance you will hear of the glory of God.  And only by His power will you keep it.

In the Church now the Spirit dwells, teaching all her children.  From the four corners they come to receive the bread of life.  Let us be fed well for the time is at hand when all the Lord’s words will be fulfilled, when the Son shall return again.  Our refuge now is the Spirit.  In Him let us place our trust.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "There Is No End to Life" (final part) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us be baptized in your Spirit,

renewed for the proclamation of your love.

YHWH, comes the driving wind from Heaven, the Spirit Jesus breathes upon His apostles, and so we are made your sons, dear Father, and declare your glory unto all.  May your Church with one voice offer you due praise and teach the nations of your eternal call.

We must leave our sins behind and accept the gifts of the Holy Spirit, living as one with the Son of God.  If we keep His commandments, we shall dwell with you forever, O Father God.  For He is with you and through Him you send the Spirit; all who desire to be your children you bless with purging fire this holy day.

Now the promised gift of the Spirit falls upon our immortal souls and we are refreshed and made new creatures, formed in the image of Jesus, your Son.  One you make us in Spirit and Body, free from all the works of the flesh.  Your Son stands in our midst and offers us His peace; the Advocate now testifies to all Truth… Come and make your dwelling in us, O glorious LORD and God.

Direct download: Pentecost_Sunday_Year_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 1:15-17,20-26;   Ps.113:1-8;   Jn.15:9-17)

 

“It was I who chose you to go forth and bear fruit.”

 

Since “the saying in Scripture uttered long ago by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of David was destined to be fulfilled in Judas” and he “went the way he was destined to go,” now the word of the Lord must be accomplished: “May another take his office.”  And though “Peter stood up in the center of the brothers” and declared the need expressed in Scripture, and though the one hundred and twenty brothers gathered together “nominated two,” the prayer of the disciples, as well as their actions, makes clear by whom Matthias is chosen: “O Lord, you read the hearts of men.  Make known to us which of these two you choose for this apostolic ministry.”  As Judas is destined for perdition, so Matthias is chosen by the Lord to take his place, for all is indeed in the hands of God.

And what loving hands these are, brothers and sisters; and what loving hands all His disciples are called to employ.  The words of the Lord in today’s gospel breathe the very love of God upon His apostles.  “Love one another as I have loved you” is His command to them.  “Live on in my love.”  Our “fruit must endure,” and it can only endure, we can only bear fruit, sharing in the love of Father and Son.  For then the Holy Spirit is upon us, who brings all to life.  And the way in which we share in divine love the Lord makes clear as well: “There is no greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  And it is this laying down of his life to which Matthias is called today; and it is the same service in His name that makes us all friends of Jesus.

“From the rising to the setting of the sun is the name of the Lord to be praised,” for indeed “high above all nations is the Lord; above the heavens is His glory.”  His ways are certainly far above our own, and it is His ways to which we must come, obediently following His command, His command to love.  Today He reaches down and “raises the lowly from the dust… to seat [Matthias] with princes, with the princes of His people.”  Today His choice is made of who will follow the Son.  None but He knows the ones He chooses, the way we must walk, for none is “like the Lord, our God, who is enthroned on high and looks upon the heavens and the earth below”; and our joy is made complete only in going forth as He leads, for, simply put, none can compare with His love.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music By Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, you choose those whom you send forth –

let us live in your love.

YHWH, help us to love one another as your Son has loved us that we shall live ever in His love and bear fruit in His Name.  May we take our place with Him and all His apostles in your kingdom this day.

O LORD, as you chose Matthias to take the place of Judas, to sit with your princes, so let us know that we, too, are chosen by you to do your will in this world as the friends of Jesus.  We take no honor unto ourselves but all honor you bestow upon those you call to your side.  The greatest honor you would give to all – to be formed in the image of your Son.

Let us be faithful to that call, O LORD; let us give you due honor, you who are enthroned on high, far above heaven and earth.  We are but dust, dear God, but you sit above all Creation, and this dust you would raise up to dwell in your eternal presence.  In all your children let your will be done.  Let us give witness to your Son’s resurrection and so join Him at your side.

Direct download: St._Matthias_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Acts1:15-17,20a,20c-26;   Ps.103:1-2,11-12,19-20;   1Jn.4:11-16;   Jn.17:11b-19) 

“As you sent me into the world,

so I sent them into the world.”

Jesus sent the apostles forth, and “none of them was lost except the son of destruction”; and Judas was lost only “that the Scripture might be fulfilled,” that the betrayal of the Christ might be accomplished.  Otherwise, those whom He sent He also protected, He also guarded well from the evil one, that what must be accomplished in them should likewise be brought to fulfillment – that they be one with Jesus in the Father and bring His holy Name to the world, that all might be gathered together as one in God’s truth and His love.

To begin the accomplishment of this mission after the departure of the Christ, the principal soul whom Jesus sends stands up in the midst of all his brothers and calls for the replacement of Judas, that Scripture – “may another take his office” – continue to be fulfilled.  Matthias is chosen by the Lord to become the twelfth “witness to His resurrection,” and so “the apostolic ministry” is now in place; and so the army of God can now go forth to reveal that “His kingdom rules over all.”

And what is His kingdom, brothers and sisters, but a kingdom of love?  Our beloved John ever makes this clear, ever emphasizes this essential word of truth, and we must declare in truth his essential word of God’s love: “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.”  His proclamation must be our own.  We must see and know how the Lord guards us, how He protects us from the snares of the world and preserves us in His love by putting “our transgressions [far] from us,” that we might praise His name in faith even unto heaven.  We must say with John, “We have seen and testify that the Father sent His Son as savior of the world.”  In genuine recognition of this basic truth we shall find the love of God living in us.

And “if God so loved us” by sending His only Son to us, “we must love one another” by heeding His call to be sent to others.  Like Matthias and the apostles, we too have a blessed vocation in Christ to bring His love and His truth to this dying world.  To this let us consecrate ourselves as freely as has our Jesus, as freely as the Twelve… “that we might share [the Lord’s] joy completely.”  We “do not belong to the world any more than [He] belong[s] to the world”: let us find our place in His kingdom.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Can You Love?" (part B of "Liars Don't Love, Lovers Don't Lie") from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, keep us in your Name

from the evils of the world

that we might remain in your love.

YHWH, send us forth in your Name and that of your Son; you are God and Father of all and Jesus shares in your glory.  May we come to share in that same glory by the love you have shown us in sending your Son, and may we share that love with all.

Your Word of truth take not from our souls, dear LORD, but let it be spoken in our every breath.  Your love dwell ever in us that we might dwell ever in you and do your will in all things.  O let us be consecrated to you with your Son!  Let us be made sacred in your sight, that indeed we might be your children, your apostles of love and truth.

Count us among your disciples, LORD, you who are mighty and rule over all, that freed from our sins your love might be perfected in us and we become one with you in Heaven.  For us has Jesus laid down His life in perfect love – may we acknowledge His Sonship and so share in your love.

Direct download: BC-052012-Su_7_E_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 1:1-11;   Ps.47:1-3,6-9;   Eph.1:17-23  or  Eph.4:1-13  or  Heb.9:24-28,10:19-23;

Mt.28:16-20  or  Mk.16:15-20  or  Lk.24:46-53)

 

“God mounts His throne amid shouts of joy;

the Lord, amid trumpet blasts.”

 

Three events are the subject of today’s readings.  The key of these is certainly the Lord’s ascending into heaven and taking His place at the right hand of the Father.  Without this the other two could not follow.  And so we celebrate the Lord’s Ascension in particular; but we also hear of the coming Pentecost and the apostles’ call to go forth to the ends of the world.

“As they were looking on, He was lifted up, and a cloud took Him from their sight.”  Now He goes to heaven, returning to the Father, as He has said, to enter into glory.  And as He has asked, we should be joyful, we should “shout to God with cries of gladness.  For the Lord, the Most High, the awesome, is the great King over all the earth,” and now Jesus, our Savior and our brother, is with Him, and so brings us to Him.  His glory becomes our own, and so His now assuming His throne in heaven should cause us to “sing hymns of praise” to Him who now “reigns over the nations.”

And from His place seated “at the right hand of God” “upon His holy throne,” the Lord keeps “the promise of the Father about which [we] have heard [Him] speak.”  For “in a few days [we] will be baptized with the Holy Spirit”; Pentecost will be here, and Jesus’ words to His disciples as He prepares to ascend will be our own: “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.”  It is from this Holy Spirit that the Church takes its strength, through whom we are all made one in “faith and knowledge of the Son of God,” and by whom we attain to “the full stature of Christ.”  He it is who inspires all, and He could not come except that our high priest has entered the sanctuary of heaven – opening for us the way to enter there – and from there delivered unto us the grace which through Him comes.

And what does this inspiration, this absolute strength we take in the Spirit call us to do but to heed the Lord’s words and “go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature,” knowing as He has said, “I am with you always, until the end of the age”?  And so, apostles and prophets and evangelists and all His children go forth empowered by His Spirit that “hearts [may] be enlightened,” that all might know “the hope that belongs to His call… the riches of glory in His inheritance… and what is the surpassing greatness of His power” – that all might believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus is now seated at the Father’s right hand in heaven, “far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come.”  All things are “beneath His feet,” for “King of all the earth is God,” and Jesus is God.  But though the Son has joined the Father, remember He is with us always, suffering with us still and bringing us to His side by the power of His Spirit.  Wait now on His Word.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "There Is No End to Life" (1st half) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may the cloud

which took Jesus from our sight

soon bring Him back to us

and keep Him with us forever.

YHWH, your Son mounts His throne of glory, He ascends to you in Heaven, drawing us up into your presence and giving us the power to proclaim your glory and baptize all in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit – with you, O God, let us be made one!

And let us go, O LORD, even to the ends of the earth, your Son working through us by the power of the Spirit upon us.  As we wait now for your promise to fall upon us and be fulfilled in us, let us with faith set our hearts on your surpassing presence.  From the bonds of this earth let us be freed, that by the power of the Spirit we might indeed join Jesus at your right hand.  O let thy kingdom come!

Soon your Son shall return to us and we will sing in unending joy.  But even now we are the Body of Christ, united with Him in Heaven.  O LORD, send your Spirit forth that we might find the strength to call all souls unto your glory.

Direct download: BC-060211-Ascension_Thursday.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48;   Ps.98:1-4;   1Jn.4:7-10;   Jn.15:9-17)

“This I command you: love one another.”

 And so we hear the Lord’s essential instruction: love.  If we keep His commandments we will love, and if we love we will keep His commandments.  His commandment is to love.

But what is love?  John gives us the simple answer, of course: “God is love,” but also indicates further the nature of love, corroborated by the Lord Himself.  It is “not that we have loved God, but that He loved us.”  Love comes not from us but from God, because, as we have said, God is love; we are not love.  It is God the Father who has sent His Son to reveal His love by dying for our sins; without this sacrifice we would not know love, could not comprehend the love that is God, that is willing to lay down His very life for the sake of His children.  Apart from this love we remain in the dark about love – any love separated from this offering is not love at all.

And as it is not we who love but He who gives love, who is love, so it is not we who choose Him but He us.  We did not contrive the sacrifice of the Son: we could never have imagined it.  We have, in fact, great difficulty in simply accepting it, so beyond our concept of love it is.  But there it is.  There He is, calling us to His love, to this love, to the sacrifice of our own selves for one another, that we might thoroughly share in the gift of love.  We need but respond to know love.

And who may share in this love?  Let us come to Peter’s realization: “In every nation whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.”  There is none from whom the Spirit can be withheld, for, as John confirms, “Everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.”  So we need but love.  We need but put our hope in Him and in His love.  We need but keep His command, and His love shall be our own, and we shall find ourselves “speaking in tongues and glorifying God”; whomever we are and wherever we come from, we know “the salvation by our God” by living in the love of the Spirit and being “baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”

Alleluia!  There is not much else to say.  Alleluia!  Praise the Lord!  Let us forever live in His love.  Let us forever die for one another.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Love, the Meaning of: Can You Love?" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, thank you for sending us your Son,

for sharing with us your love –

may we also share Him with others.

YHWH, help us to love one another, to die for one another, that we might find the love you offer us in the sacrifice of your Son, that we might live ever in your love.

What more could we want than to be begotten by you and know you by living in your love?  What greater call can there be for our lives than to be united with you who are love?  O LORD, all who fear you and act uprightly, all who love you and love their neighbor, all who desire you and your love you come to in your Son – may all be baptized in His Name!

Pour out your Spirit upon all souls, dear LORD, that all might be conformed to your will and made in the image of your Son.  As Jesus let us all be, laying down our lives for one another in the Spirit of love.  We are all but men, LORD, but your Son calls us His friends as He draws us into union with you and your love.  Alleluia!

Direct download: BC-051312-Su_6_E_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(1Cor.15:1-8;   Ps.19:2-5;   Jn.14:6-14)

 

“The man who has faith in me will do the works I do.”

