Thomas Merton Sunday this Sunday: Zen Buddhist Priest as Guest Preacher

Thomas Merton Sunday this Sunday!

I appreciate the simultaneous joy and upheaval proclaimed in the readings for the Advent season. Jesus and John the Baptist warn about cosmic and imminent catastrophe while the prophet Isaiah joyfully declares God’s coming Reign and Mary sings her song of God’s promises fulfilled.  In the Gospel appointed for the feast day of my favorite Trappist monk Thomas Merton (John 12:27-36), we hear this same concurrence of bliss and disaster. Jesus says, “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. Father, glorify your name!” In John’s Gospel, this is the closest Jesus comes to expressing the agony that the other evangelists portray, in which Jesus undergoes such dread that Luke describes him as sweating drops of blood. Here, Jesus admits that his soul is troubled, and yet he also knows that this apparent disaster will simultaneously be the glorification of God and the fulfillment of his entire ministry.  The high point of Christ’s ministry in the fourth Gospel is not his resurrection, but his crucifixion, where joy and upheaval collide.

Several years ago, I attended a meeting on the Study of Anglicanism in Chicago led by former presiding Bishop Frank Griswold and former Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey. While George Carey lamented the shattered state of the Anglican Communion, Frank Griswold held together both the joy and upheaval of the communion when he quoted Thomas Merton. Now Merton was a master at articulating his struggle to balance contemplation and action, the cloistered life and a life fully engaged with the ethical issues of his day: race relations, economic injustice, war, violence, and the threat to all of creation in the nuclear arms race. Merton, like the readings in Advent and like Jesus in John, expressed the concomitance of joy and upheaval, of love and suffering. In one of the most influential spiritual classics of the 20th century (and likely the most influential spiritual classic in my own life) New Seeds of Contemplation, Merton writes what Griswold twice quoted: “As long as we are on earth, the love that unites us will bring us suffering by our very contact with one another, because this love is the resetting of a Body of broken bones. Even saints cannot live on this earth without some anguish, without some pain at the differences that come between them.”

Not only does this quote help frame my understanding of the Anglican Communion with hope, it also helps me see the upheavals in my own life and in our own community as God restructuring our souls in order to deepen our capacity for joy and love.  As long as we are on earth, we will experience joy and upheaval because God through love is reforming and refining us and resetting our Body of broken bones.

And in a way, there is joy and upheaval during my final Sundays at Redeemer, as I give thanks for our time together and sadly starting saying goodbye as we move onto new adventures that will continue to reset the Body of broken bones that is the Church and bring glory to the God who comes to us this season in the joyful upheaval of a new baby boy.


Preacher this Sunday Dec 10: The Rev. Kogen Dito-Keith

This year, the Second Sunday of Advent falls on the Feast Day of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk who delved deeply into Buddhist practice. Church of the Redeemer will celebrate this special day by having the newly ordained Zen Buddhist priest Kogen Dito-Keith preach and share a Buddhist’s perspective on the season of Advent.


Dec 24 Fourth Sunday of Advent Service at 10 AM

Dec 24 Christmas Eve Family Service at 5 PM

3 Most Watched Redeemer Videos in 2016 -17

By posting audio recordings of sermons and other videos on youtube, Church of the Redeemer reaches out to people all over the world (in the UK, Canada, Australia, Philippines, India, South Africa and more). Over the last year, there have been more than 2,900 views of the sermon videos. Here are the top 10 most watched:

3) Sermon on the Mount: Teachings of a Jewish Mystic (Part 3)

2) Praying “Interly” with Julian of Norwich

1) Praying Silently with the Cloud of Unknowing (489 views)


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Redeemer is a sacred space for sharing individual gifts and diverse views as we seek to embody the love of God in San Rafael and the world. Inspired by intellectual curiosity and radical hospitality, we strive to provide a welcoming place where all can deepen their understanding and experience of God’s liberating love through prayer, worship and service.

Upcoming Worship

Readings for the Second Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 40:1-11

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13

2 Peter 3:8-15a

Mark 1:1-8

Lay Eucharistic Minister and Reader of First Reading: Terri Leinsteiner (Isaiah 40:1-11)


Communion Bread: Carol Ann Falk

Second Reading: Cindy Smith (2 Peter 3:8-15a)

Prayers of the People: Cindy Smith

Coffee Hour: Eileen Brennan

Altar Guild: Eileen Brennan

Service Host: Cindy Smith

Psalm Cantor: John Geist

Music Director: Justin Schrum

Preacher: The Rev. Kogen Dito-Keith

Presider: Fr. Daniel London

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