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.

 (Zec. 2:14-17;   Lk.1:46-55;   Lk.1:29-47)

“Silence, all mankind, in the presence of the LORD!

for He stirs forth from His holy dwelling.”

And His own stirring forth causes John the Baptist to stir forth, to “leap for joy” – thus is opened the mouth of the one who will proclaim His way.

On this the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe we celebrate the Lord’s stirring forth in astounding fashion in the Americas.  As the Lord looked upon His humble servant Mary to bring forth the only Son of God, so He smiles upon the humble Juan Diego, to bring the conversion of a continent.  His Mother comes humble and with child to bring new birth to a land in darkness…  And how that land sits in darkness now, awaiting renewal by the graces from His hand. 

“He has looked upon His handmaid’s lowliness” once, and again; let us pray a humble spirit He shall once more find in this place and on this earth, that indeed “the hungry shall be filled with good things,” that He who has “lifted up the lowly” will remember them now that they are trodden down, now that the most humble are destroyed in the womb.

“Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day.”  And many have.  But how sincere is their commitment to Him?  Are they truly “His people,” and so will “He dwell among” them?  Have we cause to “sing and rejoice,” to be as she who “proclaims the greatness of the Lord” – or to cry tears of sorrow for the land to which we have come?  For the womb is barren; the spirits are proud – and in these the Lord takes no joy.

Silence before Him we must find once again, that He might turn to us and bring new birth to this land.

“Stir forth, O Lord, from your holy dwelling,”

     and renew our languishing souls.

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

Music by Roger and Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, may our hearts stir to life

at the sound of Mary’s voice,

at the approach of your Son. 

YHWH, you sent the Mother of your Son to a land in darkness, to a barren place, that the people might be converted to the faith, that the blood upon their hands might be washed away.  May she come again to this continent and this world that unholy sacrifice might again be stopped by her humble presence.  O LORD, bring us new life!

LORD, we would rejoice in you and in your presence in our midst.  We would see all the nations gathered into your arms.  But how can you come to a place that despises life, that kills its children in the womb?  Have pity on us, dear LORD, and send Mother Mary to prepare the second coming of your Son.

The Baptist awoke and leapt in his mother’s womb when Mary brought his Savior to him.  O let us awake this day, dear God, awake from our slumber in such darkness and come into the light of your day.  Let us be humble and lowly as she who bore your Son, and we shall be lifted with her to your side.  Save us, O LORD our God.

Direct download: Our_Lady_of_Guadalupe_2009.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am 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

(Is.40:1-5,9-11;   Ps.85:9-14;   2Pt.3:8-14;   Mk.1:1-8)

 

“Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;

he will prepare your way.”

 

And so, “John the Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.”  And so comes “the voice of one crying out in the desert,” in the desert that is our fallen lives: “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight His paths.”

Turn from your sins, brothers and sisters.  Repent.  It is the Lord’s will that “all should come to repentance,” that all should be “found without spot or blemish” on the day of His coming, on the day all “the elements will be dissolved with fire.”  With the fire of the Holy Spirit does the Lord Jesus come now to baptize, that what John has cleansed from our souls might be gone forever – that the new person we become by this baptism of water might be made complete, might become hardened and lasting in the furnace of His love.

God “proclaims peace to His people.  Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him.”  Hear what His prophet says, for he cries “out at the top of [his] voice” that indeed all hearts might listen: “Here is your GOD!  Here comes with power the Lord GOD, who rules by His strong arm.”  Yes, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken,” and now the WORD is in our midst, walking amongst us as our shepherd and “leading the ewes with care.”  The “justice [that] shall walk before Him, and prepare the way of His steps,” has come, and now the level highway that leads to His kingdom we must tread – there is no denying the road that is set before us.

Christ is coming, brothers and sisters, and Christ has come.  The Baptist has prepared His path, and He, the Son of God, has walked it.  And now we await His return in glory.  And “the Lord does not delay His promise”; His return is sure.  Already we see the “glory dwelling in our land.”  He waits for you to come now to Him.  In patience He looks for you to turn.  Turn to Him now in earnest; with all your soul cry out His Name.  “Jesus Christ the Son of God” dawns on the horizon.  Embrace His love; walk His sacred path.

 

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.

 

*******

O LORD, may all souls come from this desert of sin

to your holy mountain.

YHWH, let us be gathered into your barn, into your reign of peace, where, the viper having been defanged, all your creatures live in harmony, glorifying you as God and Father.  In your Son let us make our home.

Jesus comes into our midst endowed with your justice and judgment, O LORD.  And the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire, but His wheat He will draw into His heart.  With fire shall all men be baptized – may that fire be for us a purging light for entering your kingdom.

The Spirit that was upon John shall anoint all who hear his voice, who seek your way, O LORD and God.  And so we must make straight our paths to you, following closely in the footsteps of your Son.  O let there be fruit upon our trees! to prove our repentance genuine.

Your NAME shall be blessed forever, dear God; in peace shall all your children dwell.  May we be covered with knowledge of you, and so live always in the light of your glory. 

Direct download: BC-120510-Su_2_Adv._A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.2:1-5;   Ps.122:1-9;   Rm.13:11-14;   Mt.24:37-44)

 

“Come, let us climb the Lord’s mountain,

to the house of the God of Jacob,

that He may instruct us in His ways,

and we may walk in His paths.”

 

“Beat [your] swords into plowshares.”  “Throw off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”  “It is the hour now for you to awake from sleep,” and to “stay awake!  For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.”  And even now He calls you to “go up to the house of the Lord” and “pray for the peace of Jerusalem.”

Advent has come, and so we are reminded of the Lord’s coming and our need to be prepared.  He will not come in vain, and will not accept any vanity into His kingdom.  His is a kingdom of light into which no darkness enters.  His is a place of peace where “rivalry and jealousy” and all “the desires of the flesh” find no provision.

If in the days of Noah they were blind to the time of their visitation, and so “the flood came and carried them away,” how can it be the same with us, who have the first coming of Christ in the manger and on the cross to stir us to wakefulness?  If we live now as in the days of Sodom, how much greater will be our punishment?  If we allow our house to be “broken into” though we have His voice calling to our hearts, what could make us think that He will take us with Him when He comes again?

It is indeed time to wake from the sleep of sin and “stream toward… the Lord’s mountain.”  There we shall rejoice in His grace as His “relatives and friends”; there we shall find the light of His teaching.  “For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the Word of the Lord from Jerusalem,” and it shall fill the earth with holiness.

The Lord has been born in our midst.  The Word has been made flesh and walked among us.  Now we are called to become like Him, to walk in His ways of peace.  And so when He returns at the end of time, we will be prepared to “set foot within [the] gates” of His kingdom.

 

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

 

Music: "Can We Go Together?" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us walk in the light of your Son

until He comes.

YHWH, let us go up to your House, where we shall find our peace, where we shall find the instruction we need to leave behind all deeds of darkness and enter into your holy light.  When your Son returns for us, let us be awake and ready to welcome Him, and He will welcome us into your kingdom.

O LORD, let all the nations come to your holy mountain, to the place of wisdom and peace, that all weapons of destruction might be themselves destroyed and war might be no more.  Let not any nation raise the sword against another, and let no man fall again into sin.  Let us be trained for peace, not war; purity, not lust.

We pray for the peace of Jerusalem, that it shall extend to the ends of the earth.  In this time let it come and dispel all rivalry and jealousy, all the works of the flesh.  Your Spirit reign upon us, O LORD; let your Son come to carry us to you.

Direct download: BC-112810-Su_1_Adv._A.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

(2Sm.5:1-3;   Ps.122:1-5;   Col.1:12-20;   Lk.23:35-43)

 

“This is the King of the Jews.”

 

On earth, our King rules from a cross; in Paradise, upon a glorious throne.  O Lord Jesus, “here we are, your bone and your flesh.”  May we die with you that we might reign with you in your holy kingdom.

“All the tribes of Israel came to David” and anointed him king of Israel.  He had been called by the Lord as shepherd and commander of Israel, and now he would finally receive his kingship.  And he would make Jerusalem the city of the king, and make it holy when he brought the ark of the covenant within its walls.  And so, here on earth David reigned, as God’s anointed.  And so Jerusalem becomes the place of worship, within whose gates all rejoice to set foot.  And there “are set up judgment seats, seats for the house of David.”

And so Jesus is called the Son of David, for He inherits this earthly kingdom blessed by God, anointed anew to reign from Jerusalem.  But, of course, His kingdom is more than that of the flesh, for it is His own flesh that makes it holy – He is the Temple not made by human hands, through whom all things blessed of the earth and of heaven came to find their being: “In Him were created all things in heaven and on earth.”  He indeed is the beginning of all things and the fullness, or the end, of all things; nothing, and in particular the Church, exists apart from Him.

And to what heavenly rule are we all thus called by His “making peace by the blood of His cross.”  By His sacrifice we shall indeed be saved; He will remember us when He comes into His Kingdom.  And there shall be true rejoicing, for there the cross shall be borne no more.  Having consumed all our sins and the darkness and death of this life, it shall be transformed into the throne of glory.

 Even now the Lord calls to us from the cross; even now His suffering beckons us.  Even now we must turn to Him, our King, in our sin and let Him take our corrupted flesh and bone upon Himself to find the blessed reconciliation of our souls in the hand of God.  As His forgiveness pours upon us in His blood, we come to the fullness of His heavenly kingdom and “share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light.”  Long live our King, who dies upon a cross.

 

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, Jesus is our bone and our flesh – 

may He be our King! 

YHWH, your Son is King of the Jews – let us come with Him into Paradise, where He reigns forever. 

By the blood of Jesus’ Cross all in Heaven and on earth are made one, are reconciled to you, O God and Father of all the redeemed.  Through Him all things were made and through Him all are saved.  May we all come to share the inheritance of the holy ones in light. 

David ruled from the holy city of Jerusalem; all Israel came to him to make him king.  He was a man after your own heart because he sought your will in all things.  But it is Jesus, your Son, He who is called Son of David for His eternal reign over Israel, over all those who strive to do your will – it is He who is and has always been true King of all Creation.  To Him let us call out; in Him let us make our eternal home.

Direct download: BC-112413-Christ_the_King_Sun._C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Mal.3:19-20;   Ps.98:5-9;   2Thes.3:7-12;   Lk.21:5-19)

 

“For you who fear my name,

there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.”

 

The end comes.  The end of the Church year approaches, and the end of time is always upon us.  What shall it mean for us, the fact that “there will not be left a stone upon another stone”?  That day comes “blazing like an oven” for all evildoers, but for the just the healing rays of the Son of God shine down – will we be burned with the proud like stubble, or made whole in the presence of God?

Yes, “He comes to rule the earth; He will rule the world with justice and the peoples with equity.”  He is just and so He cannot but judge with justice.  How shall we prepare for His coming?  What do we do as we wait?  Paul gives us wise instruction, simple instruction, which should be simply heeded: “Work quietly.”  It is not for us to be anxious or afraid; it is not for us to fall into disorder or become lazy… it is but for us to remain occupied with the work of God, however simple, however wonderful, that working be.  We may be as St. Theresa and her little way, giving ourselves to the Lord in the simple tasks we perform day to day; or we may be as the missionaries for whom she prayed, going out to the ends of the earth, handed over to “synagogues and to prisons,” being “led before kings and governors” to give witness to the name of Christ – “and they will put some of you to death” – but to whatever we are called, always it must be the Lord and His Spirit which are at work in us, helping us to persevere to the end.  Not all shall die in the cause, but all must remain faithful to His voice.

Brothers and sisters, sometimes it is the hardest thing simply to go on day to day.  Regardless of our situation, we can become distracted and, failing to find the wisdom of Christ, seek to “prepare [our] defense beforehand,” to put the words of the Lord into our own mouths – to decide for ourselves what the Lord would have us do.  It is the simplest thing to accept His will, to bask in the rays of His glory… and yet so anxious do we become in our waiting that we cannot hear His still, small voice speaking to our hearts.  We must persevere.  We must go on.  We must listen.  He is coming, and if we fear His holy Name, we shall have nothing else to fear: we shall be made whole.

 

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

 

Music: "The End of the World Courses through a Day" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, let us do your work now on this plane

that we might rejoice in your coming Day.

YHWH, help us to persevere until the Day of your Son’s return; that Day is at hand, we know – let us be ready for its purging fire.

And as we stand yet on this earth, let us be ever willing to do your work, to give witness to you and to your Son even with our own lives.  Our lives are nothing apart from His sacrifice, and so, O LORD, let us lay them down freely in any way you call.

Give us words to speak to those who accuse us unjustly; put your testimony in our hearts and in our mouths.  Your Spirit be with us to guide us in all things, that in all things we might act with wisdom.  We shall not fear the destruction of this world, dear LORD, if Jesus remains always at our side. 

Come now with your justice, O God, and let us forever praise your NAME.  Your holy will be done even this day.

Direct download: BC-111713-Su_33_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(2Mac.7:1-2,9-14;   Ps.17:1,5-6,8,15;   2Thes.2:16-3:5;   Lk.20:27-38)

 

“On waking I shall be content in your presence.”

 

Our hope is in the resurrection, brothers and sisters.  It is this which gives us strength, and it is our endurance which brings us to His presence.

Brothers and sisters, indeed, as Paul wishes us, we have “everlasting encouragement and good hope” through the grace of our Lord.  He strengthens our hearts “in every good deed and word” and guards us “from the evil one.”  Thus our hearts should be directed “to the love of God and to the endurance of Christ.”

We have as our example today these seven brothers spoken of in the Second Book of Maccabees, who showed the endurance of Christ and their faith in the resurrection to life despite the severity of their torture at the hands of the wicked of this world – and all this before the coming of Christ into the world and the great graces He has since imparted to His Church.  If they could die so for the law alone, to what deeds should we not be able to attain?  If in the presence of their torturers they could state with such confidence, “The King of the world will raise us up to live again forever,” what should we not be able to declare in the name of Him who has now been raised from the dead and ascended to glory?  If they were so well able to regard their suffering “as nothing,” how much easier should be our own sacrifice, we who stand “in the shadow” of His cross and have His wounds in which to take refuge?  Indeed, such greater reason have we to hold to “the hope God gives of being raised up by Him.”

“That the dead will rise” there should be no doubt in our hearts.  The fact that “to Him all are alive” should be firmly fixed as a peg in the deepest recesses of our souls.  Certainly, this is who we are, children of the resurrection, with the calling to come to Christ, He who has been raised to life.  I pray we shall all be “deemed worthy to attain to the coming age and to the resurrection of the dead.”  Children of God, may we be like angels in His presence when we rise.  May our minds not be darkened by the night upon this earth, but let our hope be fixed on the coming morning and our faith strengthen us to endure until we stand with Him on that new day.

 

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

 

Music: "Too Good for This World" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, give us the courage to believe 

we shall rise with your Son.

YHWH, keep us steadfast in your paths that soon we might come to your heavenly kingdom; let us be ready to die for you, that we might be raised to glory.

If the seven brothers spoken of in Maccabees could so readily give their lives, could so courageously face the cruel torture imposed upon them by the devil, what faith should we not have, dear LORD, we who have your only Son now at our side and your Holy Spirit to open our eyes?  Do we not even now look upon your face; are the glimpses we gain today not so much greater than then?

How strong we should be in walking your way, LORD, we to whom the resurrection has been spoken of so clearly.  We whom your Son has told in no uncertain terms that the just shall rise from the dead and be like the angels of Heaven should have no doubt remaining in our hearts and no fear of proclaiming Jesus as God.  O help us to endure with joy even to the Day of His coming!

Direct download: BC-111013-Su_32_OT_C.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

(Wis.11:22-12:2;   Ps.145:1-2,8-11,13-14;   2Thes.1:11-2:2;   Lk.19:1-10)

 

“The Son of Man has come to seek and save what was lost.”

 

How beautifully the readings speak today of our “Lord and lover of souls” whose “imperishable spirit is in all things” and who is “good to all and compassionate to all His works.”  It is indeed “in accord with the grace of our God and Lord Jesus Christ” that we be glorified in Him and He in us, and so we praise Him: “Every day I will bless you, and I will praise your name forever and ever.”

The Lord “love[s] all things that are”; all is made by Him, so how could He but love all.  Though to Him “the whole universe is as… a drop of morning dew come down upon the earth,” He loves it all with a most personal affection, shown in the grace-filled coming of His Son among us.  And why has this Son come but to forgive?  Why has He walked the earth but to call men back to their place in the loving heart of the Father?  Why has He come but to show the Father’s loving mercy?

And appropriate is Paul’s warning “not to be shaken out of your minds suddenly” in fear of the Lord’s imminent return in judgment.  Here is remedy against all the false prophets predicting the sudden end of this universe God has created, as if they could move His hand, as if they could know His mind.  Whence does this come but the same grumbling of the people when Jesus moved to go in to sup with Zacchaeus, the famous sinner?  Whence does this come but a failure to understand the Lord’s wisdom and love and manner of working in the world, failing to see that what the Lord does is “rebuke sinners little by little, warn[ing] them and remind[ing] them of the sins they are committing, that they may abandon their wickedness and believe in [Him]”?

It is evident that the majority in the crowd would have preferred, in fact, rejoiced in seeing, Zacchaeus’ utter destruction.  They expected the Lord’s punishment on this sinner, and desired it to come immediately.  Why?  Again, they knew not God’s love or the Lord’s purpose.  Why?  Even more to the point: they were sinners themselves who failed to recognize their sin and realize their own need for mercy – and so had neither the Lord’s patience, nor His love.

