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.

(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 EDT

(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.

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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 EDT

(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.

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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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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.

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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 EDT

(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.

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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 EDT

(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.

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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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(Acts 22:3-16 or Acts 9:1-22;   Ps.117:1-2,Mk.16:15;   Mk.16:15-18)

 

“Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation.”

 

One would not have expected these words to be spoken so profoundly to the heart of St. Paul.  For he, then known as Saul, had spent such time and with such vigor had persecuted the followers of Christ.  Why does the Lord shine His light all about him?  Why does He speak to him and reveal Himself to him?  Why is it this man who is picked to bring the Name of Jesus to all the nations?  Perhaps it was his very vigor in persecuting His followers Jesus admired.  Perhaps his sincerity and commitment to this cause in the name of God He knew He could use for the cause of justice and right.  Perhaps he is a sign to us all that none is beyond the redemption the Lord offers.  We know only that he who was persecuting the Church now works to build it up.  We know only the story of this great Apostle to the world.

“Recover your sight,” Ananias says to this Saul, and so Paul, once blinded by the light of the Lord, now has his eyes open to see.  So he who once went about with scales on his eyes, he whose vision was once so prevented from realizing the truth of the Jesus in his midst… he who was once so like his brother Pharisees, now sees.  And what he sees is not simply Ananias standing before him.  What he sees standing before him in this faithful disciple of Jesus, is Christ Himself.  And he realizes whom he has been persecuting, and repents.  And so he is baptized.  And so his mission, one wrought in the suffering of Christ, begins.

“Praise the Lord, all you nations; glorify Him, all you peoples!” are the words of our psalmist, but they could as easily be the exhortation of the Apostle Paul.  Having himself believed in the Good News proclaimed to all creation and accepted Baptism into its way, he himself now brings so many others to walk along the same path.  Great signs accompany him, and his words to our ears are as those of Jesus to him, for now he is such a strong part of the Body of Christ, persecuted by this world and calling it to salvation.  On this day all our hearts should turn to the Lord, that we might join Paul and profess our faith in His Name.

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, help us to believe

and so turn to your Son to be saved.

YHWH, let all men turn to you as has your great Apostle.  Reveal yourself to the eyes and ears of all souls who seek God, all who are zealous for the truth.  Why should we continue so blind?  Let all be baptized into the way of your Son and so be blessed with His power and His love.

Let us not be afraid to lay down our lives for you, O LORD. Let us not turn away from what we must suffer for your Name and that of your Son.  In this we should find our joy; proclaiming the Gospel to all Creation should be the food that sustains us.  Let us be the sign of your presence in this world.

Lay your hands upon us, LORD, that we might be healed.  Send your disciples to us to teach us of your way and your truth.  Let us enter into that way with them and declare to all that Jesus is the Messiah and in Him all souls are saved and brought to light.

Direct download: Conversion_of_Paul_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

(Is.60:1-6;   Ps.72:1-2,7-8,10-13;   Eph.3:2-3a,5-6;   Mt.2:1-12)

 

“They were overjoyed at seeing the star,

and on entering the house

they saw the child with Mary His Mother.”

 

And so our prophecy of Isaiah and our psalm of David come to pass: “Raise your eyes and look about; they all gather and come to you… the riches of the sea shall be emptied out before you, the wealth of nations shall be brought to you.”  And “the kings of Tarshish and the Isles shall offer gifts; the kings of Arabia and Seba shall bring tribute.  All kings shall pay Him homage, all nations shall serve Him.”  And so we have the revelation made known to the Apostle Paul and all His holy ones: “The Gentiles are now coheirs, members of the same body, and copartners in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

Yes, the Light of Jerusalem has come, and it draws the ends of the earth by its radiance.   Here is the star which rises in our midst; here is the true light which shines upon all men.   And all men are drawn to it – none can deny its brightness before us, its truth and its glory.  And who is this king but the One of “justice” and “profound peace”?   Who is He but the One who “shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor He shall save.”   And so all must make themselves poor before Him, laying their gifts at His blessed feet.

Today we celebrate the coming of Light to the nations, the manifestation of Jesus Christ to this world covered in darkness.  And we find our hope and our joy in Him as did the magi two thousand years ago.   For He continues to reveal Himself to our hearts.  He continues to show His peace and justice to all who look for His coming.   Let our eyes be raised to the heavens and our hearts be diligent in seeking Him, and we will be led to His crib.   There the Mother holds Him in her arms; there before such beauty we should empty our souls in adoration of His blessed presence, like these magi who “prostrated themselves and did Him homage.”   Then we shall rise fulfilled.