 

What is the message the apostles preach “to the ends of the world”?  What is “the glory of God” that “the heavens declare” and “the firmament proclaims”?  It is none other than Jesus’ words to Thomas: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me”; it is His answer to Philip: “I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”  The Father “lives in [Jesus] accomplishing His works,” and Jesus lives in His apostles continuing the great work of God.

Here is the Gospel in short, which Paul preaches to the Corinthians in our first reading: “Christ died for our sins in accord with the Scriptures… He was buried and, in accord with the Scriptures, rose on the third day.”  He has appeared to all the apostles who preach His Name, who declare His salvation to all men; and He is known to us this day in His Spirit, in His Church, in His Sacraments and in His Word.  And indeed it is so that knowing Him we know the Father; filled with His Spirit we cannot but proclaim the majesty of the grace at work in Him through His Church.  Standing on the solid foundation the apostles have set, what can shake our faith or keep us from His glorious presence?

Brothers and sisters, on days such as this – and indeed on all days – our hearts should burn intensely with the love of the Lord.  Our souls should join with the blessed spirit of these holy apostles and declare aloud the silent Word that “imparts knowledge” to the minds of all.  So should our “voice[s] resound” of the glory of God and the grace He has poured forth in our spirits.  Let the earth be filled with His light!

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

 O LORD, you are seen in your Son;

let Him be seen in us.

YHWH, let us do your works; let us believe in you and bring your Gospel to the ends of the earth.  Let us declare with your holy apostles that your Son has died for our sins, and that He is now risen.

Dear LORD, open our eyes to see that Jesus is in you and you are in Him.  Truly He is the way, the truth, and the life – by His presence amongst us, we are saved and drawn into life.  Let us follow in His way and so become one with you and with the Spirit.

With confidence may your apostles speak, LORD, that your voice might go out to all the world and all hearts might declare that Jesus is God, and that in Him alone we are redeemed.  O let us all speak for Him as He comes to us this day!

Make us His brothers in the faith, dear Father, those who see you and know you and do your will.  Strengthen us today to do your work, and so find glory in your Name. 

Direct download: Sts._Philip_and__James.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Acts 9:26-31;   Ps.22:26-28,30-32;   1Jn.3:18-24;   Jn.15:1-8) 

“Let the coming generation be told of the Lord...”

Let the vine that is Christ continue to grow; let its branches extend to the ends of the world.  Anointed by the Spirit, let all His children proclaim the name of Jesus, that “all the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the Lord,” that in our midst the call upon the Church of God shall be fulfilled.

Brothers and sisters, we should all be like Paul, who “spoke out boldly in the name of the Lord.”  Though it brought him the threat of death, he did not mind; his sole concern was for greater growth of the people of God – that all might become branches of the vine of Jesus.  And so, by apostles like Paul, “with the consolation of the Holy Spirit [the Church] grew in numbers” and spread to the four corners of the world, and “a people yet to be born,” including ourselves, have heard of the salvation that comes only by the Lord.

And so this growth must continue.  Those who are still yet to be born, whether because they are still in their mother’s womb or because their hearts have not been touched by the Spirit of God, must also come to be grafted upon the holy vine.  And so, can we fail to speak of Jesus our God?  Can we fail to perform the deeds to which our Father calls us?  Would you see any deprived of the blessing of “the true vine”?  “By this is [the] Father glorified, that [we] bear much fruit and become [His Son’s] disciples,” bringing others to that same discipleship, that the house of the Lord might be filled to overflowing.  “The lowly shall eat their fill,” hearts hungry for the word of God shall find their joy, only if we “fulfill [our] vows before those who fear the Lord,” only if we do the will of Him who sends us forth.

Brothers and sisters, let us “remain in Him, and He in [us]”; let “the Spirit He gave us” preserve us in His love…  Let it be His blood which courses through our veins as we drink His cup.  And let us call all souls to share in this cup, that we might be assured all our “descendants shall serve Him.”  Lord, let your Church be built up in your truth and your love.  May all believe in your name.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Branch of the Vine" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let your Spirit be with us to strengthen us

to speak out in the Name of your Son.

YHWH, let us go out to the ends of the earth preaching your Name fearlessly among the nations.  Let us be true branches of the holy vine that is your Son Jesus.  If in truth we live before you, then we shall be blessed with doing your will.

Help us, O LORD, to love one another, to believe in your Son and be as He was.  If we live in Him, He shall live in us and we shall bear fruit in His Name.  Let us never be separated from Him, becoming branches fit for the fire, but ever have His blood coursing through our veins.

Yes, let your Church be built up now, LORD, in the power of the Holy Spirit; let all be well fed on your Word, that every soul might bow humbly before you.  We ask in the Name of your Son that your glory become known in us all.

Direct download: BC-050612-Su_5_E_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(1Pt.5:5-14;   Ps.89:2-3,6-7,16-17;   Mk.16:15-20) 

“Go into the world and proclaim the Good News to all creation.”

Such is the call and accomplishment of our evangelist Mark, whose gospel reflects the song of our psalmist today, “The favors of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.”  For his inspired Word lives forever to declare the faithfulness of God.  And “happy the people who know the joyful shout,” who exclaim like Peter in our first reading, “Dominion be His throughout the ages!”  For they “walk in the light of [the Lord’s] countenance,” and so “they rejoice all the day.”

“The Eleven went forth and preached everywhere,” and those who believed in the Good News they proclaimed indeed were saved, as are we today.  The promise Peter makes in our first reading is true: “The God of all grace, who called you to His everlasting glory in Christ, will Himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish those who have suffered a little while.”  Though answering the call of the Lord bring suffering in this world, it is but little to endure for the surpassing glory which is ours in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  And so to “bow humbly under God’s mighty hand, so that in due time He may lift [us] high” is a joy in itself; the suffering we experience for the sake of the Word is itself laced with great joy, for we know in our souls and have seen that it but leads to exaltation at the right hand of God.  “Through your justice they are exalted” – so our psalmist praises God for His mercy and His truth.  And all souls converted to the Lord will know the Lord’s justice in full flower.

And oh the signs that “will accompany those who have professed their faith,” the strength in the Name and the Spirit of God and the healing graces that are known in them.  Every day and in every situation such power is invoked and implemented by those who believe.  Be not so forgetful of the wonders Jesus works through those who walk with Him.  “The heavens proclaim your wonders, O Lord, and your faithfulness, in the assembly of the holy ones.”  The verse is true, my friends.  And as “the Lord continued to work with [the apostles] throughout and confirm the message [they proclaimed] through the signs which accompanied them,” so He will not leave alone this day anyone who takes up His cross and even in the humblest fashion proclaims His holy Name.  The news is good and the Lord wishes all to hear.  Make His message known to the ends of the world: salvation has come to all.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Annette Meyer; used by permission. 

*******

O LORD, though we suffer for His Name,

your Son is with us all the day,

and we walk in the light of His countenance.

YHWH, you call your apostles to go out to the whole world and preach the Good News of the coming of Christ.  May they be faithful in their mission and may all believe and be baptized, and so be saved.  Humbly let all souls come to you, that we might be exalted at your right hand.

There is suffering in your call, O LORD; there is even the shedding of blood.  But though we might die for the sake of your Name and that of your Son, your peace rests upon us.  For it is you who fulfill your work in us, you who go out with all your apostles… and you who are with them till the end of time.  May they lay their hands on the sick that they might recover, and not be afraid to lose their lives in the process.

To every corner of the earth let your Word now come, LORD, to every soul that sits in darkness.  Awaken hearts to sing of your glory, you who raise all who bow humbly before you.

Direct download: April_25-St._Mark.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Acts 4:8-12;   Ps.118:1,8-9,21-23,26,28-29;   1Jn.3:1-2;   Jn.10:11-18)

“There is no salvation through anyone else.”

Do not “trust in princes” or in any man; it is by Jesus alone “we are to be saved.”  Though “the builders rejected” Him, though the princes of this age saw fit to crucify the Lord – yet “God raised [Him] from the dead” and exalted Him above every power on earth and in heaven.  And so He is indeed now the foundation of our salvation, the only shepherd who will lead us to the Father… the one who “lays down His life for the sheep.”

Many wolves there are who fat themselves, scattering the sheep to desolate places.  Their care is for the “pay” they receive and not the welfare of the flock they fail to tend.  Only Jesus cares for the human race; only the Christ serves His sheep in love – only He dies that we might live, that we might indeed become members of His flock.

And so, “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”; “what love the Father has bestowed on us” in Jesus, His only Son, for now we can be like Him – now we are God’s holy children.  Taking “refuge in the Lord” by His Son, we come at once to our salvation.  Oh what glory is ours following in our Savior’s wake!  Listen to what our Good Shepherd states: “I know mine and mine know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”  Realize to what union with the Father of all you are called by the Child He has borne to us for our redemption.  Oh how “wonderful in our eyes” this should be!  And consider if you will that one day we His children “shall see Him as He is.”  How shall our souls bear such blessing?

Brothers and sisters, like the cripple seemingly doomed to a life of incapacity are we all.  But what Peter has effected by a word in Jesus’ name is now ours by that same name and through the ministry of His apostles.  How? you say.  How shall I discover such salvation?  How shall this lame man leap like a stag?  Faith.  Faith in the Son draws the Father's mercy from above.  And if I must tell you further, I shall, you wayward soul.  Confess your sins!  Kneel before the priest the Lord has ordained as His instrument of salvation and bare your heart to God on high.  What graces are yours if only you have faith in the Lord and the Church He alone has founded.  Turn from the wolves that besiege you, and come to Him who “is good.”

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Souls at a Carnival" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, your Son has died that we might be saved;

let us listen to His voice and follow Him.

YHWH, your Son lays down His life for us that we might be as He is, that we might be your children.  In His Name all are healed from their sins, raised from the dust to be seated with Him.  Help us to take refuge in Him and so in you; let us trust in this stone the builders have rejected.

Jesus dies for us; for the sake of your sheep He is crucified, O LORD.  Yet He takes up His life again, and thus we are raised with Him.  He does not run from the sacrifice you call Him to make, but knowing well it is the only way we shall be saved, fully embraces your command.  O let us be as He is! willing to lay down our lives.  Then truly we shall be your children.

There is no other name by which we are to be saved; there is no other way.  In the Cross let us find our life this day, dear God.  May your Son shepherd us to your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-042912-Su_4_E_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 3:13-15,17-19;   Ps.4:2,4,7-9;   1Jn.2:1-5a;   Lk.24:35-48)

“He is expiation for our sins.”

Brothers and sisters, “we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.”  For us this Savior has come; for our sins He has died on the cross.  Even as it is written of Him in Scripture, so all has been accomplished in His Name.

And so we need fear no more.  We need not be “startled and terrified” at the sight of Him in our midst.  He has come to us and has taken His place among us, even as He sits at the right hand of God.  And His place among us is the cross, even as God announced – “that His Christ would suffer” – and by His sacrifice He has been greatly blessed, and we greatly blessed with Him.  Now His blood, once shed by our own hands, pours upon us for “the forgiveness of [our] sins.”

David once cried, “When I call, answer me, O my just God, you who relieve me when I am in distress,” and so in Christ his prayer is answered; for in this Jesus, our greatest distress – that inflicted by our transgressions – has been washed clean from our murderous souls.  He lives.  He lives now, brothers and sisters, to make intercession for our sins “and for those of the whole world.”  Let us all come to Him in truth and find “the light of [His] countenance shin[ing] upon us!”

The light the Lord is, the salvation He affords to each of our souls, must “be preached in His name to all the nations”; all must come to know the blessing embodied in the risen Christ: all must see Him, that in His redemptive wounds all might take refuge.  It is the will of God that all sins “be wiped away,” that all hearts be converted to truth and light, that all might live before Him in eternal peace.

Do not delay your repentance in His sight; freely forgiveness pours from His side.  For this alone He has died, but to receive His mercy you must reform your lives.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Wish I'd Never Done It" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may the blood of your Son cleanse us of sin,

and may our own death glorify you.

YHWH, Jesus was killed by being hung on a tree, but you preserved Him from among those going down into the pit, you brought Him up from the netherworld, and with Him all those obedient to His Word.  Now in glory He sits with you upon the throne, and the angels and all creatures in Heaven and on earth and under the earth praise His holy Name.  And, yes, those who follow Him here unto death shall come to such glory with Him in Heaven.

To the Lamb who was slain belong all honor and glory and blessing; and to His disciples, to those who lay down their lives that His sheep might be fed, comes the blessing that rests upon Him.  O LORD, make us fruitful in your sight!  May we help turn the mourning of mankind into dancing and singing before your throne.  Forever let us give you thanks for having been found worthy to suffer dishonor here for the sake of your Name.

Direct download: BC-042212-Su_3_E_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.7:10-14,8:10;   Ps.40:7-11;   Heb.10:4-10;   Lk.1:26-38)

 

“Behold, I come to do your will.”

 

Today we celebrate the fact that the Word became flesh, that God became man through Mary and dwells among us to take away our sins.  In this is fulfilled the words of the prophet Isaiah, “The Lord Himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name Him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!’”  She is the Virgin; He is the Son – we are they with whom He dwells.  Praise God for His grace!

