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.

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

 

“You are fellow citizens with the saints

and members of the household of God.”

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may we be built into your House

with all your holy apostles. 

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

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

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

Direct download: Sts_Simon_and_Jude_2010.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Ex.22:20-26;   Ps.18:2-4,47,51;   1Thes.1:5-10;   Mt.22:34-40)

 

“If ever you wrong them, and they cry out to me,

I will surely hear their cry.”

 

In this simple statement by the Lord is revealed the essential nature of our God in His relation with His people.  It demonstrates certainly what He says of Himself, “I am compassionate,” for what is He telling us but that He has an ardent care for the poorest among us and the injustice they suffer?  But it also demonstrates the justice of God itself, for what does He mean when He says He will “hear their cry” but that He will punish the wicked for their heartless crimes?  He states clearly, if any should “wrong any widow or orphan… [His] wrath will flare up, and [He] will kill [him] with the sword.”

Now in the Church today we find an arbitrary and utterly deceptive and false separation of members into “liberal” or “conservative” camps, as if the Lord and His Church could be limited by either assignation.  The liberal hears “love God and neighbor” and ignorantly excuses himself from keeping the law; and the conservative grasps the law so tightly he squeezes the very life, the very love, out of it.  The Lord is neither liberal nor conservative, but may be said to be both – and that to the extreme in both cases.  First of all, He has come to liberate us from our sin, to free us from the sentence of death all justly deserved as much as the adulteress or the thief on the cross He forgave.  No one could be more liberal in His free giving of Himself and His love.  What compares to the shedding of His blood, and the free gifts we gain thereby?  Yet it must not be forgotten that the Lord Jesus is absolutely conservative in His teachings and in His ways; at all costs He preserves the truth.  For though He says that “the whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments” of love of God and neighbor, He does not thereby do away with the whole law.  Indeed, He strengthens it.  Does He not say not a single letter, nor even part of a letter, will pass away until all the law is fulfilled?  Does He not tell us now that even to look at a woman lustfully is adultery and to be angry with another is as murder (see Mt.5:17-30)?  And will He not come at the end of the age and judge all hearts, separating the evil from the good and casting them into eternal darkness and eternal flames?  Though He “delivers us from the coming wrath” if we love Him, failing that, we cannot but be thrown into hell.

The Lord has two hands and either taken alone is ineffective, is, in fact, wicked, for either alone falls short of love and truth.  The Lord is absolutely kind and absolutely just: these two meet and kiss in Him.  And so they must in each of us.  We must be “model[s] for all the believers.”  Let it be said that from us “the word of the Lord has sounded forth,” that “in every place [our] faith in God has gone forth – that we have carried both His love and His truth to every heart we touch.  Then we shall rightly call the Lord our “rock” and our “deliverer”; then we shall exclaim, “Praised be the Lord” and be “safe from [our] enemies.”  Then He will hear our cry and save us, and all who truly love Him, for then we will be His disciples.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, help us to love you with all our heart,

and to love others as you love them. 

YHWH, we must turn from idols to worship you alone, for you are the living and true God and deserve all the love of our heart, mind, and soul.  And we must love others as you love all, ever sharing your unending compassion with our neighbor.  For you hear the cry of the poor, and to that call we must attend or we are not loving you at all.

Whose compassion is beyond is beyond your own, LORD?  Whose love can approach your perfection?  For your love is founded on perfect justice, a justice we cannot fathom apart from your favor toward us.  Your justice cannot but punish evil, for if not, how could it protect the good?  How could the widow or orphan find your compassion if you did not destroy those who oppress them?

But even as you destroy the wicked, you do so out of love, out of mercy even toward those you destroy.  For how shall they turn from their sin and be saved if you do not chastise them for their wrongs, for the lack of compassion which separates them from you?  Your kindness be upon all this day, O LORD, that we might live in your love.

Direct download: BC-102311-Su_30_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Is.45:1,4-6;   Ps.96:1,3-5,7-10;   1Thes.1:1-5b;   Mt.22:15-21)

 

“I am the Lord and there is no other,

there is no God besides me.”

 

Oh brothers and sisters, how clear our Scripture today makes it that “great is the Lord and highly to be praised; awesome is He beyond all gods.”  Indeed there is no other God.  It is He who grasped the “right hand” of even the pagan king, Cyrus, “subduing nations before him, and making kings run in his service.”  The heart of this king and all kings and all lands are in His hands – He alone rules all nations!  Do you see this?  Do you understand that if He calls this foreigner by “name, giving [him] a title,” that there is none that is beyond His reach, that is not under His eye?  By the Lord’s power this pagan has conquered the nations of the world.  And why?  Why does He arm him who knows Him not?  “So that toward the rising and the setting of the sun people may know that there is none beside [Him].”

Our psalmist sings so well of the singular power of the Lord God: “All the gods of the nations are things of naught, but the Lord made the heavens.”  Again I ask, do you see this?  All nations recognize Him who made the heavens and the earth; even these “tremble before Him.”  And so all are called to “tell His glory among the nations, among all peoples, His wondrous deeds.”  For all must be encouraged to “give the Lord the glory due His name”; all must be offered the honor of knowing the greatness of our God.

One of these nations who have come to knowledge of the one God we hear of in our second reading.  Paul calls the Thessalonians “brothers and sisters loved by God” for their “work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  He gives thanks to God the Father that this Gentile people has come to faith in Him “with much conviction.”  What has been proclaimed so long now bears fruit.  For even the millennium before our psalmist had called the “families of nations” to “bring gifts, and enter His courts,” to “worship the Lord in holy attire.”  None has ever been barred from adoring Him who is the One God and Father of all.  But now the Gospel comes not “in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit.”  Now the word is anointed by Jesus’ blood.  So now all nations indeed come before Him, giving “the Lord glory and praise.”

And when Jesus says, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God,” He does not remove anything from under God’s domain.  For even the things of Caesar are in God’s hands (as is the coin between Jesus’ fingers today), as the Son makes clear in His words before Pilate: “You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above” (Jn.19:11).  And, “the Lord is King” and King is His Son, and “He governs the peoples with equity.”  Let all declare the glory of Him besides whom “there is no other.”

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

Music: "The World Is a Work of Art (Made by the Hand of God)" (1st half) from The Whole Whale, eighth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, all the earth belongs to you;

let us run in the way you command,

ever giving praise to the glory of your NAME. 

YHWH, there is none beside you – you are the Most High God, the only God, the living God… and greatly should we praise you.  We should worship you alone, for you alone are worthy of worship.  O let us sing to you all the day long!

All the nations are in your hands, LORD and God; all kings run in the way you lead them.  There is none above your power or beyond your reach – the world is at your command.  As Jesus holds the coin of Caesar between His fingers, so all this earth is under your power, to be disposed with as you desire.

Send your Spirit into us, dearest LORD, O mighty God, that your power might come to us and conform us to your will, that we might labor each day for you and our poor work find your favor.  Let us test you not, O LORD, but trust in your goodness toward us and be obedient to your Word.

Praise you for your glory, LORD!  Let all souls give you due praise, that we might join with you who made us, that we might share in your surpassing glory.

Direct download: BC-101611-Su_29_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Is.25:6-10;   Ps.23:1-6;   Phil.4:12-14,19-20;   Mt.22:1-14)

 

“On this mountain the Lord of hosts

will provide for all peoples

a feast of rich food and choice wines.”

 

“The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son.”  It may be equated with “juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines,” with “calves and fatted cattle ready to be eaten.”  A great banquet is the kingdom of heaven!

But, of course, though we speak here of food and eating, we know that it is not this we should thus seek on this earth, for these things are but of the earth and are only used to help us understand the heavenly fruits which are ours in the kingdom of God.  Paul makes this clear in his attitude toward food and the provisions that are of this world: “In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need,” and it truly matters not to him whether he is rich or poor in material things; all that matters is that we “can do all things in Him who strengthens” us – all that matter are the “glorious riches in Jesus Christ.”  Food and feasting are but metaphors for the things that in this world are unseen.

However, it is so that “the feast is ready” even here on this earth.  It is true that the Lord “spread[s] the table before” us even in this world, even “in the sight of [our] foes.”  He does not leave us poor humans alone without real food to strengthen us for our journey.  But this food is spiritual fare; His Body and Blood are not juicy and rich to our taste, to our bellies, but to our souls.  This food nourishes the Spirit He has planted within us, and helps it ever to grow.  Though real as our own flesh and our own blood, yet it truly is of heaven, and lends the glory of God to this bone of His bone.

“God will fully supply whatever you need,” brothers and sisters; have no fear of being in want and no anxiety to build up abundance on this earth.  He indeed is beside you always, giving your soul blessed “repose.”  Make it your aim to “dwell in the house of the Lord.”  Then “on that day” He reveals His kingdom, you will “rejoice and be glad,” saying, “Behold, our God, to whom we looked to save us!”  Then you will enter His presence forever.  Prepare your soul for the wedding feast of heaven.

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

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

*******

O LORD, prepare us well to come into your House,

to enter into eternal life with you,

our God and Savior. 

YHWH, you spread the table before us, a feast of your kingdom.  Rich food and choice wines are ours even this day in the Body and Blood of your Son.  Let us offer you due praise and thanks for all your provisions for our journey to you.

And when we come finally into your kingdom, LORD, where death has been destroyed and we stand in the light of your presence, our hearts shall leap up in absolute joy… and we shall remain with you forever.

But let our wedding garment be prepared this day.  O LORD, let us find the purity we need to stand in your presence and rejoice in your glory.  For yet our hearts are not set wholly on you – forgive our continual rejection of your grace.

You are at our side, dear LORD; you bless and guide us as we walk this dark earth.  Help us to cling to you in trust and faith, and our place beside you will be assured.  Glory to you, O LORD!

Direct download: BC-100911-Su_28_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Is.5:1-7;   Ps.80:9,12-16,19-20,Is.5:7;   Phil.4:6-9;   Mt.21:33-43)

 

“The kingdom of God will be taken away from you

and given to a people that will produce its fruit.”

 

“Let me now sing of my friend, my friend’s song concerning his vineyard.  My friend had a vineyard on a fertile hillside; he spaded it, cleared it of stones, and planted the choicest vines; within it he built a watchtower, and hewed out a wine press.  Then he looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes.”  Of course, this “vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel, and the people of Judah are His cherished plant; He looked for judgment, but see, bloodshed! for justice, but hark, the outcry!”  And so the Lord promises to “take away its hedge, give it to grazing, break through its wall, let it be trampled!  Yes, [He] will make it a ruin.”