 

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

 

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, lead us by your light

to lay down our lives before you.

YHWH, into this world of darkness you have sent a great light and now all nations desirous of truth, desirous of light, follow that light to find you, dear Father in Heaven.  As the magi followed the star to find the Baby Jesus with Mary His Mother, so all poor souls follow your Son to find you who have created us all; for He is in you, and looking upon His innocent face we see you, our LORD and God, and the light is ours.

There is no division in your House, O LORD; all souls are called into your presence.  Your star you make obvious for all to see that none may be left by the wayside but all keep to the road that leads to life.  Help us, O LORD, to empty ourselves of all that keeps us from gazing at your light, all that makes our eyes blind to your glory.  May we with the magi prostrate ourselves before your Child, offering all we have to Him and so to you.  He is the King that shall rule us all – let us embrace His coming.

Direct download: Epiphany_of_the_Lord_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Nm.6:22-27;   Ps.67:2-3,5-6,8;   Gal.4:4-7;   Lk.2:16-21)

 

“The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God

for all they had heard and seen,

just as it had been told to them.”

 

The blessing of God, His holy Son, was upon the shepherds, and it is upon us all.  For “God sent His Son, born of a woman” that His “way be known upon earth,” “that we might receive adoption as sons.”  And what greater blessing could man know than to fulfill his call as son of the living God?

We are blessed, brothers and sisters, and we should proclaim it as the shepherds.  The blessing invoked upon the people by Aaron has been realized in the birth of the Son.  Through Him “the Lord let[s] His face shine upon [us]” – this is His grace come.  And how else but in haste should we travel to Him?  How quickly we should arrive at His side.  And how amazed all should be upon hearing the blessings we have known, at the hand of our God.

Mary is she who is truly blessed, and we honor especially today she “who kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.”  For so obedient was she to God’s will that He was “conceived in [her] womb” and made flesh in our sight.  So, let us thank her today for the blessing she has brought into our midst.  As we are now sons of the Father with the Spirit of the Son “crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’” in our hearts, so we are sons of Mary, too, for the Lord’s divinity cannot be separated from His humanity – the two meet as one in Jesus Christ.  This is our great blessing.

From “an infant lying in the manger” shall come the salvation of our race, and the Mother of this renewed race, consecrated to God in Him who is “named Jesus,” we commemorate with our hearts and our voices in praise this holy day.  May she now be the instrument by which “the Lord bless[es]” and “keep[s]” us; may she pray this day that “His face shine upon [us].”  And may all her children be one in the blessing of Christ, her Son.  Amen.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, what blessing is upon us

this Christmas day! 

YHWH, we are your sons now because Jesus has become our Brother.  Born of the Virgin, His blessing is now upon our race – He it is who shines the light of your face.  Let us glorify you for your blessing.

Now we may call you “Father!” now that the Spirit of your Son is with us.  For in Him we are adopted as your sons, LORD, and so through Him you are our Father.  Let the light of your face shine upon us all our days.

It is you who rule all nations, LORD; all the earth is in your hands.  Yet you come to us as a little child, poor and lying in a humble manger.  Let us ponder this wonder with Mary; let us keep your will and your Word ever in our hearts, that we might see unfold the revelation of your presence among us.

Too wonderful for us is the grace you bring, LORD; yet let us live as your sons, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Direct download: Mary_Mother_of_God_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(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 leave the caravan of our relatives and friends to enter your Temple, to remain with you, let us freely answer such a blessed call and dedicate ourselves to you alone.  And if we must return to the house of our mother and father, let us be obedient to them in your Name.  But wherever we are and whatever we do, let our lives be a holy offering to you. 

Our souls yearn for your courts, O LORD; our heart and our flesh cry out for you.  O let us dwell in your House!  Let our prayer come to your ears that we might be your beloved children, pleasing you in all things and growing unto your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-123012-Holy_Fam._C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(1Jn.1:5-2:2;   Ps.124:2-5,7-8;   Mt.2:13-18)

 

“The blood of His Son Jesus cleanses us from all sin.”

 

And as martyrs of the Church, these innocent children slaughtered by Herod participate in the pouring forth of the blood of Christ.

