Sunday, May 21, 2017

6th Easter 2017, Renewing Life

6th Easter
John 14: 1-31  

“Let not your hearts be troubled. Trust in the power that leads you to the Fatherly Ground of the World and to me. In my Father’s house, there are many rooms. If it were not so, how could I have said to you, ‘I go there to prepare a place for you’?  And when I have gone and prepared a place for you, I will come again and take you up into the realm of my being and working, so that where I work, you also may work. And you know the way where I am going.”
Then Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I myself am the Way—the Truth— and the Life. No one finds his way to the Father but through me. If you had really known my Being, you would have recognized my Father as well. From now on you do know him and have seen Him.”

Then Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father; that would satisfy our deepest yearning.”
Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long and yet you do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Does your heart’s voice not tell you that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. But the Father, who lives eternally in me, continues to do his works in them. Build your faith on the power of my Being that lets you know: I in the Father, the Father in me. Or at least learn to trust through looking at the works themselves that have arisen.
Truly, truly I say to you, whoever trusts in my Being will also do the works that I do --and greater deeds will he do, because I go to the Father. Whatever you ask for in unity with me, I will do it, so that the deeds of the Father may be revealed in the working of the Son. When you turn to me in prayer in the power of my name, I will be the Creating One in all your works. If you truly love me, you will share in my spiritual goals. And I will ask the Father and He will send to you another Counselor, who will stand by you forever, even the Spirit of Truth. The earthly world cannot receive this Counselor, for it cannot perceive his working and does not recognize him. But you know him, for he will live with you and will work in you.
I will not leave you desolate—I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live also. On that day, you will truly know what it means that I am in the Father, and you in me, and I in you.
Whoever bears my spiritual goals within himself, and brings them to revelation in his working, is one who truly loves me. And whoever truly loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.”
Then Judas, (not the Iscariot) said, “But Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the people who are in the world?
Jesus replied, “Whoever truly loves me reveals my Spirit, and my Father will love him and we will come to him and prepare with him a dwelling in the everlasting [an eternal dwelling]. Whoever does not love me cannot reveal my Spirit. And the spirit power of the word that you hear is not from me; it is the speaking of the Father who sent me.
These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the health-bringing Spirit, the Counselor whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you everything and will bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled nor let them be afraid.
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and yet I am coming to you’. If you loved me you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I am.
I have told you now before it happens, so that when it happens you may find trust. I no longer have much to say to you, for soon the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me.
But I act in accordance with the Father’s purpose, as it was entrusted to me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Do the same. Arise, let us be on our way.

6th Easter
May 21, 2017
John 14: 1-31  

Plants germinate, sprout and grow. They blossom and set seed. They die. And from the seed new life grows.

Our souls are living beings; they grow and change. They expand and contract and transform. It is a question whether they die with the body, or rise to another kind of life after the body dies.

Christ lived, died and rose again so that we, too, could continue to live after the body dies. It is our living connection with him, our living within His eternally living Being, that enables us to live after we die. It is His life in our souls that enables us to continue to grow and change and transform here on earth. It is our conscious connection with Him that is the seed that enables us to die and yet to rise into life after death. Through His eternally renewing life, we live after we die, and into new lives. 

Sunday, May 14, 2017

5th Easter 2017, A Kind of Darkening

5th Easter
John 16, 1-33

“All these words I have spoken to you so that you will not go astray [because you discover what destiny falls to you through being connected with me]. For they will exclude you from their communities, and the hour will come when those who kill you will think they are offering service to God. They will do all this because they have not known my Father or me. All these words I have spoken to you so that when the time comes you will remember that I told you about it. In the beginning, I did not need to say such things for I was with you. But now I am going away to him who sent me; yet, none of you asks me “Where are you going?”  Now that I have said these things to you, sorrow enters your heart.

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is for your salvation and healing that I leave you, for if I did not go away, the Comforter, the giver of spirit courage, [who will stand by you in all trials, the Spirit upon whom you can call for assistance at any moment,] would not come to you. When I now go away, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will call mankind to account for the decline into sin, for the working of man’s higher being and for the great world separation; for the decline into sinfulness, because they did not fill themselves with my power; for the working of Man’s higher being, because I go to the Father and you see me no more; for the great world-separation, because the decision has already been made about the ruler of this world.

I have yet much more to say to you, but you cannot bear it now. But when the Spirit of Truth comes, he will be your guide on the way to the Truth that Embraces All. he will not speak out of himself, but what he hears he will speak, and he will proclaim to you what is to come.  he will reveal me, for what he draws out of my being he will proclaim to you. Everything that the Father has is also mine. That is why I can say, ‘He will draw upon my being and proclaim to you’.