How well that loving forgiveness is illustrated in our gospel; how like the parable of the Prodigal Son.  As the son returns to the father, Zacchaeus goes ahead and climbs the tree.  As the father sees the son from far off and goes to him, so Jesus spies Zacchaeus in the tree and calls to him.  As the father’s generous love sparks the son’s complete repentance, so Jesus’ acceptance of Zacchaeus brings salvation to his house, shown in his generous penance.  I pray we all seek the Lord who seeks for us and act as Zacchaeus, who “came down quickly and received Him with joy,” as the Lord freely offers His love and forgiveness to our souls.  Praise Him for His kindness!

 

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

 

Music: "Save the Children" (first half) from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

 

*******

O LORD, our stature before you

 has been diminished by sin,

but your Son comes to raise us to Heaven.

YHWH, how compassionate you are toward all your creatures, desiring the repentance of all in whom your imperishable Spirit dwells that they might not die but turn to you and live.  And so you have sent your Son to seek and save the lost.  And so we should praise you for your greatness. 

You have indeed made all things, and man in your image and likeness.  And so you cannot but look upon us with pity as we distort your blessed image by sin; and so, little by little you rebuke us, LORD, reminding us of our sin that we might abandon our wickedness and believe in you. 

You are our God and King, faithful and holy in all your works, but we are weak and prone to stray from your grace.  So in your kindness you bow down to lift us up, we who are falling, that we might look upon your face, that in glory we might dwell with your only Son… that your salvation might come even to the house of the worst sinner.

Direct download: BC-110313-Su_31_OT_C.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

(Eph.2:19-22;   Ps.19:2-5;   Lk.6:12-16)

 

“You are fellow citizens with the saints

and members of the household of God.”

 

And whom is this building founded upon but our Lord Jesus Christ; He is the cornerstone by which the apostles and prophets are set in place, and we are built upon this firm foundation, all integrated as one “holy temple in the Lord.”  This Church is “the dwelling place for God in the Spirit.”  Alleluia!

Oh that blessed night Jesus spent “in communion with God”!  Praise God for the mountain on which He prayed!  For that night, in that place, in these prayers was conceived the foundation stones of His holy temple: in the Spirit that night the essential structure of the Church was given birth in the names of these poor apostles, these simple human beings.

And at daybreak He called them forth by name.  Upon them His favor rested.  And though one “turned traitor” and had to be replaced, yet here are the pillars on which the Church rests.  And to this day their descendants, their blessed successors remain with us, holding up the Church despite their frailties – yes, the power of the Spirit continues to go forth from their call.  “Day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.”  Nothing can stem the passage of this Word to the ends of the earth, for it is founded in the silent communion with God.

Who can touch this silence?  Who can tear down this oneness in the presence of God?  No one can hold the wind in his hands and no one can restrain the power of the Spirit.  It indeed goes forth.  Yes, “the whole structure” continues to be “fitted together” in the Lord’s Name, and no persecution can stop its growth, can prevent its inevitable coming to fullness in the eternity of heaven.  And so, let us thank God for His blessed apostles and prophets and martyrs today.  Let us pray we shall be found worthy to be one with them in the House they build.  And let us come to know the Lord even more, who is at the heart of us all.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may we be built into your House

with all your holy apostles. 

YHWH, let us become your dwelling place; let us make our home in your Spirit as you make your home in us.  Let us be firmly founded in your apostles with Jesus as our cornerstone.  Then through us, too, your Word will go out to the ends of the earth.  Then we will be one with your apostles.

Into your household let us be built, O LORD, with all your saints in Heaven.  Let Heaven and earth declare your glory – truly let us be your handiwork.  As your Son chose the Twelve by your hand upon Him, so let us be chosen and formed in their image to serve you faithfully in this land, to make this land as your kingdom.

Let our words not be spoken in vain, LORD, our prayers not fall short of your glory; let us rather speak only in the Spirit that your light we might bring to this place.  Though our cause seem hopeless, though darkness beset us, yet let us look to you and find refuge in the prayers of your apostles, of all the holy ones in your Temple.

Direct download: Sts_Simon_and_Jude_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Sir.35:12-14,16-18; Ps.34:2-3,7,17-19,23; 2Tm.4:6-8,16-18; Lk.18:9-14)

 

“O God, be merciful to me a sinner.”

 

“The one who humbles himself will be exalted,” for it is the lowly the LORD hears.  And in no greater way, and for no greater benefit, do we humble ourselves than to recognize our sinfulness before God.  It is then we prove ourselves His own, for it is then Truth is with us.

We must guard ourselves ever from the sin of pride, brothers and sisters; it is just such presumption that breaks down the spiritual life, for it separates us from our proper place before our Lord and God.  “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted”; “He hears the cry of the oppressed.”  He does not come to heal those who are well, nor does He respond to the prayer of the oppressor; and our life on this earth is one of continual healing, and whenever we judge another we condemn our souls.

“May it not be held against them!” is Paul’s prayer for his unjust accusers and those who have deserted him.  (How like Christ’s prayer from the cross it is!)  He is crushed before the courts of this world and yet does not judge, and yet does not condemn.  For he is the servant of the Lord and shows himself faithful to such a call.  Even as he is “poured out like a libation,” he remains faithful, unwavering in his hope of standing before and being redeemed by “the just judge.”  He knows fully that “the Lord redeems the lives of His servants” and that “He who serves God willingly is heard,” and so he humbles himself when accused, trusting that “the Lord will rescue [him] from every evil threat and will bring [him] safe to His heavenly kingdom.”

Yes, “the prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds.”  How blessed are they who know their humble place before the Lord, for He hears them and comes quickly to rescue them when they cry out to Him in all their humility.  And of course our greatest rescue must be from sin, that which has made us base before His eyes.  To its recognition and for its overcoming by the Lord’s grace we must dedicate ourselves every day of our lives.  And so we cry out for forgiveness.  And so we return to our homes justified.

 

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, you are the just Judge –

hear our cry and save us from oppression. 

YHWH, those who take refuge in you are saved from every evil; those who call out to you are heard and redeemed.  Those who are humble before you, you exalt to the heavens, but those who are proud condemn themselves. 

What hope have we but you, O LORD, we poor sinners who so soon shall die?  What more can we do than spend our lives for you – in this there is great grace through all our days, and a crown of righteousness in the end.  Thus we who are nothing, who would come to nothing without your mercy, may reach even unto your throne, O Most High God.  For you indeed hear the cry of the poor; the just petition of a broken heart you cannot resist. 

As widows and orphans we walk the face of this dark earth; as slaves in bonds we look for freedom.  Come and wed us to yourself, O Father in Heaven, and we shall enter your House justified.

Direct download: BC-102713-Su_30_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Ex.17:8-13;   Ps.121:1-8;   2Tm.3:14-4:2;   Lk.18:1-8) 

“Call out to Him day and night.”

How faithful is the Lord.  How true is He.  As our psalmist so well states, “He neither slumbers nor sleeps.”  Indeed, “He is beside [us] at [our] right hand”; always “the Lord will guard [us] from all evil” – “The Lord will guard your coming and your going, both now and forever.”  But are we so faithful to Him, turning to Him for His eternal help?

“Pray always without becoming weary.”  This is our instruction today.  This is the “wisdom for salvation” sacred Scripture brings us.  Do we receive the “correction” and “training for righteousness” it would impart?  Do as Jesus asks: “Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.”  Though he “neither fear[s] God nor respect[s] any human being,” yet because of the widow’s persistence, he renders a just decision for her.  And do you think God will not hear and answer us when we call out to Him?  Do you think He is so “slow to answer”?  Rather, “He will see to it that justice is done… speedily,” for ever He waits for us to turn to Him; always He longs to do justice for us – it is His great joy to answer our prayers.

Learn from our reading from the Book of Exodus.  It informs us, “As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.”  And it was not until Aaron and Hur supported him and “his hands remained steady till sunset” that “Joshua mowed down Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.”  And so the sword of the Spirit shall not truly be our own, we will not truly be victorious in the battle against sin, until we remain always in the presence of the Lord, until we, like Him, no longer slumber or sleep.

Brothers and sisters, “proclaim the Word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient,” as Paul exhorts us.  In sacred Scripture and the power of the Spirit we find our source for right living; by it we become “equipped for every good work.”  And consistently good works are found by us only if our prayer is consistent and good.  Only if we remain steady and persistent in our calling out to Him at all times will He “not suffer [our] foot to slip.”  Let us “lift up [our] eyes toward the mountains,” seeing always whence our help comes.  The Lord prays for us always; let us join Him in prayer.

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

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

*******

O LORD, may you find faith in our hearts,

and perseverance in doing your will.

YHWH, we must but be persistent, persistent in our prayer and in our work for you, and we shall find your blessing – all our enemies will be conquered and we will dwell forever with you.

We look to you, O LORD, for you alone are our strength and our salvation, you alone guard us from all evil and equip us well for battle.  In you and in your Word we take our refuge, and so we find the wisdom we need to attain to your glory.  Quickly you come to answer our pleas, for your heart is ever set on our salvation.

O may your arms be ever raised to bless us!  May your love for us remain always steady, and we remain steady with you.  Let us not grow weary in the battle of earthly life but continually find our inspiration in you, always ready to do your will.  Hear us as we call upon you this day, O LORD, and justice shall be ours.

Direct download: BC-102013-Su_29_OT_C.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

(2Kgs.5:14-17;   Ps.98:1-4;   2Tm.2:8-13;   Lk.17:11-19)

 

“All the ends of the earth have seen

the salvation by our God.”

 

“The word of God is not chained.”  It cannot be imprisoned.  It is free.  And it cannot be limited by national boundaries; it is for everyone.  The universal call of salvation is made most clear in our readings today: in our first reading, Naaman the Syrian is healed of his leprosy, and in our gospel a Samaritan is healed of the same.  Both are foreigners and essentially enemies to Israel, but it is these two we hear of today to make clear that the Word of God and His power are unbounded.

And when these foreigners are healed, they return praising God; they make clear their faith in the Holy One, much to the shame of those who are native to His House, who may often lack such recognition of the Lord and His work in their lives.  This is perhaps the greatest message of today’s readings, that we must be as the Samaritan who, “realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice, and… fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked Him.”  For this is what the Lord desires of us, thanksgiving, a sacrifice of praise.  How clearly this is shown in Naaman as well, whose offerings of gifts are repelled by Elisha, the man of God, “despite Naaman’s urging,” but who will not leave without earth from the land of Israel, declaring, “I will no longer offer holocaust or sacrifice to any other god except the Lord.”  The Lord desires of us our praise and worship of Him only, and when we come bearing this gift of ourselves, He says to us, “Stand up and go; your faith has saved you.”

And it is unto the end we must remain faithful, praising God for the graces He gives, if we hope to “obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory.”  We should hear in Paul’s teaching in our second reading of the means to salvation and the means to condemnation.  The Lord “remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”  He is God; He holds salvation and glory.  If we persevere with Him, dying with Him, giving all our selves always to His service, “we shall also reign with Him.”  It cannot be otherwise because the Lord indeed blesses those who come to Him.  But “if we deny Him, He will deny us,” and this cannot but be, too, for He cannot dwell with untruth.

The Lord’s Truth extends to the ends of the earth now; His Word goes forth to all, and in all salvation may be known through Jesus Christ.  But who will trust in Him and fall at His feet in praise of Him as they find healing for their sin?  Let it be so with us all.

 

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

 

Music: "The Numeric Truth" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt. 

*******

O LORD, let us give you thanks and praise you

for your healing mercy.

 YHWH, it is by faith alone we are saved, and all souls are called to faith in you; and any soul with faith you will accept into your fold.  To all the ends of the earth your salvation is revealed – may men come from every land and every tongue to worship you alone.

O LORD, let us not be weak in faith; let us not be put to shame by the great devotion shown to you by those who have been foreigners to your Word.  Let us join them at the feet of your Son and give thanks for the grace and healing you shower upon us by His presence.

There is so much of which we need to be healed.  How shall we lose our blindness to your glory shining all around us?  When will we cease taking you for granted, and so hardening our hearts in a vain pride?  Your wondrous deeds are upon us, LORD; your Word is preached to all mankind.  O let us respond in faith and humbly worship you! 

Direct download: BC-101313-Su_28_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Hb.1:2-3,2:2-4;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   2Tm.1:6-8,13-14;   Lk.17:5-10)

 

“The vision still has its time,

presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint.”

 

And we are servants of this Gospel.

And so, with faith and in patience we must accomplish “what we [are] obliged to do.”  We must serve the Word of God.  Never hardening our hearts against the voice we hear, rather, we should “stir into flame the gift of God” we are blessed with as Christians, as Catholics; “the Holy Spirit that dwells within us” should be our refuge and our guide – it should be our stronghold despite any “destruction and violence” we witness before us.  For we know that if we endure till the end, till the fulfillment of the vision of the Gospel, though we deserve it not, the Lord will call to us when we “come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field and say, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table.’”  Indeed, He has promised in His mercy and His glorious benevolence to put on His apron and serve us, His “unprofitable servants,” at table in the eternal kingdom.  But have we the faith to believe?  Have we the patience to endure?  Listen to His assuring words: “Wait for it, it will surely come, it will not be late.”  His Word is certainly true and the vision written “clearly upon the tablets” of our hearts, if we believe.

And we show our faith when we “sing joyfully to the Lord,” when we “bow down in worship” before Him in spite of any “clamorous discord” that surrounds us in this world.  In such praise in the face of the darkness of evil we bear “hardship for the Gospel with the strength that comes from God.”  Yes, He alone is our strength; it is from Him alone that we find the faith and patience to endure and produce fruit upon this earth.  So, “let us kneel before the Lord who made us.  For He is our God, and we are the people He shepherds.”  Though we cry out, “How long, O Lord?” with the prophet Habbakuk, we know that if we listen to the instructions of the Apostle Paul to “take as [our] norm the sound words [we] heard from [him],” “in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus” we shall endure, and we shall find answer to our prayer.

The vision is coming to fulfillment.  The Lord of all is with us now.  Let us “not be ashamed of [our] testimony to our Lord,” but proclaim with courage the word the Spirit prompts in our hearts – Jesus is Lord!  Let us say it.  Let us not be afraid of it or its consequences.  Let the truth of God cross our lips even as it stirs the faith within us.  Jesus is Lord, and His Kingdom comes.  Do not delay your service of Him.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, help us bear the hardship of the Gospel

that we might look upon your face.

YHWH, you call us each day to love and to serve you that we might know your love in our hearts even this day.  It is our great grace and blessing to do your will, for then we share in your glory, in your presence among us today.

If we had but faith, O LORD, what is there we could not do in your Name?  If with patience we waited for your coming, we would know how near you are.  Help us to fan into flame the gift of your Spirit that makes us strong in holiness.  O let us accomplish all you command, never turning our faces away!

We have seen your works; we have done your works.  We have spoken the Word you have placed in our hearts and on our lips.  Let us not now doubt that you are God or think that any power of this earth holds any sway in our lives.  Let us trust only in you, dear God, for your promise is on the horizon and you do not disappoint. 

Direct download: BC-100613-Su_27_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Amos 6:1,4-7;   Ps.146:2,5-10;   1Tm.6:11-16;   Lk.16:19-31)

 

“Keep the commandment without stain or reproach

until the appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

 

The Lord is coming.  First of all, know this.  “The King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, who dwells in unapproachable light, and whom no human being has seen or can see” will reveal Himself “at the proper time.”  Shall come the end of this world and the birth of the new in the presence of our all-holy God.  Do not doubt this.  Do not question it in your hearts.  But believe.

Second, know the nature of our God.  This our psalm makes abundantly clear: “The Lord gives sight to the blind” and “protects strangers…  The fatherless and the widow He sustains, but the way of the wicked He thwarts.”  And since “the Lord raises up those who were bowed down,” we must bow down and serve Him, bringing His love to this world; keeping “faith forever” we must give “food to the hungry,” showing His unending compassion to all those in need.

Third, know the fate which awaits those who fail to adhere to His command of love, those who stain themselves with comfort and riches in a vain existence and have no heart for those who suffer now by their lack.  As He prepares a place of refuge in Abraham’s bosom for those who “pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness,” so a place is set for those “who dressed in purple garments and fine linen and dined sumptuously each day” but who were “not made ill by the collapse of Joseph,” who have no regard for the destruction of God’s people – who step over and upon the poor lying at their doors as they pursue the fatting of their bellies.  “A great chasm is established” between the redeemed and the condemned; as Lazarus had no way to enter the door of the house of the rich man, so he cannot pass now into the arms of God… only now that darkness without is eternal – his torment shall not end.

It is popular to believe that Jesus somehow did away with punishment, that in His all-embracing love there is no longer need for justice, and so hell is no longer a factor.  The “God of the Old Testament” is presented as the one of punishment with Him of the New conversely being of love.  Brothers and sisters, they are one and the same God.  And as in the time before Christ, the Lord forever showed compassion for the humble of the earth, so now Jesus shows condemnation to the wicked who refuse to turn from their ways.  Only now the love and justice, which are also one, are made eternal by the coming of the end of the age in the Person of Jesus Christ.  Continue to keep yourselves pure and serve the Lord – His Day is at hand.

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

Music: "The Child and the Beast" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us make the poor man our brother, 

and we will know Jesus and so be with you. 

YHWH, you secure justice for the oppressed; the poor and the downtrodden you raise up even as you cast their oppressors into the bowels of the earth.  The path of the righteous you indeed bless, but the way of the wicked you thwart.  You confuse those who do not listen to Moses and the prophets, those who reject your only Son, for you are just and no man can own what he readily spurns. 

If it is the belly upon which we set our hearts, it shall grow fat and keep us from entering the narrow gate.  If upon our own needs and wants alone we look, failing to see the longings of others or help them in their plight… we shall fail the test you place before us, and be unworthy to be called your sons, dear God. 

For you are kind and loving, O LORD, and care always for the hungry and those in captivity.  Though you dwell in unapproachable light, to us you come with great mercy to raise us to Heaven with your only Son.