“Out of Egypt I have called my son.”  What does the prophet mean but that by the only Son all shall be redeemed of their sins – that out of sin all are called, all are drawn by the Lord?  “Broken was the snare, and we were freed” when the child was born, when He died upon the cross.

And that death is begun already in the slaughter of the holy innocents, whom indeed we commemorate as martyrs this day.  In their sacrifice the cross is already known, though the Child Jesus be but a boy.  No greater evil, no greater act of sin could be than Herod’s cruel decree to “massacre all the boys two years and under in Bethlehem and its environs.”  And in the “sobbing and loud lamentation” rising from the town where Jesus was born we hear presaged our own cry, our own beating of our breasts as we gaze upon the crucified body of God’s Holy One.

It is sin that brings the slaughter of the innocent children, and it is sin that causes Christ’s crucifixion.  And we are participants in that sin, brothers and sisters.  “If we say, ‘We have never sinned,’ we make Him a liar and His word finds no place in us.”  For He has come because of the sin which encompasses mankind, to redeem us from its sentence of death.  And the blessed apostle John makes clear that we are indeed all participants in sin, and if we deny this fact we make His sacrifice null for our lives and continue to walk in darkness.  We must all bewail our sins and the horrors they have wrought, and from their snare we shall be released – else the “raging waters” will overwhelm us.

The souls of the innocents slaughtered by the evil king have been preserved, for their “help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.”  Our souls, too, shall be redeemed “if we acknowledge our sin,” our complicity in evil.  For “He who is just can be trusted to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrong” if we are but able to see we are not innocent as He, or they.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, take from us our weeping for our sins;

make us innocent as these children. 

YHWH, what horrors our sins have wrought?  Are we not complicit in the slaughter of these little ones, as indeed we are complicit in the crucifixion of your Son?  Should we say, “We are free of the guilt of sin”?  Should we deceive ourselves about the darkness in which we find ourselves?  If we should, we would make void the sacrifice of Christ for the cleansing of our souls.  For what would then need to be cleansed, and why should He have died?

The truth is we are surrounded by sin and it would overwhelm us without the blood shed by Jesus.  It is He alone who breaks the snare that holds us, and His martyrs share in His sacrifice.  And we are called by you, O LORD, to share in this holy offering with them.

Out of Egypt you call us, LORD, far from the darkness of sin.  And if we admit our sin before you, in such light of truth we can be assured of your forgiveness.  To Jesus let us come; at the foot of His Cross let us remain, and we shall never be separated from His cleansing grace.

Direct download: Holy_Innocents_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(1Jn.1:1-4;   Ps.97:1-2,5-6,11-12;   Jn.20:2-8)

 

“He saw and believed.”

 

And “the eternal life that was present to the Father and became visible to us,” which John now proclaims, is Jesus Christ the only Son of God, risen from the dead and present to us now even as He sits with the Father.

John has seen Him.  He has believed in Him.  His “hands have touched” Him and so he “proclaim[s] the word of life” made so real in his midst.  What else could he do but declare that which burns in his heart?  What else could be the Evangelist’s desire but to share the blessing he has known as “the one Jesus loved”?  For brimming with love this apostle is, and only in writing of this joy, only proclaiming it to the world and seeing others enter into such selfsame blessing will make his joy complete.  To this he has been called by the Lord.

“Light dawns for the just,” David declares, as if in his psalm to presage the coming of Christ and John’s own words on the coming of Light to this earth.  And indeed the just shall see Him, and gladness shall be “for the upright of heart.”  For all the just shall “be glad in the Lord… and give thanks to His holy name,” for their souls drink deeply of the salvation in their midst; they know Him whom their hearts love.  They see Him, and believe.

And I note the special significance “the piece of cloth which had covered the head” of Jesus – which was “not lying with the wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself,” as John tells us in his gospel – seems to have as a catalyst to belief.  John had seen the wrappings before entering the tomb, but not this cloth, and it is when he enters he sees and believes.  It is as if the Lord left it neatly rolled up in a place by itself to indicate to them that He had not “been taken from the tomb” by robbers, as Mary Magdalene (another beloved of Christ) seems to fear.  Why would a thief take time to do such a thing?  And so, Jesus’ touch is upon the cloth.