Jesus’ parable in our gospel today echoes precisely Isaiah’s “song”: “There was a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a wine press in it, and built a tower.”  But now the prophecy is brought to fulfillment; now the rotten grapes come to maturity, and so the ruin of the vineyard will be complete.  For in their rejection of the Son the hope of Israel is lost: none further has the Father to send them; herein they utterly spurn His love.  How shall they be turned to producing good fruit if He who is the source of all goodness they destroy in their souls?  There is nothing left but to remove the vineyard from them.

“A vine from Egypt [the Lord] transplanted; [He] drove away the nations and planted it.”  But for its unfaithfulness He has “broken down its walls.”  Indeed, in a scant few years after the crucifixion of the Messiah the temple in Jerusalem will be utterly destroyed – the worship upon which the faith of the Lord’s people is founded will be no more.  And it shall not return.  But even as this temple built by hands the Lord lays waste, He yet answers our psalmist’s plea to Him: “Look down from heaven, and see; take care of this vine, and protect what your right hand has planted.”  For as He destroys, so He builds; as Christ is killed, so His Church is planted.  And it shall grow unto eternity.

The fulfillment of all prophecy, the New Jerusalem, is in our midst now.  In the Catholic faith the worship at Jerusalem comes to maturity.  And though many would see it removed – and perhaps by man’s reason one might say for its sins it should be – though many come in their presumption to build anew… there is no call from the Lord for any of this, and these man-made structures will also fall to ruin.  What God builds now He builds on a foundation which lasts forever, against which even the gates of hell shall not prevail.  Only on the day of judgment, only when the kingdom has come, will this House be needed no more – for then all that will be will be His Church.

So, “brothers and sisters, have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, make your requests known to God.”  Truly does the Lord’s “face shine upon us” in this holy Temple, and it shall not be moved.  See that you not remove yourselves from it but “keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen” in its confines.  Listen to His Word spoken to your hearts, and receive well the broken Bread of this holy sacrifice and the Blood of this heavenly vine.  And bear fruit in His name.

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

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

*******

O LORD, restore this vine

that we might bear your fruit in peace. 

YHWH, the vineyard you planted in Israel had to be broken down, the temple in Jerusalem destroyed, but the Church you have built in the blood of Christ shall endure till the end of time.  Let us make our home in its confines.

The peace of the New Jerusalem is ours, O LORD, by the grace wrought by your Son; the New Covenant let us embrace that we might flourish as your vine.  O let us bear fruit in your sight!

Break not down the walls of this House, LORD; let us not be disobedient to your call.  Though we have killed Jesus on a cross, let us now turn back to you.  For you will have mercy on your people and restore us in your love.  Give us new life and we will call upon your Name, never forgetting your presence in our midst.

O LORD, may your House be built this day even unto the heavens; in your presence let us make our home, serving you faithfully at all times.  The Body and Blood of your only Son as our food and drink, let us be grafted to your vine.

Direct download: BC-100211-Su_27_OT_A.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

 (Ez.18:25-28;   Ps.25:4-9;   Phil.2:1-11;   Mt.21:28-32)

 

“Tax collectors and prostitutes

are entering the kingdom of God before you.”

 

Why?  How can it be that such sinners gain such privilege, such grace?  Is it for their sins?  Shall we all become as they?  We should be like them, but not in sin – in repentance.  For it is because they have “turned away from all [the] sins that [they] committed” that they are saved; it is because they are “tax collectors and prostitutes” no more.  And so we are all called to turn away from the sin which each of us surely has.

David sings beautifully of this in our psalm: “The sins of my youth and my frailty remember not,” as he begs the Lord for His kindness.  For all that we have done in our ignorance and our weakness we should seek the Lord’s mercy, for He assures us throughout our readings that “He shows sinners the way” when they come humbly before Him.

When the first son in Jesus’ parable responds to his father’s request for him to work in the vineyard, “I will not,” what does this son do but sin against his father? – just as each of us sins against our heavenly Father when we turn from His will to blindly follow our own.  But what did the son show when he “afterwards changed his mind and went” but his contrition and repentance at his insubordination, thus illustrating the manner in which our consciences should lead us from our own disobedience?  And as Jesus makes clear, it was this son who “did his father’s will” and so will be blessed by him.

Our reading from Ezekiel makes this theme of turning from sin and finding blessing even clearer.  It states in certain terms of the wicked man that “if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, and does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life.”  With such assurance, why should we delay our own conversion, which must be effected day to day?

St. Paul presents the attitude we must have before others and God in order to find the Lord’s grace.  He states: “Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,” and then gives the clear example of the most humble of all, the Lord Jesus Christ, who “emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness.”  He so “humbled Himself” that He became “obedient even unto death, death on a cross.”  And so should we be proud?  Should we harden ourselves in our sin, or rather turn and empty ourselves of all that is not of Him?  The salvation repentance finds is indicated also in the fact that, because of Jesus’ humility, “God exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name which is above every other name.”  So let us not hesitate to join the tax collectors and prostitutes among us who bend the knee before Him; let our “tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,” and we shall know His reward.

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

Music: "Where's My Brother?" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, turning away from all our sins

and humbling ourselves before you,

let us but do your holy will. 

YHWH, help us to turn from our sins and do your holy will.  May we be obedient as your Son, who gave His life to save others.  Let all souls repent of their wickedness and walk in His way, that all might find salvation in His Name.

If we could but be humble before you, LORD; if we could but admit our failings, our selfishness and pride, our blindness to your call for our lives… then we would be blessed by you and become your faithful sons.  Break our hardened hearts that we might love, that we might look upon you who are love itself.

O let us be empty, LORD, of all we would possess, of all that we would grasp with our own hands.  Let us indeed be blessed to recognize our sinfulness and find your mercy and forgiveness.  You but want for us to turn to you that you might embrace us as your own.  May your compassion be known in our hearts this day.

Direct download: BC-092511-Su_26_OT_A.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.55:6-9;   Ps.145:2-3,8-9,17-18;   Phil.1:20-24,27;   Mt.20:1-16)

 

“You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.”

 

Our readings today reveal that the Lord is near, merciful, and just, and that these three qualities are one in God.  For the Lord’s justice is shown in His mercy, and His mercy in His nearness to us.  And so we should “praise [His] name forever.”

Isaiah conveys to us that the Lord’s thoughts and ways are “as high as the heavens are above the earth” with respect to our own thoughts and our own ways.  As David proclaims, “His greatness is unsearchable.”  But the prophet also encourages the faithful to “seek the Lord while He may be found, [to] call Him while He is near”; and the king declares, “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”  And is not the closeness of our great God – made most evident in the presence of Jesus among us – illustrated in the Lord’s parable?  Does not the landowner go out at all times of day to draw laborers into his vineyard?  Even to the final hour He invites us into His kingdom, coming to us always with the hope of making us fruitful workers upon His land.

And why does the Lord remain so near?  Why does He call to us so incessantly?  Is it not because He is so “generous and merciful,” because He is “good to all and compassionate toward all His works”?  Is it not that we should turn from our idleness and the wickedness of our thoughts and ways that He ventures into the marketplace to find us?  Does Jesus not come to redeem us from this world of sin?  And should we not therefore “turn to the Lord for mercy, to our God who is generous in forgiving,” whose calling us to work in His vineyard is more that He should be able to give us all we need than that we might labor for Him? 

And is His mercy not proven by His form of justice?  For does He not give all a full day’s pay, even those with Him but an hour?  Do not all who come to His kingdom know the blessings He pours forth?  This is His way, this is His justice – the way of mercy and love.  And it is by this love He remains so near us who may now proclaim with Paul: “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death,” for His love is inseparable from us who believe, who have entered into His vineyard and share in His blood.

And should we not be merciful as He?  Should His justice not become our own?  We should not be as those servants who “grumbled against the landowner” for His generosity, courting envy in our hearts, but allow the Lord to be “free to do as [He] wish[es] with [His] own money.”  Should we not wish the same joy upon all souls as we ourselves have been blessed to know?  Though we may have had to bear “the day’s burden and the heat,” should this limit our generosity to others who have come late?  We should rather with our Lord desire all to enter His vineyard, to be close to us, that all might receive the benefit of His merciful justice.  We should thank Him that His ways are not our own, for then never would He have come near to us, and empty and idle we would be standing still.

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

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

*******

O LORD, how our envy would kill us –

let us rejoice in your mercy toward all,

counting ourselves blessed to do your will. 

YHWH, truly you are generous in forgiving, gracious and merciful to all, coming even at the eleventh hour to save us from our sin and share with us all the blessings of your kingdom.  Let us set to work for you this day, this hour, rejoicing always that we might labor for you.

O LORD, we thank you that your ways are far above our ways, for where we would condemn, you would forgive, and so we would ourselves be condemned without your mercy.  It is indeed your desire to save all souls and we need but turn our desire to you to find you present to us.  Help us to leave the ways of this world behind and follow in the way of your Son, embracing the Cross as though it held all treasure for us, as if it is the greatest gift you give… as if it were the way to Heaven, which it is.

O LORD, why should we complain against your generosity, your mercy?  Should we not rather seek to be like you?  Then we would share in all the riches of your kingdom with nothing to keep us from praising your Name.

Direct download: BC-091811-Su_25_OT_A.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

 (Sir.27:30-28:9;   Ps.103:1-4,8-12;   Rom.14:7-9;   Mt.18:21-35)

 

“Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant,

as I had pity on you?”

 

How like the Lord’s own wisdom is that of Sirach; how like His teaching.  For have we not heard the Master say, “Forgive your neighbor’s injustice; then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven,” in His instruction to His disciples on how to pray?  And does He not impart this same lesson by parable today?

“Wrath and anger are hateful things, yet the sinner hugs them tight.”  Oh the woe of the unforgiving heart!  “Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord?”  How can we “refuse mercy to another” and “seek pardon for [our] own sins”?  Do we not know that anger is itself a deadly sin, mortally wounding our anxious souls?  Do we who sit in judgment think in our hearts that we are without sin, that we are perfect as He who is Most High?  If indeed “we are the Lord’s” then we will act as the Lord and look with “kindness and compassion” upon others.  Instead of condemnation we would practice divine forgiveness, for indeed mercy is the Father’s defining trait in His relationship with His children.

But no, rather than putting “wrath” and “enmity” and “hate” as far from our hearts as the Lord has “put our transgressions from us,” we cherish these abominations, setting them as trophies in our corrupted souls.  Again, what woe there is for the unforgiving soul!  For the same torture we would inflict upon others for their sins against us shall be the torture we ourselves shall face – then we will know what justice is!  Then we will know the wrath of God!  Then He who alone has power and wisdom and love to judge rightly shall inflict His punishment on all His wicked servants.