Direct download: BC-092913-Su_26_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Amos 8:4-7;   Ps.113:1-2,4-8;   1Tm.2:1-8;   Lk.16:1-13)

 

“If you are not trustworthy with what belongs to another,

who will give you what is yours?”

 

This world and the things of it are not our own; we are children of heaven.  Yet we are here amongst these things which are foreign to us.  And so, what should we do?  With all the Lord puts in our hands as we pass through this generation we must honor God.  Though in the world of mammon, we must use it to serve our God in heaven.  Thus  we shall prove ourselves worthy to enter into that kingdom which is above, which is our true home.  This call is stated simply in the Lord’s Prayer when we say, “On earth as it is in heaven” – we must bring the kingdom of God to bear in this place we find ourselves.

In our first reading, Amos makes clear what our attitude should not be with regard to the riches or power we may find at our disposal.  We must never “trample upon the needy and destroy the poor of the land.”  We must never reflect the greed of these merchants who cannot wait for the sabbath, the Lord’s Day, to end, that they might satiate their thirst for wealth, and this by dishonest means.  The Lord will condemn such pride and avarice.

In our second reading, Paul gives a clearer idea the manner in which power should be employed in his exhortation to prayer for those in position of authority.  God “wills everyone to be saved and to come to knowledge of the truth,” and if our kings seek to maintain peace in the world, they will save not only themselves, but provide ground for others to come to God.  Again, all that is given us, be it riches, power, wisdom or strength, must be given over to service of the Lord.  We must be as He “who gave Himself as ransom for all” in His teaching, in His healing, indeed, in the laying down of His very life.  And so, if we ourselves are teachers, we must be as Paul and do so “in faith and truth,” without any deceit.  And when we offer prayers, we must always lift up “holy hands, without anger or argument.”  In our prayer should always be forgiveness of others.

In our gospel parable Jesus illustrates and commends not deceitful dealings with others’ wealth, but to be wise in what is given us, to turn the riches of this world against the prince of this world (Satan), and use them for the good of the kingdom.  Even in these things which are the devil’s we must work to serve our Master in heaven. And so we feed the hungry, we clothe the naked, we pray for those in power, that the Lord who is “high above all nations” and whose glory is “above the heavens” might stoop down to us and through us fulfill the mission of Christ; for “He raises the lowly from the dust, from the dunghill He lifts the poor.”  And we must do the same to find our place with Him in heaven.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let us serve you alone  

with all that is at our hands. 

YHWH, help us to be trustworthy in the very small matters of this dishonest world, with the wealth that passes so quickly away.  This is not our world, but your world we must reveal to this place; if we do not reflect your glory now, how can we be called children of your light? 

And so we pray for all souls, that they will turn from the oppression wrought by their greedy hands and acknowledge you as God Most High and your Son as their Redeemer.  We desire no man to be trampled underfoot but for everyone to be saved and come to knowledge of the truth; and so with hands held aloft we call down your mercy, dear LORD. 

With the things you place in our hands here upon this dying earth, let us be faithful, let us be true – let us produce fruit unto the kingdom of Heaven.  Heaven is our only home, and so with all our strength let us seek to raise souls to dwell there with all your angels and saints.

Direct download: BC-092213-Su_25_OT_C.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

(Ex.32:7-11,13-14;   Ps.51:3-4,12-13,17,19,Lk.15:18;   1Tm.1:12-17;   Lk.15:1-32) 

“The Lord relented in the punishment

He had threatened to inflict on His people.”

Redemption is ours, brothers and sisters.  Though we are great sinners, the Lord has mercy on us when we turn to Him; for, as Moses interceded for the Israelites in the desert, so Christ Jesus intercedes for us now before the throne of His Father.  Indeed, He “came into the world to save sinners,” sinners like you and me.

What examples of sinners we have throughout our readings today – what examples of great sinners and the greatness, the abundance of God’s grace.  Where shall we begin?  In our first reading the people of Israel had fallen into the depths of depravity as they passed through the desert.  While Moses was on the mountain receiving the Ten Commandments, they were far below, “making for themselves a molten calf and worshiping it.”  To it they sacrificed, and in drunken revelry proclaimed it God.  Yet because of Moses’ intercession the Lord held back His blazing wrath against them.  He did not destroy them.

In our second reading we find “the foremost” of sinners, the apostle Paul, recognizing his own great guilt as arrogant persecutor of the Church and, in the same breath, witnessing to the manner in which he was “mercifully treated” by the Lord, that he might indeed be “an example for those who would come to believe in [Jesus] for everlasting life.”  If the Lord can turn him who was the primary persecutor of Himself and His people into a leading apostle of His Word, how might He not convert our own hearts, or the hearts of any, to Him and to His will?

And, of course, in our gospel we have the parable of the prodigal son, he who “squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation” yet was openly received into the waiting arms of the same father whose property he swallowed up when this dissolute child came to his senses and returned to him.  The Lord makes so clear in His parable today the great desire God has to take the sinner in His arms, to place Him on His shoulders; indeed, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance.”  Brothers and sisters, we all have need of repentance, and the Lord welcomes us all.

After all this, perhaps our most poignant witness to God’s forgiveness and grace comes in King David, who has been adulterous and murderous but who cries out to Lord in our psalm, “Thoroughly wash me from my guilt and of my sin cleanse me.”  His “contrite spirit,” his humble begging is heard by the Lord, as is the repentance of us all.  Through the blood of Jesus, all ignorant sinners may be saved.

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, you welcome poor, repentant sinners

into your House with joy.

YHWH, have mercy on us poor sinners.  In the greatness of your compassion, wipe out our offense.  Like the Israelites who made the golden calf in the desert, like David who turned to adultery and murder, like Paul who persecuted your Son with such abandon, we are all your prodigal children.  But as you had mercy on all of these, look upon us with kindness as we turn back to you.

O LORD, how greatly you desire our repentance.  What great joy it brings you when we confess our guilt.  For this you sent your Son to suffer and die; to save our souls you did not spare His life.  And so, as we listen to His teaching, as we hear His call to penitence, our contrite heart causes you to rejoice that you might have us home again.

Forgive us our sins, dear God, and help us to forgive others.  In this is your will fulfilled; in this the blood of your Son bears fruit, and we are redeemed.

Direct download: BC-091513-Su_24_OT_C.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

(Wis.9:13-18b;   Ps.90:1,3-6,12-14,17;   Phlm.1:9-10,12-17;   Lk.14:25-33)

“Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me

cannot be my disciple.”

The wisdom of the cross, that blessed necessity for every Christian’s life.  What does it teach us?  How does it call us to act?  Its wisdom is not of this earth, for the “corruptible body burdens the soul,” but the counsel of the “Holy Spirit from on high” brings the freedom to be sons of God.  This wisdom can only be found by knowing we are but dust and renouncing all things of dust to serve the living and true God.

“Who can know God’s counsel, or who can conceive what the Lord intends?” our first reading from the Book of Wisdom inquires of us.  Indeed, things before our eyes, things of this earth, “we find with difficulty,” so who can understand things of heaven?  How shall we attain the vision of God, of whom our psalm states, “A thousand years in your sight, are as yesterday, now that it is passed, or as a watch in the night”?  How can we who wilt and fade “like the changing grass” come to the surpassing knowledge our Lord possesses?

Jesus answers the question.  He turns to the crowds who follow Him, who are excited by His presence but unaware of the demands made upon every Christian’s life, and He teaches them this wisdom that is of God.  It is His essential lesson: Be prepared to give up all things for the sake of the kingdom.  Put nothing before your worship of God.  Renounce all your possessions and be ready to die for Him – only then can you approach the glory He brings to this earth.  Only by the wisdom of His cross will you find the kingdom of God.  For indeed “the earthen shelter” and all its concerns weigh down the mind, weigh down the spirit, and keep it from attaining to God; they must therefore be left behind to find the freedom of sons of the Most High.

The Lord comes to “teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart.”  It is this teaching Paul seeks to impart to Philemon as he asks him to forgive the slave that has wronged him and accept him back “forever, no longer as a slave but more than a slave, a brother.”  This same forgiveness, which is divine not earthly, is that which is asked of us all by the Lord.  For so we have been forgiven by Him, so we who were sinful slaves have been made his brother… and so we must do the same for others.  It is no longer the mind of man by which we judge but the mind of God, and the grace of this wisdom we gain only by carrying our cross.  It is this which shapes us in His image, which imparts to us His wisdom – and by this the work of our hands shall prosper.

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, help us to renounce all our possessions

that we might know your counsel and follow your Son.

YHWH, send your Holy Spirit from on high that our paths might be made straight, that we might walk the way of the Cross and so find the grace we need to be disciples of Jesus and so enter your presence.  Without such kindness toward us, we shall be lost, distracted by the vain things of this dying earth.

We are but dust, dear LORD, passing like the changing grass, and our hearts are often set on the passing things around us.  Teach us to renounce our possessions, help us to know it is in this true freedom lies… that walking the way of worldly concerns will lead us only to death but laying down our lives with your Son we shall come to glory.  Let us not be so foolish as to think we shall be blessed otherwise.

Freely let us offer all we have to you, LORD; then you shall indeed prosper the work of our hands.  And we shall go from being slaves of the flesh to dwelling as your beloved in the age that does not pass away.

Direct download: BC-090813-Su_23_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Sir.3:17-18,20,28-29;   Ps.68:4-7,10-11;   Heb.12:18-19,22-24a;   Lk.14:1,7-14)

“Humble yourself the more, the greater you are,

and you will find favor with God.”

Is this not the message of Jesus’ parable in today’s gospel, and indeed of all our readings – and indeed the essence of our Christian lives?  “Take the lowest place.”  Exalt not yourself in the sight of God, who sits at table with you, whose presence is everywhere, and is a guest far greater than you.  Give your place to the poor, provide for them out of your means, as He has done, and then you will know the glorious vision of heaven where He dwells.

The Pharisees are blind to the presence of Jesus; because of their pride and desire for esteem, they cannot see the guest of honor in their midst.  They observe Him carefully, ready to judge Him, but it is He who sees them and seeks to instruct them in their ignorance.  The Lord is most out of place here among the proud.  He looks around for lowly ones, but finds none.  The poor have not been invited to this feast; the blind here do not recognize their need for Him… and so this banquet is not like that of heaven.  And so, who of these will partake of His Body and Blood and come to “the heavenly Jerusalem”?

“God gives a home to the forsaken,” David declares in our psalm, and we are called to be like God.  Jesus makes this quite evident in His instruction to the host of the banquet: “Invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind,” who are unable to repay such kindness, and then “you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”  This attitude of self-giving we must make our own, knowing our own lowliness in the sight of God, and the vision of heaven of which our second reading speaks will be ours as well.  Then we will come with the “countless angels in festal gathering” and “the assembly of the firstborn” into the presence of Jesus and the holy blood of His sacrifice.  “The just rejoice and exult before God,” and with them we too shall rejoice, if we make ourselves humble before Him.

It is no mystery that “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”  No, the teaching is clear, and only by living it will we find its fruit, brothers and sisters.  “My child, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts,” Sirach instructs us; for how can you find favor with God (or with anyone) if you have no respect for Him?  And if you do not see the greatness of the God before you, how shall you enter His kingdom? 

Our place before God is with faces to the ground.  This is just.  This is right.  By this He will be pleased and so lift our heads to gaze upon His countenance.

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

Music: "The Humbled and the Exalted" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us always to take the lowest place,

that you might call us up to you.

YHWH, you give a home to the forsaken and call us to do the same; as you have provided for our needy souls – though we deserved it not – so you call us to care for others, or we shall not find our place with you.

We are truly lowly, dear God, for before you, who could stand?  How can we hope to sit at the same table as your only Son and partake of the food He provides?  Yet to His side He calls us; to be lowly as He is our great gift.  His grace we shall know, and in abundance, if with Him we lay down our lives for those in need.

Then we shall come to your holy mountain, to the heavenly Jerusalem with all your angels and saints.  Washed in the blood of the Lamb you offer for our sakes, emptied of all the vanity of our race, we shall be exalted and chant your praise, dearest LORD, we who have made ourselves humble and lowly before you, we who have thus found our place at your table with Jesus, and been made perfect by His Cross.

Direct download: BC-090113-Su_22_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.66:18-21;   Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15;   Heb.12:5-7,11-13;   Lk.13:22-30)

“People will come from the east and the west

and from the north and the south

and will recline at table in the kingdom of God.”

“I come to gather nations of every language; they shall come and see my glory,” even those of “distant coastlands that have never heard of my fame, or seen my glory,” says the Lord.  The Word goes forth.  The Word goes forth to the ends of the earth and it will open the eyes and ears of all peoples.  But who shall be ready for its coming?

Indeed, Isaiah’s prophecy and the verses of our psalm are in harmony with the Lord’s own words: all the nations shall come, all shall “praise the Lord,” and all shall find a place in His kingdom.  The light that goes forth, the glory of the Lord, knows no boundaries, is not limited by constructs of time and place – there are no walls in its way.  All nations.  All tongues.  All peoples at all times and in all places are called forth by the all-encompassing love of our God and our Savior.  You are welcome at His table, my brother, my sister, whomever you are, wherever you are.  It is the Lord’s will that all come to Him who is the Father of all nations and of all creation.  But do you know the way?

The way of the Lord is not easy; it is narrow and rough – it is one wrought with chastisement, with discipline.  “For what ‘son’ is there whom his father does not discipline?”  And how can you expect to come into His paradise if the soil of this world still clings to your soul?  The cross is the way to the kingdom; only the scourging discipline of the Lord will enable us to sit with Him.

And this discipline, this cross, is of love.  Do you see this?  Do you see how much the Father loves you in His reproof of your sin?  “At the time, all discipline seems a cause not for joy but for pain, yet later it brings the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by it.”  If you have not learned this basic lesson of the working of the Lord’s love, you “will not be strong enough” to enter His gate.  You must “not be disjointed but healed” as the Lord takes from you all that is unfit for His presence.  Your suffering the loss of this life is all that will bring you to heaven.

We note that even the above words of the Lord are as chastisement to the Israelite people who walk with Him, for He is telling them they are not alone in the call to God; other nations shall indeed enter before they.  And as this pride in their heritage must be wrested from them before they are prepared for the kingdom, so all that limits the love of the Lord from working in our lives must be taken from us before we may enter in.  Fear not the pain this brings.  The “wailing and grinding of teeth” outside His gates is more painful by far – and for this suffering there is no healing anymore.

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

Music: "There Are No Words" (middle part) from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, teach us always to do what is right

that we might be as your sons

and enter into your House.

YHWH, all peoples are called to your glory, to your kingdom, for all are sons and daughters to you.  But truly you must be our Father, we must come from you, we must reflect your image, the image your only Son reflects to us in His way of the Cross, if we are to enter your presence.  Relying on accidents of time or place we shall never be saved.  Only by accepting the discipline you offer will be made ready for Heaven.

Strengthen us, O LORD, by the chastisement you bring to our souls, by the Word of truth come from Jesus’ mouth.  He knows you and is the way to you – let us be obedient to His call and the call of His apostles to enter through the narrow gate, to leave all of this world behind that we might come rejoicing to your holy mountain with all our brothers and sisters, with all your blessed children.  May all men hear your Son’s voice this day, that none shall be barred from your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-082513-Su_21_OT_I.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

(Jer.38:4-6,8-10;   Ps.40:2-4,14,18;   Heb.12:1-4;   Lk.12:49-53) 

“Though I am afflicted and poor,

yet the Lord thinks of me.”

Persecution is necessarily a part of every Christian’s life.  Not many of us will struggle “to the point of shedding blood” as has Jesus, as has Paul, as have all the apostles; and not many of us will be thrown into muddy cisterns as is Jeremiah… but all will remain “afflicted and poor” in their striving against sin and have to endure “opposition from sinners” as they grow in holiness before their Lord and God.  Jesus is anguished at the baptism He must endure in carrying the cross of division set in opposition to the forces of sin in this world, and so all who call themselves Christian take this same cross upon their shoulders.  If we do not suffer for the faith, we must question whether we have become lukewarm and worthless, but to be spit from the mouth of God.

Division must necessarily come as we follow in the steps of Jesus, “the leader and perfecter of faith.”  As the princes of the people were set against Jeremiah for his prophesying in truth against the nation, spelling out the danger it faced for its sin, so opposition will come to us even from friends and family as we seek to draw closer to Jesus; for the world is set in opposition to the cross, and any who yet cling to it and its sin will inevitably be insulted by our resistance to its ways.  And so persecution comes to those who remain faithful to the ways of Christ.

But your hearts should not be troubled, brothers and sisters, for though the world of sin encompasses us now and often closes in, we indeed have a “great cloud of witnesses” surrounding us with their protection.  As Jeremiah had Ebed-melech to intercede with the king to draw him from the muddy mire, so we have Jesus now to intercede with the Father for us to lift us out of the dark cistern that is the world.  And not only Him do we have at our side, but all those who have suffered with Him – all the saints and all the martyrs, all the apostles and prophets – who stand at His side in the heavenly kingdom and with Him reach down to assist us.

So fear not, little ones, remember Jesus: “For the sake of the joy that lay before Him, He endured the cross, despising its shame.”  He “has taken His seat at the right of the throne of God” and we shall soon join Him there with all His angels and saints if we but endure the persecution with Him now a little while.  The Lord thinks of those who are afflicted and poor.  He blesses their sacrifice and makes it fruitful (by which we may draw even sinners unto Him).  Continue ever to run the race of faith.

*******

O LORD, lift us up from the pit

and baptize us with your fire.

YHWH, opposition from sinners we must indeed endure if we are to be called by the Name of your Son.  The Cross we must carry through this world if we are to come to where Christ is at your right hand.  If we are lowered into a muddy cistern, what should that matter to us, as long as we ourselves are not guilty of sin.