“All peoples see His glory” now, brothers and sisters.  By the witness of John and all the apostles, eyes are opened to His presence.  Let us see Him with John; let us touch Him… and let us know His touch upon our hearts, and so continue to proclaim His glory.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, let us rejoice in the presence of your Christ

with us this day. 

YHWH, let all men see your glory in the presence of your risen Son.  Let all men come to that glory through faith in Him.  Let us hear and believe what John tells us – that He has walked among us in the flesh, that the apostles’ hands have touched Him… that our hearts might be touched by His presence, and so your own.

With our eyes let us look upon your glory, LORD, we who are so blinded by sin and slow of heart to believe.  Let us run to the tomb with your apostles that we may see your Son has been raised from the dead, that death no longer has dominion over us but with Him we have been raised.  Let us rejoice at the light that dawns in our midst.

You are king over all the earth, LORD, and all the heavens proclaim your justice and your truth.  May we join in the choir of your angels and your holy apostles in declaring your glory to the ends of the earth, that all men might be loved by you as was John.

Direct download: St_John_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Acts 6:8-10,7:54-59;   Ps.31:3-4,6-8,17,21;   Mt.10:17-22)

“They proved no match for the wisdom and spirit

with which he spoke.”

The world cannot stand up to the Word of God; even death has no power over those who trust themselves to His Spirit.

A model of faith is Stephen.  A perfect trust in the Lord made this martyr shine before the persecution of men.  He made the Lord his “rock of refuge” and so the Lord did “lead and guide” him even unto heaven, hidden in “the shelter of [His] promise from the plottings of men.”

It is this trust Jesus speaks of in our gospel when He warns His apostles beforehand of the persecution which awaits them.  He tells them that when they are dragged before rulers to “give witness… on [His] account”: “Do not worry about what you will say or how you will say it… the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.”  And it is this trust, even unto death, that Stephen exemplifies so perfectly.

David echoes Jesus’ words on the cross in our psalm: “Into your hands I commend my spirit,” and Stephen lives them in our first reading.  While being stoned to death he prays, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit” (and proceeds to forgive those who kill him).  And so this feast of our first martyr follows our celebration of the birth of our Lord, for it is in this world we are handed over to death, and it is in this world we must suffer in love.  Entirely we must trust ourselves to the care of God to find the vision of heaven – “I see an opening in the sky, and the Son of Man standing at God’s right hand” – which becomes Stephen’s own.

The words we speak, if they are blessed by God, will bring us inevitably unto heaven.  If it is the Spirit who works in us, what need we fear?  For what is more powerful than He?  Where is greater truth to be found?  And so, to whom else should we turn?  “Whoever holds out till the end will escape death,” brothers and sisters.  Though “hated by all” for our love of Jesus, if we continue ever to love even those who hate us, His Spirit will lift us unto Him and provide all we need, in words and works, to conquer the evil of this world. 

May the sweet blood of Jesus cover all His children and bless their witness to Him.

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, by your power we escape death

and find your glory. 

YHWH, let us take refuge in you, in your Son, and in the Spirit, and we shall never die but be raised to life in glory with you forevermore.  May your Spirit speak through us and we lay down our lives with your Son.

A crown awaits those who love as you love, dear LORD, who follow in the way your Son has marked out for us.  If we speak your truth, if we trust in you and do your will, you will protect us even from death – you will save us from the plotting of men, and we will stand at your right hand even as the stones rain down upon our heads.

St. Stephen, pray for us this day that we will be led by the Spirit of God and be unafraid of speaking before the rulers and kings of this world.  May our blood be joined with your own and so we, too, be one with our Savior.

Direct download: St.Stephen_Dec._26.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Is.52:7-10;   Ps.98:1-6;   Heb.1:1-6;   Jn.1:1-18)

 

“You are my Son; this day I have begotten you.”

 

The coming of the One prophesied by Isaiah and hailed by John these many days is fulfilled in our midst at this blessed moment in time.  And so in our dark world, the light that is God now shines.

“Hark!  Your sentinels raise a cry, together they shout for joy, for they see directly, before their eyes, the Lord restoring Zion.”  To “all the ends of the earth” He makes “His salvation known: in the sight of the nations He has revealed His justice.”  For the Lord God walks among us now as man; He “who is the refulgence of His glory, the very imprint of His being,” is now revealed, is now made flesh; “full of grace and truth,” He appears in our midst.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  And He through whom “all things came to be,” who brought life, “the light of the human race,” now shines – and now we come to know Him; now we hear the Word spoken to our ears… now we can say, “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.”  The Word no longer hidden, God no longer speaks “in partial and various ways,” but now “through the Son” the fullness of truth, the blessing of peace, is upon us.