Obediently Jesus takes on the body prepared for Him by the Father for all ages; humbly He bows under the Hand of God. To come among us is His delight.  For He shall fulfill the prescriptions of the old law – as is written, so shall it come to be.  And in His blood poured out for our sakes, in the love He shares with us men, indeed shall be fulfilled the will of God.  No longer need we wait or search in vain, for all that is written is accomplished in Him.

And Mary is, of course, the perfect reflection of the Lord’s obedience; it is she in whom He is formed.  As He says, “Behold, I come,” she says, “Behold, I am the handmaiden of the Lord.”  As the Lord says, “In the written scroll it is prescribed for me.  To do your will, O God, is my delight,” His Lady says, “May it be done to me according to your word.”  And so by the obedience won from her by the angel, this Blessed Virgin “will conceive in [her] womb and bear a son, and [she] shall name Him Jesus”; and “the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.”  She in her innocence and by the fullness of grace at work in her believes the reply to her question, “How can this be?”  She is assured by the miracle spoken of Elizabeth – for which this holy woman must certainly have prayed – and so the words of the angel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” are realized; and she who believes becomes the instrument of our salvation.

Brothers and sisters, “we have been consecrated through the offering of the body of Jesus once for all.”  His coming among us is more than the greatest miracle; it means life for our very souls.  For by His incarnation and by the sacrifice of His flesh for our sakes is effected the cleansing of our sins and the drawing up of our lives unto heaven where He eternally dwells.  As He has dwelt with us, so may we now dwell with Him who has come for this purpose.  Let no fear grip your heart.  Consecrate yourself to Him and to His holy sacrifice.  And give yourself to His Mother, that she may form you in His image, and you may know the blessed obedience which both hold, and which is itself the means of our salvation.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, make us all as your handmaid,

ready to do your will. 

YHWH, make us as selfless as Mary, as selfless as your Son, offering our bodies to your service, caring only for the salvation of others’ souls.  Freely let us give ourselves to your will, that your Son may work through us.

A Virgin conceives and bears a Son, LORD, and so your Word is fulfilled; your Word now walks among us.  This Virgin you prepared from all eternity to accomplish your will of saving souls.  Your own heart you placed within her, one of selfless sacrifice, and now as the angel comes to her, she is ready to accept your Word.

Upon hearing of her cousin Elizabeth, she is convinced that the angel is from your side, LORD; hearing answer to her sincerest of prayers, she knows you are in this Word.  Did she not perhaps offer her virginity for her cousin’s fertility?  Certainly her purity is blessed with the greatest fruitfulness, even as she who was thought barren prepares to give birth to a son.

Make us so fruitful, dear God.  Let us too lay down our lives, as has your Son, as has His Mother, that we might be of your generation, we pray.

Direct download: Annunciation_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Acts 4:32-35;   Ps.118:1-4,16-18,22-24;   1Jn.5:1-6;   Jn.20:19-31)

“His mercy endures forever.”

Our psalmist “was hard pressed and was falling, but the Lord helped” him.  The disciples were locked in their rooms for fear, but “Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”  Thomas was hardened in unbelief, but His God appeared to him and said, “Bring your hand and put it into my side.”  We are all sinners, but to us each, Christ offers mercy.

From that side into which Thomas placed his hand “blood and water” poured forth for the cleansing of souls and the realization of new life.  The institution of Baptism and the Eucharist had come, and so the Church is born from the side of its Savior.  And so all souls are justified; and so all souls find new life.  And so all of the “community of believers” become “of one heart and mind.”

This is Divine Mercy Sunday, so proclaimed by the Spirit who testifies through Holy Church, and that to which the Spirit testifies is truth.  God’s encompassing mercy our Mother and our Lord would have us celebrate this day – of that which Jesus thirsts to share with us, she and He would have us drink.  Let none be unbelieving.  Let none despair.  Let all be blessed to own that faith which “conquers the world,” that makes us “children of God.”  The Lord is ready to forgive men’s sins; He is desirous of this above all things.  He has given power to His disciples to forgive in His name…  Let all come and share in His mercy.

Let us love God and one another, my brothers and sisters.  Let us love the Father by accepting the grace that comes from His Son, and let us love one another by sharing that grace and mercy with everyone.  We keep His Word when we share in His mercy, when we swim in the ocean of love the water and blood from His side create.  And new life will be our own as it was for the first disciples; there is nothing lacking for “those who have not seen but believed.”  In fact, more blessed may we be now, for we must have the greater faith.

Forever the Lord’s mercy endures.  Every day it is poured forth.  And today we declare in truth its great graces, that all might be one in the Lord.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Cleansing" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, your risen Son stands before us

and calls us to touch His hands

and enter into the wounds in His side

that we might believe in Him and be cleansed of sin.

YHWH, Jesus is the Christ, your only Son: let us believe in the preaching of the apostles and become one in His Name.  May all have their sins forgiven, their doubt washed away in His blood, that all might declare with Thomas, “My LORD and my God!”

Jesus is God as you are God, O LORD, and we desire to be one with you by the grace and mercy that come to us through His death and resurrection.  If we had but faith in Him, we would conquer the world; all sin falls by the wayside when His Spirit is upon us, and we can but shout in victory at the glory in our midst.

O may His peace indeed be with us, the peace which passes not away, the peace that comes to us in the Breath of the Holy Spirit.  O LORD, let His nail marks be in our hands and His wound in our side that your love we might know to the depths of our souls.

Direct download: BC-041512-Divine_Mercy_Sunday_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 10:34a,37-43;   Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-24;   Col.3:1-4 or 1Cor.5:6b-8;  

Jn.20:1-9 or Lk.24:13-35)

 

“Everyone who believes in Him will receive forgiveness of sins

through His name.”

 

“His mercy endures forever,” brothers and sisters, and it is for us to “declare the works of the Lord”: that Jesus was “raised on the third day,” that He lives, that He still is “healing all those oppressed by the devil.”  With Peter and the apostles we must “preach to the people and testify” that “the right hand of the Lord is exalted.”  Yes, “they put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree,” but “the stone which the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”  Yes, we all bear guilt for the death of the Son, but in His rising He brings about the death of our sin.

Brothers and sisters, “you were raised with Christ” and should have nothing more to do with sin.  “Christ is seated at the right hand of God,” and we must be seated there with Him.  To Him should we raise our eyes for our “life is hidden with Christ in God.”  “Therefore, let us celebrate the feast, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”  No more should sin find place in us or grow within us unto death, but now that new life has come, we should find our place with Him.

Peter and John ran to the tomb upon hearing the news that Jesus was not there.  Upon entering, they “saw and believed,” they “understood the Scripture that He had to rise from the dead.”  Upon believing, death no longer held dominion over them; and soon they would proclaim to all the world the Gospel of life and peace.  Soon the cornerstone of truth would take hold of all who heard their words, and grow in time unto heaven.  And His kingdom shall not be removed.

Brothers and sisters, each day the Lord opens the Scriptures to us as we gather as His children.  Each day we recognize Him in the breaking of the bread.  Each day we are called to make known the glory of the resurrection we hold in “our hearts burning within as He [speaks] to us on the way.”  Here at His table we receive Him each day in Word and in Sacrament.  May all men know the gift of life that is ours through the forgiveness of sins He offers.  Let us pray that all will believe.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "Every Day Is Christmas" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, He whom we crucified has been raised;

the tomb is empty

and His Word now burns in our souls – Alleluia!

YHWH, your Son has truly been raised.  Alleluia!  And this stone rejected by the builders has now become the cornerstone of your Church.  Let us be built up in Him and come to His glory.  Alleluia!

Help us, O LORD, to keep our eyes fixed on Him and on the glory to which He leads us.  In Him we find the forgiveness of our sins and so become new men.  Let us not turn back as we walk on the road with Him; may His Word always burn in our hearts along our way to you, and may we partake always of His precious Body and Blood until we are present with Him in your eternal kingdom.

O LORD, we praise you for your glory, for your grace that has come into our lives and leads us to union with you.  O let us die and be raised with Christ!  Let us humbly run to the empty tomb and declare with His disciples that He has been raised.  Let all hear His Word and believe in Him, and so enter into His glory.  Alleluia!

Direct download: Easter_Sunday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Gn.1:1-2:2;   Ps.104:1-2,5-6,10,12-14,24,35 or Ps.33:4-7,12-13,20-22;   Gn.22:1-18;   Ps.16:5,8-11;   Ex.14:15-15:1;   Ex.15:1-6,17-18;   Is.54:5-14;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Is.55:1-11;   Is.12:2-6;   Bar.3:9-15,32-4:4;   Ps.19:8-11;   Ez.36:16-17a,18-28;   Ps.42:3,5,43:3,4;

Rom.6:3-11;   Ps.118:1-2,16-17,22-23;   Mt.28:1-10 or Mk.16:1-7 or Lk.24:1-12)

 

“He is not here.”

 

The women come faithfully to the tomb early Easter morning.  What do they find but that the stone is rolled back from its gaping mouth; and angel(s) in white deliver unto them the message of the ages: “He has been raised.”

This night, this early morning, we are led through salvation history, through our own history as human beings made in the image of God here upon the face of the earth, souls coming unto heaven.  “Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and our shield,” is the song of the Old Testament.  From the beginning of Creation our hearts are set on Him.  Along the way “Abraham took the wood for the holocaust and laid it on his son Isaac’s shoulders,” prefiguring the Father’s own sacrifice of His Son for our sins and our salvation.  Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, out of the land of sin, through the Red Sea, “with the water like a wall to their right and to their left,” prefiguring our Baptism as Christians; and they “sing to the Lord for He is gloriously triumphant,” prefiguring our own joy.

Always we are reminded by the prophets of old: “The Lord calls you back, like a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit.”  And he who heard the call even then sang, “O Lord, you brought me up from the netherworld; you preserved me from those going down into the pit.”  Yes, repeatedly the Lord calls out through His prophets: “Come to the water!… Come, without paying and without cost, drink wine and milk!”  He promises, “With joy you will draw water at the fountain of salvation.”  We who “have forsaken the fountain of wisdom” by the sin that plagues our inheritance are called back to “the One who established the earth for all time… before whom the stars at their posts shine and rejoice”; we are called to cling to the Word of God, to Wisdom: “Turn, O Jacob, and receive her: walk by her light toward splendor.”  For the sake of His Name, the Lord who “scattered them among the nations” now beckons His children home.  And those of faith sing with David, “Send forth your light and your fidelity; they shall lead me on and bring me to your holy mountain, to your dwelling place.”

Brothers and sisters, we know that “we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death,” the death to sin.  And having been “buried with Him,” we are also raised with Him this night, this morning, that “we too might live in newness of life.”  Now His holy dwelling place is here among us with the purest of light that rises this day.  Let us be children of this holy Light.  No longer in the tomb let us dwell.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Removing the Log from My Eye" (third part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, from the tomb your Son has been raised,

and we shall be raised with Him.

YHWH, your Son is no longer in the tomb, and we have escaped with Him.  It is the third day and He has been raised, just as He said.  The stone is rolled away and so now all souls may leave the darkness of this world behind and come with Jesus to the light of Heaven.

You have led us to this day, O LORD, throughout all our history, it has always been your intention to save our souls and raise us to you, even from the time of Creation.  And so you called Abraham to sacrifice his son; and so you led the Israelites out of Egypt.  Your Wisdom has been upon your people every step of our way that we might be wed to you in your eternal kingdom.

And now in the death and resurrection of your Son you fulfill your will among us.  And now we who are baptized into His death are raised to glory with Him.  Let it be declared to all, LORD, that the Christ is no longer in the tomb, but awaits us all in new life.

Direct download: Easter_Vigil_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.52:13-53:12;   Ps.31:2,6,12-13,15-17,25,Lk.23:46;   Heb.4:14-16,5:7-9;   Jn.18:1-19:42)

 

“He shall be raised high and greatly exalted.”

 

Here is your king: “Jesus the Nazarene, the King of the Jews,” Pilate has written upon His cross.  Here He is lifted up, where “many were amazed at Him – so marred was His look beyond human semblance and His appearance beyond the sons of man.”  Yet “shall He startle many nations; because of Him kings shall stand speechless.”  The Scripture passage is fulfilled: “They will look upon Him whom they have pierced.”  And there they shall see that He who “was spurned and avoided by people… one of those from whom people hide their faces,” held in “no esteem” as He was… this same “lamb led to the slaughter” “shall divide the spoils with the mighty”; for as He has been lifted up on the cross, debased beyond all others, so He shall be raised on high in His kingdom, one with the Father in heaven.  Here they “wove a crown out of thorns and placed it on His head.”  Here they “clothed Him in a purple cloak, and they came to Him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews.’  And they struck Him repeatedly.”  But there no mockery shall He know; there all shall see that He is the Son of God.

Brothers and sisters, “we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God.”  Our weaknesses He has known in full, and now He brings us “light in fullness of days.”  Though on earth “He offered prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears,” now has He become “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him.”  For all the tears He shed, all the scourging He underwent, all the humiliation He experienced and the death He knew, were all for our sake.  “It was our infirmities that He bore, our sufferings that He endured.”  And having suffered in our stead for the sins of those by whom He is condemned, now He has come unto what is His own, and invites us there as well.