My brothers and sisters, fellow servants of the Lord in both life and in death, the Lord cannot emphasize enough to us the need for forgiveness.  We must first and always recognize and remember the sinners we have been and the grace we have received at our Lord’s hands.  And with this ever in mind and heart we must come to others with that same mercy.  It is this He desires of us, and He will accept nothing less.

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

Music: "It Takes One To Know One" from Cleansing Human Frailty, fourth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

  *******

O LORD, surpassing is your kindness toward us;

help us to transcend our vengeful hearts

and forgive as you have done.

     YHWH, have mercy on our souls by helping us to show mercy toward others; even your own mercy let us share. Then how blessed we shall be to be like you, O compassionate God! Then your mercy shall pour forth like a refreshing stream and become an overflowing torrent.

     But your kindness and compassion are far from us, LORD, so long as our sins remain near. So long as we cherish anger, we choke our souls and so cannot breathe in the light of your glory. If only we would turn and forgive, freely and without limit, then we would fully know the great blessing of your forgiveness, and find our sins put far from us.

     Why should we wish to live or die except in you? Why would we separate ourselves from your loving presence? O let us rather die to the wrath we hold! Let us set all vengeance aside. Then we shall rise to where you are, LORD, to where your Son would lead us.

Direct download: BC-091111-Su_24_OT_A.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

 (Ez.33:7-9;   Ps.95:1-2,6-9;   Rom.13:8-10;   Mt.18:15-20)

 

“O wicked one, you shall surely die.”

 

The Lord declares to the prophet Ezekiel: “You, son of man, I have appointed watchman for the house of Israel.”  He is to “speak out to dissuade the wicked from his way,” that the sinner might not “die for his guilt” and that the prophet himself might not be “responsible for his death” by his silence.

As the Lord calls Ezekiel, so He requires all the Church to “warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way.”  We must be diligent with all those in our care, all those we find in need, not in order to deliver condemnation upon souls but to invite all to “bow down in worship” and “kneel before the Lord who made us.”  How can someone know this great glory if there is sin upon his soul?  And how will he know to turn from his sin if those the Lord gives words to speak hold their tongues as the sheep goes astray?  And what shall become of this soul who has not offered the word of loving wisdom, but rather determined in himself that there is no hope for the sinner he sees?

Brothers and sisters, when we are called to declare: “‘You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,’ and whatever other commandment there may be,” it is out of love for the soul we see straying that we speak.  For love is “the fulfillment of the law”; it sums up all its precepts, and so all its precepts are expressed in love.  Do not think the law is opposed to love – love and justice are one in God; and the Lord does not call us to ignorance or acceptance of sin, but to truth and salvation.

“Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault’”; do not pretend the fault does not exist, but confront him, for his sake and your own.  For “if he listens to you, you have won over your brother” – you will have brought him back to the fold.  However, “if he doesn’t listen,” the Lord calls us further: “Take one or two others along with you.”  Bring objective witness to sway your loved one from evil.  And “if he refuses to listen to them, tell the Church.”  Ah, the Church!  The keeper of the Spirit of Truth and the flame of wisdom which no man can deny.  What teaching the Lord has left with Her!  And what power: “Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”  For here are those “gathered together in [Jesus’] name,” and He indeed is “in the midst of them.”  And if the soul “refuses to listen even to the Church,” what hope has it of finding salvation?  But at least you have done all you can.

All must be done in justice and in love to save the soul straying in this land.  This is why the Lord has left us the Church; this is why He has left His Spirit – and we are called to speak His Truth, that salvation might come to all.

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, help us to love one another,

to bring one another to repentance

that all might sing your praise.

YHWH, help us to love others as we should, to speak the truth to them; let our concern be the salvation of souls, as it is for your Son.

LORD, you institute the Church to be your representative on earth, and you call each member to reflect your love and your glory; your justice must be the desire of every soul.  And we must show that desire in our relations with others, in our concern for their welfare.  Who could stand by and let his brother perish if he truly loves him?  And will not sin cause the death of any who will not repent?  And so, what should we do but speak out in your Name?

Let our tongues not be silent as we see others fall.  Especially your pastors we pray for this day, that they not be afraid to chastise their flock, to warn them against wayward paths.  And let their words be heeded, LORD – save souls from dying in their sin, that all might praise your holy NAME.

Direct download: BC-090411-Su_23_OT.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Jer.20:7-9;   Ps.63:2-6,8-9;   Rom.12:1-2;   Mt.16:21-27)

 

“Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice,

holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship.”

 

Paul says the same as Jesus when the Lord calls us to “take up [our] cross,” to lose our lives for His sake.  And as Paul instructs the Romans: “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind,” so Jesus teaches Peter, and all His apostles and disciples, when He insists he think as God and not as man.

Why?  Why is the Lord so harsh with this Rock of the Church (and, as I say, with us all)?  The answer is spoken clearly in our reading from Jeremiah.  In it the prophet declares in near desperation: “The Word of the Lord has brought me derision and reproach all the day.”  He goes so far as to say the Lord has “duped” him, making evident that he had not expected to become “an object of laughter” upon taking on the mantle of prophecy.  “Everyone mocks me,” he cries; and yet he “must cry out” still the way of the Lord.  Yet he must call the people from their sins and warn them of the “violence and outrage” that is near them.  He cannot remain silent, though he would greatly wish to, because the Word of the Lord is “like fire burning in [his] heart, imprisoned in [his] bones,” and he can do nothing but shout it from the rooftops, though it bring him scorn.

And what has this to do with Peter?  Peter has just declared that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, and it is his voice above all that will cry out this truth to the ends of the earth; thus he and his fellow apostles must know clearly that to which they are called.  As the Lord “must go to Jerusalem and suffer greatly… and be killed,” so must they walk the same path of persecution.  This they must see.  The contradiction of the cross they must realize, even as they preach it in this hostile world.  For to it they must give themselves completely.

How?  How can it be that the Christian take up such foolishness in the eyes of the world?  How can it be that we die so freely, that we suffer such mockery, such persecution at the hands of sinners?  Is it not that our “flesh pines and [our] soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless, and without water” for the living God?  And is it not because we know that “as with the riches of a banquet shall [our] soul be satisfied”?  The key is in this gospel quote: “The Son of Man will come with His angels in His Father’s glory.”  The key is believing on the third day He was raised.  If we have this faith it becomes easy to deny the pleasures of the flesh, for even in this we find the eternal life of the Spirit.  Because our “soul clings fast” to God and to the hope that is only in Him, we are able to cling fast to His cross and so “discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.”  And so we die with Him to live.

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 always to take the lowest place,

that you might call us up to you.

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

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

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

Direct download: BC-082811-Su_22_OT_A.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

 (Is.22:19-23;   Ps.138:1-3,6,8;   Rom.11:33-36;   Mt.16:13-20)

 

“I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.

Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven;

and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

 

Thus the Lord grants principal authority in His Church to His rock, Peter.  Thus He prophesies what He has promised: the power and teaching given those who sit on Moses’ seat shall pass to this new leader He appoints to guide the flock of the New Jerusalem.  And is this designation, or redesignation, of power not remarkably foreshadowed in our first reading: “I will place the key of the House of David on Eliakim’s shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut; when he shuts, no one shall open”?  For the Lord has said to “Shebna, master of the palace: ‘I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station… and give over to [Eliakim] your authority.’”  The same declaration Jesus has made to the chief priests and leaders of the people, and here He indicates its fulfillment.

“He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah.”  Is this not the case with our Papa, our Pope, whom the Lord has assigned in His “inscrutable” judgment to feed His sheep?  “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” whose mind no man has known.  For see the authority He gives to man, He who has all power to give.  Even unto heaven does the reign of the apostles now extend, with Peter in the fore.  And “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it,” for it is granted by “the Christ, the Son of the living God” through the revelation of His “heavenly Father.”  “I will fix Him like a peg in a sure spot,” the Lord states of Eliakim; and now no surer peg is there than Peter, through whose care all “worship at [the Lord’s] holy temple.”

“Your kindness, O Lord endures forever.”  Your love for your sons on earth reaches unto heaven.  And so you grant us blessings beyond our imagining; you strengthen us beyond our weak frame.  And as to the apostles you deliver authority, so one in your grace all become.  How shall we repay you for your kindness toward us?  How shall we care for the gift you give?  How shall we maintain your presence among us, except that in your love you remain?  Bless this House and all its leaders; may “in the presence of the angels [we] sing your praise.”

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.  (Background chanting by members of Neocatechumenal movement awaiting arrival of Pope Benedict XVI at the United Nations.)

*******

O LORD, teach us always to do what is right

that we might be as your sons

and enter into your House.

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

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

Direct download: BC-082111-Su_21_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Is.56:1,6-7;   Ps.67:2-3,5-6,8;   Rom.11:13-15,29-32;   Mt.15:21-28)

 

“God delivered all to disobedience,

that He might have mercy upon all.”

 

(In love let me speak, O Lord.) 

Brothers and sisters, the Lord has said, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”  Yet our scholars and leaders make it a den of unbelief.  Like the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day, they are deaf and blind to the light of God.  We must not follow in their steps, but speak the truth of the presence of Christ that all might enter the portals of the Lord.

I ask you: How shall the Lord’s “way be known upon earth; among all nations, [His] salvation,” if His Truth is blunted, if His Word is watered down into an alphabet soup?  The commentary of the missal I read states of our gospel: “Matthew took this story from Mark…  He molded it to bring out a message for the Church of his day.”  And so again, and continuously, those who presume to speak for the Church know nothing of God’s Word.  In their excessive analyzing, in their presumption and fabrication, they themselves attempt to mold the divine Scriptures to fit the vision of their blinded eyes, unable to see the Lord who stands before them.  It is remarkable how ignorant these “intelligent” beings are to the simple fact that “prophecy has never been put forth by man’s willing it,” that “men impelled by the Holy Spirit have spoken under God’s influence” (2Pt.1:21).  And so they seek to make the Bible as any other sacred text, and the Church no different than the next.

Why?  So that there will be “an open-minded respect for all who seriously follow their religious convictions, provided of course that they fulfill their obligation to find the truth.”  But what they do not see is that the very condemnation of people they seek so anxiously to avoid, they are themselves effecting, in an eternal fashion.  For they do not open the loving arms of the Catholic Church and speak of the acceptance of all into its grace and favors.  They themselves do not “fulfill their obligation” to the truth for they know not what truth is: that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life is not heard by those who thirst for it most of all.

And they do not see the absolute beauty of the woman’s cry, “Please, Lord, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the table of their masters.” (Or Jesus’ wonderful exclamation, “O woman, great is your faith!”)  They do not see the way is not easy for any to come to salvation – be it the Gentile to whom the gates had seemed to be shuttered (though even throughout the Old Testament the Lord makes it very clear that “foreigners who join themselves to the Lord… them [He] will bring to [His] holy mountain”) or the Jew who must repent of the hardness of his heart.  They do not witness that all must come crawling on their knees to Jesus, and so how can they preach it?  Their eyes are not open to see that the daughter who is healed is more than just the woman’s blood offspring, but all the Gentile race; and they do not call all these to the light of His face.  May the Lord have mercy on their disobedience.  “May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.”