“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him,” for He comes “announcing peace… announcing salvation.”  No longer need we wander in darkness, wondering, Where is our God?  He is here.  He is Jesus.  He washes all darkness from our minds, He accomplishes “purification from sins,” and He sits “at the right hand of the Majesty on high,” giving power to be like Him, “to become children of God, to those who believe in His name, “who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision but of God.”  Come, see and know the transcendent glory standing in our midst.

And so, what have we to do but rejoice?  Though “no one has ever seen God,” though He has seemed to us beyond understanding, yet “the only Son… has revealed Him.”  So let us “sing joyfully before the King, the Lord” “with the harp and melodious song.”  Let us “break into song” and “sing praise.”  For He whom “all the angels of God worship” has come for our salvation, and our Christmas should only be merry. 

God be with you, brothers and sisters.  Jesus love you.

 

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

 

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

*******

O LORD, your glory is revealed to us this day,

and so let us offer you due praise.

YHWH, your Son is born in our midst and so reveals your glory to us.  His light now shines in this dark world, and so men are saved from their sins.  O let us worship Him who is the very imprint of your Being! who is one with you.  You are with us this day in your Son, and what should we do but rejoice.

Glory to you, LORD and GOD, for now the feet of Jesus walk among us and peace is proclaimed to the ends of the earth; salvation is ours by the grace and truth He brings to this land.  Let all eyes behold the salvation He has wrought in our midst.  Let all souls break out in song in praise of His glory.

It is our joy to worship you, O LORD, and the only Son whom you have sent.  For you are our life; in you we are born – by you all Creation comes to be.  And now you are with us in the flesh of your Son; now your dwelling is among us.  To us this day please bring your peace.

Direct download: Christmas_Day_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Is.9:1-6;   Ps.96:1-3,11-13;   Ti.2:11-14;   Lk.2:1-14)

 

“Today in the city of David 

a savior has been born for you

who is Christ and Lord.”

 

Here is the “infant wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger”; here is He who saves all from sin, born into our humble humanity.

Yes, “a child is born to us, a son is given us,” and “upon His shoulder dominion rests.”  This little one wrapped in our own flesh is indeed named “Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.  His dominion is vast and forever peaceful,” for He rules all the earth with His loving justice.  And so what should we do but “announce His salvation, day after day”?  What can we who are overwhelmed with the joy of His presence in our midst do but “tell His glory among the nations; among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.”  For He has come for all nations and all people, to live in their hearts this day.

“Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice”; and let all mankind join the angels in their song of praise: “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom His favor rests.”  The Lord has come “to deliver us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for Himself a people as His own,” to bring His surpassing peace to all souls set on His goodness and His glory.  So, let us be “eager to do what is good,” that we might be as He is, that we might share in His eternal peace.

To Bethlehem the Virgin came at the time of the census.  There “the time came for her to have her child,” He who is our Bread of Life.  For He is enrolled among our number now; God has been made man – and nothing could give life to waiting souls like this miracle of new birth in our midst.  And so, let us know the humble shepherd’s awe; let us hear the word the angel brings, for he “proclaim[s] to [us] good news of great joy that will be for all people.”  Jesus our Savior is with us today.

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, your glory is revealed to us this day,

and so let us offer you due praise. 

YHWH, your Son is born in our midst and so reveals your glory to us.  His light now shines in this dark world, and so men are saved from their sins.  O let us worship Him who is the very imprint of your Being! who is one with you.  You are with us this day in your Son, and what should we do but rejoice.

Glory to you, LORD and GOD, for now the feet of Jesus walk among us and peace is proclaimed to the ends of the earth; salvation is ours by the grace and truth He brings to this land.  Let all eyes behold the salvation He has wrought in our midst.  Let all souls break out in song in praise of His glory.

It is our joy to worship you, O LORD, and the only Son whom you have sent.  For you are our life; in you we are born – by you all Creation comes to be.  And now you are with us in the flesh of your Son; now your dwelling is among us.  To us this day please bring your peace.

Direct download: Midnight_Mass_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 9:00pm EDT

(Mi.5:1-4a;   Ps.80:2-4,15-16,18-19;   Heb.10:5-10;   Lk.1:39-45) 

“Blessed is the fruit of your womb.” 