“He shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.”  The guilt of the nations is removed by Him who had “no guilt in Him,” and is known by all who “take refuge” in His wounds.  And so, “take courage and be stouthearted, all you who hope in the Lord”; though we, too, may be “an object of reproach” in this world of sin, He awaits us all in His heavenly kingdom.  And for this we call this Friday “good.”

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "My God, My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (second half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, on this day we killed your only Son –

may we look upon Him whom we have pierced

that our sins might be forgiven. 

YHWH, your Son suffers a violent death at the hands of wicked men that our sins might be taken away.  All our offenses you lay upon His shoulders, and this innocent Lamb becomes expiation for our transgression.  Only by His bearing the Cross will we be freed; only by His shedding of blood will we be washed clean – only by looking upon Him lifted high on the Tree will we come to realize how we have separated ourselves from you who are Life, how we have wrought our own death.

And so Jesus takes upon Himself the guilt of us all; and so by His stripes we are healed.  This broken, beaten Man whose divinity none can see startles all souls as He enters into His glory.  O LORD, may we take our refuge in Him!

There is no salvation apart from the Christ; there is no sacrifice that could atone for our sins except that made by this High Priest.  LORD our God, let us know that He is One with you, and let us worship Him as our only King.

Direct download: Good_Friday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Ex.12:1-8,11-14;   Ps.116:12-13,15-18,1Cor.10:6;   1Cor.11:23-26;   Jn.13:1-15)

 

“This cup is the New Covenant in my blood.”

 

For this cup holds the Blood of our Lord.  And, “Seeing the blood, I will pass over you,” says the Lord.  “When I strike the land of Egypt, no destructive blow will come upon you.”  As the Israelites mark each of their houses with the blood of a lamb, so our bodies are marked by the Blood of the Lamb; and so we are saved by the Lord our God and become temples of His Spirit.

“How shall I make a return to the Lord for all the good He has done for me?” the psalmist cries in joy.  Each day we “offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,” taking up “the cup of salvation” and “call[ing] upon the name of the Lord”: each day we partake of His blessed Body and Blood.  And sharing in this celebration of the Eucharist we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; and so, into our midst He comes.

“He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist” as “a model to follow”: “as I have done for you, you should also do.”  He says to His brothers in the upper room the night “His hour had come to pass from this world to the Father”: “You ought to wash one another’s feet.”  And so by this teaching, and so by His masterful lead, He multiplies His presence in the world through His twelve apostles.  And so shall these souls by whom the Bread of Life is multiplied, by whom we have inheritance with the Lord, wash the feet of all His followers by their witness and the ministry they shall bring to the ends of the earth.  And so shall all who have bathed in His Blood be made clean for the Holy Day.

And we, as they, as the Lord, find the strength to lay down our lives in service of one another by being as our Jesus, who was “fully aware that the Father had put everything in His power and that He had come from God and was returning to Him.”  Any power that any have comes only from the Father, and comes only through the Son, and is known only in His Blood – which all must share, by which all must be anointed, if we are to be preserved until the coming of the Christ again into this world of darkness.

 

Writen, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us be washed clean

in the blood of your Son,

and so protected from all harm;

let us live in His New Covenant,

eating His Body and drinking His Blood. 

YHWH, as your Son has laid down His life, the innocent Lamb sacrificed for our sins; as He has bowed down to wash our feet that we might be made clean and have inheritance with Him; so let us be humble and serve one another in His Name.  Let His blood be upon us to save us from condemnation – let us die with Him that we might live again.

In His feast let us partake, of His very Body and Blood.  At His table let us sit, His disciples ready to follow Him.  Indeed, even as we eat let us be prepared to go out and serve, to step from the table where we have been nourished and into the way of the Cross.  Far from Egypt we would be taken, LORD, far from all our sin; and others we would see follow Him in the path to the kingdom.

He has died that we might live – O LORD, let us be His children!

Direct download: Holy_Thursday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Is.50:4-7;   Ps.22:2,8-9,17-20,23-24;   Phil.2:6-11;

Mt.26:14-27:66  or  Mk.14:1-15:47  or  Lk.22:14-23:56)

 

“His blood be upon us and upon our children.”

 

“The whole people” cry out for the death of Jesus.  “Let Him be crucified,” they shout ever more loudly.  The sins of us all demand the death of the Son.  And though He would have us not bear such guilt – “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me” – and though even after we have succeeded in our lust for innocent blood, He forgives… yet bear such a burden we must, to find release from its punishment under the shadow of His cross, where, upon the opening of our eyes in the fear of our crimes and the power of Him whom we have crucified, we shall proclaim, “Truly, this was the Son of God!”

Yes, it is an irony that the blood of this “King of the Jews,” the Chosen of the chosen, the Messiah, the Son of God, is upon our souls both for condemnation for the great crime all commit in crucifying the Lord always by our sins; and, of course, for our salvation by its cleansing the same sin from our souls through our belief in Him Who Is. And so He accepts our mockery.  And so He remains silent before our accusations against Him.  And so He “set [His] face like flint,” enduring “buffets and spitting”; as “many dogs surround” Him and “a pack of evildoers closes in,” He endures all for our sakes, knowing only this will bring us to open our eyes and see the light that is the love of God.  “They have pierced my hands and my feet; I can count all my bones.”  Could more of a sacrifice be made for sinful man?  Could greater than this be accomplished in the name of God?  What more need you to believe?  O let His blood pour upon you!

Brothers and sisters, Christ Jesus “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness… becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”  God has come among us and suffered all for our sake, that we might be washed clean of all the evil within us by His gentle acceptance of all our hatred, of all our doubt and fear, of all the violence we could mount, saying to our heart: “I love you still, and my Father, too,” that we might return to the grace that is ours in Him.  Let us not be ashamed to bend the knee “at the name of Jesus.”  Let “every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”  “You who fear the Lord, praise Him; all you descendants of Jacob, give glory to Him; revere Him all you descendants of Israel.”  Let His blood pour upon your soul.

 

Written, read & chanted, and published by James Kurt.

 

Music: "My God. My God, Why Hast Thou Forsaken Me?" (first half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, your Son humbles Himself

to die on a cross for us,

and we can but lay Him in a tomb –

how shall we be saved? 

YHWH, your Son is led to death, even to crucifixion, but He turns not His face away from the buffets and the spitting, from the mockery of sinful men.  He sets Himself to undergo all the suffering that is rightly ours to bear – and all the while we sleep, we take our rest.

All abandon your Son, O LORD; He is left quite alone.  None is able to defend Him, to stand with Him in His place upon the Cross.  No, we betray Him by our faithlessness, and so now must endure the sight of His bloodied corpse splayed upon the Cross.

O LORD our God, let us not fail to repent of our sin, of our crucifying the Son of Man.  Let us not fail to recognize who He is and what He has done for us in His Person and death.  This day let us partake of His Body and Blood that we might be taken with Him from the Skull place to your right hand in Heaven.

Direct download: Passion_Sunday_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Sm.7:4-5,12-14a,16;   Ps.89:2-5,27,29,37;   Rom.4:13,16-18,22;

Mt.1:16,18-21,24a  or  Lk.2:41-51a) 

“I will be a father to him,

and he shall be my son.”

It is through Joseph that Jesus is a son of David and so fulfills the promise to the king made by God: “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever,” for He is the heir “raise[d] up” after David “who shall build a house for [His] name.”  “In heaven [the Lord has] confirmed [His] faithfulness,” and on earth He has made it known.  And so Jesus says of God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Savior!” and we of faith join His refrain.

As with Abraham, Joseph is made foster father of Jesus not merely by physical descent from David but “through the righteousness that comes from faith.”  For as Abraham believed and so became “the father of many nations,” so Joseph believed that it was “through the Holy Spirit that [Jesus] ha[d] been conceived” and “did as the angel commanded him and took Mary into his home,” thus becoming a father to Him who would “save His people from their sins.”  Like Abraham “he believed, hoping against hope,” and like Abraham he is blessed.

But, of course, Jesus is more than the Son of Joseph; in fact, this is the great sacrifice Joseph makes.  For truly he cares for Him who is more Son to the Father in heaven and Son of Man, born for all the human race.  Evident this is when He is found by Joseph and Mary in the temple after three days and He asks them (a question much like those He might have been putting to the teachers of the faith): “Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” and in the curious fact that His parents waited a day before journeying back to Jerusalem to look for Him, for they were “thinking that He was in the caravan” – so much a part of His people had He become.

Jesus is Son of God and Son of Man, yet “obedient to them” – Joseph and Mary – He ever was.  And they were ever obedient to the dictates of the Father, that they should care for His only Son.  And so Joseph, husband of Mary, a simple carpenter, fulfills in simple fashion all the Lord had set out for him.  May we, too, by faith fulfill all the care we must take for Jesus, His mother, and His people.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

Music composed and performed by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

******* 

O LORD, let us dwell in your House forever.

YHWH, your Son is known as the Son of David, the Son of Joseph the carpenter.  And truly He is the fulfillment of your promise to the king that his son shall ever sit upon the throne.  But He is conceived by the Holy Spirit: He is the Son of God.  Give us the faith of Joseph that we might believe this and take Him into our home.

In our houses He would dwell, in our very souls.  Thus would He make them your House, dear Father, as is the soul of His Mother, and the soul of the righteous man we celebrate today.  Your Church let us be, dear God; in faith let us ever remain.

Your kindness to us is indeed great, O LORD; your very life you would share with us this day.  In your kingdom let us make our home – your sons and daughters let us be.  Jesus sits upon the throne now, for He is the Christ.  And so, your Covenant stands firm forever: all who believe in Him will be blessed.

O LORD, make us righteous in your sight, even as the humble Joseph.  In our lives let your will be done…  In your Son let us make our home.

Direct download: March_19_-_St_Joseph_Husband_of_Mary_2009.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Jer.31:31-34;   Ps.51:3-4,12-15;   Heb.5:7-9;   Jn.12:20-33)

“Father, glorify your name.”

Jesus cries out in supplication to Him who is “able to save Him from death,” but He prays not to be saved from death, not to be saved from the sacrifice He must make, but only that in His death the Father might glorify His name.  His “hour has come,” He knows.  He hears from His apostles of the Greeks who seek Him, and He knows it is now time for Him to return to the Father and for His apostles to take over the work He has begun – to carry His salvation to the nations.  And though He is “troubled,” knowing “the kind of death He would die,” knowing that it is the only path to the Father, yet He does not ask to be saved “from this hour.”  His only desire is to fulfill the Father’s will by being “lifted up from the earth” in crucifixion and resurrection that He might “draw everyone to [Him]self” and to the glory in the Father He knows.

And of course “He was heard because of His reverence.”  Because His cry is sincere, is a laying down of His life in perfect humility and perfect love, the Father readily answers His prayer.  Even in “a voice c[o]me from heaven” He responds, speaking not for the sake of His Son – who needs no such assurance, who is dead to Himself and serves the Father perfectly – but for those whom the Son would save by His “fall[ing] to the ground” in death.  For them, for us, the Father answers, for this is the Son’s wish.

And if we are holy as He, we “all, from least to greatest, shall know” the Lord our God just as He knows Him – we shall have our prayers answered as readily as the cries of supplication of our Savior.  And so we shall be saved; and so we shall be preserved from death… and so we, too, shall glorify the Father’s name.  As the Lord listens to David when he cries out in his penitent psalm, so shall God come and make our hearts clean: so shall He come and write His name upon them as we cry out to Him.  And we shall be blessed as Jesus, and we shall stand just as steadfast.  Renewed in spirit, our offenses wiped out, we shall stand in the Son’s stead upon the cross and in the kingdom.

“Your Holy Spirit take not from me,” O Lord, for it is the proof of your presence within me; it is the seal of your Son and His blood upon my soul.  By your Spirit I know I shall be protected from death; by His touch I am led to my salvation.  Father in heaven, glorify thy name in me as in thy Son.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "The Sunset Bleeds Me Clean" (1st half) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may we be made perfect as your Son

as we join Him in His sacrifice.

YHWH, the Cross of your Son is the source of our eternal salvation.  In His blood is written the New Covenant you promised your people.  For by His sacrifice our sins are removed and our hearts made new, that your Name might be written upon them.  Our sins are forgotten by you that we might remember your glory forever.

And we are called to lay down our lives with Him: where He is, so shall His disciples be.  And so, upon a cross we must find ourselves, a grain of wheat fallen to the ground.  If we hold to our lives in this world, what shall we do but die, LORD?  But if we hate the world and even our own lives, we shall find eternal life in you through your Son.

Jesus is our Savior.  In Him your Name is glorified, O LORD.  May your Name be glorified in us as well, as in His blood we are cleansed of our sin and joined to Him in your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-032512-Su_5_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Chr.36:14-16,19-23;   Ps.137:1-6;   Eph.2:4-10;   Jn.3:14-21) 

“By the streams of Babylon we sat and wept.”