Should we not take great strength in the suffering of Jesus and all those who have followed Him so faithfully to the Cross?  Have they not proven that you come, O LORD, to save those who cry out to you?  We shall be delivered even from death by the grace upon your Son, and so why should we fear the shedding of our blood?

Your sword of truth cannot but divide the evil from the good, those who look to you from those who take their refuge in the things of this earth.  Let your fire come, dear God, and burn away all sin from our midst, that all your afflicted and poor may rise from the ground blessed.

Direct download: BC-081813-Su_20_OT_C.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

(Ws.18:6-9;   Ps.33:1,12.18-20,22;   Heb.11:1-2,8-19;   Lk.12:32-48)

“You also must be prepared, for at an hour

you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”

 “Our soul waits for the Lord.”  Though we do not know the day or the hour of His return, we must always be ready for His coming.  As the ancients, the Hebrew fathers and especially Abraham the father of faith himself, we must ever be seeking our heavenly homeland.  By faith the ancients, who saw the promise only from afar, “awaited the salvation of the just”; by faith Abraham “sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country.”  As he dwelled in tents, nonetheless, “he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God.”  With the incarnation of Christ, and in His death and resurrection, what greater assurance have we of that which we hope for.  We now have Jesus speaking to our hearts: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”  How much more are we called to follow His way in faith; how much more we should now be prepared for the coming of the Son of Man.

“Gird your loins and light your lamps and be like servants who await their master’s return from a wedding, ready to open immediately when He comes and knocks.”  If the Lord finds us “vigilant on His arrival,” how blessed will we be.  If we have distributed well the food He has put in our charge here, if His work we have accomplished according to His word, we shall ourselves sup at the table the Lord prepares for us in the heavenly homeland.  But all we are given here, all the graces and blessings which are ours through Jesus and through His Church, we are responsible for; by them we must bear fruit in patience and in faith, Peter first, as the first of servants, and all of us beneath his charge in proportion to “the food allowance” placed in our hands for distribution at the proper time.  (This refers primarily to our priests, but we all do share in the priesthood of Christ, and all are graced with a measure of the flesh of Christ to share with the world.)

“Exult, you just, in the Lord,” for what was held “in secret” by “the holy children” of times past has now come to light in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Now we await the second coming of Christ with a “sure knowledge” far surpassing the one granted our fathers.  We are “the people He has chosen for His own inheritance,” and a promise so sure should spur us on to a readiness that is meet to such a wonderful gift.  The Lord is coming to sit us at table at the place He now prepares; let us “make preparations” of our own, remaining ever the servants of Christ, that we shall not be taken unawares when it is time to fold up our tents in this world and join the Lord in glory.  Hear Him knocking even now at the door of your hearts.

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

Music: "The Readiness Is All" from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, our hope is in you;

may we patiently await the coming of your kingdom.

YHWH, how we hope for your kindness to deliver us from death, to save us from our adversaries, even from our very selves.  We place all our trust in you – O may our faith soon be rewarded!

If we but had the faith of Abraham, dear LORD, blessed as he would we be, with no fear for the impending darkness, with hearts set solely on your coming light.  The salvation of the just let us await with steadfast hearts, knowing well that you are faithful to all your promises and that you have promised a heavenly dwelling to all who seek their place with you.

To this earth let us not be attached; all of this world let us offer freely to you.  You are our only treasure, dear God – you are all that is worthy of our concern.  And so, let us await your Son’s return with loins girded and lamps burning.  Let us be ever vigilant for His coming, serving well your holy will all our days, and our inheritance we shall find in you.

Direct download: BC-081113-Su_19_OT_C.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

(Ec.1:2,2:21-23;   Ps.90:3-6,12-14,17,95:7-8;   Col.3:1-5,9-11;   Lk.12:13-21) 

“If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,

where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.”

Yes, “all things are vanity!” without God.  All is empty, for “like the changing grass” our life “wilts and fades”; we are turned “back to dust,” and so what becomes of the earthly desires we pursue?  Where do “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry” lead us but to the grave – and what do they do for us here but keep our hearts from what truly matters?

See the difference between the man in our first reading who “labors under the sun” in “toil and anxiety of heart” and those in our psalm who “shout for joy and gladness” all their days, for the latter say to the Lord, “Prosper the work of our hands,” putting all things into the care of Him who indeed holds all things in His loving embrace.  One’s heart is set on “what is on earth,” and so he is blinded by the flesh into which he puts all his hopes.  Like both the man in the crowd and the one in the parable of our gospel, his sights are set on his possessions and the feeding of his belly – both of which shall rot away.  The other’s heart, however, is set on “what is above.”  He is rich in “what matters to God” because he has died to the vain things of this earth, dying with Christ to their illusion and, so, rising with Christ to the life and glory of heaven.  As one sinks into hell, the other rises to newness of life “in the image of [his] Creator.”

In what image is our own life made?  What do we pursue with heart and soul as we tread this earth?  Are we consumed by the mud at our feet, miring ourselves in selfishness and sin; or do we indeed rise above the greed which tempts our hearts to “eat, drink, be merry”?  If we are truly raised with Christ as we proclaim as Christians, we would be seated at God’s right hand with Him, knowing that He is our only refuge, our only God.  But so many are distracted by the idolatrous images that surround us in this world.  So many desire to be rich and famous, to satiate their appetites in gluttony and drunkenness, to do what pleases their flesh in sexual immorality.  And what shall become of these but that the worm shall consume them and they will cry out with Qoheleth, “Vanity of vanities!  All things are vanity!”

Brothers and sisters, with Jesus and with Paul I encourage you to find the treasure that is meaningful in life.  Set aside the earthly passions that drown the soul, and seek what is alive with Christ.  We have a great call in this world to bring the Lord’s light and life forward, to make Him present in our own flesh, in all our work.  With Him in our hearts, nothing is done in vain, for such “bountiful harvest” as this is stored up for heaven, which shall never pass away.  Let us make His resurrection our own; even as we die to the empty desires of this earth, let us rise unto God as a holy sacrifice.

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

Music: "Addictions: What Do You Say?" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let our lives this day be in line with your will,

united to the glory of your only Son.

YHWH, let us not store up treasures for ourselves, but think rather of you and the salvation of others.  All is indeed vanity if like Qoheleth we set our sights on what is on earth, if we are preoccupied by our possessions.  For these shall rot with the lusts of the flesh and we shall die with them.  But if we set our hearts on you and on the things that are above, where Christ is seated at your right hand, then we shall be blessed with life everlasting.

Your Son calls us to glory with Him in Heaven.  He warns us of the emptiness of this earth and the riches hereon.  He would turn our eyes to you and away from all greed and selfishness.  He alone can prosper the work of our hands, LORD, for without Him we pass like the changing grass and nothing comes of our days.

O LORD, let us not labor in vain but with the wisdom that comes from above, that we might not come to great misfortune but to eternal life in your presence.  Remake us in the image of your Son.

Direct download: BC-0800413-Su_18_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Gn.18:20-32;   Ps.138:1-3,6-8;   Col.2:12-14;   Lk.11:1-13) 

“Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find;

knock and the door will be opened to you.”

Prayer.  Our wonderful gift from God.  Our sharing in His will.

The Lord ordains that Abraham should speak with Him, and so He stops and waits to hear the prayer of His favored one.  And so in this mystical scene from our first reading, we are given a holy model for our own petitions of the Lord.  Indeed, first we see that the Lord waits upon us to approach Him – His ears are ever open to our pleas.  (As we read elsewhere, He knows what we need before we ask.)  Second, Abraham prefaces his prayer with acknowledgment of the justice of God, thus revealing the confidence we must have that the Lord will answer any righteous request.  Third, Abraham shows the manner in which we must come before our God.  Though we must be persistent, thus manifesting our genuine concern for the prayer we offer, we must realize to whom we speak and come before Him in deep humility: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am but dust and ashes!” says Abraham, and it is with words such as these that he precedes each of his persistent requests.  And because of his faith and humility, his prayer is answered and Lot is spared from the destruction of Sodom.

And, of course, our greatest model of prayer is found in our gospel.  When Jesus finishes praying, the disciples beg Him to teach them to pray.  First He shares with them the Lord’s Prayer, wherein we give ourselves to the providential hand of God and reflect His grace and forgiveness.  He then relates a parable on the necessity and blessings of perseverance in prayer – we must never be discouraged in our prayer.  Finally, the words which drip like honey from His mouth: “Ask and you will receive…” and His blessed assurance that the Father will “give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.”

The Lord loves us and wishes to share all of Himself with us.  We must but come as children before Him and we will know the kindness of which David sings, and we will sing with him: “I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with all my heart, for you have heard the words of my mouth.”  Indeed, “the lowly He sees”; His “right hand saves” them.  Forsaking not the work of His hands, He rather justifies them, giving them life even by the recognition of their voices before Him.  Thus we are “raised with Him through faith in the power of God.”  “Having forgiven us all our transgressions” through the cross of Christ, the Father now brings the humble to life through the Spirit of His Son.  It is in His hearing our prayer that this grace is best known, for therein our spirits become one with His own.

O Lord, hear and answer us as we call upon you each day in all faith and humility.  Make us your own sons and daughters in the Spirit of Christ.

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

Music: "Prayer: He Asks/I Am Not MY Body" (1st part) from Breath, the Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, give us the Holy Spirit

that the salvation wrought by Jesus

might be fulfilled in us,

and we might forever praise your NAME.

YHWH, we call upon your NAME; answer our prayer and send your Spirit upon us to save us and bring us into your kingdom.  Your Son would forgive us all our sins – let us be joined to Him.

It is you, O LORD, who listen for our prayers, wishing always to share your grace with your children.  By your own hand you would feed us with your Spirit if we would but turn to you in faith.  Let us not grow weary of calling upon your NAME, but by our persistence may we find our good desires fulfilled in your kindness.

O LORD, let your people not perish in their sins but find your compassion at work in their lives.  Forgive all who turn to you and are baptized into the sacrifice of Jesus.  Your promise be fulfilled in our midst by the blood of His Cross.

O Heavenly Father, help us to remember your NAME and the grace that is ours when we seek your face.

Direct download: BC-072813-Su_17_OT_C.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

(Sg.3:1-4 or 2Cor.5:14-17;   Ps.63:2-6,8-9;   Jn.20:1-2,11-18)

"Whom are you looking for?"

Let us stand with Mary Magdalene at the tomb of our risen Lord. Let us weep a little that our hearts might bleed with her same love, and so our eyes be opened to see Jesus standing before us. Let us hear Him call us by name.

O let us search night and day for our God, thirsting for Him “like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” Let us know that without Him we are lost in darkness, empty as the tomb. May it be “the love of Christ [that] impels us” further outside of ourselves and toward the Lord, allowing nothing to impede our progress as we pass every watchman, as we leave even our senses behind to become one with our lover, partaking of “the riches of [His] banquet.”

Let us “regard no one according to the flesh anymore,” not even the Christ, but release His body from our grasp that He might ascend to Heaven and we follow in His wake. A “new creation” let us be with a heart burning with love, a love that transcends all the world and discovers our Lord within.

In the shadow of [His] wings [we] shout for joy,” declaring His glory to all, for He looks upon our tears, upon every heart longing for His presence, and our desire He does not disappoint.

Written, read, and produced by James Kurt.

Music - "Cry Mercy," from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

Direct download: July_22_-_Mary_Magdalene.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EST

(Gn.18:1-10a;   Ps.15:1-5;   Col.1:24-28;   Lk.10:38-42) 

“There is need of only one thing.”

Whether we teach or whether we serve, all must be done in the Name of the Lord.  If it is not sitting at His feet that we do all things, if all is not a prayer offered in His Name, to His glory, it is all quite worthless.

How “anxious and concerned about many things” we often are.  How like Martha we often struggle under the burden of our duties without a proper heart for service.  And so how often, in the words of our psalm, we are like one who “takes up a reproach against his neighbor.”  How like Martha we fail to be as one who “honors those who fear the Lord,” even if that holy one is our sister.  Jesus is at work there in her midst, in the words of Paul, “teaching everyone with all wisdom,” but Martha cannot stop to hear His words, and would take the word from her sister’s heart.  And so the Lord must be put to work, performing the other task Paul outlines, that of “admonishing everyone.”  Can she really think that the passing needs of the body take precedence over the eternal need of the soul?

Brothers and sisters, we are no less ignorant of the presence of Christ in our midst; we are no less ignorant of His Word speaking to our souls when we rush through our daily tasks – be they to teach or to serve – as if we are on some nonstop treadmill which is beyond our control.  Each day and at every moment, the Lord calls to us, and each day and at every moment we must listen.  With His Name written clearly upon our hearts we should act, and not otherwise.  We must think and say with Paul, “I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God,” whether we bring forth that Word by word or by action.  Again, if we do not listen to His voice, if it is not this that moves us, that animates our work, all our afflictions are useless, for they are not united to the cross of Christ. 

Let us take Abraham as our example.  He greets the Lord as He comes to him.  He rushes about to prepare Him a meal and care for His needs.  Indeed, “he waited on them under the tree while they ate.”  But he did all of this with a prayer in his heart; he performed all his diligent service out of love for Him whom he served.  He could see clearly it was God he waited upon, and so all his frantic work was no burden; he found only joy to be in the presence of His God.  So must be our attitude in all we do, brothers and sisters.  It cannot be otherwise.  All we do must be done for Him; we must ever keep His presence in our hearts, and with this one needful thing fixed firmly within us, all of our lives will be blessed.  And we, too, will be holy.  We, too, will be made whole by the power of His Word at work within us.

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

Music: "Breathing for a Living" from Breath, The Apple Rises, fifth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us remember it is in serving you

we find our hope for glory.

YHWH, let all our work be done for you, all we suffer be for the sake of your Body, and we shall not grow weary in serving you but rejoice that you are in our midst.

You come to us, dear God, you sit among us calling us by your presence and by the words of your Son and His disciples to make known the riches of your glory to all souls to whom we come.  O let us give witness to our love for you in all we do this day!

Should we not treasure your presence with us and the work we are blessed to do for you?  Should it not be our great glory that we may feed you, O LORD and God, by our own hands?  What grace you give us in letting us serve you and one another – what joy we should take in thus doing your will, in putting flesh to your Word… in becoming as Jesus!

O LORD, let all our afflictions be endured with your Son under His Cross, and we shall be fruitful in your sight and remain forever in your presence.

Direct download: BC-072113-Su_16_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Dt.30:10-14;   Ps.69:14,17,30-31,33-34,36-37 or 19:8-11;   Col.1:15-20;   Lk.10:25-37) 

“He lifted him up on his own animal, took him to an inn,

and cared for him.”

This “Samaritan traveler… was moved with compassion” upon seeing the poor victim on the road.  And so he “poured oil and wine over his wounds” and provided for his healing.  Such is the love to which we are called.

In our first reading, Moses exhorts us: “Heed the voice of the Lord, your God, and keep His commandments…  Return to the Lord, your God, with all your heart and all your soul.”  We are told this commandment of love is not far from us, but in our very hearts and on our very tongues – “You have only to carry it out.”

In our second reading, Paul tells of Jesus’ presence in all creation: “In Him were created all things in heaven and on earth…  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.”  He tells us, too, that it is by “the blood of His cross” that all things are reconciled, that peace comes.  And in our gospel, the commandment to love God and neighbor is clearly presented, both in the words of the law, and in a parable of its employment.

The commandment we have is indeed to love, brothers and sisters, to love God and to love neighbor.  This word burns in our hearts.  We must “carry it out.”  It does little good simply to know the law; it must be put into practice to have merit.  And who are we called to love?  Jesus makes it quite clear that we are called to love all who are in need; we are called to respond with compassion at the sight or the cry of any of His “lowly ones,” His “victim[s].”  Remember that Paul has told us that Jesus lives in and through all creation: He is not in some and not in others.  So, mustn’t we help our Lord when He is in need?  Has He not told us, “What you do to the least of my brothers, you do to me”?  Is not every soul in His blessed Hand?

And we must be His blessed hands here on this earth.  We must indeed be like Him.  Let us look at David’s psalm.  In it we hear the cry of those “afflicted and in pain” calling on the favor of the Lord: “In your great kindness answer me with your constant help.”  Here we see that in “great mercy” the Lord turns toward those who seek Him.  Brothers and sisters, “the Lord hears the poor” and we must be as He is.  We must cry out to Him ourselves in our own need, yes, but we are also called as His disciples to serve in His place, to share His love – to pour His blood upon the wounds of those in need.

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

Music: "Coat of Warmth" (1st part) from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us carry out your Word

by caring for the needs of others

in Jesus your Son.

YHWH, let us do as your Son has done; let us live in and by His blood.  Compassion may we have for all in need that all might know your mercy.

All things were created in and through Jesus, and all things have life because of Him.  To reconcile all things He died on the Cross that all might dwell in your peace.  And to what are we called, O LORD, but to help bring that peace to bear upon this earth?  What must we do but share His blood with all souls, that all souls might indeed find themselves alive in Him?

Enlighten our eye, O LORD, to the truth of your presence in the love of your Son.  Let us see His light shining before us this day and allow it to shine through us as well.  O let your Word be fulfilled, your Word that burns in our hearts even as we speak.  You hear the prayer of all your lowly ones – may we listen to them with you.

Direct download: BC-071413-Su_15_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.66:10-14c;   Ps.66:1-7,16,20;   Gal.6:14-18;   Lk.10:1-12,17-20) 

“The Lord’s power shall be known to His servants.”

Paul states: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jesus instructs: “Rejoice because your names are written in heaven.”  The bottom line is that “the laborer deserves his payment.”

The prosperity of Jerusalem shall flow “like a river” over those who work as laborers in the field of the Word of God: “peace and mercy” shall be to the “Israel of God.”  All “who were mourning over her,” all who have suffered the indignity of the cross in this exile of ours, shall indeed rejoice as they “suck fully of the milk of her comfort” in the heavenly kingdom which the Lord brings to us this day.  Indeed, “let us rejoice in Him.  He rules by His might forever.”  And we share in His reign who serve Him now beneath the shadow of the cross.