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

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

*******

O LORD, lift us up from the pit

and baptize us with your fire.

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

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

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

Direct download: BC-081411-Su_20_OT_A.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

(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

 (1Kgs.19:9a,11-13a;   Ps.85:8-14;   Rm.9:1-5;   Mt.14:22-33)

 

“When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak

and went and stood at the entrance to the cave.”

 

For the Lord was in the “tiny whispering sound.”

God speaks in silence.  His Word sinks deeply into our souls, piercing the spirit within us, and so what can we be but afraid?  His still, small voice brings us into His awesome presence.

Brothers and sisters, it is the same NAME of God revealed to Moses the lawgiver that is spoken to Elijah the prophet here on the same “mountain of God, Horeb.”  This WORD, this NAME (YHWH), invokes fear, for it silences the tongue, stilling all distraction we might make, and so allows the purity of God to pass into us.  What but fear, what but holy wonder, can penetrate our very bones when we become thus surrounded by His presence, when He penetrates the core of our being?  “The Lord will be passing by” is the promise made to Elijah; and in the silent WORD the Lord’s promise is kept.

And is it not this same WORD in which Jesus rested when “He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray”?  Is it not this same WORD the Lord brought to Peter and the apostles when He “came toward them walking on the sea” as their boat “was being tossed about by the waves”?  As He stepped into the boat with His blessed Rock, is it not so that “the wind died down”?  My brothers and sisters, Jesus is this WORD spoken to Elijah, this NAME given Moses, made flesh in our midst.  And in His presence “the strong and heavy wind,” “the earthquake,” and “the fire” become as nothing, as all distractions cease and we find ourselves at the feet of “the Son of God.”

Upon coming from this mountain Moses led his people out of Egypt.  Upon coming from this mountain Elijah will anoint a king and a prophet to succeed him.  Upon coming from the silence of the mountain Jesus – as He did before in calling His twelve apostles – comes to confirm the call upon Peter and his brothers even as He sees that His mission must increase with the death of John the Baptist.  From the silent WORD all is spoken.  It is His NAME for which we must listen, that we might “speak the truth in Christ.”

“Near indeed is His salvation to those who fear Him, glory dwelling in our land.”  And so, let us “hear what God proclaims; the Lord – for He proclaims peace,” and in His peace alone will we discover our true and lasting home.  (Fear not the troubling of your soul; He breathes a light calm upon the waters.)

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, our hope is in you;

may we patiently await the coming of your kingdom.

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

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

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

Direct download: BC-080711-Su_19_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am 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

 (Is.55:1-3;   Ps.145:8-9,15-18;   Rm.8:35,37-39;   Mt.14:13-21)

 

“The eyes of all look hopefully to you,

and you give them their food in due season.”

 

And the song of David, and the prophecy of Isaiah, are fulfilled in Jesus and the heavenly banquet He sets before us this day.  For the Lord “open[s] His hand and satisf[ies] the desire of every living thing”; “without paying and without cost” all come to His table to eat.

“You who have no money, come, receive grain and eat.”  The “rich fare” the Lord provides cannot be bought with money, for the earthly food “fails to satisfy.”  Only that paid for by the blood of the Son gives life; in His sacrifice we find “the everlasting covenant,” the union with God and with His love which all our souls desire.  And we know, as Paul testifies, that nothing “will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Does Jesus not give witness to the love of God today?  Does He not show that “the Lord is good to all and compassionate toward all His works”?  For though “He withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by Himself,” though He sought to be alone with His Father in prayer, when followed by the crowds He took pity and “cured their sick.”  And though He had been with them all the day and evening drew on, when the disciples urge Him to “dismiss the crowds so that they can go to the villages and buy food for themselves,” Jesus responds: “There is no need for them to go away; give them food yourselves.”  And He feeds them, without cost and without discriminating between one and the next.  All sit at His table today; and we are told that “all ate and were satisfied.”  And why not?  For the bounty of the Lord is indeed the richest fare.

Do we follow Jesus as diligently as these in the wilderness, brothers and sisters?  We know the food He provides us now every day.  And we have been shown clearly that “the Lord is near to all who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth.”  Let us partake well of this feast set before us, which gives us now a foretaste of heaven.  Freely let us come to Him, and be fed by His holy hand.  And our expectant souls shall be forever satisfied, for His hand is always open.

 

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

united to the glory of your only Son.

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

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

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

Direct download: BC-073111-Su_18_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (1Kgs.3:5,7-12;   Ps.119:57,72,76-77,97,127-130;   Rm.8:28-30;   Mt.13:44-52)

 

“The revelation of your words sheds light,

giving understanding to the simple.”

 

Wisdom.  The “pearl of great price.”  How precious the ability “to distinguish right from wrong” by the grace of God, and to choose the right way at all times.  For finding the pearl is one thing, a gift from the Lord, but wisdom is revealed in him who “goes and sells all that he has and buys it,” knowing there is no treasure greater than the heavenly light shining from the face of God.

It is heaven we must desire.  What else is of any worth, my friend?  And in His justice, in His truth, in the wisdom and understanding that come from the touch of His hand and the words from His mouth alone will we find what is the desire of all the righteous souls. 

Solomon demonstrates that he “love[s] [the Lord’s] commands more than gold,” and this pleases the God who seeks to rule His heart.  He shows that he is the son of his father David by coming humbly before the Lord, recognizing that he is “a mere youth, not knowing at all how to act.”  And such utter dependence on the Lord’s grace He cannot but bless, declaring to His servant: “I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you.”  Because the young king has made the desire to “know what is right” his request of his God, he receives this, and so much more.

All knowledge, all wisdom is given to Solomon, and shall not be taken away.  But perhaps we should note that what he is given here in such abundance, he shall not heed throughout his life – for he shall not always sell all else to follow in the light of the Lord’s decrees.  Perhaps none but Jesus Himself can do this wholeheartedly; but none should also make the riches of the earth, which contradict the heavenly treasure, his abiding desire, as the older king shall do.  All must strive to remain in His light, to be as “the scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven… who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old,” who serves as the angels that “separate the wicked from the righteous” – even on this earth distinguishing evil from good.

“Brothers and sisters, we know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.”  Paul’s words reflect the wisdom of God.  For truly His elect are known to Him from before time; truly He calls us “to be conformed to the image of His Son.”  And truly we know that by the justification of our souls under the cross of Christ we shall come to the glorious presence of the Father in heaven.  And this is all that matters.  “Do you understand all these things?”  Then place all in His hands.

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, you yourself are the pearl

of the greatest price –

let us find you and your Word at work in us this day. 

YHWH, let your kingdom come into our midst; let us seek it with all our heart.  For nothing else has worth, nothing else lasts – only in you do we find a home.

Let your wisdom fill us, LORD, like light from above.  Let us listen to your Son’s teaching that we may be conformed to His image.  You desire to give us every good gift; it is your will to bring us to glory.  May our desire be in accord with your own and all will work only for our good.

And we shall come to Heaven, where you dwell.  We shall come to the light of your face, O LORD, and gaze upon you forever.  Your angels will gather us into your House, and there we will remain always.

You invite us to ask of you our heart’s desire, and you cannot but grant what you offer freely.  May our desire please you, LORD, may it be your own, and we shall be blessed with your treasure.

Direct download: BC-072411-Su_17_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

 

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, may the sacrifice of the apostles

bring many souls into the gates of your kingdom. 

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

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

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

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

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

"Whom are you looking for?"

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

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

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

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

Written, read, and produced by James Kurt.

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

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

 (Ws.12:13,16-19;   Ps.86:5-6,9-10,15-16;   Rom.8:26-27;   Mt.13:24-43)

 

“First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning;

but gather the wheat into my barn.”

 

Such are the Lord’s instructions to the harvesters, His angels that come “at the end of the age,” when “just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire,” so will “all who cause others to sin and all evildoers” be thrown “into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.  Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

“Whoever has ears ought to hear.”  Though the Lord is a God “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in kindness and fidelity”; though He is “good and forgiving… attend[ing] to the sound of [our] pleading” and “permit[ting] repentance for our sins” – though while the grass grows He is patient and waits for the weeds which have been sown to turn to Him, yet the time of harvest shall come: the time to judge the living and the dead.  And so it is that the One who is “lenient toward all” shall reveal to all that indeed He does “show [His] might when the perfection of [His] power is disbelieved.”  The obstinate of heart shall not remain forever; sin must be burnt with fire, and so those who cling to it and its sower, the evil one.

There is time.  There is time and He who has “the cure of all” reveals indeed that “the just must be kind.”  But the end presses on; it is upon us.  And the time and lenience granted those who toil vainly for the evil one will but serve to prove their deserving of the Lord’s inevitable justice.  They will but harden themselves further, to their own perfection of sin, meriting in the end the undeniable punishment of the loving and just One.

And the same is true of the just themselves.  The time given by our gracious God, though it seem troublesome for the weeds of sin that prick our hearts, is but a means of proving, is but a refinement of the perfection of our God’s love within us.  And so we must be patient as the tree does grow, acceptant of the pains it brings.  And so we must but watch as the leaven rises, and we with it come to Christ.  Yes, “the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit.”  Take confidence in this.  Just as the Lord knows the path to perdition the wicked sow within their souls, so He knows clearly the hope we have for heaven.  And all shall reach their perfection in Him.

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 greatness have mercy on our souls

and let us grow unto your kingdom. 

YHWH, you are all good and all powerful, holding all the world in your loving hand; yet though you are kind and desire the repentance of every soul, your justice and love call for the punishment of evil.

Your angels shall go out at the end of the age and they shall do your holy will, gathering your just ones into your kingdom but burning with fire those who cause others to sin.  This is but right, LORD; this is but kindness itself – that like should go to like and so the desire of hearts be fulfilled.  Indeed, let those who set their hearts on evil come to evil, and those who set their hearts on you come to good.

You are patient, LORD; you give us time that we might grow to the perfection set for our lives.  No soul is plucked up before his time – none comes to his end without opportunity to change his life.  For you are gracious, you are kind, and your power you use for mercy’s sake.  Let us turn to you this day and find the fire of your Spirit at work in our hearts.

Direct download: BC-071711-Su_16_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Is.55:10-11;   Ps.65:10-14,Lk.8:8;   Rom.8:18-23;   Mt.13:1-23)

 

“The seed sown on rich soil

is the one who hears the word and understands it,

who indeed bears fruit.”