For “practicing all the abominations of the nations and polluting the Lord’s temple,” the people of God “were carried captive to Babylon.”  For all their “infidelity” they were forced to watch as “their enemies burnt the house of God [and] tore down the walls of Jerusalem.”  And so did their “tongue[s] cleave to [their] palate[s]” in a foreign land; so they “hung up [their] harps”; so their “right hand[s] [were] forgotten”…  They could not sing the praises of the Lord; they could not strum to His glory – all the works of their hands were stilled.  They could but weep in desolation.

So are we like them in our sins.  So do our transgressions silence our tongues and make us lame and ineffective.  So were we dead as these before Christ Jesus came to save us.  And as the Israelites were called back to the city of peace and entreated to build the Lord’s house there once again, as they found their release from exile by the king of Persia speaking in the name of God… just as these could enter in once more to the “song of the Lord,” so we now find our freedom from the chains which bound us, and to the Lord’s temple come proclaiming His gracious salvation.

No more should we cry, brothers and sisters.  No more should we sit idly as the streams of this world pass us mockingly by.  No, now we must come resolutely to the Christ of God, for the word has gone forth to the ends of the earth that all who love Him should come into His light.  “By grace [we] have been saved”; by the Lord’s immeasurable kindness we have been redeemed – in His love we must now sing our song.  “For we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance,” and so our work must now be accomplished in Him.

“Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God.”  And so “saved through faith” we must now bring before Him the offering of our lives.  There is no longer cause to hide.  There is no longer need to weep for our sin, to find the oppression of the world and the devil too much to bear.  No, the gates of Jerusalem are opened once again, and the Lord God has “seated us with Him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.”  Here in this light let us now find our home.  Here in His presence let us begin to live the Lord’s eternal salvation.  Our tears of weeping, with our condemnation, have passed.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "A Guitar" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us leave behind our sinful past

and come into the light of your presence.

YHWH, we were dead in our sins till you sent your only Son to save us, to bring us life by the grace upon Him.  Light has indeed come into the world, the light of Christ shining now in our midst.  Let us come to that light that we might escape the darkness into which we’ve fallen and be raised up to be seated with Him.

Jesus has been lifted up for our sakes, that all who believe in Him might have eternal life with you, Father, in Heaven.  Though our transgressions have been severe, you have mercy upon us still, and call us to faith in your only Son.  Though we have failed to listen to the prophets you sent to speak in your Name, let us not fail to heed the One in whom your love has come to perfection, the One who shares your own place on high.

No more can you love us than by sending us Jesus, and so, no further opportunity will we have to repent and return to you.  Let us live now in your truth and your light, that our works might be done in you. 

Direct download: BC-031812-Su_4_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Ex.20:1-17;   Ps.19:8-11;   1Cor.1:22-25;   Jn.2:13-25)

“The fear of the Lord is pure,

enduring forever.”

Is it not fear of the Lord, Jesus would instill in the people as He makes “a whip out of cords” and drives those who buy and sell out of the temple?  Is His great zeal not to purify His Father’s House of all corruption?  And will the Temple He will raise up not endure forever?

David tells us that “the law of the Lord is perfect,” and it is so; and so our worship of the Lord should be perfect as well – it should match the perfection of the Lord and His Word.  Thus does the Lord give us His commandments, to refine us in His light and make us like Himself.  Thus should we rest on the sabbath day as He has done, and indeed do all things according to His way, having “no other gods besides” Him.  He alone is worthy of our worship, and He alone is worthy of imitation.  His words alone will enlighten our eye.

And how do we know this “wisdom of God” except by the blessed presence of His Son?  And how do we know it most fully but in His crucifixion?  Here is the wisdom of God upon the cross, calling us to what is far beyond us – beyond this world and our lusts.  “Human nature” He knew quite well, assuming it in all but sin as He has, and so He knows it must be nailed to the cross if we are to gain redemption.  And what wisdom is greater than that which effects salvation?  To what greater place could we be led than the kingdom of heaven?

And “Christ crucified” reveals not only the wisdom of God but “the power of God” as well, for what makes the devils tremble more than our Savior on the cross?  What forces them to realize the vanity of their efforts to destroy man than to see Him dead, and know that He shall live again?  (And we with Him… and we with Him.)  “The weakness of God is stronger than human strength,” and here God’s weakness comes to full power.  And with absolute force it shall drive all evil from the world, and from our souls.

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up,” are the Lord’s prophetic words.  The Temple of His Body once destroyed now is made to last forever, for it can never be destroyed again.  Now that He is raised from the dead, death has no more dominion.  Purified of all darkness and sin is the kingdom; and in awe of the Lord’s humble majesty we come there with open eyes and hearts on fire, to dwell with Him in eternal life.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Nothing You Can Buy (The Spirit Is)" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, if we join your Son in obedience

even unto death,

we shall be raised with Him.

YHWH, your Son has died to raise us all to new life; only His death could bear such fruit.  And should we not therefore put faith in Him, Him whom you have declared your Beloved?  Should we not thus come to a great love of you who have loved us so greatly?  And would we not then come to glory, the same glory He shares with you this day?

A sign you give to us this day, dear LORD, a sign of your eternal glory, a glory that comes to us by the death of Jesus the Christ.  And so, we should not be afraid of the death we must die, of the offering we must make of our lives in His Name.  For as we are joined to Him in sacrifice, so will we be joined to Him in your heavenly kingdom.

O LORD, bring many souls, souls as countless as the stars, into the land you promise us and which you bring to fulfillment in the death of your Son.  For this grace let us praise your Name forever in your House.

Direct download: BC-031112-Su_3_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Gn.22:1-2,9-13,15-18;   Ps.116:10,15-19;   Rom.8:31-34;   Mk.9:2-10)

“You shall offer him up as a holocaust

on a height that I will point out to you.”

“Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love,” the Lord instructs Abraham, calling him to sacrifice even as an animal his beloved child, upon whom God’s promise rests.  To a mountain he is led, with his son carrying wood in tow.

And arriving at the place God had told him to go, “Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it… and took the knife to slaughter his son.”  The angel comes to stay his hand, but Abraham is prepared to do as the Lord commands.

The Lord prevents Abraham from making this sacrifice because it is not his son who is to die; only the Lord’s Beloved could be offered as such a holocaust; only His Son is called upon to die.  “Christ Jesus it is who died,” no one else, for only His death brings life.

And on Mount Tabor today we see the life that will come by the Lord’s sacrifice; already we glimpse the rays of heaven.  Jesus is as engulfed in flames, holy fire of the most blessed holocaust; and – like the three young men in the furnace, like the bush before Moses on Mt. Horeb – by these flames He is not burned: by these flames His purity is made to shine.

How good indeed it is for these apostles to behold this blessed vision!  In it we all find hope that the death of Christ is not for naught, and neither shall our own death be.  For all who die in Christ, die as Christ, a death that brings only eternal life.  And so, comprehending here the majesty to which we are called, all disciples of Jesus, all children of the God of Life, are strengthened for all trial.

God “did not spare His own Son but handed Him over for us all,” not because He loved Him not, but because He loves us all.  And now “will He not also give us everything along with Him?”  Will He now seek to condemn those whom He has justified at such a massive cost?

“It is God who acquits us,” brothers and sisters, by the death of His Son.  And now “precious in the eyes of the Lord is the death of [all] His faithful ones”; do not be afraid to serve the Lord.  For by your sacrifice, to a great height He will draw you, even as He has His Son, who “is at the right hand of God” this day.  With Abraham, He “will bless you abundantly.”

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "White" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, if we join your Son in obedience

even unto death,

we shall be raised with Him.

YHWH, your Son has died to raise us all to new life; only His death could bear such fruit.  And should we not therefore put faith in Him, Him whom you have declared your Beloved?  Should we not thus come to a great love of you who have loved us so greatly?  And would we not then come to glory, the same glory He shares with you this day?

A sign you give to us this day, dear LORD, a sign of your eternal glory, a glory that comes to us by the death of Jesus the Christ.  And so, we should not be afraid of the death we must die, of the offering we must make of our lives in His Name.  For as we are joined to Him in sacrifice, so will we be joined to Him in your heavenly kingdom.

O LORD, bring many souls, souls as countless as the stars, into the land you promise us and which you bring to fulfillment in the death of your Son.  For this grace let us praise your Name forever in your House.

Direct download: BC-030412-Su_2_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(1Pt.5:1-4;   Ps.23:1-6;   Mt.16:13-19)

 

“On this rock I will build my Church.”

 

And Simon’s name is changed to “Peter”, which means “Rock”, to signify that here is the chief shepherd of the Church, upon whom the Church on earth rests.  It is he to whom Jesus gives “the keys to the kingdom of heaven.”  Though all the apostles are given the power to bind and loose, it is Peter who leads – “a fellow elder” among all the elders and yet the one who speaks for all.

It is not by man’s decision that Peter is the Rock of the Church, but by the word of the Lord Himself.  Just as “no mere man ha[d] revealed” to him that Jesus is “the Messiah… the Son of the living God,” so no mere man works through him today as our Pope guides the ship that is the Church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  It is led by the Church and its teachings we are guided “in right paths.”  It is as we dwell in this “house of the Lord” that we are protected from all harm.  “The Lord is my shepherd,” and the Shepherd of all, and into the hands of Peter and the apostles He places care for His flock.

How well this first among equals instructs his fellow shepherds today in his letter: “God’s flock is in your midst; give it a shepherd’s care.”  How well does Peter answer the Lord’s call to strengthen his brothers, to see that His sheep are fed.  The key pitfalls of “coercion” and “shameful profit” and “lording it over those assigned” to them, he warns them clearly against, and reminds them of “the unfading crown of glory” that awaits them.  It is they who must give “courage” to the flock, they who anoint heads with oil to make the cup of the Church overflow, even here on earth… and as they are faithful, they are Christ’s own special children.

To those who still doubt the primacy of Peter and its absolute necessity, I invite you to read again Scripture and notice how often and always Peter speaks for the whole and acts for the whole body as he does today.  It is to all the apostles Jesus asks, “Who do you say that I am?” and though all may have faith, only one speaks up and answers in no uncertain terms.  As he does at the first council at Jerusalem, as he did in coming to the Lord on the water, Peter speaks and leads in the power of the Spirit.  The Church is one in Christ, and it has one rock it is set upon.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, as long as we remain in your House

we shall be secure,

for the faith of Peter will strengthen us. 

YHWH, the keys of the kingdom of Heaven you entrust to Peter; he is the Rock upon which your Church is set, the chief Shepherd leading all the rest.  Though your Son alone be the cornerstone, the true foundation of this House, it is into the hands of Peter you entrust your flock by his confession of faith.

You are at his side always, ever assisting him in leading the ewes with care.  It is by your Spirit he rules this House, generously giving his life in union with Jesus, our Savior.  And so, in verdant pastures your sheep make their home.  In your presence we are blessed to remain by your grace upon our souls, dearest LORD.

O living God, bless this day all your bishops and priests, and especially the Holy Father.  You indeed bless them by revealing yourself to them and strengthening them for the work they must accomplish.  With them may we all walk in the footsteps of your Son, laying down our lives for all, that we might come to eternal rest in the glory of your kingdom.

Direct download: Chair_of_St._Peter_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Gn.9:8-15;   Ps.25:4-9;   1Pt.3:18-22;   Mk.1:12-15) 

“I set my bow in the clouds

to serve as a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.”

In times past God made a covenant with Noah and his sons once they had come from the ark “that the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all mortal beings,” that they and those who would descend from them, indeed all races of men, should experience such devastation no more.  And the sign of the rainbow He has given “for all ages to come,” that His covenant shall not be forgotten.

This promise is a reassuring one, even if not by water but by fire we know this earth shall yet be destroyed.  But a greater promise than this certainly we have, one for which this covenant is but a shadow.  For now we have “Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers subject to Him.”  Through His resurrection from the dead He now shines in the firmament more brightly than any rainbow, and indeed in Him all races of men meet again and find their hope, not only that they shall not be destroyed from the earth, but that they shall know everlasting salvation in heaven.  Even “the spirits in prison, who had once been disobedient when God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark,” have this word preached to them.

“The kingdom of God is at hand.”  Yes, the salvation of the Lord has been set firmly in our hearts, even as the rainbow God set in the heavens.  He has remembered His “love” and “compassion” which “are from of old” and in His “goodness” has fulfilled them in His only Son.  Though Jesus has had to suffer death for our sakes, yet death is remembered no more as we gaze upon His resurrected form – as the bow after the rain, so does His glory shine after the death of this flesh.  And though the flood “prefigured Baptism,” yet Baptism in the name of the Lord and into His death and resurrection is so much more, for “it is not a removal of dust from the body but an appeal to God for a clear conscience” with which we are blessed now.

And so, brothers and sisters, let us find the “life in the Spirit” to which our Savior, come from the desert of our sin, now leads us.  Let us fix our eyes upon His resurrection glory, even as we experience the death of the body.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Miracle" (second half) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let your kindness and compassion

be fulfilled in our midst this day;

let us turn from our sins to walk with Jesus

on the way to you.