From the womb of Bethlehem-Ephrathah, from the womb of Judah, has come forth “one who is to be ruler in Israel; whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.”  Now “she who is to give birth has borne”; now has our Savior come.  Though He has existed from time’s beginning, it is now He is made flesh in the womb of this simple virgin.

“When Christ came into the world, He said; ‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me.’”  And so God comes in His own flesh to take away our sins.  Prepared in the womb of the Immaculate Virgin, in this bright cave He is knit with sinews as we… and who could proclaim loudly enough the majesty of this humble event; who could declare in fullness the blessing of this Mother and Child?  And their union is one which will save our race, as shown already in the Baptist’s leap for joy in his own mother’s womb.  The Holy Spirit is working fully in the wombs of these mothers and in their children’s flesh and blood.

And so the psalmist finds answer for his prayer to God: “Rouse your power, and come to save us.”  For here comes “He [who] shall stand firm and shepherd His flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord, His God”; here is the One whose “greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth.”  And so shall all who trust in Him be saved.

In body He comes like a Rock upon whom our feet stand firm.  In the Spirit has He been formed in His Mother’s womb.  And, yes, blessed is she “who believed that what was spoken to [her] by the Lord would be fulfilled”; and blessed are all those who have faith in the Son she bears.  For all time meets in this moment; all prophecy speaks with one voice of the birth of this Holy One.  And so, let us pray to God the Father: “Protect what your right hand has planted, the Son of Man whom you yourself made strong,” that we might praise forever the glory of your presence, in the salvation you have made known.  May the peace He is be with us always.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let the Mother of our Lord come to us, too,

that new life may stir in us as well.

YHWH, blessed is the womb of Bethlehem, of Israel, of Mary the Mother of your Son.  For in her you have prepared a body, the body of Jesus, the Word made flesh, that shall be as offering for our sins.  In Him we are saved, for in Him your majesty reigns, and so your glory is now in our midst.

O let us leap like John the Baptist at the approach of your Son and His Mother!  Bring to life what has remained dormant for such a long time.  Arouse within us the joy of new life that we might be stirred to proclaim your glory.  He has come who shall shepherd us, LORD; let us be filled with the Holy Spirit.

The sacrifices of old now pass away as all prophecy is fulfilled in the flesh of your only Son.  And so we pray, let your will be done.  Let your greatness reach to the ends of the earth and your peace reign in every heart by the power upon Jesus the Christ.  O LORD, let us be consecrated to you in His holy offering.

Direct download: BC-122312-Su_4_Adv_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Zep.3:14-18a;   Is.12:2-6;   Phil.4:4-7;   Lk.3:10-18) 

“Rejoice in the Lord always. 

I shall say it again: Rejoice!” 

“Shout for joy, O daughter Zion!  Sing joyfully, O Israel!  Be glad and exult with all your heart, O daughter Jerusalem!” Zephaniah exclaims.  “Shout with exultation, O city of Zion”! Isaiah urges.  And Paul is overwhelmed with the spirit of rejoicing.  Why such joy?  Whence such celebration?  “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior,” Zephaniah declares.  “Great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel!” Isaiah proclaims.  And Paul tells us simply: “The Lord is near.”  What could bring greater joy than such a prospect?

And so we “have no further misfortune to fear.”  And so we should be “confident and unafraid.”  And so we should “have no anxiety.”  For the Lord will “renew [us] in His love.”  Our strength and [our] salvation is the Lord,” and “the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard [our] hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Why should we not be joyful if He Himself “will rejoice over [us] with gladness,” if because of us He sings “as one sings at festivals.”  Should we not match His joy poured out for our sakes and sing the song of salvation?

And it is John the Baptist who hails most clearly the song of salvation coming into our midst.  It is he who “preached good news to the people” with all the power of God, exhorting them to holiness that they might be gathered as “wheat into His barn.”  By him “the people were filled with expectation”; by him and by his pronouncement of the coming of Him who “will baptize [them] with the Holy Spirit and fire,” the song of joy is ignited in their hearts.  He calls us all, by the Spirit that filled Isaiah, to “give thanks to the Lord, [and] acclaim His name.”  It is he who “among the nations make[s] known His deeds, [who] proclaim[s] how exalted is His name.”  And the souls of even tax collectors and soldiers turn to him in anxious anticipation.