Satan falls now “like lightning from the sky”; we “tread upon serpents and scorpions,” crushing them underfoot by the power the Lord gives us as we tread this earth in His Name.  Sent forth with nothing, we have everything, for He is with us who provides from the throne of heaven.  “As nurslings” we are carried in the arms of the New Jerusalem “and fondled in her lap.”  “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you,” the Lord assures us; and indeed in the cross we bear, “the marks of Jesus” on our bodies, we find the open gate that leads to the house of peace: the wounds themselves are the doorway.

“The kingdom of God is at hand for you,” my brothers and sisters.  I proclaim it in your hearing this day.  “Peace” and the “grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters.”  Peace be to your house.  You shall know His peace and find His healing as you accept His sweet cross upon your backs.  “When you see this, your heart shall rejoice and your bodies flourish like the grass”; for in that day you shall be a “new creation.”  You will say with Paul, “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world,” and you will make your abode in heaven.  That day is upon you now, brothers and sisters.  Heed the Lord’s call to go forth as lambs in the midst of wolves, and you shall find His incomparable blessing of the peace which passes all understanding – you shall come into His kingdom.

“Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what He has done for me.”  For me “He has changed the sea into dry land” and by the blood of His cross cleansed these feet to which the dust did once cling, that I might enter heaven.  Walk now in His power, I beg you, children of the Lord.  “The harvest is abundant.”  Let us go forth laboring and eating of this Bread.

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

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

*******

O LORD, may your Spirit guide us

on the road to the Cross.

YHWH, how shall we be fit for your kingdom?  How shall we give ourselves as we must to your will?  Help us to leave all behind and never turn back to it.  Help us to follow your Son even to the Cross.  For if you do not help us, we shall falter on the way.  Without your grace we shall not have the light and strength we need.

O LORD, our spirit is willing to follow you, but how weak is our flesh.  How concerned we are about the things of this earth!  And so your Son must be severe with us, for how else shall we break the yoke of slavery to sin?  Without His sharp Word we would linger in complacency all our days.

O let the ties that bind us to this world be cut and we be free to walk with Jesus in utter service and love!  May the fire of your Spirit be upon us to burn away all attachment to sin.  Be our sole refuge, dear God, that no corruption we shall know but remain at your right hand forever.

Direct download: BC-070713-Su_14_OT_C.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

(1Kgs.19:16b,19-21;   Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11;   Gal.5:1,13-18;   Lk.9:51-62) 

“No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind

is fit for the kingdom of God.”

We must follow Jesus.  And the path He walks leads to the cross.

Our gospel tells us, “When the days for Jesus’ being taken up were fulfilled, He resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem.”  Jesus knows what awaits Him in Jerusalem.  He knows how He will weep over the city for its lack of faith, and He knows their lack of faith will bring His crucifixion.  Yet into the waiting arms of death He travels, undeterred.  And how many there are who proclaim their desire to walk with Him; how many volunteer to follow in His way.  But how little they know of the difficulty found on that road: “The Son of Man has nowhere to rest His head” – we must give up our homes.  “Let the dead bury the dead” – we must leave behind our family.  Yes, we must never look “to what was left behind,” namely, “the desire of the flesh” of which Paul speaks.  We are now “guided by the Spirit”; the flesh no longer holds sway over us.  That which is opposed to the Spirit we must give no thought to anymore.

Look at Elisha, the powerful prophet, in our first reading.  He is called by the master, Elijah.  Yes, he fails to follow immediately, but look at what he does in saying good-bye to his family.  He takes what has been his livelihood to this day and sacrifices it utterly: he slaughters the oxen and even uses “the plowing equipment for fuel to boil their flesh,” giving the meat as food for his people.  Nothing remains to call him back; he effects a total departure from his old self.

Brothers and sisters, we must take such complete refuge in the Lord.  We must say with David, “O Lord, my allotted portion and cup, you it is who hold fast my lot.”  All must be given over to Him and entrusted to His care.  It does us no good to hesitate on our journey with Him or take up things which will weigh us down along the way. 

“Do not submit again to the yoke of slavery,” Paul exhorts us.  Leave all the desires of this world behind to find the freedom known only in heaven.  Then we will proclaim with David: “I set the Lord before me; with Him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.”  We will know His mantle of strength and protection in our call to walk with Him; the yoke of slavery to sin will be broken from our shoulders.  We are truly free, brothers and sisters, only insofar as we follow Him, submitting ourselves to the cross.

O Lord, take all that keeps us back from following in your way, that in such death to self we may draw nigh to your kingdom.  Your cross is the path to life.

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

Music: "Hold On, Here We Go" (second part) from Bearing the Birth Pangs, tenth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may your Spirit guide us

on the road to the Cross.

YHWH, how shall we be fit for your kingdom?  How shall we give ourselves as we must to your will?  Help us to leave all behind and never turn back to it.  Help us to follow your Son even to the Cross.  For if you do not help us, we shall falter on the way.  Without your grace we shall not have the light and strength we need.

O LORD, our spirit is willing to follow you, but how weak is our flesh.  How concerned we are about the things of this earth!  And so your Son must be severe with us, for how else shall we break the yoke of slavery to sin?  Without His sharp Word we would linger in complacency all our days.

O let the ties that bind us to this world be cut and we be free to walk with Jesus in utter service and love!  May the fire of your Spirit be upon us to burn away all attachment to sin.  Be our sole refuge, dear God, that no corruption we shall know but remain at your right hand forever.

Direct download: BC-063013-Su_13_OT_C.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

(Ez.34:11-16;   Ps.23:1-6;   Rm.5:5-11;   Lk.15:3-7) 

“I have found my lost sheep.”

“We have found reconciliation” through the blood of Jesus Christ.  So the Apostle Paul tells us, and so we know to the depths of our hearts, which are united to His Sacred Heart.  Once we were sinners, scattered like sheep on the hillside, but the Lamb of God has come and died for us, and so we His scattered sheep are led home.  He has brought to fulfillment the promise of the Father to walk among us and rescue us from the darkness that envelops this world.  “The lost,” “the strayed,” “the injured,” “the sick,” He has come to lead back to the bosom of the Father, where we may take refuge in His Sacred Heart.

“While we were still sinners, Christ died for us”; so let us recognize our sin that His blood might be efficacious.  Let us not deny His grace as “people who have no need to repent.”  For if we say we are righteous, the darkness will continue to surround us and He will not be beside us to guide us to the Father’s pasture: we will be left alone and forsaken.  No, let us cause heaven to rejoice by repenting of our sin each day and always finding His blood at work within us.  To what pasture He leads us!  What protection we find even in this life, a blessing known especially in His Sacrament.  And what future awaits us in His heavenly kingdom.  We taste it and make our boast in it now, but there it shall be known in its fullness when, indeed, nothing shall ever harm us.  “For, now we rejoice in the refuge He gives as we “walk in the dark valley”; even still He is gathering His scattered sheep.  Yes, to this day He moves among us as our Shepherd, and then we shall rest eternally in the Father’s arms.

We give thanks to the Lord for the blessings He provides us on our path to His glory.  We thank Him for His Church and its sacraments.  We come to the altar and receive His sacrifice this day, knowing we are not worthy of such a call.  But we confess our sins to Him.  We seek His forgiveness through the ministry of the shepherds He has left us, and His mercy finds a place in us.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, thank you for your grace and mercy.

Lead us home to the Father’s arms.

O Lord, like sheep we have all gone astray;

lead us back today,

and on your holy mountain

may we take rest.

 

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, in your mercy and love

shepherd us to restful waters.

YHWH, is it not the blood of your Son that reconciles us to you, that shepherds us into your kingdom?  And so, does Heaven not now await every repentant sinner?  O let us rejoice in your presence with all who have found your forgiveness!

Your promise is sure, dear God.  You promise to come among us and lead all straying souls back to you, back to your holy mountain; and this you have accomplished by sending your Son to die for our sins.  And now by the grace upon us by virtue of His sacrifice, your Spirit guides us in right paths to your House, where we shall dwell forever in your peace.

Why do you love us so, dear LORD?  Why does your Son so freely lay down His life for godless men like us?  O let us but accept the healing grace that comes to us because of your compassion!  Let all souls repent of their sin and rejoice in Heaven, in your Sacred Heart.

Direct download: Sacred_Heart_of_Jesus_C.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: 3:00am EST

(Gn.14:18-20;   Ps.110:1-4;   1Cor.11:23-26;   Lk.9:11b-17) 

“The Lord Jesus, on the night He was handed over,

took bread, and, after He had given thanks, broke it and said,

‘This is my body that is for you.’”

There is food for all, and it is ever available.  The Lord feeds us with His own Body and Blood, and He is generous in giving His eternal self to us.  Both eternal priest and victim “of God Most High,” and God Himself, we need never fear that His provision for us will lapse.  And so we “proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes”; we share in His holy sacrifice until it is made complete in heaven.  For it is His death which gives us life, it is the holy offering of Himself which feeds us on our journey here.  Let us come always to the altar of His Sacrament and feast upon the nourishment He provides.

In our gospel we hear that “Jesus spoke to the crowds of the kingdom of God,” healing those in need.  After the Word was opened to them, the bread was brought forth.  “Looking up to heaven, He said the blessing over [the loaves], broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the crowd.”  As He would do the night before He died, so He would do here, in answer to the concern of the Twelve for the people.  He says to His chosen, “Give them some food yourselves.”  He thus invites them to share in His sacrifice and in His ministry by laying down their lives for the Church.

Here is the Mass clearly foreshadowed.  Here it is present even before the death of Christ.  Even before the victim has fully offered Himself, He leads us to the table upon which we ever feed.  And that which was begun in this desert place so long ago comes down to us this day.  The twelve baskets of food remaining we continue to be fed with today; and this Bread continues to be multiplied – the more we eat of it, the more there is to be eaten.  Such is God’s love and generosity.  Such is the richness of the table He sets before us.  Like our priest and victim, it is eternal.  There is no end to God’s grace and the blessings He holds for us.  We cannot consume the depths of His love.

And so we are to contribute to the spreading and the sharing of the holy offering Jesus is for us.  We must call all to the altar of the Lord; we must see that His gift is multiplied.  He is “a priest forever”; as long as we live, He dies for us – for as long as we breathe upon this earth, His blood is poured forth.  Let us pray in words and in deeds that this blood will come to many and cleanse them of their sins.  Let us pray that many come to life by His sacrifice, that many will partake of His Body and His Blood.  By each one who comes to the table, we are all strengthened, for the Body is made more whole.  Until the time this one Body has reached fulfillment, until His sacrifice is complete, let us continue indeed to “proclaim the death of the Lord,” who thereby feeds us with His eternal love.

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

Music: "Symbiosis: State of Living Together" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, it is you who deliver our foes into our hands,

for it is you who strengthen us

with the Body and Blood of your Son.

YHWH, Jesus shares His very Body and Blood, His own self, with us; and so we who are blessed to partake of this food become as He is, graced with the power of your only Son.  As He hands the bread to His disciples to distribute to the people and it is in their hands the bread is multiplied, so His princely power is shared with all who eat His Body and drink His Blood.  And so all are fed.

Jesus is the priest of the Most High God, the priest and victim whom you bless, O Father in Heaven.  And the blessing upon Him falls on all who follow Him, upon all who come to His table and eat.  It is for our sakes He accepts such a blessing; such a call to lay down His life He receives from you that we might have the food of Heaven, that we might not starve upon this plane.  And so we proclaim the grace that is ours by His death, until He comes again.

Direct download: BC-060213-Body_and_Blood_of_Christ_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Prv.8:22-31;   Ps.8:2,4-9;   Rm.5:1-5;   Jn.16:12-15) 

“Everything that the Father has is mine.”

From the beginning Jesus is with the Father, one with the Father, the pure reflection of His being which cannot be separated from the substance of the Father.  Through Him all things were made, and indeed He is reflected in all things.  And it is by the power of the Holy Spirit, who takes from what is the Father’s and Son’s, that anything that comes to be comes to be.

And man is the crown of the creation of this Most Holy Triumvirate.  It is He who is the purest reflection of the love of Father and Son brought to birth by the Holy Spirit.  It is he in whom the wisdom of God takes great delight.  And all the wonders of earth and heaven are put in our hands: “You have given him rule over the works of your hands, putting all things under his feet.”

But a greater gift than this earth has the Lord in store for us: it is a oneness with the one God which we could not have imagined, and still strive forward to see.  “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit”; and that same Spirit, left to us by the Father and the Son, remains ever with us to bless and guide us to that magnificent vision of glory we hope one day to be able to bear in its fullness.  The Spirit declares unto us the beauty that will be, and calls us to prepare ourselves to receive it.

And our afflictions do not deter us from attaining the promise of all truth; they do but strengthen us in our resolve as we conquer them day by day in the Spirit.  “We have gained access by faith to this grace in which we stand,” and our suffering shall not shake us – even Jesus’ own leaving us does not hinder our journey to God, for we indeed have faith that His Spirit is with us and that His Spirit has all that is of Jesus, who has all that is of the Father… and so we have all things through Him.

The first glory in which we were set is a marvel to behold, for His fingerprints are on all we see.  But the second glory to which we are now called is simply beyond words, ineffable as is our God.  Alleluia!

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

Music: "Mirror of Knowledge" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, may your Spirit find delight in us

and we reflect your glory.

YHWH, your love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, and we have peace with you by your only Son.  To what glory we are called, we in whom you take delight, we who are your own – the blessed creature upon whom your favor rests.  Your Wisdom is with us to guide us to all truth, to guide us even to you, and to all the graces you would pour upon us.

All things of this earth you have placed under our feet, and we realize this honor through Christ your Son.  In Him we are crowned with great glory, for in Him you are well pleased, O LORD.  And so, in Him let us place all our hope.

From the beginning you had us in mind, dear God; in your heart you held us well.  Though we did not exist from the beginning with you, Jesus did, and by your Spirit you would make us one with Him who is one with you.  And so we boast of the glory that is ours by faith.

Direct download: BC-052613-Trinity_Sun._C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 2:1-11;   Ps.104:1,24,29-31,34;   Rom.8:8-17;   Jn.14:15-16,23b-26) 

“Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him,

and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”

The Spirit of God is with those who keep His commandments; and His Commandment is to love.  In such love all become sons of God, all are made one in His Name.  (Spirit of Love, anoint us.)

In our first reading the oneness of God’s children is emphasized: “They were all in one place together” and “they gathered in a large crowd.”  The first quote refers to the disciples of Christ waiting for His Holy Spirit, the second to “devout Jews from every nation under heaven” who would be made one with the disciples by the power of the Spirit.  We note particularly the word “devout”: because they were keepers of the Word of God, the Spirit descends upon them.

Our psalm exalts the renewing power of the Spirit of God; all creatures in the palm of God are given life, and new life, by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Alleluia!  We rejoice in His grace.  In our second reading, Paul contrasts the life-giving Spirit with the death-bringing flesh, speaking, much as Jesus in our gospel, of the Spirit who dwells in those of God.  “Whoever does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to Him,” but belongs to sin and the world.  He does not keep the Word of Jesus and so dies in the flesh; his flesh lacking the Spirit that gives life, he becomes as an empty shell.  The love of God is not in him.

But for those who keep the Word of God, their hearts cry out in joy to the Father of all as they are made one with Him and one another, and led to the truth of everlasting life in His Spirit.  May the Spirit of Jesus be with us.

Further note: expounding on the theme of keeping the Lord’s Word, we see in the fact that people of all languages hear this one language of the Spirit that the Word is not beholden to any tongue; it is the tongues of flame, the tongue of the Spirit which speaks the Word of God, we all must keep.

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

Music: "There Is No End to Life" (end) 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: BC-051913-Pentecost_Sunday_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 7:55-60;   Ps.97:1-2,6-7,9;   Rv.22:12-14,16-17,20;   Jn.17:20-26)

“I wish that where I am they also may be with me,

that they may see my glory that you gave me.” 

The Father gave Jesus His glory.  It is Jesus’ own glory He owns, for He had it “before the foundation of the world,” but now the Father has given it to Him anew in His incarnation as the Son of Man; and in His death and resurrection He shall not only confirm it in Himself, but serve thus to make it our own.

What glory is ours in this Son of God who has come among us to draw us into the Father’s immortal, eternal love!  It is the same glory the Father and Son know and share in the Spirit who makes them one.  We are called to be so one with this Holy Trinity.  Our jaws should drop at such a prospect, our hearts reach up, and praise of the Most High God resound upon our tongues; for what does Jesus pray for us but that we be one in glory with the Righteous One?

And this glory is “coming soon.”  Jesus promises John that soon He shall return, and then absolute glory will be our own, if we have washed clean our robes from sin, if we have prepared our souls to eat from “the tree of life and enter the city through its gates,” coming thus to where the glory of God dwells in eternity.  But if we are not clean, if we attempt to enter the city by other means than the gate before us, the gate who is Jesus and His teachings – climbing over the wall we shall but fall, and find the taste of the fruit of the tree terribly bitter.

The people and their leaders could not well partake of the blessed word Stephen brought to their ears.  Of the glory of God and their own falling short they would not hear… and so could but stone its bearer to death.  But Stephen finds himself present there within the City gates, even while upon his knees and crying out; for his eyes are open to see God’s glorious One, and these stones he returns to their throwers with but a prayer for peace.

Open your ears, my brothers and sisters.  Open your hearts to His call.  “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come,’” and you must echo their glorious song to the Alpha and the Omega.  To us soon Jesus the Christ is coming; “all peoples [will] see His glory.”  Invite Him in and be one with Him, even as the stones are falling.  “Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!”  Amen and Alleluia!