YHWH, your Son has come to suffer and die and be raised to new life that we might be led from our sinful state to union with you in Heaven.  Truly, your kingdom has walked among us in the Person of Jesus; truly, your kingdom is now at hand.  Like a bow in the clouds is His resurrection from the dead – let us keep our eyes fixed on Him that truly we shall enter your reign.

You are of compassion, LORD, and your love is from of old.  It is this love you would share with the humble, and so you call us to follow in your ways.  By repentance we shall come to you, and that we might receive this grace your Son cries out to our souls.  Let us follow Him on the way of the Cross that the new day shall be ours.

Your promise of eternal life is our treasure, LORD, our hope in a fallen world.  And you are faithful to your promise – in Jesus we shall never be destroyed.

Direct download: BC-022612-Su_1_L_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Jl.2:12-18;   Ps.51:3-6,12-14,17;   2Cor.5:20-6:2;   Mt.6:1-6,16-18)

 

“Even now, says the Lord,

return to me with your whole heart,

with fasting, and weeping, and mourning.”

 

“We implore you, in Christ’s name: be reconciled to God!” Paul exclaims; and the people of God today raise a cry, rending their hearts, begging His forgiveness… turning from their sins to find His healing grace.

The trumpet is blown in Zion; the people are gathered as one.  Now “let the bridegroom quit his room, and the bride her chamber.  Between the porch and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep.”  For now is the time of mourning, now is the time of prayer… now is the time to cry with David, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.”  For now as we “acknowledge [our] offense” we find how “gracious and merciful is He”; now “the joy of [His] salvation” returns to us as “a clean heart” He creates for us, as His Holy Spirit He instills in our souls.  Yes, “Now is the acceptable time!  Now is the day of salvation!”  And so let us cry out to our Lord: “Spare, O Lord, your people!”

The Lord will hear us, brothers and sisters; He will be quick to respond, as long as we are careful “not to receive the grace of God in vain.”  As Jesus said to His disciples, so He says to us: “Be on guard against performing religious acts for people to see.”  Only such vanity will prevent our finding the “recompense from our heavenly Father.”  Yes, we must give alms.  Yes, we must pray.  Yes, we must fast.  But listen to the Lord’s instruction to “keep your deeds of mercy secret,” to “pray to your Father in private,” and to make sure “no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden.”  For then indeed “your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you” for your sacrifice.  But if your offering is one to impress the eyes of man, be sure the eyes of God do not look upon it and it shall find no blessing in His sight.

The time has come, the time of great mercy.  As we call upon our God, “in the greatness of [His] compassion [He will] wipe out [our] offense.”  In Jesus and in His sacrifice for our sin we might now “become the very holiness of God.”  May we find now the Lord “stirred to concern for His land and [taking] pity on His people.”  May we find His grace at work in our souls as now we give ourselves to Him.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

 

Music: "The Sackcloth Song" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, you see what is hidden;

let there be in our hearts no sin

but only your heavenly presence. 

YHWH, against you we have sinned, against you and your love.  We have turned our backs to you and our guilt is with us always.  But you are merciful and offer opportunity for repentance.  You are good and kind and allow us to return to you.  Help us to rend our hearts and weep in your presence, that we might know the healing touch of your forgiving hand.

Wash us thoroughly from our fault; let it no more be known in your sight, O LORD.  Now is the acceptable time for repentance – in Jesus you will hear our pleas.  O let His sacrifice be fruitful in your sight that we might be holy in Him this day!

And let our offering be acceptable to you as well.  May our fasting and praying and almsgiving bring down your blessings upon us.  Make us sincere, dear LORD, in our love for you and one another.  Let us lay down our lives with your Son and know your presence in our souls.  Spare us this day, O God; let us know the greatness of your mercy.

Direct download: Ash_Wed.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Lv.13:1-2,44-46;   Ps.32:1-2,5,7,11;   1Cor.10:31-11:1;   Mk.1:40-45) 

“I said, ‘I confess my faults to the Lord,’

and you took away the guilt of my sin.” 

The leper in our gospel confesses his faults to the Lord when he says, “If you wish, you can make me clean,” for by these words he recognizes that “he is in fact unclean” – that he is a sick man in need of a physician.  And Jesus takes away the guilt of his sin when He responds, “I do will it.  Be made clean.”  For by a mere word from His mouth we are purged.

That the sinner should cry out his guilt is evident even in the ancient Book of Leviticus; it gives specific instructions for the actions of the leper, whose sin has made him unclean: “The one who bears the sore of leprosy shall keep his garments rent and his head bare, and shall muffle his beard; he shall cry out, ‘Unclean, unclean!’  As long as the sore is on him he shall declare himself unclean.”  Here is a graphic representation of the way we sinners should present ourselves to the Lord.  Like the leper who cries to Jesus on his knees, we should never hide our sin from the Lord; our “guilt [should be] covered not.”  For the Lord indeed sees all things – nothing is hidden from Him – so we fool only ourselves if we attempt to hide; and He can’t heal us of our affliction if we do not come into His light.  We must come before Him in all humility for the poison upon our souls, and He will save us from our sin.

How sincere is the leper’s contrition to move the Lord to such immediate pity!  How pitiable indeed he is, as to a final hope for cleansing waters he comes with head bowed to the earth, his years of suffering evident in his shaking voice.  Whimpering like a dog he humbles himself before the Lord… and a tear we find in Jesus’ eye – inevitably He reflects our penitence in His grace.  Let your heart break before Him!  Bleed before the Lord who bleeds for you!  Expose your sores to His eyes and His light shall cure them all.

Finally, brothers and sisters, let us indeed “be imitators” of Paul, “not seeking [our] own benefit but that of the many, that they may be saved,” that people will keep “coming to [Jesus] from everywhere” to find the healing of their “sore of leprosy,” to discover salvation from their sins.  For He does “will it” for everyone – the redemption of all He holds in His arms of sacrifice.  Let all souls show themselves to His priests; let all confess their sins openly, that reconciliation with God and one another all may know.  O Lord, take away the sin from my soul!  (Thank you for the sacrament you leave with us.)

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Be Well" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, take away the guilt of our sin

and return us to your fold

that we might declare your glory to all.

YHWH, let us not dwell apart from you but forgive us our sins and let us return to your presence.  Your Son leaves your side for a time to save us from our exile; may His sacrifice bring healing to all this day.

We are all unclean in your sight, O LORD; before you we come on our knees begging to be relieved of our guilt.  Heal the sore upon our souls, which would spell our death – stretch out your hand and make us clean.

How merciful is your Son, LORD.  How perfectly He reflects your compassion for the sinner.  He is moved with pity at our contrition; He shares our tears as His own.  O let all souls press upon Him for salvation!

And let us all reflect His love in all we do, giving glory to you in all things.  Let our tongues follow the confession of our faults with praise of your goodness…  Let us become as Jesus, LORD, laying down our lives that all might be saved and return to you.

Direct download: BC-021212-Su_6_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Jb.7:1-4,6-7;   Ps.147:1-6;   1Cor.9:16-19,22-23;   Mk.1:29-39)

“He heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds.”

In our first reading, Job is about as brokenhearted as a man could be, beset entirely by the devil’s trials as he is.  “Swifter than a weaver’s shuttle” his complete loss of goods and family and his own health has come upon him.  And so he seems to see his days “come to an end without hope.”  More miserable a creature there could not be.

In our gospel we are told that “Simon’s mother-in-law lay sick with a fever” and that the people of the town in which Jesus found Himself “brought to Him all who were ill or possessed by demons.”  Surrounded is He with the afflictions man suffers, the weakness to which our fallen race is so prone.  It seems that all are indeed “brokenhearted” and wounded; as Simon Peter says upon finding the Lord praying in a deserted place the next morning: “Everyone is looking for you.”  All need so greatly the healing only He brings.

And He does heal all who come to Him.  As even before His birth into this world He served to set Job free from the clutches of Satan and grant him a new life which was beyond his hope; as Simon’s mother-in-law “He approached, grasped her hand, and helped her up,” the fever fleeing His touch; as “He cured many who were sick with various diseases, and He drove out many demons” from those gathered at the door of the house where He stayed… so He continues “preaching and driving out demons,” not only throughout Galilee and all of Judea and all of Israel, but to this day to the ends of the earth through His holy Church.

Our Lord has become “a slave to all so as to win over as many as possible.”  Our weakness He has taken upon Himself to remove our weakness from us.  Our diseases, our darkness, our sin… our “months of misery” He has borne that He might heal us of all infirmities – that He might bind up our broken hearts.  Our salvation comes at the touch of His hand, at the breath of His mouth.  Let us rise and walk with Him, for the Dawn has come and His grace-filled blood is upon us.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: ""This World of Sin" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, drive the demons from our souls,

heal our broken hearts,

that we might rise and offer you praise

all the days of our lives.

YHWH, has your Son not made Himself weak for our sakes?  Has He not freely given His life to save us from sin?  Does He not bind up our wounds and cast all demons from our midst?  He heals the brokenhearted who cry out to Him – let us eagerly seek the touch of His hand.

We gather around your Son, O LORD, for He is the door that leads to your presence.  Only He can save us from the misery of this dark world and redeem our troubled souls, and so let us praise your goodness to us as we draw near to Him.

We are all sick, LORD, all in the grip of a fever from which there seems no escape.  The devil would have us believe the wickedness that surrounds us is eternal, but we know the night shall soon come to an end.  Your light has already dawned upon us in the presence of your Son; let the grace of salvation be fulfilled in our midst.

Direct download: BC-020512-Su_5_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Mal.3:1-4;   Ps.24:7-10;   Heb.2:14-18;   Lk.2:22-40) 

“Suddenly there will come to the temple

the Lord whom you seek.”

“And He will purify the sons of Levi, refining them like gold or like silver that they may offer due sacrifice to the Lord.”  “To expiate the sins of the people” He has come – to bring us light.  But to do this “He had to become like His brothers and sisters in every way”; He had to “share in blood and flesh” with us, and so share in our death, to overcome death and make us holy in the sight of God, that our lives might be like His: a true sacrifice to the Lord.

Hear in our gospel how many times is stated that when “Mary and Joseph [take] Jesus up to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord” this is done “just as it is written in the law of the Lord.”  Because it says, “Every male that opens the womb shall be consecrated to the Lord,” His parents do so “in accordance with the dictate in the law of the Lord.”  They “brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to Him”; they “fulfilled all the prescriptions of the law of the Lord” before returning to Galilee to raise Him.  Of what significance is this in this day and age when so many place themselves above the need to be obedient to the dictates of the Church and the Holy Spirit which speaks through her.  Though the Lord Himself did all according to the way it is written, so many find no necessity for themselves to go to church on Sunday, to confess their sins, to give their tithe… and on.  In their minds they need no “religion” to follow.  Let them learn from the Lord and His obedience, and His humility, in the place where God is found.

And see what happens when this humble Child allows Himself to be brought into the temple of the Lord: light comes to His people.  Simeon the prophet proclaims in joy, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all the peoples,” and declares his readiness for death.  Anna the prophetess gives thanks to God and speaks “about the child to all who [are] awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem.”  It is not to a street corner He comes to bring salvation; it is to the temple.  There we await Him.  There we find Him, in His Father’s house.

Finally, we must relate the pain His coming brings.  Though leading to glory, for us as well as for Him, the performance of the Father’s will in all things is not easy.  As “a sword will pierce” the Mother’s heart, so in our purgation, in our persecution as we turn from the darkness of this world to be purified for the next, there shall be suffering.  But this suffering does lead to life.  But our waiting shall be answered.  The light is powerful that comes when we “lift up” the gates of our hearts “that the king of glory may come in,” but in Him we find all our hearts need.  His is a perfect sacrifice.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, your Son has come into our midst

and united Himself to us;

may we be united to Him and become as your Temple. 

YHWH, in the purification of your Son, we are purified.  By His sacrifice, our sacrifice is made acceptable to you.  Thank you for presenting Him to us this day, that indeed we might be saved, that indeed as He has become flesh and blood for us, we may become as His flesh and blood and be a holy offering to you.

O LORD, we must be purified if we are to come into your Temple, if we are to become as your Temple, according to your desire.  And so let us be obedient to your Word, let us welcome Jesus into our hearts, that He might cleanse our troubled souls from any fear of death, that by His presence we might be refined for the kingdom of Heaven.

He is our hope.  He is our joy.  He is our very life, O LORD; let us remain faithful to His Cross.  As the sword pierces our own hearts, let us be purged of sin that with Simeon and Anna we might rejoice in the light of your presence.

Direct download: Feb_2_-_Presentation_of_the_Lord_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Dt.18:15-20;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   1Cor.7:32-35;   Mk.1:21-28) 

“A prophet like me will the Lord, your God,

raise up for you from among your own kin.”

Thus does Moses speak to the people as he prepares to leave them, and they prepare to enter the Promised Land.  He prophesies most immediately the anointing of Joshua, who will take his place as leader of the Israelite nation and guide them into the holy land, as well as all the prophets who shall follow… but most especially, of course, he hereby prophesies the coming of the only Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will be raised up from among us, a man as we are, to be God in our midst.  No greater fulfillment of this promise could there be: no more real could God make His presence known to us.  Here on this earth He stands, and speaks.