 

Comes the Word of God.  To our eyes, to our ears.  A seed sown within our hearts.  May it find rich soil in which to grow, that we might know “the redemption of our bodies.”

“The rain and the snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth… so shall [God’s] word be that goes forth from [His] mouth.”  For indeed it makes the earth “fertile and fruitful, giving seed to the one who sows and bread to the one who eats”: it nourishes the expectant soul and provides seed for its increased growth.  All is given life by the Word of God.

What Isaiah prophesies, David sings – “You prepared the land: drenching its furrows, breaking up its clods, softening it with showers, blessing its yield.”  And by this grace which falls from heaven, consuming the manna which is its fruit, His children know the “bounty” of the Lord; for His “paths overflow with a rich harvest.”  Hardly can we contain the blessings of “the valleys blanketed with grain.”

Jesus has come.  The Lord has “visited the land and watered it.”  The grace of God is in our midst in heavenly flesh and blood.  And we are left dumb; for the Word of God indeed silences our tongue.  What can we say as we see His fields coming to life?  How can we speak of the beauty of a land bathed in light?  Deeply into our souls His words do fall, and we awaken, we arise as His children of light, beginning now to understand the blessing at our fingertips, the redemption we do find in the Body and Blood of Christ.  And though we “groan within ourselves,” we know these are the “labor pains” of growth.  For in this cleansing rain purging our hearts we come to be “set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God.”

What a wonderful word we have from our Lord: “Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.”  What a promise He makes to those who gaze upon that which the prophets longed to possess: “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich.”  And so, what confidence we who are granted “knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven” should have in His grace-filled Spirit; and what fruit we should thus bear, even to life everlasting.

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

Music: "Listen through the Music" from Thoroughfare, seventh album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let your rain fall upon us

that we might bear fruit in your Name;

let us hear your Word and answer your call. 

YHWH, make us fertile and fruitful.  Open our hearts to receive your Word; let it sink deep within us and grow by your grace.  Your grace is as the rain which waters hearts set on your will.  May we indeed receive your abundant gifts, O LORD, and yield a rich harvest in your Name.

So blind are our eyes, dear LORD, so dull our hearts.  We are deaf to your Word as we set our sights on the things of this world.  The devil easily enters in and steals from us that which we neither have nor desire.  But you come to us in your compassion to teach us, to open our ears to your Word that we might be as the untilled meadows, the fields no human hand has touched, which produce fruit in abundance by your grace.

The first fruits of the Spirit we now have as a gift from you, LORD.  Yet we await the fullness of your blessings; yet we groan in pain as still we need to grow in you.  Set us free from all slavery to corruption that we might share in the glorious freedom of your children of light.  May our fruit be worthy of your kingdom.

Direct download: BC-071011-Su_15_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

 (Zec.9:9-10;   Ps.145:1-2,8-11,13-14;   Rom.8:9,11-13;   Mt.11:25-30)

 

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,

and I will give you rest.”

 

A remarkable confluence of Scripture today, extolling the “great kindness” of our King, who comes to us “meek, and riding on an ass, on a colt, the foal of an ass,” and inviting us to take refuge in Him and in His blessed humility.

Yes, upon a beast of burden, upon the young offspring of a beast of burden comes He who bears the burden of all our sins.  Not on horse or in chariot does He come, for horse and chariot He casts into the sea: by Him “the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and He shall proclaim peace to the nations.”  It is not the rich and powerful of this world He dies for, it is not their stead in which He stands, for the Lord has “hidden these things from the wise and the learned” of this world and “revealed them to little ones.”  This we see in the “little one” His Son has become.  This we find when we imitate His sacrifice.

David’s psalm echoes the Lord’s own words – “The Lord lifts up all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down” – and Paul says the same when he declares, “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit that dwells in you.”  For what is it to “put to death the deeds of the body,” that by the Spirit we may live, but to humble ourselves in the sight of God, to bow down before God and men and bear His light burden?  For though we be crushed by the weight of labor and persecution in Jesus’ name, yet we live eternally in “His dominion [which] shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

The Lord Jesus states clearly, “I am meek and humble of heart,” and like Him, and like His Father, we are called to be.  And for the grace of Him who is “compassionate toward all His works” we should “rejoice heartily” with our Savior, who exclaims today, “I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth”; for all His works “give [Him] thanks” and “[His] faithful ones bless [Him]” for His faithfulness.  “A just savior is He,” and “the glory of [His] kingdom” and His “might” are known in His mercy, are felt in the comforting hand He stretches forth to lift up the humblest of our kind.  “Praise [His] name forever and ever.”

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

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

*******

O LORD, blessed are you,

for your Son comes to us in humility

that we might come to you in glory.

YHWH, you speak of peace to your people, the peace that comes from your Son’s humble sacrifice.  May we give praise to you, Father, that He has revealed to humble hearts your blessed way.

O LORD, help us put to death the deeds of the body, that we shall live in the flesh no more.  Let your Spirit overtake our souls, that we might rise with your Son from this fallen earth.  We bow down before you, our LORD and our God; raise our heads to praise your NAME forever.

Your burden place upon our shoulders, dearest LORD. Your Son’s Cross is indeed light for us to bear.  For it is He who carries the Cross; it is He who bears the weight of our sin.  It is He who takes from us the burden of the flesh and fills us with the Spirit of light and truth.  O let us take His Cross upon ourselves and rest in the glory we thus find!

Make us your little ones, LORD, humble as the only Son.

Direct download: BC-070311-Su_14_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, let us be blessed to know you

with a deep faith,

and so be built into your Temple.

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

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

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

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

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

 

“On this rock I will build my Church,

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*******

O LORD, may we be loosed

from the chains of this earth

that we might walk with you in Heaven. 

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

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

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

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

(2Kgs.4:8-11,14-16a;   Ps.89:2-3,16-19;   Rom.6:3-4,8-11;   Mt.10:37-42) 

“Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” 

     The Lord encourages us today to “take up [our] cross and follow [Him],” to place Him first in our lives to find the reward He holds. And in our second reading Paul says the same, reminding us that “we were indeed buried with Christ through baptism into death,” that we have “died with Christ… to sin once and for all” – this is our cross – and that laying down our lives before the Lord we now find ourselves “living for God in Christ Jesus”; we now find ourselves “raised from the dead by the glory of the Father [that] we too might live in newness of life” with Him who is Life itself.

     And Jesus sends us forth as His disciples, saying, “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.” Thus, by our lives we call others to die with Christ that they too might live with Him in eternity, that they too might be blessed as we. Others should see in us the Lord and be prompted to give of themselves as we do, as He does – that in Him all might rejoice.

     In our first reading we find a woman who has proven the truth of Christ’s statement, “Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.” Quite literally does she give her “cup of cold water” to the great prophet Elisha, feeding him “whenever he passed by” and even making a place for him to stay in her home. She has recognized “that he is a holy man of God” and is drawn to him, desiring to have his godliness near her life. And by sharing her food and her home, she is laying down her life; by serving this “righteous man” she is serving God, and so she will know the blessing of God.

     “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son,” is the holy man’s promise to the woman; and no greater blessing could she hope for. Here is life to her. Here is that “newness of life” of which Jesus speaks so well exemplified in our sight. And we should know that the same will be our own. “In the light of [His] countenance” we shall “know the joyful shout.” “At [His] name [we] rejoice all the day.” “The praises of the Lord [we] will sing forever,” for His Son has been born in our midst; our life has come to us, has suffered and died, and now sits with the Father on high. And to Him do we come with all we are. Before Him do we lay down our lives… and all we give freely He blesses.

Written, read, and produced by James Kurt.

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

*******

O LORD, if we lose our lives for your sake,

we shall never die. 

     YHWH, let us receive your Son into our homes, and all those He sends; thus we shall be receiving you and have your Word alive in us. Thus we shall come to newness of life in your eternal kingdom.

     And how do we receive your Son, O LORD, but by laying down of our lives and taking up the Cross He bears? Only by giving what little we have to Him for your sake will we find ourselves so blessed as to rejoice forever in your presence.

     We are blessed insofar as your Son dwells with us. We are blessed insofar as we die with Him. For having died with the Christ, we believe we shall also live with Him, and what should we desire but this eternal life? O let us live for you alone, dearest LORD and God!

     This day, dear God, let us give all we own to those who come in your Name; let us put all our lives at the service of your kingdom. Leaving this world behind, we shall be exalted in Heaven.

Direct download: BC-062611-Su_13_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

 

“I will make you a light to the nations,

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Carie Fortney; used by permission.

*******

O LORD, your Word of salvation you speak

through the mouth of John,

whom you have blessed with your might and power.

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

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

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

Direct download: Birth_of_St._John_the_Baptist_2011.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 3:00am EDT

(Jer.20:10-13;   Ps.69:8-10,14,17,33-35;   Rom.5:12-15;   Mt.10:26-33) 

“For your sake I bear insult,

and shame covers my face.” 

     Jeremiah “hear[s] the whisperings of many” who seek to “denounce him”; those who “watch for any misstep” plot his destruction: “Perhaps he will be trapped, then we can prevail, and take our revenge on him.” Like David he has “become an outcast to [his] brothers, a stranger to [his] mother’s children.” And for what does he suffer such persecution but for speaking the truth of God’s word to his fellow Israelites? As David declares to the Lord, “The insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me”; both the prophet and the king endure persecution for righteousness’ sake.

     But both prophet and king declare victory in their struggle: “The Lord is with me, like a mighty champion; my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.” Through the power of God it is they who “will be put to utter shame, to lasting, unforgettable confusion.” The Lord hears their pleas for help, their prayers come before Him, “for the Lord hears the poor, and His own who are in bonds He spurns not.” And so both king and prophet end in joy, in utter hope, as David proclaims, “Let the heavens and the earth praise Him, the seas and whatever moves in them”; and Jeremiah likewise calls all to honor our unfailing God: “Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord, for He has rescued the life of the poor from the power of the wicked.”

     And, brothers and sisters, in what greater way is this salvation from the grasp of evil better known, more fully realized, than in our Lord Jesus Christ? Paul tells us, “Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and this death came to all men.” What greater persecutor have we than death itself? But now “the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many” – now all are saved by Him who has died, and has risen. Its clutches no longer hold dominion.

     So Jesus exhorts the Twelve, and all who would conquer death and all sin, to “fear no one”: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” What power has the prince of this world over our immortal souls now that Jesus has come? He can’t touch us by his persecutions; and so now we are called to “proclaim on the housetops” what we “hear whispered” by the Lord in our hearts. Now with Jeremiah and David we must fearlessly “speak in the light,” for the Lord has made us a promise, and His Word is true – “Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.” But if we deny Him, He will deny us. Therefore, let us be heedless of the shame and the pain we share with our Savior and never fear to declare His truth in love to all. Nothing is greater than the power of His Word.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let us declare your glory,

you who set us free from the bonds of sin and death –

you who are our Savior! 