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

Music: "There Is No End to Life" (2nd half) from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us hear the Word of your Son 

and come to join Him in glory with you on high. 

YHWH, you are the Most High over earth and Heaven, and you call us to yourself through your only Son.  He would have us be one with you in the kingdom, and so He joins Himself to us that we might be joined to Him and so to you. 

To your glory let us come, O LORD.  Soon Jesus shall return to us; let us be prepared.  Let us see Him at your right hand as has Stephen, and welcome Him so freely into our lives, ready even to die.  For what is our death in this world but a falling asleep?  What matter the stones raining upon our heads if we have vision of you in our eyes and in our minds?  May we wash our robes clean and so freely call upon your Son to come. 

With you and with your Son let us be one; let us see your glory.  O may we stand in your presence forever, LORD!  Please receive our spirit.

Direct download: BC-051213-Su_7_E_C.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

(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 15:1-2,22-29;   Ps.67:2-6,8;   Rv.21:10-14,22-23;   Jn.14:23-29) 

“The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation,

on which were inscribed the twelve names

of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.”

And so is “the holy city Jerusalem” protected; and so are its boundaries defined.  And so we come to the apostles to find the true teaching of Christ.

When “there arose no little dissension and debate” between Paul and Barnabas and certain brothers from Judea who were insisting the Gentile converts must be “circumcised according to the Mosaic practice,” what was the recourse needed to settle this most crucial of questions – the first great question of the Church?  “It was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders.”  There the debate would be settled.  There authority is found – in the apostles and those they appoint.  There is nowhere else on earth any could turn to secure the truth, to find genuine guidance of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus has promised “will teach [the disciples] everything,” who will be with the Church as its Advocate till the end of time.  And so the apostles and elders speak in truth when they write to the waiting souls of the Gentiles: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden,” for indeed they speak of the Holy Spirit and for and by the Holy Spirit – indeed they speak the truth.

Brothers and sisters, is not the reason the Church is fractured into hundreds if not thousands or even millions of pieces (each soul following his own way without regard for the teaching of the Church), is not the reason some advocate for abortion, or euthanasia, or female or homosexual priests, or a thousand other indiscretions and blasphemies – is not the cause of the great turmoil within the walls of the temple as well as, inevitably, outside it in the world… is it not fundamentally a lack of obedience to the teachings of Christ, to the teachings of His apostles?  And though it is so that upon all His baptized is placed the seal of the Spirit, and so all may know the truth, yet it is just as so that without the confirmation of the apostles – as even Paul realized – one cannot be sure of his thoughts, and certainly has no right to teach!  Surely the Jews thought they were right in insisting the Gentiles be circumcised.  Let none be presumptuous of the Spirit’s word.

In the heavenly city there is “no temple,” there is “no need of sun or moon” – “the glory of God [gives] it light, and its lamp [is] the Lamb.”  But we do not dwell in the fullness of Jerusalem here; this I can assure you.  On earth we have unquestionable need for a Church.  And that Church is now founded in Rome with the Pope.

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

Music: "Solid Rock Unshakable Foundation" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let the light and peace of your Son

be with us this day as we gather in your holy NAME.

YHWH, let us enter your Temple, here on earth and in Heaven.  With you and with your Son let us dwell.  Your Church, the New Jerusalem, be our home.

O LORD, to your holy City let all peoples come – make your face shine upon all souls.  To your heavenly glory Jesus calls us, and so, let us indeed keep His Word, His commandment of love, and with us you will come to dwell.

But how shall we know if we are keeping your commandments except by the authority you place upon the twelve apostles?  How can we be certain we are following the path to the kingdom apart from the declaration of Peter?  If we are not obedient to the ones you send, we shall not be obedient to you, and so will be without the light of the Holy Spirit to guide us.  O let us be one with you as is your Son, as is your Church on earth!  O LORD, let us glory in your presence forever.

Direct download: BC-050513-Su_6_E_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 14:21-27;   Ps.145:1,8-13;   Rv.21:1-5a;   Jn.13:31-33a,34-35)

“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.”

This is the promise on which we set our hearts, this vision of John.  This is the word which encourages us to look forward to the coming of our God in the fullness of His presence amongst us.  How we long to be His bride in heaven!

John indeed sees the “new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” His holy bride.  And his ears hear the promise that “He will wipe away every tear from [our] eyes.”  No more shall there be “death or mourning,” no more “wailing or pain” – these things which beset us here shall all pass away.  On this glory we must set our sights, for as long as we toil upon this earth there will be tests and trials that can only be overcome with this vision of God.

In our first reading we hear that Paul and Barnabas have accomplished the rounds of their mission journey and “made a considerable number of disciples.”  We witness how God “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles” and so to the world at large.  All men of all times are now called into the kingdom of God.  And here is cause for great rejoicing.  Yet the message of these apostles, borne out by their own experience, is that we must “undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” for though the Spirit of the Lord fall on Christ’s disciples, still these disciples are in this world, where the coming of the kingdom has yet to be fulfilled, and weeping at the darkness remains part of our condition.

In this world there shall be persecution, no doubt.  Though God’s “kingdom is a kingdom for all ages, and [His] dominion endures through all generations,” though Jesus has come and lived and died among us and sent His Spirit for rebirth, though indeed His presence is very much in our midst – yet the evil one enters in; yet he lurks in hiding.  And we must be prepared to conquer him, and even to find our salvation by enduring the suffering he devises.

In Jesus we see well the way in which God is with us here and how we come to Him in heaven.  The Lord says as His hour of death approaches: “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in Him.”  Even as Judas leaves to fetch the instruments of His death, Jesus sees His glory come.  In His crucifixion He shall destroy the devil and come completely to the Father – and even on the cross, God is with Him.

Here we must endure, brothers and sisters, knowing God is with us; and soon we shall come to the fullness of His presence, to “the glorious splendor of [His] kingdom.”  Soon the Lord will “make all things new,” as new as our spirits have already become.

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, let us see your kingdom

descend into our midst

through the love of your only Son.

YHWH, let the glorious splendor of your kingdom be upon us; let us dwell in the New Jerusalem with Jesus your Son and with all His disciples.  From the ends of the earth gather your Church into your holy presence, that forever we might sing your praise.

Though we must endure many hardships to enter your kingdom, it matters little to those who know the glory that comes through the Cross; in fact, it is cause for us to rejoice.  For so long as the Cross is with us on this dark earth, O LORD, Jesus is with us bringing His comfort and peace – and so we know the mourning and weeping will soon pass away… so we see how He makes all things new.

O let us discourse of the glory of your reign!  Let us set our hearts on serving your will by bringing others into your gates.  Help us, O LORD, to love one another even as your Son.

Direct download: BC-042813-Su_5_E_C.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

(Acts 13:14,43-52;   Ps.100:1-3,5;   Rv.7:9,14b-17;   Jn.10:27-30)

“The Lamb who is in the center of the throne will shepherd them

and lead them to springs of life-giving water.”

Joy is our promise in the Lord, brothers and sisters.  Absolute, eternal, universal joy.  And though we may suffer persecution now, “the time of great distress” upon us but provides the means, the water, by which all saints “have washed their robes and made them white.”  “The blood of the Lamb” is necessary to bring us to the kingdom of God.

Paul and Barnabas suffer “violent abuse” today for proclaiming the word of the Lord.  But from it comes their turn to the Gentiles, who delight in joy at this call to the kingdom.  And these disciples themselves “were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit,” despite being expelled from the territory to which they’d come.  All is joy in the Lord!

In our second reading, John depicts all the saints who “stand before God’s throne and worship Him day and night in His temple.”  Here they are utterly protected from harm, the harm that afflicted them while on earth.  No trials exist anymore in this everlasting shelter, for the Lord has “wipe[d] away every tear from their eyes.”  These tears, too, are water which cleanses the soul, which makes us robed in white before the Lord.

And Jesus assures us, to our great exultation, that “no one can take [us] out of the Father’s hand,” or His own.  He and the Father are one, and no greater power is there under or above the sun.  Though threats of robbery besiege our souls as we travel through this world, let us make the Lord’s assurance our own, and have faith that nothing will remove us from His arms.

Our psalmist exalts in the joy that should reflect the song in all our souls: “Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful song.”  So let us search our hearts to find that joy within us and overflowing from us.  Let me ask you, brother, sister, did John see you present in his “vision of a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue”?  Is the life-giving water of the Lamb washing you clean for that day?  Then joy should be yours even where you stand, for even now you stand with Him.

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

Music: "Everyone's a Baby, Everyone's a Child" from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us follow your Son to the kingdom

where He reigns over all.

YHWH, souls from every nation stand before your throne in white robes, for your Son is a light even to the Gentiles; even to these do His apostles speak your Word.  Even these are called to eternal life by the Messiah.

Day and night we shall worship in your holy Temple, O LORD, protected by the Lamb at the center of the throne in your heavenly kingdom.  What John has seen shall soon come to pass for all those who wash their robes in Jesus’ blood.  Every faithful soul is welcomed into His arms, is led into your pasture.  And this flock you tend untiringly, your Spirit upon all your children of light.

And why should we care if we should suffer for your sake and the sake of your Name?  This persecution but brings joy to your blessed disciples, for in it they share in the sacrifice of your Son and so in the eternal joy of Heaven.  O LORD, hold us always in your Hand!

Direct download: BC-042113-Su_4_E_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Acts 5:27-32,40b-41;   Ps.30:2,4-6,11-13;   Rv.5:11-14;   Jn.21:1-19)

“You changed my mourning into dancing.”

Throughout our readings today we witness the glory the risen Lord effects by His sacrifice, the change of fate that comes by the Savior.

In our first reading, though the apostles are brought before the Sanhedrin for persecution, they leave their presence rejoicing, happy to have “suffer[ed] dishonor for the sake of the name.”  In our psalm David sings the praise of the Lord for His having brought him “up from the netherworld,” turning his weeping into joy.  In our second reading, John sees and hears “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out” the “blessing and honor, glory and might” of “the Lamb that was slain” – perceiving thus the ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s living sacrifice.  And in our gospel, though the apostles had toiled in vain all the night within their boat, and were tired and hungry and disillusioned as morning approached, Jesus stood upon the shore… and at His instruction they caught more fish than they could carry, and were fed by His hand.

The light follows darkness, inevitably.  “At nightfall, weeping enters in, but with the dawn, rejoicing.”  It is the maxim of the universe, epitomized by the death and resurrection of the Christ.  And so, though Jesus calls Peter from the freedom he has known in youth to the bondage that shall be his as he “grow[s] old,” it is understood that, indeed, by this “death he [will] glorify God,” and thus joining his death with the Lord’s own, shall know the same glorious morn Jesus does now own, and to which He leads all His followers.

Darkness can never overcome the eternal light of our God; of the glory of the Lord the angels and all living creatures sing in heaven even now.  And we shall join their voices soon, we shall stand in the ranks with Peter and John and David and all His holy ones very soon.  Once we have finished giving thanks to the living God for the suffering we are graced to endure here in His name, we will come to the joy that is ours in Him in heaven.  Then we shall dance and sing forever.

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, 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-041413-Su_3_E_C.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 5:12-16;   Ps.118:1-4,22-27;   Rv.1:9-13,17-19;   Jn.20:19-31) 

“When I caught sight of Him,

I fell down at His feet as though dead.”

But Jesus “touched [John] with His right hand and said, ‘Do not be afraid.’”  Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” as he humbled himself at the sight of the risen Christ who had appeared before him, and so he was blessed with faith.  The first believers “carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them.”  And the sick and possessed brought forth “were all cured.”  All “those who fear the Lord” know His eternal mercy!

Brothers and sisters, let us not be afraid to humble ourselves in awe before the mighty Lord and the apostles He sends forth in His name and with the blessing of the Father.  We must set our hearts on “the first and the last, the One who lives,” and let nothing keep us from the path to His grace, to the glorious vision of His holy face.  He waits.  He waits in expectation for all humble souls to turn to the blood poured out by the nail marks in His hands and the wound in His side.  He wishes not to have died in vain, and so with power He sends the Spirit out through the ministry and the sacraments of His Church on earth.

“Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles,” and these same wonders and more are offered for our edification and our salvation this day.  The time of fulfillment is upon us and the Lord Jesus is not remiss with His graces: generously the fount of mercy gushes forth.  And as John was surrounded by water on the island of Patmos in the day of his divine vision, so are we surrounded with the blessings of the Lord, if we but come to His presence.  He is near.  He is waiting.  Do not doubt; but believe – and whatever ailment of body or soul, heart or mind, which seems to obstruct your reception of the glory of God, will be removed in an instant, if you but fall down at His feet in awe.

Dead before Him we must be, dead to sin and sadness.  Alive in the Spirit we must remain, keeping His peace within us.  With John let us share “the distress, the kingdom, and the endurance we have in Jesus,” and the distress will disappear and the kingdom come, even as we endure all in His name.  God’s “peace be with you.”

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, your mercy endures forever;

help us to trust in you.

YHWH, let us lay our broken bodies in the streets that your apostle might pass by and we be healed of our infirmity.  Let us fall down at the feet of your glorious Son and feel His hand upon us and hear His voice reassuring us.  May the risen Jesus be known to us that in faith we might proclaim, “My LORD and my God!”  O let His peace be upon us!  May the Holy Spirit ever guide us.

O LORD, let your divine mercy be upon our souls that we might be forgiven all our sins; all our doubts and fears be washed away in the blood of your Son.  He has been rejected by the builders, but those who are pressed hard by the trials of this earthly life know the wonders He does for all who believe.  He was once dead but now is alive, and we who believe in Him are raised up from all sin to look upon Heaven.  In His wounds we find new life.

Direct download: BC-040713-Divine_Mercy_Sun.C.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: 3:00am 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

(Is.43:16-21;   Ps.126:1-6;   Phil.3:8-14;   Jn.8:1-11) 

“Forgetting what lies behind

but straining forward to what lies ahead,

I continue my pursuit toward the goal.”

In times past the Lord opened “a way in the sea” for the Israelites to pass through, while Pharoah’s army He “snuffed out and quenched like a wick.”  Afterward, He “brought back the captives of Zion” from the lands to which they had been scattered to rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.  “Great things” the Lord has done for His people, but through the prophet Isaiah He enjoins all to “remember not the events of the past,” to “consider not” these mighty and wondrous deeds.  For as marvelous as His deeds once were, now He proclaims, “See, I am doing something new!”  And indeed, something new is in our midst.

We see perfect evidence of this surpassing work in the apostle Paul, who has “accepted the loss of all things” – including any righteousness this former Pharisee may have had by the law – that he may “gain Christ and be found in Him,” for he knew that all good things are to be found in Jesus the Lord.  And now he is but “depending on faith to know Him and the power of His resurrection.”

Here is the new thing which is done: the only Son has died and been raised from the grave, never to die again.  And so Paul seeks to share “of His sufferings,” to be “conformed to His death,” that he too “may attain the resurrection from the dead.”  Nothing else is worth our time or our breath in this world; only this “one thing” calls us upward to God.

And see how this new thing has affected the adulterous woman, the sinner who represents us all.  She is brought forward in all her abomination, deserving death for the act she has knowingly committed… yet she leaves Christ’s presence an entirely free woman.  Free not merely to go as she pleases, but free from the sin which should have spelled her condemnation.

Here is the new thing as it affects every human soul: the forgiveness of our sins.  And what joy this should bring us!  For if Jesus who is to judge the heart of all sentient beings does not condemn us, who shall stand with stone in hand to punish our transgression?  But heed, my brother, my sister, the Lord’s due warning, if you would truly know the grace of this new thing – “from now on do not sin anymore” – or what is new and bringing refreshment will become old and stale very soon.  Forward we must strive all the days of our lives, leaving well behind our sins; only in heaven will we take full hold of Him who has taken possession of us by His mercy.

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, cleanse us of our sin

and draw us into your kingdom.

YHWH, great things you have done for us, and so we should announce your praise.  For you have put behind us all our sins and call us upward now to you in your Son.  There seemed no way through this desert, but like torrents of water in the wasteland you have poured your grace upon us; and we are set free, and we escape judgment… and we come running now to you.

Something new you indeed accomplish in our midst, something greater than the parting of the Red Sea or the drowning of Pharaoh’s army.  For then you saved your people from certain death, yes, as well as from slavery; but they would soon die anyway, as do all who travel here.  But now it is eternal condemnation from which we are redeemed.  Now everlasting life we strain toward as we embrace Jesus’ holy Cross.  O LORD, let us but know the grace come to us in your Son!  Thank you for your forgiveness.

Direct download: BC-031713-Su_5_L_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Jos.5:9a,10-12;   Ps.34:2-7,9;   2Cor.5:17-21;   Lk.15:1-3,11-32)

“Today I have removed the reproach of Egypt from you.”

As the Israelites now realize their redemption from slavery in Egypt as they step into the Promised Land, so the prodigal son comes to his own redemption, his own release from slavery as a hired hand in a foreign land, as he returns to his father’s house.  Yes, as the Israelites “ate of the produce of the land” for the first time after the feast of Passover, so the prodigal son feasts on the “fattened calf” slaughtered for him by his merciful father.  And the redemption of both is a redemption from sin.

Today we hear quite clearly “the message of reconciliation” proclaimed throughout our readings.  It is a call to all souls and a thanksgiving to God, “who has reconciled us to Himself through Christ.”  And will we come to the water and drink?  Will we leave behind “the pods on which the swine fe[e]d” and come to His table to eat?  Will we too come to our senses and, realizing the mercy the Father holds for all His children, return to the House of God and feast in the land to which He leads us?