Our reading from Deuteronomy makes clear the nature and role of the prophet; in this passage we see the inception of this gift, of this power God gives to man.  When the people begged Moses, “Let us not again hear the voice of the Lord, our God, nor see this great fire anymore,” for fear of death after having witnessed the Lord’s most powerful theophany at Mount Horeb, the Most High answered them and promised instead, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.”  Here is the very definition of a prophet: one who speaks for God.  Out of a prophet’s mouth come the words of the Lord, not his own.

And what a Prophet is Jesus!  And, of course, so much more than a prophet – the only Son.  “For He taught them as one having authority”; His words of rebuke: “Quiet!  Come out of him!” cast out all unclean spirits…  His power is immeasurable as God’s power is immeasurable – all is in His hands and at the command of His voice.  For His words are not His own (though intimately His own); they are His Father’s.  He does only the Father’s will and so is the Father’s Son.  In them together the Spirit moves!  Upon all regions of the earth His Word goes forth.

“Oh, that today you would hear His voice,” brothers and sisters, and “bow down in worship before Him,” knowing who is here before you now and consecrating yourself entirely to Him.  Then you would but “sing joyfully” and be filled with “thanksgiving” as, free from sin, from all darkness – from all that is unclean – you come to full union with the promised One of all the ages and make your home in His heart, obedient to His blessed, protective commands, and so find yourself “free of anxieties” as you think only of “how [you] may please the Lord.”  Alleluia!  He has come.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Speaking for God" from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us listen to your Son, Jesus,

who speaks with your authority.

YHWH, let us listen to your voice, O God, and the voice of your only Son, for with authority He speaks in your Name, greater than all the prophets.  He Himself is God, one with you before time, and so should we not bow down and worship Him; should we not heed His Word?  If we desire salvation, we cannot but listen to Him.

Why should we doubt Him who commands even the unclean spirits, whose word is as your own, LORD, able to bring the world into existence, or bring it to an end.  If we but trust in Him and listen to His teaching, this same authority we will share; nothing will be able to distract us from serving you and becoming as your Son.

Cast out all the demons from us, LORD, that we might be free to hear your voice clearly and worship you with a pure heart.  As we kneel before you and praise you for your Son, may we indeed become the flock He guides and so enter into your presence.

Direct download: BC-012912-Su_4_OT_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22;   Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15;   Mk.16:15-18)

 

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.”

 

One would not have expected these words to be spoken so profoundly to the heart of St. Paul.  For he, then known as Saul, had spent such time and with such vigor had persecuted the followers of Christ.  Why does the Lord shine His light all about him?  Why does He speak to him and reveal Himself to him?  Why is it this man who is picked to bring the Name of Jesus to all the nations?  Perhaps it was his very vigor in persecuting His followers Jesus admired.  Perhaps his sincerity and commitment to this cause in the name of God He knew He could use for the cause of justice and right.  Perhaps he is a sign to us all that none is beyond the redemption the Lord offers.  We know only that he who was persecuting the Church now works to build it up.  We know only the story of this great Apostle to the world.

“Recover your sight,” Ananias says to this Saul, and so Paul, once blinded by the light of the Lord, now has his eyes open to see.  So he who once went about with scales on his eyes, he whose vision was once so prevented from realizing the truth of the Jesus in his midst… he who was once so like his brother Pharisees, now sees.  And what he sees is not simply Ananias standing before him.  What he sees standing before him in this faithful disciple of Jesus, is Christ Himself.  And he realizes whom he has been persecuting, and repents.  And so he is baptized.  And so his mission, one wrought in the suffering of Christ, begins.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; glorify Him, all you peoples!” are the words of our psalmist, but they could as easily be the exhortation of the Apostle Paul.  Having himself believed in the Good News proclaimed to all creation and accepted Baptism into its way, he himself now brings so many others to walk along the same path.  Great signs accompany him, and his words to our ears are as those of Jesus to him, for now he is such a strong part of the Body of Christ, persecuted by this world and calling it to salvation.  On this day all our hearts should turn to the Lord, that we might join Paul and profess our faith in His Name.

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, help us to believe

and so turn to your Son to be saved.

YHWH, let all men turn to you as has your great Apostle.  Reveal yourself to the eyes and ears of all souls who seek God, all who are zealous for the truth.  Why should we continue so blind?  Let all be baptized into the way of your Son and so be blessed with His power and His love.

Let us not be afraid to lay down our lives for you, O LORD. Let us not turn away from what we must suffer for your Name and that of your Son.  In this we should find our joy; proclaiming the Gospel to all Creation should be the food that sustains us.  Let us be the sign of your presence in this world.

Lay your hands upon us, LORD, that we might be healed.  Send your disciples to us to teach us of your way and your truth.  Let us enter into that way with them and declare to all that Jesus is the Messiah and in Him all souls are saved and brought to light.

Direct download: Conversion_of_Paul_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(1Sm.3:3b-10,19;   Ps.40:2,4,7-10;   1Cor.6:13c-15a,17-20;   Jn.1:35-42) 

“The Lord came and revealed His presence,

calling out as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’” 

The call of Samuel, the call of Peter and his brother(s), and the call of us all to “glorify God in [our] body.”  As “Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord” when the Lord called to him, so we must all have the Holy Spirit within ourselves, we must each “know that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” if we are to hear and answer the call of God.  As the disciples were so set upon finding the Christ, so our hearts, too, must be set upon Him, if we are to hear the words, “We have found the Messiah.”  He lives, brothers and sisters, and in His Temple He dwells.  And each of us He would make His temple; each of us He calls to be His disciple this day.  Listen for His voice, and go as you are led.

Samuel was but a boy when he was called, and with the pure obedience of a child he responded to God’s voice.  Blessed was he to live with the high priest in the Lord’s temple, a forerunner of Christ in his living with the Lord from his youth, in his dedication to God and His will.  But now the Temple that is Jesus has come into the world, and makes His home with any so inclined, any who would take their rest at this holy Tabernacle of God.  He comes indeed now to make His home with us, even in the Sacrament He offers each day.  And do we respond as the boy Samuel?

“John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’”; and so the two disciples find themselves called, and so they follow the Lord: “they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with Him that day.”  And one called his brother first to the Lord; and so Peter, the rock of the Church, comes to Christ… and so are all gathered unto the Lord.  And John still points to Jesus to this day, and Peter is still the rock of His teaching and the minister of His Body – and we are all now joined to them.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” brothers and sisters.  Do you not understand that you are called to a holiness that equals His own?  This you should know, this you should understand – His call you should hear ringing in your ear.  And “with ears open to obedience” you should answer, “Here I am,” and become one with the Blessed Lamb, pure as the flesh of His sacrifice.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "This World of Sin" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******  

O LORD, help us to abandon sin

and all things of this world

that we might follow your Son to Heaven.

YHWH, help us to turn from our sins that we might find you.  Help us to leave this world behind that we might walk with your Son to the kingdom.  This world is passing away; let us not pass with it but come to your presence on high.

O LORD, you show sinners the way to you.  You instruct us in your mercy to repent and believe in the Gospel your Son brings to us.  As He calls to our souls, let us be humble and obedient to His Word, that like the Ninevites we shall be spared, that like Peter and Andrew and James and John we shall abandon our moorings to follow Him, and so enter into your kingdom.

Heaven awaits us, O LORD, by your grace.  You send your Son to call us there.  But we are attached to so many things of this earth and need your help to find the strength to leave them all behind.  O let our hearts be open to fully receive the goodness you would share with us!

Direct download: BC--012212-Su_OT_3_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(1Sm.3:3b-10,19;   Ps.40:2,4,7-10;   1Cor.6:13c-15a,17-20;   Jn.1:35-42) 

“The Lord came and revealed His presence,

calling out as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’” 

The call of Samuel, the call of Peter and his brother(s), and the call of us all to “glorify God in [our] body.”  As “Samuel was sleeping in the temple of the Lord” when the Lord called to him, so we must all have the Holy Spirit within ourselves, we must each “know that our body is a temple of the Holy Spirit,” if we are to hear and answer the call of God.  As the disciples were so set upon finding the Christ, so our hearts, too, must be set upon Him, if we are to hear the words, “We have found the Messiah.”  He lives, brothers and sisters, and in His Temple He dwells.  And each of us He would make His temple; each of us He calls to be His disciple this day.  Listen for His voice, and go as you are led.

Samuel was but a boy when he was called, and with the pure obedience of a child he responded to God’s voice.  Blessed was he to live with the high priest in the Lord’s temple, a forerunner of Christ in his living with the Lord from his youth, in his dedication to God and His will.  But now the Temple that is Jesus has come into the world, and makes His home with any so inclined, any who would take their rest at this holy Tabernacle of God.  He comes indeed now to make His home with us, even in the Sacrament He offers each day.  And do we respond as the boy Samuel?

“John was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God’”; and so the two disciples find themselves called, and so they follow the Lord: “they went and saw where Jesus was staying, and they stayed with Him that day.”  And one called his brother first to the Lord; and so Peter, the rock of the Church, comes to Christ… and so are all gathered unto the Lord.  And John still points to Jesus to this day, and Peter is still the rock of His teaching and the minister of His Body – and we are all now joined to them.

“Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ?” brothers and sisters.  Do you not understand that you are called to a holiness that equals His own?  This you should know, this you should understand – His call you should hear ringing in your ear.  And “with ears open to obedience” you should answer, “Here I am,” and become one with the Blessed Lamb, pure as the flesh of His sacrifice.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Calling" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let the Church be as the Body of your Son,

the Temple of the Holy Spirit. 

YHWH, you call us all to enter your Temple, to be as your tabernacles in this world, holy and true to your Word, to your call to our souls.  Help us to answer you readily, to become as temples of the Holy Spirit, built firmly into your House, the Church.

O LORD, our own bodies you would make temples.  As your Son you call us to be.  And obedient to your Word we shall indeed become as He; offering our lives in union with His, your Law shall be written upon our hearts and we shall be as your sons.

Humble as the child Samuel, simple and pure in our understanding of your presence – in perfect innocence let us come to you, LORD, and all we do shall be blessed.  And we will grow in holiness before you; and we will rest always with you.  Your Son has purchased us at the cost of His life…  Let us glorify you in all we think, say, and do, and we will be a worthy Temple.

Direct download: BC-011512-Su_OT_2_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.55:1-11;   Is.12:1-6;   1Jn.5:1-9;   Mk.1:7-11) 

“A voice came from the heavens,

‘You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.’” 

Brothers and sisters, God “has testified on behalf of His Son.”  With His own voice and by “the Spirit, the water, and the blood,” He has borne witness that Jesus is the Christ.  And should we not believe and so conquer the world?

To the waters Jesus comes, and by His baptism makes them holy, that we in turn might be made holy by our baptism in them.  Upon Him the Spirit descends like a dove, that new life might be breathed into our souls.  And for our sake He will be crucified, that in His blood we may be redeemed.  All speaks of our salvation!  The water, the Spirit, and the blood – and all He is and does – give credence to the declaration from the mouth of the Father that this is His Son, and that we shall find life in Him alone.  The Baptist has been sent to prepare the way before Him, proclaiming, “One mightier than I is coming after me.”  Let us “listen, that [we] may have life.”

Do your souls not desire the food from heaven?  Are you not “thirsty,” are you not hungry for the bread of Truth?  Listen to the Lord, “Heed me, and you shall eat well, you shall delight in rich fare.”  For though high are His “ways above your ways” and His “thoughts above your thoughts,” though this food is well beyond your grasp, yet as “from the heavens rain and snow come down” and nourish the earth, so does the Spirit descend upon us, so do the waters of baptism nourish our faith – so does the blood of His sacrifice become our spiritual drink and His body our spiritual food.  And so we become “confident and unafraid.”  And so by our faith we do conquer the world.

Brothers and sisters, “the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” “is begotten of God,” for he becomes a son even as He is.  And what power has the earth over Him who created it?  And so what can stand before such faith?  And nourished by this faith what can we do but love, as our God who is but love?  To believe in Him is to love Him and to love Him means to love others; for faith in God who has always been brings love of those who are with us now, and so hope for heaven which is to come.  This is the will of God for our souls this day.  This is the life into which He would baptize our race.  So, let us “sing praise to God for His glorious achievement” as we cleanse ourselves in the water His Son makes pure.

Written, read and chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

Music is "Not as This World Gives" by Carie Fortney; used by permission. 

*******

O LORD, your beloved Son is in our midst;

let us believe in Him that we might find our way to you. 

YHWH, your Word has come down from the heavens and watered the earth; your Son has come to save us.  And so we may now draw water from this fountain of salvation – we may be baptized in Him and in His blood.  Speak to us this day by the power of the Spirit of the blessing that is ours by faith in your Christ.

O LORD, we may conquer the world and ourselves if we but believe in Jesus.  Though you are far above our thoughts and our ways, you are brought near to us by the presence of your beloved Son in our midst this day.  Let us listen to Him and His apostles and prophets, that we may no longer live our lives in vain but be confident and unafraid in the joy of our Savior.