     YHWH, you have raised us from the power of sin and death, from the strength of our persecutors which we could not match. In the bonds of Satan we have been, and under his threat we dwelt in fear. But your Son has come to set us free that we might walk in liberty with Him and proclaim your holy Name to all the earth. Praise you, LORD! Thank you for your goodness to us. Let us live in your light.

     O LORD, how hopeless we were, trapped in the bonds of death and sin. How could we hope when so oppressed that everywhere we looked we saw but emptiness and fear. But when we called out to you, you heard our plea… and your Son you sent into our midst to save us from all evil. Let us now with great zeal declare your glory, LORD, though it mean we must die for you. For in this death, this dying in your Name, indeed life comes to us once again.

     To you we entrust our cause, dear LORD, and you are ever faithful. Save all men from the evil one!

Direct download: BC-061911-Su_12_OT_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Dt.7:6-11;   Ps.103:1-4,8,10,17;   1Jn.4:7-16;   Mt.11:25-30)

 

“He has loved us

and has sent His Son as an offering for our sins.”

 

Who better to hear from on this blessed feast than John, the Lord’s beloved disciple, whose words indeed continually breathe the fact that “God is love” and who eternally exhorts us to “love one another.”  John cannot but speak of the love God has for His children and the love we must offer in return; and all of our Scripture today echoes his understanding and calls us to be washed in the blood of Christ.

In our gospel Jesus calls unto the hearts of all: “Come to me, all you who are weary and find life burdensome, and I will refresh you.”  He invites His little ones: “Take my yoke upon your shoulders and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.”  O so gentle and humble of heart is the Lord our God… so loving, so kind!  David sings of Him so well in his psalm of praise and thanksgiving: “Merciful is the Lord, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.”  Why does God’s king “bless the Lord” with “all [his] being” today?  Because “not according to our sins does He deal with us.”  Because of His forgiving grace – this greatest sign of His love, embodied in His only Son.  And so, as Moses says to all the people in our hearing on this holy feast, we should “love Him and keep His commandments,” for He is “the faithful God who keeps His merciful covenant down to the thousandth generation.”  Yes, this covenant of love has been fulfilled in Jesus’ blood, in Jesus’ heart from which His blood does come, and “when anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God”; then we “come to know and believe in the love God has for us.”

And to whom does the love of God come so readily?  Who finds such faith in the Lamb of God and knows that “He pardons all [our] iniquities” and “crowns [us] with kindness and compassion”?  Jesus in His prayer to the Father states, “What you have hidden from the learned and the clever you have revealed to the merest children,” and this is confirmed by Moses, who tells the Israelites, “It was not because you are the largest of all nations that the Lord set His heart on you and chose you, for you are really the smallest of all nations.”  It is not the strong and the wise of the world the Lord showers His love upon, but the humble and the lowly.  These know the love the mighty and humble, gentle Lord holds in His Sacred Heart.  Alleluia!

Brothers and sisters, “it was because the Lord loved you… that He brought you out with a strong hand from the place of slavery.”  Let your soul “find rest” in that merciful love this day, and let it share that love with all others.

 

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

Music by Roger Fortney; used by permission.

 

*******

O LORD, how you love us!

sending your only Son to die for our salvation –

let us come to Him this day and know your love.

YHWH, so loving you are that you share your very self with us in the Person of the Son of God, in Jesus the Christ.  How is it love come to us so truly?  How is it you, who are love, make yourself known to us in such a real way?  It is because you are love and desire therefore to share love with us, your poor creatures.

O LORD, you forgive all our sins, you heal all our ills… all that is evil you take from us that we might be one with you who are love.  O that we might have a heart so humble and lowly as your own! that we might truly come to know your love, that we might truly come to be your own children.  Let us share your love with one another and we shall find ourselves living in your love.

In you let us take our rest, O LORD, in your Sacred Heart.  Jesus is your very heart and His blood you would have course through our veins.  O let His Heart beat in our own, that overwhelmed with His love we might become one with you in Heaven.  Give us your Spirit of love this day to make us your own people, your own flesh and blood.

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

(Dt.8:2-3,14b-16a;   Ps.147:12-15,19-20;   1Cor.10:16-17;   Jn.6:51-58)

 

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven;

whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

 

“Not by bread alone does one live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the Lord.”  And here is the Word standing before our eyes.  Here is the Bread that gives us life.  Here is Jesus Christ, in this Blessed Sacrament, nourishing all our lives.

Yes, His “flesh is true food, and [His] blood is true drink,” for it feeds not only our bodies, but our souls as well, anointing us with His presence, joining us to His sacrifice.  And so it becomes His flesh we carry in our bodies; so it becomes His blood running in our veins.  For, as Paul asks so pointedly, “The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ?  The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ?”  And so, do we not become like our God, who comes to us so humbly in this food, who becomes one with our own flesh and blood?  Is heaven not here with us and within us as we eat of His presence?  Or does He lie about His gift?

Brothers and sisters, nothing more wonderful could the mind of man conceive than this blessed gift we receive at the hands of our own Savior.  It is a wonder beyond our understanding and yet a wonder truly present with us, as real as our own flesh and blood.  As the Lord “fed [the Israelites] in the desert with manna, a food unknown to [their] fathers,” so we feed now on this food unknown to all – this bread of the angels.  And though our doubting hearts may question, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat,” when we partake of this Sacrament of the altar, we find no question remaining; for in faith we taste His glory.

Over and over Jesus repeats His refrain: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life,” knowing how slow we are to hear, so slow of heart to believe – how easily we “forget the Lord, [our] God, who brought [us] out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.”  And falling back to the “waterless ground,” we fall away from His table and fail to realize that “with the best of wheat He fills” us.  But listen to Him.  Come to Him.  Eat.  Drink.  Do not have unbelieving hearts – but believe!  Be as children, pure and lowly, and “glorify the Lord, O Jerusalem; praise your God, O Zion,” and what is beyond your understanding will become the light of your understanding, and lead you to eternal life.  He has given His “flesh for the life of the world.”  Live in Him, brothers and sisters.  Live in Him.

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, how you provide for us!

giving us even your Son’s Body and Blood

to nourish us on our journey to you. 

YHWH, feed us with your Son’s Body and Blood, for He alone is the finest wheat and the drink that lasts unto eternity.

Apart from you we are dead in our sin, LORD, wandering aimlessly in this desert filled with snakes.  But He came indeed to save us, to share with us the life that is you.  As to an oasis we come to Him, and He does not fail to revive us at His table, at the altar of His sacrifice.

O LORD, may we ever find nourishment in Jesus; each day let us be fed by His Word and His Sacrament, which makes that Word so real… real as the blood coursing through our veins.  He indeed took flesh for our sakes, and now by His sacrifice that flesh He leaves with us in this Bread of the angels.

Let us never turn from Him, LORD, but participate always in His Body and Blood.  Make us your children, make us like Him, the Word made flesh to join us to you.

Direct download: BC-062611-Body_and_Blood_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Ex.34:4b-6,8-9;   Dn.3:52-56;   2Cor.13:11-13;   Jn.3:16-18)

 

“The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God,

slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity.”

 

“Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of our fathers, praiseworthy and exalted above all forever; and blessed is your holy and glorious name.”  Brothers and sisters, let us praise God this holy day; let us rejoice in His love.  Let us be as Moses, who upon hearing the NAME of the Lord spoken in his hearing, upon having the Lord’s presence revealed to him, “at once bowed down to the ground in worship.”  He did not fail to bless God “in the temple of [His] holy glory,” but as the Lord “look[ed] into the depths from His throne upon the cherubim” – as He who transcends all made Himself known to His servant upon the earth – cried aloud to God for His protection, for the protection that the three holy men (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) knew by the Hand of God, by His blessed angel, when saved from the flames in the fiery furnace.  And though “exalted above all forever,” the Lord hears and answers His children.

God is three and God is love.  The One God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – is made known in His love.  Both the unity of God and His gracious and merciful love are evident today in John’s famous quote: “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.”  They are, of course, Jesus’ words whispered to Nicodemus in his night of doubt and question, and they should fall deeply into our own ears and speak clearly to our hearts of the intimacy of Father and Son and the love one holds and the other carries, a love which is in essence the working of the Spirit.  It is this love and union with these to which we are all called, and which we all find by believing “in the name of the only Son of God.”

Brothers and sisters, the presence of God is among us always; the Son has come to save our race, and has thus made all things holy.  What Moses knew on Mount Sinai with the “two stone tablets” in his hands, we should know simply by opening our eyes – for His NAME should be written on our hearts.  And so always we should be in prayer and praise of the majesty of God.  With the living creatures and the elders in heaven we should continually bow down before Him and stand to shout of His glory.  Open your hearts to Him who is all in all.

On this Trinity Sunday I will leave you with Paul’s parting words to the Corinthians: “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you.”

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

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

*******

O LORD, may we believe in the only Son

whom you have sent

that we might have eternal life in the Spirit. 

YHWH, you indeed are merciful, and so you send your only Son to us to save us from the condemnation upon our souls because of our sin against you.  From your throne in Heaven send your Spirit forth to carry the salvation wrought by your Son to the very ends of the earth, that all might be one in you and live in your eternal peace.

O Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, to us you make yourself known, coming into our midst to dwell among us.  And so we know your merciful love; and so we are drawn into your presence.  Father in Heaven, speak your NAME into our hearts that in wonder we may stand before you, that with great love we might worship you, and come even to share your divine nature through the sacrifice of your Son and the power of the Spirit upon us this day.  You alone are God, and we are your children – write your NAME upon our souls that we might dwell with you in the Temple of your holy glory.

Direct download: BC-061911-Trinity_Sunday_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Acts 2:1-11;   Ps.104:1,24,29-31,34;   1Cor.12:3b-7,12-13;   Jn.20:19-23)

 

“Suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind,

and it filled the entire house in which they were.”

 

What our first reading captures in all its dramatic moment, David’s psalm declares in clarity – “When you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth” – and our gospel defines in Jesus’ word and action with His apostles: “He breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”  The Spirit comes from heaven above, through the only Son, to redeem, renew, and strengthen all on the face of the earth.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” and they all spoke “of the mighty acts of God,” and each one of those gathered there “from every nation… heard them speaking in his own language.”  For the language in which they spoke was the language of the Spirit, the language all understand.  “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… and we are all given to drink of one Spirit,” and what does this Spirit say but, “Jesus is Lord,” the truth to which all are called, for which every heart yearns.