And yes, what about us, brothers and sisters?  Is the joy of Christ brimming over in our hearts, despite any situation?  Do we hear the voice of the Baptist – and the prophets and the apostles – crying out His way of peace?  And do we follow as the voice instructs?  Indeed, the Lord is near; He is in our midst.  Let us welcome Him with the purest of joy.

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

Music: "Head Over Heels, Turn Around" from The Innocent Heart, first album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

******

O LORD, your Son is coming

and we should repent of all sin

that we might be ready to rejoice and give Him praise.

YHWH, the fire of the Spirit has come to us; John has proclaimed the light in our midst.  Jesus, your Son, is now among us, and what should we do but rejoice?

O LORD God, holy is your NAME, and holy is the One whom you send to us.  So holy is He that we are not worthy to kneel at His feet.  For He reflects your greatness, O LORD; His light is your own.  How can we stand in your overwhelming glory, except that in Him we receive your promised mercy in our soul?

What mercy you bring us this day, LORD God!  What grace is ours in the word the Baptist speaks.  For he proclaims the Christ come among us – he proclaims the salvation of your lowly ones.

We are but your servants, LORD, unworthy to wait on your only Son.  Yet you bless us with your loving mercy and invite us to perfection in Him.  And so, what can we do but rejoice?

Direct download: BC-121612-Su_3_Adv_C.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (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 EDT

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

“All flesh shall see the salvation of God.” 

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, tear down the mountains of pride

and fill in the valleys of fear

that we might come to you on straight paths.

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

“You are God my savior,

and for you I wait all the day.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, in your justice make us blameless in holiness

for the return of your Son in glory.

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

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

“My kingdom does not belong to this world.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

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

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

let us meet Him in His reign.

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

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

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

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

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

“He will send out the angels

and gather His elect from the four winds,

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, let us shine brightly in Jesus’ presence

when He comes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

her whole livelihood.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, we must give what we have to you

or we shall have nothing.

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, if we love you and our neighbor,

indeed we draw close to your kingdom.

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

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

“They departed in tears,

but I will console them and guide them.”

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

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

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

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

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

*******

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

that we might follow Him to Heaven.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus, the Son of God.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, He who is slave of all,

He who has shed His blood to save our souls –  

with Him let us be one.

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

“The word of God is living and effective,

sharper than any two-edged sword.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, do we desire life with you,

or the riches of this world?

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

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

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

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

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

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

and flesh of my flesh.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, bring life forth in our midst

through the children you bless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, that all were prophets!

that all would purify their souls in your undying light

and so enter into your kingdom.

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

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

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

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

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

I shall treat of both first readings)

 

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

ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, give us eyes to see your angels

ministering to you,

and hearts to receive their blessed help.

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

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

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

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

“Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist,

there is disorder and every foul practice.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, only you will deliver us

from the hands of our foes

and from our own transgressions.

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, help us to lose our lives

for the sake of the Gospel;

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

and bring us to everlasting life.

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

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

and follow in your way.

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

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

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

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

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

Note:  I shall treat of both first readings)

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Muisc by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, through the Blessed Virgin Mary

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

may He be always with us.

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

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

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

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

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

“Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you

and is able to save your souls.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, if we walk according to your Word,

we shall be saved.

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

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

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

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

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

“Do you also want to leave?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, to whom else shall we go,

to whom else shall we be wed…

for you alone are God?

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

“Amen, amen, I say to you,

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

you do not have life within you.”

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

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

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

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

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

*******

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

we gain understanding, we come to eternal life…

and so our mouths are filled with praise!

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

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

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

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

(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 EDT

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

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

to the mountain of God, Horeb.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, you give us the flesh of your Son

that we might live,

and you send your angels to guard us.

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

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

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

(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 EDT

(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 EDT

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

“Do not work for food that perishes

but for food that endures for eternal life,

which the Son of Man will give you.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

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

the food that endures to eternal life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

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

let us look not upon the things of this earth.

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

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

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

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

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

“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock

from all the lands to which I have driven them

and bring them back to their meadow.”

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for shepherding us to eternal glory. 

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

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

*******

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

for He shepherds our souls with care.

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

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

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

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

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

“Justice shall walk before Him,

and prepare the way of His steps.”

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, we have every spiritual blessing

in the heavens –

what more do we need than the Cross of Christ?

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

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

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

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