O LORD, let us be begotten by you even as your Son.  Let your Spirit descend upon us, too, as we rise from the waters of Baptism He has made pure.  Make us fertile and fruitful in Jesus, that we might ever partake of His Body and Blood.

Direct download: Baptism_of_the_Lord_Year_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Is.60:1-6;   Ps.72:1-2,7-8,10-13;   Eph.3:2-3a,5-6;   Mt.2:1-12)

 

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary His Mother.”

 

And so our prophecy of Isaiah and our psalm of David come to pass: “Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you… the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.”  And “the kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.  All kings shall pay Him homage, all nations shall serve Him.”  And so we have the revelation made known to the Apostle Paul and all His holy ones: “The Gentiles are now coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

Yes, the Light of Jerusalem has come, and it draws the ends of the earth by its radiance.   Here is the star which rises in our midst; here is the true light which shines upon all men.   And all men are drawn to it – none can deny its brightness before us, its truth and its glory.  And who is this king but the One of “justice” and “profound peace”?   Who is He but the One who “shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor He shall save.”   And so all must make themselves poor before Him, laying their gifts at His blessed feet.

Today we celebrate the coming of Light to the nations, the manifestation of Jesus Christ to this world covered in darkness.  And we find our hope and our joy in Him as did the magi two thousand years ago.   For He continues to reveal Himself to our hearts.  He continues to show His peace and justice to all who look for His coming.   Let our eyes be raised to the heavens and our hearts be diligent in seeking Him, and we will be led to His crib.   There the Mother holds Him in her arms; there before such beauty we should empty our souls in adoration of His blessed presence, like these magi who “prostrated themselves and did Him homage.”   Then we shall rise fulfilled.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, lead us by your light

to lay down our lives before you.

YHWH, into this world of darkness you have sent a great light and now all nations desirous of truth, desirous of light, follow that light to find you, dear Father in Heaven.  As the magi followed the star to find the Baby Jesus with Mary His Mother, so all poor souls follow your Son to find you who have created us all; for He is in you, and looking upon His innocent face we see you, our LORD and God, and the light is ours.

There is no division in your House, O LORD; all souls are called into your presence.  Your star you make obvious for all to see that none may be left by the wayside but all keep to the road that leads to life.  Help us, O LORD, to empty ourselves of all that keeps us from gazing at your light, all that makes our eyes blind to your glory.  May we with the magi prostrate ourselves before your Child, offering all we have to Him and so to you.  He is the King that shall rule us all – let us embrace His coming.

Direct download: Epiphany_of_the_Lord_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Nm.6:22-27;   Ps.67:2-3,5-6,8;   Gal.4:4-7;   Lk.2:16-21)

 

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God

for all they had heard and seen,

just as it had been told to them.”

 

The blessing of God, His holy Son, was upon the shepherds, and it is upon us all.  For “God sent His Son, born of a woman” that His “way be known upon earth,” “that we might receive adoption as sons.”  And what greater blessing could man know than to fulfill his call as son of the living God?

We are blessed, brothers and sisters, and we should proclaim it as the shepherds.  The blessing invoked upon the people by Aaron has been realized in the birth of the Son.  Through Him “the Lord let[s] His face shine upon [us]” – this is His grace come.  And how else but in haste should we travel to Him?  How quickly we should arrive at His side.  And how amazed all should be upon hearing the blessings we have known, at the hand of our God.

Mary is she who is truly blessed, and we honor especially today she “who kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  For so obedient was she to God’s will that He was “conceived in [her] womb” and made flesh in our sight.  So, let us thank her today for the blessing she has brought into our midst.  As we are now sons of the Father with the Spirit of the Son “crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” in our hearts, so we are sons of Mary, too, for the Lord’s divinity cannot be separated from His humanity – the two meet as one in Jesus Christ.  This is our great blessing.

From “an infant lying in the manger” shall come the salvation of our race, and the Mother of this renewed race, consecrated to God in Him who is “named Jesus,” we commemorate with our hearts and our voices in praise this holy day.  May she now be the instrument by which “the Lord bless[es]” and “keep[s]” us; may she pray this day that “His face shine upon [us].”  And may all her children be one in the blessing of Christ, her Son.  Amen.

 

Written, read & chanted by James Kurt; produced by Carie Fortney.

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, what blessing is upon us

this Christmas day! 

YHWH, we are your sons now because Jesus has become our Brother.  Born of the Virgin, His blessing is now upon our race – He it is who shines the light of your face.  Let us glorify you for your blessing.

Now we may call you “Father!” now that the Spirit of your Son is with us.  For in Him we are adopted as your sons, LORD, and so through Him you are our Father.  Let the light of your face shine upon us all our days.

It is you who rule all nations, LORD; all the earth is in your hands.  Yet you come to us as a little child, poor and lying in a humble manger.  Let us ponder this wonder with Mary; let us keep your will and your Word ever in our hearts, that we might see unfold the revelation of your presence among us.

Too wonderful for us is the grace you bring, LORD; yet let us live as your sons, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Direct download: Mary_Mother_of_God_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Gn.15:1-6,21:1-3;   Ps.105:1-9;   Heb.11:8,11-12,17-19;   Lk.2:22-40)

“The child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom,

and the favor of God was upon Him.” 

What child is this of whom Simeon the prophet, filled with the Holy Spirit, declares to the Lord, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all peoples,” even as he holds Jesus in his arms?  This indeed is He who is the “light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for [His] people Israel”; this indeed is the fulfillment of the promise made to Abraham, foreshadowed in the birth of Isaac, by whom Abraham’s descendants would be “as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore.”  “Binding for a thousand generations,” forever, was the covenant the Lord “entered into with Abraham and by His oath to Isaac,” and now that covenant is brought to perfection in the sight of Simeon and Anna; now “all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem” could rejoice and “give thanks to the Lord,” for to the temple had come the Christ of God: here is the Messiah.

“Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!” for in Jesus His Son you shall find Him.  Though raised in a humble family in the town of Nazareth, this is He who raises all His chosen unto heaven, who brings salvation to His people.  And so rejoice indeed “you descendants of Abraham, His servants, sons of Jacob, His chosen ones!” for even as “there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead,” innumerable descendants, even as the Lord fulfilled His promise to Abraham by the birth of Isaac, so the Lord’s promise to Simeon “that he should not see death before he had seen the Christ of the Lord” is fulfilled in all our midst even this day.  Listen to the prophet’s proclamation: the light has come!  We are no longer in darkness, no longer in mournful anticipation.  And so with Anna we should come forward now and speak “about the child” to all who will listen, to all who long to hear the good news of God.

Brothers and sisters, let the Lord grow in our midst.  In this Holy Family that is His Church let Him be nurtured and known.  For God’s favor rests upon Him alone and by no other child does salvation come.  Today He is presented to all waiting hearts.

Written & chanted by James Kurt; read by Sylvia Kurt; produced by Roger Fortney.

Music by Abouna Joseph; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let your Word be fulfilled

in the lives of all your children –

let our eyes see your salvation.

YHWH, your Word you fulfill in our midst for you are faithful.  Your Christ you send among us to save us from our sins that we might be as your children forever.  Let us enter your generation, LORD, and be of your Holy Family.

Your Son has become our brother and so we know you as our Father, LORD.  Your promise is fulfilled and He now dwells among us – and so you, too, are with us.  From the womb of the Virgin Mary is born a Child with whom we grow into your holy image; we are made pure as she by the grace upon her Son.

In Nazareth let us make our home, O LORD, with Jesus and Mary and Joseph; then our home in Heaven will be secure and even here we will have your blessing.  Though a sword must pierce our heart as it has with Jesus and Mary and Joseph and all your saints, yet we shall rejoice in your goodness toward us, that you make us fruitful with Abraham as children of a living faith.  Let us become strong and wise in your sight.

Direct download: Holy_Family_B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Sm.7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16;   Ps.89:2-5,27,29;   Rom.16:25-27;   Lk.1:26-28) 

“The Lord God will give Him the throne of David His father.” 

“I have made a covenant with David my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations.”  Here is the promise made to King David.  Upon his seeking to build a house for the Lord, “the Lord… reveals to [David] that He will establish a house for [him].”  Through the prophet Nathan, the Lord declares to His humble servant: “When your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm.”  This would seem like all the world to refer to the great King Solomon, but it does not.  For, like the earth itself, Solomon and all his gold – and even “the rest from all [his] enemies,” the peace the Lord establishes under his reign – will pass away; they cannot “endure forever” and neither can such a kingdom.  The prophet speaks of a kingdom established in heaven (where all by nature endures forever), not one of the earth.

And so it is not Solomon of whom the prophet and the psalmist speak, but Jesus, He whose coming is hailed today by the angel’s words to the Blessed Virgin: “He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”  For Abraham has died and Jacob has died and David has died and Solomon has died… and their graves are with us to this day.  But Jesus, Jesus lives; Jesus lives forever at the right hand of His Father.

It is indeed Jesus who most truly says to the Lord God, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock.”  It is He who is His only Son: it is He who is God Himself, one in being with the Father.  This is “the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings”; this is “the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith”: Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the only Son – and we must worship Him.

Come now, brothers and sisters, to this Child Mary bears by the power of the Holy Spirit.  In Him your peace shall be established in the Father’s kingdom.  Come to His holy throne, enter into His eternal reign… and with His humble king, and with His humble Mother, you shall be blessed forever.

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Removing the Log from my Eye" (first part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let the Mother of our Lord come to us, too,

that new life may stir in us as well.

YHWH, blessed is the womb of Bethlehem, of Israel, of Mary the Mother of your Son.  For in her you have prepared a body, the body of Jesus, the Word made flesh, that shall be as offering for our sins.  In Him we are saved, for in Him your majesty reigns, and so your glory is now in our midst.

O let us leap like John the Baptist at the approach of your Son and His Mother!  Bring to life what has remained dormant for such a long time.  Arouse within us the joy of new life that we might be stirred to proclaim your glory.  He has come who shall shepherd us, LORD; let us be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The sacrifices of old now pass away as all prophecy is fulfilled in the flesh of your only Son.  And so we pray, let your will be done.  Let your greatness reach to the ends of the earth and your peace reign in every heart by the power upon Jesus the Christ.  O LORD, let us be consecrated to you in His holy offering.

Direct download: BC-121811-Su_4_Adv._B.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.61:1-2,10-11;   Lk.1:46-50,53-54;   1Thes.5:16-24;   Jn.1:6-8,19-28)

 

“A man named John was sent from God.”

 

Here is the one of whom the prophet speaks, and who can rightly proclaim the words inscribed by Isaiah: “The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.”  Here is he who has come “to announce a year of favor from the Lord and a day of vindication by our God.”  The Spirit is upon him and he speaks of the coming Messiah.  He has been sent by God to “testify to the light.”

But who heeds his proclamation?  Who is able to hear this voice crying and find the joy of the path it would blaze in their hearts?  How many are still as the priests and Levites and Pharisees of today’s gospel, inquiring so blindly, “Who are you”?  How many are as the commentators of the missal I read, who term the prophecy of Isaiah a “poem,” and state that the Canticle of Mary is “a song that Luke put into the mouth of Mary”?  How many have no sense of prophecy, or the Spirit, or God Himself?  How many are deaf to John’s cry?

Our brother Paul instructs us: “Do not quench the Spirit.  Do not despise prophetic utterances.”  And yet the greatest of all prophetic utterances are watered down in ankle-deep wisdom.  “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,” Mary declares.  The Spirit wells up in her spirit and she cannot but “rejoice in God [her] Savior.”  These are not words put into her mouth by any man; her prophecy does not come from the pen of a scribe but from the very Spirit of God!

The Word of God cannot be chained; the voice “crying out in the desert” cannot be tamed by those “not worthy to untie” the mysteries hidden in sacred Scripture.  Paul will be put under house arrest; the Baptist Herod will cast into his dungeon; the Christ shall be crucified – but the Word of God will go forth, and nothing shall silence its voice.  The testimony to the light must be heard, “so that all might believe through Him”; there will ever be proclaimed “liberty to captives and release to the prisoners” by the power of Jesus Christ, until all hear of the mercy He has “on those who fear Him.”  

A man named John was sent, not to testify to himself, but to prophesy the grace of God; and his voice will cry out the way to the ends of the earth and to the end of time.

 

Written, read & chanted, and produced by James Kurt.

Music: "Removing the Log from my Eye" (second part) from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

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O LORD, your Son is coming

and we should repent of all sin

that we might be ready to rejoice and give Him praise. 

YHWH, the fire of the Spirit has come to us; John has proclaimed the light in our midst.  Jesus, your Son, is now among us, and what should we do but rejoice?

O LORD God, holy is your NAME, and holy is the One whom you send to us.  So holy is He that we are not worthy to kneel at His feet.  For He reflects your greatness, O LORD; His light is your own.  How can we stand in your overwhelming glory, except that in Him we receive your promised mercy in our soul?

What mercy you bring us this day, LORD God!  What grace is ours in the word the Baptist speaks.  For he proclaims the Christ come among us – he proclaims the salvation of your lowly ones.