And though all find life in “the same Spirit,” though all declare as one that Jesus is Lord, for each of us “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts.”  As David exclaims, “How manifold are your works, O Lord!”  And is not this call to “different forms of service” revealed in the fact that “there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them”?  Each is thereby given his own “theme,” his own song to sing to please the Lord, and our prayer should therefore always be, “May the Lord be glad in His works!”  (And for those who deny that man has been given the gift of forgiving sins, do they not read the Lord’s straightforward words to His disciples at this most decisive moment: “Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained”?)

Praise God for the gifts He imparts to all His children.  Praise Him for the peace He leaves us and the mission on which He sends us.  But praise Him most especially for the breath of the Holy Spirit which animates our very beings, for “if [the Lord] take away [our] breath, [we] perish, and return to [our] dust,” but with this Spirit we share in the very power of God.

 

Fill this house, O Lord, with the power of your Spirit.

Let the Church always proclaim your praise.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let us be baptized in your Spirit,

renewed for the proclamation of your love. 

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

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

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

Direct download: BC-061211-Pentecost_Sunday_ABC.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Acts 1:12-14;   Ps.27:1,4,7-8,13;   1Pt.4:13-16;   Jn.17:1-11a)

 

“One thing I ask of the Lord; this I seek:

to dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”

 

Obedient to the instructions of the Lord, the apostles returned to Jerusalem, where they gathered together in “the upper room” and “devoted themselves with one accord to prayer,” waiting for the promised gift of the Spirit of God.  With David they long to “gaze on the loveliness of the Lord and contemplate His temple,” and so, with him they sing, “Of you my heart speaks, you my glance seeks.”

The Pentecost is soon to come; the Spirit shall soon fall upon the apostles and fulfill their longing for union with God.  But as they wait, they suffer, as do we all, for waiting means to suffer – finding patience is to share in the passion of Christ, in the absolute subjection of our wills to the Father and so the death of our own ways.  But Peter’s words come as comfort to us as we ourselves wait for the glory of God to come to us: “Beloved: Rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when His glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.”  He knows of what he speaks.  For his patient waiting, his dying to self, has been rewarded by the gift of the Spirit now with him as he speaks…  and each day his continued suffering brings renewed joy.  He is able to sing with full voice the words of David’s psalm: “The Lord is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?”  And to such fullness of the glory of God we all should come.

In our gospel Jesus calls down the glory of the Father upon Himself and so, in turn, upon all who love Him, that He may “give eternal life to all [the Father] gave Him.”  As the Son has glorified the Father on earth, now He seeks to be glorified by Him in heaven, and not for His own sake, but for the benefit of those who listen as He prays to His Father.  In our midst He prays for us that the power of the Holy Spirit might make us one with Him as He is one with the Father, that we might share in the glory of God.

“Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.”  “Out of the world” He calls us, away from its darkness He brings us, that “in the world” we may be, sharing His glory with all… so to find eternal life, so to find ourselves in the hand of God, in His Temple, gazing always upon the light of His face.  Alleluia!

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

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

*******

O LORD, if we remain devoted to prayer

and to carrying the Cross,

we shall rejoice forever in your House. 

YHWH, how we wait for your glory.  How we pray we shall be ready to receive the fullness of your gift from on high.  The Spirit promised your chosen ones be upon us this day to lead us to the glory of your Temple.

O LORD, give us light that we might see, that we might gaze on your loveliness, that we might contemplate your presence.  To eternal life let us come.  Through the persecutions of this world, through our sharing in the Cross of the Christ, let your Spirit rest upon us and we be joined to your glory.

It is Jesus’ desire that we be joined to Him, that we be with Him in your glory.  He prays for us as we pray for your Spirit to come and anoint us with that glory.  Hear our prayers, O LORD.  May Mary and all your holy apostles pray for us as well, that together our prayers might rise unto you and we rise with them to eternal life. 

Direct download: BC-060511-Su_7_E_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am 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.

*******

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 8:5-8,14-17;   Ps.66:1-7,16,20;   1Pt.3:15-18;   Jn.14:15-21)

 

“Put to death in the flesh, He was brought to life in the Spirit.”

 

It is of this way to life Jesus teaches us when He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” for what is it to keep His commandments but to carry His cross – to lay down our lives, to die to the flesh, to suffer for His sake – and what is love but the life the Spirit brings.  And both dying to self and loving God we find the Spirit at work in our lives; He is “the Spirit of truth,” yes, but also the Spirit of love, for He is the love of the Father and the Son, and it is by Him we become one in love with Father and Son, and so share in the oneness of the Holy Trinity.

Love and truth are really one and the same; neither exists without the other, for both are of God who is one in Himself.  We know the commandment of God, which calls us by the fire of truth to kill all the sin within our souls, is simply a commandment to love, for the whole law is summed up in love.  And when Peter calls us to “always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks [us] for a reason for [our] hope” (in other words, to speak the truth of the risen Christ), he cannot but immediately add, “Do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear”; for if not spoken in love, it is no truth at all – it is but vain posturing.

Truth and love may also be seen in Philip’s work in the city of Samaria.  He went and “proclaimed the Christ to them” – thus the sword of truth goes forth to pierce hearts and bleed them of sin – but the new life that is brought about by this death to the flesh is also evident, in the signs of God’s love he enacted in casting out evil spirits and in the “many paralyzed or crippled people [who] were cured.”  And oh how the fullness of truth and the perfection of love came upon these converts when Peter and John “laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.”  Alleluia!  If before “there was great joy in that city” upon being “baptized in the name of Jesus,” now what joy there is for them to know this blessing would never leave.

Jesus promises to send “another Advocate to be with [us] always”; this is the Holy Spirit who confirms in us that once dead to sin, we shall live forever in Him.  For this blessing let us “shout joyfully to God” and “sing praise to the glory of His name.”  For indeed now by His kindness and His truth, by His grace and by His might, in love and justice He has set us free from the death of sin and brought us to life in Him.  Alleluia!

 

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

 

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

*******

O LORD, reveal yourself to us this day

that we might praise you with joy.

YHWH, we sing praise to your Name for all your gifts and graces but especially for the great gift of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of love and truth, the Spirit of the Christ, ruling our lives.  For sealed by the Spirit we are forever joined to you and your Son in surpassing glory.  Alleluia!

How blessed are we, dear LORD, that your Son has been preached to us and we have welcomed Him into our hearts and so found healing from all that sin had inflicted upon us.  What joy there is in being baptized in the Name of Jesus! 

What everlasting joy we know in having the hands of your apostles laid on our heads that we might receive your Holy Spirit!  For now we are filled to overflowing with your glorious praise.  No longer orphans, we are joined to you, our Father, through Jesus your Son.  One with you, O Triune God, we become as, put to death in the flesh, we are brought to life in the Spirit.  Alleluia!

Direct download: BC-052911-Su_6_E_A.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 6:1-7;   Ps.33:1-2,4-5,18-19,22;   1Pt.2:4-9;   Jn.14:1-12)

 

“Let yourselves be built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood

to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

 

Peter tells us in his letter that we are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of His own.”  Quoting Scripture, he calls us to “‘announce the praises’ of Him who called [us] out of darkness into His wonderful light.”  The house we become, the priests we are, and the sacrifices we offer are evident throughout our readings today.

First, in our gospel Jesus tells the disciples very directly, “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places” and that He is going “to prepare a place” for them, and so for us, there.  And even now He draws us to that place He is with the Father, each to our own room, each with his own ministry.  For, second, the priesthood all share in Christ is pictured in our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles.  As the community of disciples grows in Jerusalem, so do the functions prescribed to its members.  It becomes clear that the Twelve and their successors are to “devote themselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word,” so in order to care for the particular concerns surrounding such matters as the daily distribution of food, they ordain “respectable men” to “serve at table,” thus instituting the ministry of the deacon.  And, finally, the spiritual sacrifices all offer to God are sung of by David in our psalm: “Exult, you just, in the Lord; praise from the upright is fitting.”  As this humble servant “give[s] thanks to the Lord on the harp” placed in His hands by God, so all have their place in the kingdom founded on Jesus; all have their lives to offer in praise of God by the instruments He provides.

“Whoever believes in me will do the works I do.”  Yes, the Lord’s works in great abundance are given to us to accomplish through Him who now sits with the Father.  The way to His heavenly kingdom has been made clear by the ministry and the sacrifice of Jesus, and we must follow in His footsteps, for we are now the Body of Christ here on this earth.  In Him and through Him we offer ourselves and all we do to draw all to the House which He prepares in light, to proclaim with our beings that “of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.”  Today we are encouraged to hear that “even a large group of priests were becoming obedient to the faith,” that the priests of the Old Covenant were now finding themselves true priests under the New.  And so we should realize the manner in which we are all called to service in the Temple of the Lord as members of His own Body, giving praise to the Father of us all through His only Son.

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

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

*******

O LORD, let us live in your Son and so in you

that we might do your works in this world

and praise you forever in Heaven.

YHWH, let us be built into and grow as the Body of your Son.  Make us a royal priesthood, a holy nation – your Church.  Into your House let us come and dwell, eternally praising your Name.

Jesus is in you and you are in Jesus, and those who believe in Him and so in you become one with Him, and so with you, dearest LORD and God.  O Father in Heaven, to Heaven let us come, to oneness with you.  Let us do your works on earth and so find our way to your kingdom.

Why should we be troubled when we have the promise from Jesus that He prepares a place for us?  Why should we fear when He is near in the power of the Holy Spirit?  Let us follow closely the way He leads, that indeed we might exult in your presence forever.

Direct download: BC-052211-Su_5_E_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Acts 2:14a,36-41;   Ps.23:1-6;   1Pt.2:20b-25;   Jn.10:1-10)

 

“Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”

 

Jesus says in earnest to the Pharisees, “I am the gate for the sheep…  Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.”  But they are as the thief who “comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy.”

Today, too, brothers and sisters, the thief is among us, those teachers who do “not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climb over elsewhere.”  For neither seeing nor caring to seek the wholeness of Scripture, that it is here that God speaks, they attempt to enter another way, relying on their own devices.  So it says in the commentary of the missal I read: “the author of the First Letter of Peter” and “the author of John’s gospel,” for the author here shows he knows not the Word of God.  Like the Pharisees who were so preoccupied with the words of the law that they could not see the Author of Life standing before them, so these are blind to the voice of Jesus and His apostles speaking in this Holy Book.  As they piece together the fragments of supposed facts gleaned by their fanciful imaginations, the wholeness of the Word, holiness itself, entirely escapes them.  How can they hear His silence amongst such chatter?