It seems certain, and simple, that we should join David in his song of praise, that we should heed him as he entreats our souls: “Glorify the Lord with me.”  For as “from all his distress He saved him,” so from all our distress He saves us; and so nothing should fill our hearts but joy.  “He was lost and has been found,” the Lord declares in jubilation over every poor sinner who returns to His fold.  And so, should we not respond gratefully to the appeal of Paul and all those entrusted with “the ministry of reconciliation” to indeed “be reconciled to God.”  In faith let us confess our sins and know the gracious blood of our Redeemer pouring upon our souls.

“For our sake He made Him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  And now He waits on the road before His House for our return.  Now He longs to open the doors of forgiveness and let us into His dwelling.  Now He would see the sacrifice of His Son bear fruit, that we all might be as He is.  Accept His removal of sin like a sword in the depths of your soul, and enter into His kingdom.

*******

O LORD, let us eat of the yield of your Holy Land

and become a new creation.

YHWH, let us be reconciled to you who hold your arms open to receive us poor sinners.  In your Son and in His sacrifice you offer us redemption from all our iniquity and invite us in to sup with you in your House, in your eternal kingdom.  We are not worthy of such grace, but your love transcends our unworthiness.

To the Promised Land the Israelites come, having left the bonds of Egypt behind.  You gave them bread by your hand on their way to freedom, and now the fruit of that land they eat and find themselves well fed. The Prodigal Son is welcomed home by his compassionate father.  The fattened calf is killed in celebration of his return, though half of his father’s property he has squandered in his sin. 

O LORD, how can we fathom your love for us, your invitation to us to come back to your side despite our disobedience?  May all men come to their senses and call out to you.

Direct download: BC-031013-Su_4_L_C.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

(Ex.3:1-8a,13-15;   Ps.103:1-4,6-8,11;   1Cor.10:1-6,10-12;   Lk.13:1-9) 

“The Lord secures justice

and the rights of all the oppressed.”

Thus does the Lord God appear to Moses and call him to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians.  He has “witnessed the affliction of His people”; He has “heard their cry of complaint against their slave drivers” and “know[s] well what they are suffering.”  And so, by the hand of Moses, He will lead them to “a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Yes, brothers and sisters, the Lord “has made known His ways to Moses”; His “kindness and compassion” He has revealed to His people.  The great I AM (YHWH), He who is and who will always be, has come and shown Himself to His servant on the “holy ground” of Mount Horeb.  In a “bush [that] is not burned” though flaming with fire, He opens Moses' eyes to His presence.  And He tells him His glorious NAME, by which He is “to be remembered through all generations” – that it is He who is Life.  And, of course, the life He brings is one of mercy and healing.

Yet, though the Lord is certainly “merciful and gracious,” He is also just; thus does Paul remind us that though all the Israelites “were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea” in their exodus from slavery, though all ate and drank from “the rock [that] was Christ… God was not pleased with most of them, for they were struck down in the desert.”  So the blessings they had gained by the mercy of our God, they soon lost by their own disobedience.  And so could we all lose the grace of Christ at work in our lives if we “desire evil things, as they did.”  For God is merciful, but God is just, and will not have His kindness presumed upon.

Thus does Jesus Himself also warn us, even as He warns the people who question Him this day that they are no better than those “whose blood Pilate had mingled with the blood of their sacrifices,” that we are not without guilt ourselves.  Thus does He proclaim, “If you do not repent, you will all perish as they did,” as all sinners do.  And thus does He warn us by parable that if we do not bear fruit in His name, we shall be cut down and thrown in the fire – for there is no wasted ground in the kingdom of God.

If you cry out to Him, He will hear you, for it is He who “redeems your life from destruction” and your salvation is His desire.  But justice insists that if you turn back to your sin, you choose to remove yourself from His loving arms.

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

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

*******

O LORD, give us repentant hearts

that we might not be removed from your sight

but burn with your Spirit always.

YHWH, let us not presume upon your mercy, for you have saved us but we remain in danger of falling again if we do not remember your NAME, if we do not keep in mind that you have made us and that you have saved us, you who are Life itself.  If we forget your benefits, our iniquities shall return, and then how shall we stand in your presence?

You alone are holy, LORD; you alone are beyond our tongues to describe.  Let us be silent before you and remember the blessings you pour upon our souls.  For though you are far beyond our ability to comprehend, though your ways far surpass our own, yet you look with compassion on our affliction and seek to rescue us from all ill.

But we must remain humble at all times, lest our branches become barren.  Ever we must bear fruit in your Name or we will be separated from your grace, from the surpassing light of your face.  O LORD, lead us through this desert to your Promised Land.

Direct download: BC-030313-Su_3_L_C.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

(Gn.15:5-12,17-18;   Ps.27:1,7-9,13-14;   Phil.3:17-4:1;   Lk.9:28-36) 

“A cloud came and cast a shadow over them,

and they became frightened when they entered the cloud.”

As darkness thus covered the three apostles, so “a trance fell upon Abram, and a deep, terrifying darkness enveloped him.”  Both find themselves surrounded by darkness and filled with fear.  In just this way the Lord brings His revelations.  For as the Lord is about to pronounce beyond doubt that Jesus is the Messiah, so He is about to send “a flaming torch” to pass between Abram’s offerings and so confirm his taking possession of the Promised Land.  The Lord must act in such manner to cleanse all foolishness from our souls, that we might hear His most pure Word.

But light comes out of the darkness: indeed, “the Lord is [our] light and [our] salvation” – He Himself is not darkness.  And so as the fire of the torch pierces the dark night upon Abram’s mind, so the chief apostles are privileged to see Jesus’ glory, to witness in fullness the Light the Son of God is.  And the Lord God leaves no doubt with them that it is of Jesus He says, “This is my chosen Son,” for though the greatest men of Jewish history had also “appeared in glory” with Jesus, now He is “found alone” – and the apostles are left speechless.

It must pass to the marrow of our bones, the Truth of Christ’s salvation.  If in any way superficial or “occupied with earthly things” is our vision, Him we have not known.  He alone stands as our “life’s refuge”; in Him alone do we find God’s presence – Him alone should our “glance” seek.  But as we pray, “Hide not your face from me,” we should realize how profound is the prayer we make.  For the Lord indeed “will change our lowly body to conform with His glorified body” when He appears at the end of the age, but consider for a moment what it will be like to have that power of refinement upon ourselves.  Very much like the darkness which envelops the apostles and Abram today; very much like the dark night of the soul of which our great saints speak.  Are you prepared to have the Lord separate soul from spirit with His sword of Truth?  Do you know this piercing, fiery process even now?  Then even in this world you shall begin to behold His face, and find yourself ready on that Day to be taken from earthly to heavenly tents.

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, help us to stand ready

before the terrifying glory revealed in your Son.

YHWH, you are our light in the darkness of this world; though the dark threaten to envelop us, you are there to save us – even in the darkness we find your fire purifying our souls for entering your presence.

To your glory you call us; the land of Heaven you promise us.  And that promise is set firmly upon the law and the prophets, and that promise is fulfilled in your Son.  He is our hope as we pass through the temptations of this life knowing we are citizens of Heaven.  O LORD, let us be conformed to His glorified Body!

You have given witness to Jesus, that He is your Chosen One.  You call us to listen to Him, to seek only Him: He shines as the stars in the night sky, leading us to your glory.  May our hearts be set on Him alone and we shall not be afraid.  O LORD, hide not your face from us.

Direct download: BC-022413-Su_2_L_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Dt.26:4-10;   Ps.91:1-2,10-15;   Rom.10:8-13;   Lk.4:1-13) 

“To His angels He has given command about you,

that they guard you in all your ways.”

Can there be any doubt that the Lord God will bear Jesus up through His temptations in the desert, that He “will deliver Him and glorify Him”?  For if “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved,” will the Father leave His Son “in distress”?  If He has rescued David from “the lion and the dragon,” will He not also “set [Jesus] on high,” apart from any danger?  If the Israelites say: “We cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and He heard our cry” – and so delivered them from the “affliction” and “toil” and “oppression” of Egyptian slavery – will the deliverance of the Holy One from Satan’s clutches be long in coming?  Indeed the angels watch over Him, for His name is joined to that of the Father.

And indeed it is His name we now call upon in our need.  As Paul tells us, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”  And so He who has been preserved from the devil’s temptation now becomes the source of our own salvation – we find ourselves now protected as He, blessed by our faith in the Lord of all.

I notice again how the temptations present in our gospel are indicated, and answered, in our first reading and psalm.  Of course, the devil himself attempts to use our quote from Psalm 91 to bring the Lord to ruin – showing how Scripture can indeed be twisted to perverse ends – foolishly failing to see that the quote would prove ultimately true.  And the Israelites’ bringing their tithe to God, saying, “I have now brought you the firstfruits of the products of the soil which you, O Lord, have given me,” reveals the sacrifice that verifies that “one does not live by bread alone”; while Moses’ instruction that they then “bow down in [God’s] presence” confirms that “Him alone shall [we] serve.”

O devil, all your temptations will be in vain; can you not see the fruitlessness of your acts?  You cannot harm Him who holds your life in His hands, and so why do you not turn and, as the faithful angels, learn to love and serve the Holy One?  Brothers and sisters, it is too late for this “viper” to come to truth, but not for any man who will confess that Jesus is the Christ.  So let us preach to the ends of the earth by the power of deliverance from sin won by our Lord that “No one who believes in Him will be put to shame.”  Oh that all souls would be saved!

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

Music: "The Chicken or the Egg" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us bow down before you

and serve you alone,

and we shall be blessed with your protection.

YHWH, bring us out of Egypt by your strong hand; lead us from the desert by your great power.  Save us from temptation and bring us with your Son into the Promised Land.

We call upon your NAME, O LORD: save us!  We believe that Jesus is LORD with you and that you have raised Him from the dead – let us not be put to shame.  Help us to endure in the face of the devil; your Word be ever upon our tongues.  O let us trust in you that we shall be delivered from all trials, trampling down the lion and the dragon by the intercession of your angels.

You protect us, dear God, and give us all the food we need to thrive in this land of exile.  With you at our side, we shall not be afraid.  By the grace upon your Son let us be redeemed from the power of the evil one and enter into your kingdom with a song of praise.

Direct download: BC-021712-Su_1_L_C.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: 9:00am EST

(Sir.27:4-7;   Ps.92:2-3,13-16;   1Cor.15:54-58;   Lk.6:39-45)

“Be firm, steadfast,                                                                      always fully devoted to the work of the Lord.”

     Brothers and sisters, “in the Lord your labor is not in vain,” for “the just one shall flourish like the palm tree, like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.” If you are “planted in the house of the Lord,” “vigorous and sturdy” shall you ever be, “bear[ing] fruit even in old age.” You shall remove “the wooden beam” that plagues your eye and thus find the vision to remove the splinter from the eye of your brother. You will be like your teacher, like the Lord, sharing in the power only He possesses.

     “When fully trained, every disciple will be like his teacher.” And we must be trained, we must be tested in tribulation, molded in the furnace of the Lord’s chastising Word. We must know that “a good tree does not bear rotten fruit, nor does a rotten tree bear good fruit,” and so if there is rottenness come from us, we must cast it in the fire. For only goodness should be born from the store of our heart, and that in abundance, else how shall we be called disciples of Jesus… how shall we be like Him in every way? Falling short of His perfection will not get us where we want to be: we must see that “this which is corruptible clothes itself with incorruptibility.”

     Our readings today equate work with speech, the quintessential human activity, one which indeed shows “the bent of one’s mind.” And so when the Lord says, “From the fullness of the heart the mouth speaks,” He indicates not only the words passing our lips but all the actions that follow in their wake. By these fruits, as by our words, shall we be tested and judged. Thus must our hearts and our words and all our actions be founded in Jesus, the tree of life.

     “The fruit of a tree shows the care it has had.” Only by a man’s fruit shall you know him. And what does your fruit speak of you? What does your speech reveal? Do you “sing praise to [the Lord’s] name” in all you do; do you declare the glory of the “Most High” with every word? Brothers and sisters, only what is hard and true is lasting; only what is rooted in Him can stand the test of holy fire. Perform all your labor according to the mold Christ prepares, and your fruit shall reach unto heaven.

Written, read, and chanted by James Kurt.

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

*******

O LORD, remove the wooden beam from our eye

that we might praise you with all our lives.

     YHWH, let us be fully devoted to your work and our labor will not be in vain. Rather, planted in your House, we shall flourish and bear fruit even in old age. O let us produce good from a good heart!

     Indeed, it is of the heart the mouth speaks; from what is in our heart come our words and all our actions. And so, how much do we need you to be present within us, O LORD; without your Son how shall we find victory over sin and death, which so pervade this dark place and hover before our eyes?

     Let us not be blind, dear LORD. Let us not fail to recognize our faults, our shortcomings before your holy light. Let us freely subject ourselves to the tribulation that shall purify our hearts, our thoughts, our words and actions… that we might reflect your glory even in this world, doing your work all our days and coming to immortality with Jesus your Son.

Direct download: BC_-_02.24.19_-_O.T._8_Sun._C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(1Sm.26:2,7-9,12-13,22-23;   Ps.103:1-4,8,10,12-13;   1Cor.15:45-49;   Lk.6:27-38)

“Who can lay hands on the Lord’s anointed                                               and remain unpunished?”

      This does David say of Saul the king of Israel – of him who has come into the desert to hunt David down and kill him – even as he stands beside a sleeping Saul, well able to “nail him to the ground with one thrust of the spear.” But even though it seems that “God has delivered [his] enemy into [David’s] grasp,” he foregoes the opportunity, humbly respecting him whom God has ordained. Thus does he presage Christ’s own teaching to “love your enemies.”

     It is so in the heavenly teaching of the Lord that we who are to be like “the second man, from heaven,” and not like “the first [who] was from earth, earthly”; it is so that if we are to hear His words and be like Christ Himself – and who else is there to be like? – we must treat all men as David treats Saul, as if God’s anointing is upon them. All must be respected as blessed by God; all must be loved as His children. Even if they hunt us down and kill us, even if they take all things from us, yet we must pray for their souls… for still God’s blessing is upon them, and we must bless them with Him.

     Brothers and sisters, “He Himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.” Do you see this? Though in the end He will judge (and not we), yet nothing cuts short the love of God; no act of man keeps him from the Lord’s abundant grace. And we must “be merciful, just as [our] Father is merciful,” if we hope to come into His kingdom and look upon His face. For only those who are of Him enter there. If you love as a sinner loves, if you love like an earthly man, with an earthly mind and an earthly heart, expecting something in return, how can you hope to be where He is, He who does not measure His love in earthly terms? Unending is His love, surpassing all and overwhelming all in its infinite greatness… and will you count the pennies that you offer? You need only look upon the cross, upon the corpus fixed firmly there, to see the love to which you are called: you must “bear the image of the heavenly” man.

     And you need only look clearly at what the Lord has done in your own life, He who “pardons all your iniquities, [who] heals all your ills,” to understand His call. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He put our transgressions from us.” And should we not do the same for others who have sinned against us, who have nailed us to the tree? Or would you fall short of His love? “Merciful and gracious is the Lord,” and if He does not “requite us according to our crimes” but treats us “as a father [who] has compassion on his children,” so all men should be as the Lord’s blessed children in our eyes.

Written, Read, and Chanted by James Kurt.

Music: "True Love" from Loving Spirit, third album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, help us to love our enemies

even as your Son has done for all of us sinners.

     YHWH, you are gracious and merciful, but we are weak and sinful. How shall we be like you? How shall we bear the image of your Son? How shall we move from being earthly to heavenly men? Indeed, it is only by your mercy.

     O LORD, we must reflect your great mercy if we are to find the mercy we so desperately need for our own souls. And sharing in this mercy of yours is mercy itself, is your greatest gift to us, your poor creatures. What more could we hope for than to be like you? For what more could we ask than to be of your love?

     You it is who pardon all our iniquities, who spare sinful man. Though our deeds against you deserve death, though for our crimes we merit destruction – though we should be nailed to the ground with one thrust of your spear, we are freed from such a fate by your Son’s sacrifice on the Cross… and we are called to join Him there. Forgive all who sin against us, LORD, that we might be saved.

Direct download: BC-021807-Su_7_OT_C.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

(Jer.17:5-8;  Ps.1:1-4,6,40:5;  1Cor.15:12,16-20;  Lk.6:17,20-26)

 “If for this life only we have hoped in Christ,                         we are the most pitiable people of all.”

     For His reward is in heaven; His kingdom is not of the earth. And our faith is in His resurrection.

     It is not to this world we come, not in the things of the earth we make our boast, for he “who seeks his strength in flesh” is he “whose heart turns away from the Lord” and His holy kingdom… but we are among those “whose hope is the Lord.” The contrast could not be clearer than it is today in our readings: on the one hand is he who “delights in the law of the Lord” and so follows His ways; and on the other, he who “walks in the way of sinners,” finding his delight in the world. And the blessing and the curse each respectively finds is also made obvious for us – one path leads to resurrection and life, the other to a miserable death. And which shall we choose, the kingdom of God or the prison of man… the blessing or the curse?

     “Woe to you who are rich… to you who are filled now… to you who laugh,” for a fate worse than death awaits you – the pleasures you take in your insolence will soon turn to the most despicable bitterness. You stand “in a lava waste, a salt and empty earth,” and in it you shall sink if you do not soon look to the light of Christ. The poor and hungry souls who weep and mourn for your salvation, who suffer persecution by your haughty tongue will soon “rejoice and leap for joy” – on the day of resurrection you can count. And what will become of your own soul when you stand, or cringe, before the otherworldly light of your Creator? What shall you then say?

     The time is short. The rewards of heaven are near. Let us take strength in the Lord’s resurrection. Let us bear joyfully His cross. Though drought be upon the land, and though it show itself in His Church, we must be one with Him who “still bears fruit,” planted eternally beside the nourishing streams of our Christ. Him they stripped of even His clothing; His skin they scourged at the devil’s command. His flesh they nailed to the dying tree – a worm and no man. But He lives, be assured of this; His Spirit never fails. And body and soul He looks out from heaven, waiting for us to join Him there…

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

Music: "Ballad to the World" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us not know the curse

of the world’s acceptance and your rejection,

but the blessing of being your humble children.

