This reader is a collaboration between the Brothers of the Society of Saint John the Evangelist and members of the Virginia Theological Seminary community. It emerges from a week-long exploration of the signs and symbols of our common worship. It is designed as an invitation to explore Signs of Life, a five-week series to be released by SSJE and VTS.

During the week-long collaboration, the Rev. Becky Zartman introduced each topic with a short homily and a set of provocative questions that became the foundation for structured conversations with both individual Brothers and groups of Brothers. It is our hope that this reader will be a resource for your spiritual life and prepare you for participation in Signs of Life.

Why Church Matters

“When we hear the water being poured into the font, or witness the new fire at the Easter Vigil, or experience solidarity and shelter among the assembly, or taste the bread of life, we are reoriented toward God’s eternity. Time stands still, God moves, and we are changed.” Dr. Lisa Kimball calls on the Church to share the signs of life with those trapped in the signs of our times.

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Light: Homily

When we see by the light of Christ, everything that is close to us, things as simple and as vital as light and water and food and shelter and community – everything – is transformed into a vehicle of grace. These ordinary, existential, elemental pieces of life become imbued with the golden hue of love.

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On Light

From a conversation with Br. Curtis Almquist, SSJE

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Water: Homily

Baptism is learning how to float. Baptism is a sacrament of surrender, the sacramental act of letting go of fear and control, making friends with the unknown, and beginning to trust that God will sustain you, even in the midst of chaos and death.

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On Water

From a conversation with Br. Lucas Hall, SSJE On my first inquirer’s visit to the monastery, when I was not at all sure that I wanted to do this, I asked each of the Brothers, “Why are you here?” One of the Brothers responded immediately that his vocation as a monk was closely linked to…

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Food: Homily

When we remember food is life, we gain a better understanding of what it means to ask God to give us our daily bread . . . But most importantly, when we remember that food is life, we discover what it means when Jesus says, “I am the Bread of Life.” Jesus is the food that will feed us.

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On Food

From a conversation with Br. Jim Woodrum, SSJE

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Shelter: Homily

The liturgy itself shelters us, the same patterns unfolding, again and again, day by day, week by week, year by year. With the familiarity earned by time, scriptures and hymns and prayers become dear friends.

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On Shelter

From a conversation with Br. David Vryhof, SSJE

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Community: Homily

Being in loving relationship means that the truth of our very selves will be revealed. When we have chosen to love, no matter what, there is no place for us to hide from ourselves. We learn that not only do we need to love others for who they are, we need to love ourselves for who we are.

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On Community

From a conversation with Br. Jonathan Maury, SSJE

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Worship engages our deepest human needs and has the power to transform our lives. Join the Brothers of SSJE in exploring the signs and symbols at the heart of Christian worship.

This free 5-week offering encourages individuals and groups to explore the riches of our worship traditions, liturgy and sacraments, and the art and architecture of our worship spaces, revealing the full meaning of these signs, deepening our experience of Christian vocation and guiding us toward ongoing conversion.

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  1. […] Each week reflect on one of the 5 signs/symbols with the guidance of a short homily and questions for meditation found in this reader: […]