And so the false shepherds strip the “verdant pastures” and pollute the “restful waters” of Holy Scripture.  On wrong paths for their own sakes they lead others into the “dark valley” with no “rod” or “staff” of the Lord to give “courage.”  Only coming before the Word of God as children will they “receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” and so see the truth of prophecy – but this is entirely too shameful to their pride.  By their own minds must they live; in their reason alone they seek their refuge, caring not to “dwell in the house of the Lord” and have His “goodness and kindness follow” them.  They need this not – they are quite self-sufficient.

Brothers and sisters, my prayer is that you “save yourselves from this corrupt generation,” that you “run away” like sheep at the “voice of strangers,” saying, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  And as for these blind guides, I pray that they shall cease their vain effort to crucify the Lord again by making Him and His Word into a metaphor, a symbol – an empty construct of the human imagination – rather than the flesh and blood of God He Is.  May they be “cut to the heart” as those at Peter’s preaching, and like the rest of the faithful who “had gone astray like sheep” now return “to the shepherd and guardian of our souls.”  Entering through the gate that is Jesus, may they recognize the voice of God as He speaks through His Rock and His Beloved.

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

Music: "Lose the Pretense, How Do We?" from Remove the Mask of Lies, second album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, the innocent Lamb is Himself our Shepherd;

may we find salvation at His side. 

YHWH, let us enter into your presence through your only Son, who is the true Shepherd guiding us to you.  May we follow in His steps.  Even though it lead to the Cross, may we remain near Him, ready to give our lives as He has, as the innocent Lamb for our salvation.  Though we are cut to the heart by the truth He speaks in His Word and through His apostles, let us turn to Him in repentance and find His comfort and peace – let us thus find ourselves in your holy arms. 

O LORD, let our ears be open to hear His voice and His voice alone.  Let us not be led astray by false shepherds, false prophets who seek only their own gain and not the welfare of your sheep.  It is to sacrifice you call us, not to selfishness, and by laying down our lives, by entering the wounds in His flesh, we shall find eternal rest in your House.  Let us be washed clean in His blood and so be saved from corruption.

Direct download: BC-051511-Su_4_E_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

(Acts 2:14,22-33;   Ps.16:1-2,5,7-11;   1Pt.1:17-21;   Lk.24:13-35)

 

“God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.”

 

Peter stands up “with the Eleven” and proclaims to all the Resurrection of the Christ, that He who was crucified has been released “from the throes of death.”  David “foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was He abandoned to the netherworld nor did His flesh see corruption.”  The women who went to His empty tomb early Easter morning saw “a vision of angels who announced that He was alive”; this they declared to His apostles.  And as for the two sojourning to Emmaus, “He was made known to them in the breaking of bread,” whereupon they “returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the Eleven and those with them who were saying, ‘The Lord has been raised and has appeared to Simon!’”  All reports converge.  The earth cries out of the presence of the living God.  He is risen!

“As you see and hear,” you who “invoke as Father Him who judges impartially,” “exalted at the right hand of God, [Jesus] received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father and poured Him forth.”  This truth is evident in all the words of Scripture, in all His holy witnesses, and in this bread and wine made the Body and Blood of our Lord.  Do you not see?  Do you not hear?  Do you not know that “you were ransomed from your futile conduct… with the precious blood of Christ as of a spotless unblemished lamb”?  Is it not you “who through Him believe in God who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory”?  Is it not so that “your faith and hope are in God”?  Do you not see?  Do you not hear?  Do you not know Him even as these witnesses?  And do you witness with them?

Let us cry out with the words of our psalm, “O Lord, my allotted portion and my cup, you it is who hold fast my lot,” even as we approach His altar today.  As we receive Him, let our eyes be opened to recognize His presence.  Our hearts should burn as He speaks to us and with His witnesses “open[s] the Scriptures to us,” and in His breaking of the bread we should see Him.  And then we should go forth, inspired as Peter, inspired as the women, inspired as the two disciples and all those gathered in His name, to proclaim that He is risen, that He is with us – that we see Him and know Him.  Let all hear and understand that “He was known before the foundation of the world but revealed in the final time” for the sake of all.  Yes, “the Lord has truly been raised.”

 

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

Music: "What Do You Think?/Open, No Horizon" (second part) from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, truly has your Son been raised from the dead,

and we with Him. 

YHWH, open our eyes and ears to see and hear of your glory, of the resurrection of your divine Son.  In the Scriptures and in the breaking of the Bread, in the preaching of your apostles let us come to believe in you and in your presence here among us even this day.  How slow of heart we are to believe!  Open our hearts and minds to your Word.

The Christ shall not know death and its corruption; He shall rise from the grave.  This is declared to us by your prophets and kings, and is realized by all of faith.  And our souls, too, shall not be abandoned to the nether world, if we but believe in Him whom you have sent, if we but live in the Spirit He pours upon us.  O LORD, let us abound in joy forever in your presence.

Walk with us, O God, and speak to us along the way.  Reveal your presence in the Sacrament of the altar.  You are our portion and cup.  In hope of your glory we dwell this day.

Direct download: BC-050811-Su_3_E_A.mp3
Category:Sunday -- posted at: 12:00am EDT

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

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

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

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

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

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

Music by Annette Meyer; used by permission. 

*******

O LORD, though we suffer for His Name,

your Son is with us all the day,

and we walk in the light of His countenance.

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

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

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

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

(Acts 2:42-47;   Ps.118:1-4,13-15,22-24;   1Pt.1:3-9;   Jn.20:19-31)

 

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

 

Jesus comes to the disciples, repeatedly appearing to them after His Resurrection, to make certain there is absolutely no doubt in them: “Do not be unbelieving, but believe.”  He invites them even to put their fingers in His hands and their hands into His side.  To Thomas He speaks, yes, but them all He teaches.  For He is commissioning them to go forth in His name in word and sacrament to bring forth life to souls who are dying, to preach the salvation from sin by His resurrection from the dead.  “Peace be with you,” He says to His Twelve.  “As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”  And so He breathes on them the Holy Spirit, giving them power even to forgive men’s sins.  Now, those to whom they shall proclaim that God “in His great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” will not have had the benefit of seeing the Lord.  And so, how can one expect them to believe just by the word of another if the speaker of that word is not completely convinced of its truth?  Their witness, their commitment, must extend even to the grave – as it shall – if it is to go beyond the grave.

And the strength of the apostles’ witness and the fruit it has borne – which, in turn, becomes a faithful witness unto others – is greatly evident in our reading from Acts.  Here we are told the first disciples “devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.”  Sharing all in common, their lives were centered on daily prayer and the Eucharistic meal, the feast of thanksgiving.  And “with exultation and sincerity of heart, praising God and enjoying favor with all the people,” they lived their lives in truth, they lived their lives in faith.  What Peter ascribes to the disciples of Christ we find in these: “Although you have not seen Him you love Him; even though you do not see Him now… you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.”  How effective his and the other apostles’ witness has been.

Brothers and sisters, “His mercy endures forever.”  The apostles’ words reach down to us this day and the sacraments of their hands are still in our midst.  And so “the joyful shout of victory in the tents of the just” we too should know.  We too should sing, “My strength and my courage is the Lord, and He has been my savior.”  Though the Church has been made to suffer persecution and been dispersed to the ends of the earth, this is but to bring the Word forth, and through all suffering to make it perfect within us.  For ultimately the kingdom is not in this place; heaven we cannot completely see.  Only faith will lead us to the Lord’s risen presence.

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

Music: "What Do You Think?/Open, No Horizon" (first part) from All One, sixth album of Songs for Children of Light, by James Kurt.

*******

O LORD, let us make our home in

the nail marks of your hands and the wound in your side

that we might rise to new life. 

YHWH, how great is your mercy toward us!  How great the wonders that come upon us through your Son, our Lord.  For He reveals your ineffable presence to us, taking from us all hardness of heart come from doubt and sin that our eyes might be opened to your glory, that we might enter into your joy.

He has been rejected that we might be accepted.  His hands and feet and side have been pierced and He has died that we might rise with Him from the grave.  All our sin He would take from us, and so He leaves this power with His apostles and with the descendents of His apostles, who, though they have not seen Him yet have His Spirit breathing upon them to accomplish His merciful will in our midst, to reveal your merciful love to us, O LORD and God.

O let us fall at His feet!  Let us proclaim His divinity.  Let us join as one in prayer and in the breaking of the Bread in His Name.  O LORD, let us be your blessed disciples and so know your salvation of our souls.  Alleluia!

Direct download: Divine_Mercy_Sunday_A.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: 9:00am 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.

 

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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.

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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

(Ez.37:12-14;   Ps.130:1-8;   Rom.8:8-11;   Jn.11:1-45)

 

“I am the resurrection and the life;

whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live,

and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”

 

“You shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves and have you rise from them, O my people!” says the Lord God through the prophet Ezekial.  “The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through His Spirit dwelling in you,” says St. Paul.  And our psalm sings of the Lord’s “plenteous redemption,” that “He will redeem Israel from all their iniquities”; and so, “more than sentinels wait for the dawn, let [us] wait for the Lord,” who dispels all darkness, all death, by His Word, by His presence among us.  Let us but believe in Him, and we shall live.

The dawn comes to Bethany, to Martha and Mary, and to Lazarus.  It comes to us all in this powerful sign of the Lord’s conquering of all darkness and death, “that [we] may believe.”  Wrapped in burial cloth is Lazarus, laying in the sealed tomb four days.  The tears of a people are shed for the loved one who has died, and Jesus joins their weeping.  Deeply human is the Lord, and so, “perturbed and deeply troubled” He becomes at the sorrow we all know when death is near.  He longs ever to cry out to us not to mourn, but believe, and now we hear His voice call upon the Father’s name; and now as He “crie[s] out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’” we see that what He says is true: He is the resurrection and the life.  And so, believing in Him, no longer does the Christian fear death.

Death is of the flesh, but we are “in the spirit.”  “The body is dead because of sin,” but “the spirit is alive because of righteousness.”  And so, as we rise from the graves opened by the powerful word of the Lord, as we rise from our iniquities unto eternal life, we know His Spirit at work within us, the Spirit of Christ that is only life.  In Him let us take refuge; in Him let us believe. He is here with us to keep us from death, to release us from all darkness – to free us all from sin.  Let us remain with Him and so have eternal life.

 

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

 

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

 

*******

O LORD, let us live in your Son and so in you

that we might do your works in this world

and praise you forever in Heaven. 

YHWH, let us be built into and grow as the Body of your Son.  Make us a royal priesthood, a holy nation – your Church.  Into your House let us come and dwell, eternally praising your Name.

Jesus is in you and you are in Jesus, and those who believe in Him and so in you become one with Him, and so with you, dearest LORD and God.  O Father in Heaven, to Heaven let us come, to oneness with you.  Let us do your works on earth and so find our way to your kingdom.