 

     YHWH, like a tree planted near running water let us be, fruitful as your Son who alone has your Spirit upon Him. Why should we turn to things that take us from your way? Why should we desire to stand in an empty, lava waste? His Cross let us lift up onto our shoulders, that we might rise to you.

     O LORD, let us not follow the way of the wicked and so be driven to distress. Their counsel let us not take upon ourselves. Let us rather trust in your Son and meditate on His Word day and night. For here is wisdom that reaches unto Heaven. Here in the call to lay down our lives, to die with your Christ, we find our way to eternal life, where we will leap for joy forevermore.

     Our hunger now is but a yearning for your face, our weeping but a cry to look upon you. And in such suffering itself we find your presence, LORD, for we share this grief with your Son, who now reigns on high.

Direct download: BC-021410-Su_6_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.6:1-2a,3-8;   Ps.138:1-5,7-8;   1Cor.15:1-11;   Lk.5:1-11) 

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

“Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?” “the voice of the Lord” asks in the presence of the angels and Isaiah.  “Here I am… send me!” is the prophet’s response.  And so this “man of unclean lips” having been purged of his uncleanness by an ember from the altar of God is ready to speak for “the King, the Lord of hosts!”  Grace come through the seraphim prepares his soul to do the will of the Lord.

“By the grace of God I am what I am,” Paul, “the least of the apostles,” declares, having been saved from his persecution of the Church of God and made the great Apostle to the nations, he knows, only by the favor of the Lord Most High.  And now the Gospel he preaches with a mouth anointed by the blood of Christ, the word of God which he speaks, brings salvation to all who “hold fast” to it.

And Peter, too, the first of apostles, we find coming to faith and power in the Lord by His grace-filled call.  A catch of fish is what touches his soul and makes him fall to his knees, “a sinful man.”  And as He has deemed to stoop to the level of Isaiah and Paul, so the Lord reaches out his hand to Peter, lifting him to his feet and speaking to his ear his call of “catching men.”  And so the Rock of the Church is born.

King David sings in truth when he says: “All the kings of the earth shall give thanks to you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth.”  And having heard these words speak clearly to their hearts, so are our prophet and apostles set to proclaim with David “the glory of the Lord” to all who likewise hear.  And certainly the grace given them “has not been ineffective,” for even now a multitude is drawn into “the presence of the angels,” where they “worship at [the Lord’s] holy temple and give thanks to [His] name.”

Alleluia!  Join His call.  Let your nets to the depths descend, to draw up souls redeemed by the Gospel of God, that many might sing “Holy, holy, holy” to our heavenly King.

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, help us to love our enemies

even as your Son has done for all of us sinners.

YHWH, you are gracious and merciful, but we are weak and sinful.  How shall we be like you?  How shall we bear the image of your Son?  How shall we move from being earthly to heavenly men?  Indeed, it is only by your mercy.

O LORD, we must reflect your great mercy if we are to find the mercy we so desperately need for our own souls.  And sharing in this mercy of yours is mercy itself, is your greatest gift to us, your poor creatures.  What more could we hope for than to be like you?  For what more could we ask than to be of your love?

You it is who pardon all our iniquities, who spare sinful man.  Though our deeds against you deserve death, though for our crimes we merit destruction – though we should be nailed to the ground with one thrust of your spear, we are freed from such a fate by your Son’s sacrifice on the Cross… and we are called to join Him there.  Forgive all who sin against us, LORD, that we might be saved.

Direct download: BC-021013-Su_5_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Jer.1:4-5,17-19;   Ps.71:1-6,15,17;   1Cor.12:31-13:13;   Lk.4:21-30) 

“I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”

When God calls Jeremiah to prophesy “against Judah’s kings and princes, against its priests and people,” He tells him to “gird [his] loins” and commands: “Be not crushed on their account.”  For though his people “will fight against” him, they shall “not prevail over” him.  The Lord makes Jeremiah “a fruitful city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass” able to stand against attacks of any in “the whole land”; He preserves His prophet’s life despite any danger or threat.

In our gospel Jesus is likewise protected by God from any harm His people would inflict upon Him.  Here in the synagogue of Nazareth, Jesus is called to prophesy against the faithlessness of the people; and though before He spoke His harsh word of truth they had “all spoke[n] highly of Him,” now “filled with fury” they drive Him “out of the town, and lead Him to the brow of the hill… to hurl Him down headlong.”  But the deliverance promised Jeremiah and sung of so beautifully by our psalmist is with the Lord’s only Son as it had been with His prophet, and “Jesus passed through the midst of them and went away.”  Though they would not accept the deliverance He brings, He is delivered from them.

“O my God, [you] rescue me from the hand of the wicked”; you indeed are “my rock of refuge, a stronghold to give me safety.”  O Lord, “let me never be put to shame,” but “in your justice rescue me, and deliver me.”  For you are “my rock and my fortress,” “my hope” who never fails to save.  May I walk through all the difficulties of this world, all the darkness of sin and temptation and suffering, with you at my side, therefore with nothing to fear.  Make me strong as your prophet, as your Son, for my life is in your Hand.

Brothers and sisters, soon all persecution will pass away with all the imperfect trappings of this desolate earth, and only God’s love will remain.  Let us be as He who “endures all things”; let us be of love.  And nothing of this world shall touch us as we pass through its midst, shielded by the Word of God, guarded by His eminent love.

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

Music: "Is This Your World?" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, you rescue us from the hand of the wicked;

from our mother’s womb you are our stronghold.

YHWH, it is you who deliver us from all harm, from the fury of this world, from the anger of those unable to bear your truth.  In chastising us you would show us the greatest love; but who is of love as are you, and so who is able to rejoice in your truth?

Few there are, O LORD, who desire to know their sins that they might turn from them and be saved.  Few there are who trust in you from birth even unto death – who can place his whole life in your hands?  Yet if we do not take refuge in you alone, we shall surely die.  If we open not our hearts to your love, to your Word of truth that would redeem our souls, we will perish in our sin.

The hardened heart of man would hurl your Son to the ground from the hill He builds His town upon.  Break our pride, LORD, that we might be saved.  Open our hearts to your Chosen One, to the love He brings to us, that we might see you face to face.

Direct download: BC-020313-Su_4_OT_C.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

(Neh.8:2-4a,5-6,8-10;   Ps.19:8-10,15;   1Cor.12:12-30;   Lk.1:1-4,4:14-21) 

“He opened the scroll so that all the people might see it.”

These words are spoken of Ezra the scribe who “brought the law before the assembly” of all Israel as he stood above them preparing to read the word of God, but it surely more distinctly refers to Jesus the Christ, the Incarnate Word of God, who reveals Himself to the souls in the Nazareth synagogue today.  As “Ezra read plainly from the book of the law of God, interpreting it so that all might understand,” so the Word is perfectly read and interpreted for us in the Person of Jesus Christ.

Jesus came “into the synagogue on the sabbath day.  He stood up to read and was handed a scroll of the prophet Isaiah.  He unrolled the scroll and found the passage” in Isaiah which speaks of Him: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me…”  Thus is “fulfilled in [the people’s] hearing” the salvation promised from all time; the presence of the Word is with us in flesh and bone.

Brothers and sisters, the eyes of all are filled with vision of His light, of His glorious being in our midst; all ears are filled with the sound of His voice, like gently rolling thunder soothing our hearts.  And so we see.  And so we hear.  And so His Church has eyes and ears of the Lord, for we become “Christ’s body and individually parts of it.”  Our feet now walk with Christ and our hands serve Him, and all for the blessing and honor and upbuilding of the whole.  If I write this to you now and you hear, do I write for myself alone?  Is it even I who write at all?  Are not all things in the Body in the Lord, taking strength from Him and nourishing in turn all its parts?  What are we apart from the Body – we could not stand alone!  Does the Lord not reveal these things to us in the opening of Scripture before our eyes?  Is He not whole and one with all?

In our first reading all wept at the words come from the mouth of Ezra, and all celebrated together this day of feasting.  All stood as one when the book was raised, and all were prostrate as the name of the Lord was praised.  The Body is one, as St. Paul tells us, and none go off on their own: “If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.”

Brothers and sisters, “the ordinances of the Lord are true, and all of them just.”  Let us live as one in the WORD of the Lord, “the words of [our] mouth and the thoughts of [our] heart find[ing] favor before” our God, that the world might see the truth and the light of Christ alive in His Body.

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, your Spirit be upon us

to accomplish your will in Jesus’ Name.

 YHWH, your Law is perfect and is perfectly revealed in the presence of your Son.  He it is who fulfills in our hearing, in our sight, the glory of your Word.  Here is the Word made flesh for us to taste, and so to become as His Body.

High above us Jesus stands to shine the light of your wisdom upon all souls.  By His presence in our assembly all eyes are enlightened, for by Him your command is made clear.  And what gifts are thus given to your Church, O LORD, by the Spirit upon us now.

How shall our eyes take in the vision you share with us in Him?  How shall we hear of the joy He proclaims?  How shall we come out of our prisons and embrace the grace of His message, dear LORD, we who have dwelt so far from your will?

Refresh our souls this day, dear God, with the flesh and blood of your Son.  Let us become one with Him and declare your truth to the world.

Direct download: BC-012713-Su_3_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.62:1-5;   Ps.96:1-3,7-10;   1Cor.12:4-11;   Jn.2:1-11) 

“As a bridegroom rejoices in his bride

so shall your God rejoice in you.”

“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and His disciples were also invited to the wedding.”  And it is here Jesus “revealed His glory”; here the beginning of His signs would take place in His changing water into wine.

But why?  Why here at a wedding?  And why this transformation as His first miracle?  He would have begun His ministry some twenty years prior, in the temple at Jerusalem at the age of twelve.  Would this not have been a more appropriate place, and a more marvelous age?  But His Blessed Mother drew Him from there then, and He was obedient to the wisdom she offered by gift from her Spouse, the Spirit.  She would teach Him of our human condition, and lead Him to bear His own patiently, that our high priest might be able to sympathize with our nature.  Indeed, to all He seemed an ordinary man.

And now it is she who leads Him to accept His station as the Son of Man.  Here at that most blessed, most cherished of human events – one which St. Paul tells us mirrors Christ’s own union with the Church, one spoken of repeatedly by the prophets of old (as does Isaiah today) to demonstrate the Lord’s great love for His people, and one which at the end of time (a time so marvelously depicted by John in his Book of Revelation) will be fulfilled in our midst in the descent of the New Jerusalem, the Bride, the Holy Church, from Heaven to earth… here at this feast so human and yet so divine, He simply changes water into wine.  As Eve the wife of Adam once offered her husband the apple he would consume to produce our fall, so here the “Woman,” Mary, the Mother of the Lord and Spouse of the Spirit, offers Jesus His ministry, which will lead to the death that redeems us all.

And the water becoming wine indicates the transformation we all undergo, baptized in the Spirit of the Lord, wed unto heaven.  And this transformation produces in the Church the “spiritual gifts,” the outpouring of knowledge and prophecy and healing St. Paul speaks of today: our marriage to God cannot help but produce blessed fruit in us, even as God’s espousal of Mary has produced the only Son.

And, of course, each day we drink the spiritual wine, the wine become blood, poured forth upon our table, upon the altar of the Church.  And this primarily feeds our spirits, sustains us human beings with food from heaven, not of earth.  One with the Lord do we become by the consumption of this sacred fruit; in this Sacrament our Bridegroom rejoices in us His Bride and calls us to rejoice in Him, to “sing to the Lord a new song” of the purest love as we “worship [Him] in holy attire,” in the finest, the purest of wedding garments – in His flesh and blood.  Sing alleluia to our God!

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

Music: "Miracle" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, no longer forsaken,

we rejoice and sing praise

at the revelation of your Son.

YHWH, we should sing as at weddings for your Son has revealed your glory to us here on this earth.  You rejoice in us as a bridegroom in his bride, and should we not rejoice all the more at this great grace you bestow upon us?  You make us as your own and place your Spirit within us.  O make your Spouse fruitful in your sight!

In holy attire let us worship you, O LORD, clothed by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  Pure and spotless let us be that we shall be desolate no more but know the blessing of your presence among us and partake of your surpassing wine.  The hour has come to join ourselves to you by uniting ourselves to the flesh of your Son, and to proclaim such a wonder to all peoples.

Give us wisdom, O LORD, the wisdom to know that we are your own and to do your will in all things.  Let us forever praise your NAME by the power of the Spirit upon us.

Direct download: BC-012012-Su_2_OT_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EST

(Is.40:1-5,9-11;   Ps.104:1-4,24-25,27-30;   Ti.2:11-14,3:4-7;   Lk.3:15-16,21-22) 

“Heaven was opened

and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him

in bodily form like a dove.” 

“Beloved: The grace of God has appeared.”  Here we see its clear evidence in the Baptism of our Lord.   Here He who “baptize[s] [us] with the Holy Spirit and fire” has the Spirit descend upon Himself.  In our stead He places Himself (as He shall on the cross), and by the Spirit’s presence upon Him, we ourselves are made clean.  This Jesus, this Son of God, shall “save us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,” the Spirit which is united with His own, which is His own.

And so does He who “rules with a strong arm” enter our midst.  And what does He say?  “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her service is at an end, her guilt is expiated.”  He who is “clothed with majesty and glory,” who has “constructed [His] palace on the waters” and made “the clouds [His] chariot”; He who “travel[s] on the wings of the wind” and “make[s] the winds [His] messengers, and flaming fire [His] ministers”… He comes begging the prophet: “Give comfort to my people.”  O brothers and sisters, “the kindness and generous love of our God [has] appeared” and our souls have been “justified by His grace.”  And now we are “heirs in hope of eternal life,” life that is in His gentle hands alone.

O Lord, “when you send forth your Spirit, [we] are created and you renew the face of the earth.”  And so this day you send your Spirit forth; upon your Son your Spirit rests, and remains.  His prayer – which is no other than our own – you answer, and witness to us that He is the Chosen One.  Upon us, too, let your Spirit rest.  As “in [your] arms” you gather “the lambs,” so let us be gathered with your Holy Lamb and know the Spirit’s power upon us, that to us, too, heaven will be opened, and we may enter there in the wake of our Lord.  Let the waters of heaven pour upon us.  Alleluia!

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

Music is "Audio Track 8" by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, be pleased with us as you are with your Son

that we might be blessed with the Spirit as He.

YHWH, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth.  The Spirit has descended upon your Son and through Him has come to all who are cleansed in His blood.  By His grace we are made whole; because of your love, all our crooked ways are made straight, every valley filled in and every mountain made low, and we are called into your kingdom with your beloved One.  O let be fulfilled in us the Good News you bring this holy day!

Our salvation is at hand, for Jesus has come to John at the Jordan and made clean the waters in which we find rebirth.  Now with the Holy Spirit and fire we are baptized.  And coming up from the waters we hear your voice, O Father in Heaven, calling us to your side, calling us to share your glory with your only Son.

O let us give thanks to you, dear God, for paving our way to eternal life!  Though you are clothed in majesty, to us poor creatures you come to pour your Spirit upon us through Christ our Savior.  Alleluia!

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

(1Sm.1:1:20-22,24-28;   Ps.84:2-3,5-6,9-10;   1Jn.3:1-2,21-24;   Lk.2:41-52) 

“Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” 

If Hannah says of Samuel, “As long as he lives, he shall be dedicated to the Lord” even as she leaves her son with Eli in the temple, should not Jesus be equally dedicated to God, being His true Son?  If as John rightfully says of all those who live in God’s love and follow His commandments, “We are God’s children now,” how much greater a child of God is He who serves to make us children?  And so, where should He be but the temple of the Lord?

But Jesus’ parents do not look for Him there, indeed are “astonished” to find Him there – and thus perplexed at His answer to them – because they have no word that He will be like Samuel, that they are to leave Him in “the midst of the teachers.”  Surely Mary knows of her own kinship with Hannah, for this is indicated clearly in her Magnificat, which mirrors so closely Hannah’s own canticle of praise upon conceiving her son.  But that Jesus should be separated from them at this time, that He should in essence begin His ministry, begin plying the leaders of the people with revelatory questions so that “all who heard Him were astounded at His understanding and His answers,” now, at twelve years of age, is not known to them.  Thirty is the customary age for the start of one’s ministry, is it not?  And their Son has not even reached His bar mitzvah yet!

It must be noted that Jesus gives place to the customs of the race.  We are told “He went down with [Joseph and Mary] and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them.”  Though certainly the Son of God is prepared to teach even as He begins to talk, yet He does not remain in the temple at this time.  He is obedient.  And obedient particularly to Mary, who shall indeed indicate to Him the start of His ministry, at Cana.  And He shall be obedient there to her, too, even though He says then that it is not His time.

The Son must be in the Father’s house, for more than any of God’s children His “soul yearns and pines for the courts of the Lord.  [His] flesh and [His] heart cry out for the living God.”  His heart is ever “set upon the pilgrimage,” for in the temple is His home.  But the truly Beloved Child of God remains among us in our mundane lives, taking the cross of earthly existence upon Himself, enduring all for the sake of God’s children.  And through His Mother’s intercession even “Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.”  So may we all.  So may we all be so obedient, so prepared for the Father’s House.

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

Music: "Heaven" from Listening to the Lamp, ninth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

 O LORD, remain in us and let us remain in you. 

YHWH, your Spirit you give us to make us your children, to make us even your very temples.  Let us remain in your House always!

One with the Holy Family let us become, blessed as Joseph and Mary, and your Son Jesus, blessed to be called your own – blessed to be one with all your chosen ones in the heavenly kingdom.  O LORD, remain in us!

If we must leave our earthly family behind, so be it, LORD.  If we must l