Yet a short time you will see me no more, and again a short time and you will see me.”
Then some of his disciples said to one another, “What does he mean by saying ‘Yet a short time you will see me no more, and again a short time and you will see me’, and ‘I am going to the Father’? They kept asking, “What does he mean by ‘a short time’? We do not understand his words.”

Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him and he said, “You are wondering that I said, ‘A short time and you will see me no more, and again a short time and you will see me.’  Yes, the truth I tell you, you will weep and lament while other people will rejoice. You will be filled with sorrow, but this your grief will be turned into joy. A woman giving birth must bear pain, for her difficult hour has come. But when the child is born, she no longer considers the anguish because of her joy that a human being has been born into the world.

So it is with you. Now is your time of grief. But this your grief will become the power of Spirit-Birth, for I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and no one can take that joy from you. On that day, you will no longer need to ask me anything.

Yes, I say to you; from now on what you ask of the Father in my name, He will give to you. Until now, you have not been able to pray in my name. Pray from the heart, and it will be given to your heart so that your joy may be full.
All this I have given to your souls in imagery. But the hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in pictures but will tell you plainly about the Father, [so that you can grasp it in full, knowing consciousness]. On that day, you will ask out of my power and in my name. And no longer will I ask the Father on your behalf. For the Father himself loves you because you have loved me, and have known in your hearts that I have come forth from the Father. I have come forth from the Father and I have come into this world. I am leaving the [sense] world again and going to the Father, [of which you say that it is the world of death].”

Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking in clear thought and without imagery. Now we know that all things are revealed to you and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. By this, we believe that you came from God.”

Jesus answered, “Do you now feel my power in your heart? Behold, the time is coming and has already come, when you will be scattered, each to his own loneliness. You will then also leave me alone. Yet I am not alone, for the Father is eternally united with me.

All this I have spoken to you so that in me you may find peace. In this world, you will have great fear and hardship. But take courage. I have overcome the world.”

5th Easter
May 14, 2017
John 16, 1-33

Even if unintentional, untruths obscure. They create a kind of darkening. They
hold us back. Truths, by contrast, shed light. By illuminating, they help create for us a sense of direction. As Christ said, 'You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free'. John 8:20

The truth of our lives is much greater than we can see. The present current worldview obscures the true reality of life. In seeking to control, it makes the world too small.

Christ came to enlarge the world. He came to enliven and guide all human beings. He came to unite all humankind. He came to reunite us with the angels, with our loved ones who have died, to help us grow into the entire living cosmos. He is the Truth that enlightens us. He does so, not by teaching, but by being himself the very means, the Way to greater life. By being united in His Being of Love, humankind finds the way forward. 

Sunday, May 7, 2017

4th Easter 2017, Bear Fruit

4th Easter

John 15: 1 – 27

I AM the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful. You have already been purified by the power of the word that I have spoken to you.
Abide in me and I in you.
Just as the branch cannot bear fruit out of itself unless it is given life by the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you stay united with me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains united with me so that I can work in him, bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not remain united with me withers like a branch that is cut off. Such branches are gathered up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words live on in you, pray for that which you also will, and it shall come about for you. By this my Father is revealed, that you bear rich spiritual fruit and become ever more truly my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Ground your being in my love, just as I have taken the aims of my Father into my will and live on in his love.
These words I have spoken to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is the task I put before you: that you love one another as I have loved you.
No man can have greater love than this, than that he offer up his life for his friends. You are my friends if you follow the task I have given you. No longer can I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing. But I call you my friends because I have made known to you all that I have heard from my Father.
You did not choose me, but I have chosen you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruits should live on after you, so that what you ask the Father in my name he should give it to you. I say to you out of the fullness of my power: Love one another.
If the world hates you with hatred, remember that they hated me first. If you belonged to people in general, they would love you as belonging to them; but you do not belong to them because I have chosen you out of mankind. That is why people hate you.
Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master’. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they have held on to my word, they will hold on to yours also. Everything that they do to you they will do as though they did it to me, for they do not know Him who sent me.
If I had not come and had not spoken to them, they would be without sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who turns in hatred against me turns in hatred against my Father also. If I had not done deeds among them, deeds which no one else has ever done, they would be without guilt. But now they have seen me, and have still hated both me and my Father.
But it was to fulfill what is written in their law: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
But when the Comforter comes, the Spirit of Truth who proceeds from the Father, he will bring knowledge of me and will be my witness. And you also will be my witnesses, because you have been united with me from the very beginning.

4th Easter

May 7, 2017
John 15: 1 – 27

Once a mighty tree grew in the realm of the heavens. Its life was the life of the universe. Its roots were in the sun. Its branches were in the cosmos. Its fruits were the planets and the stars.
One of its planets, the earth, began to sicken and grow dark. And so the mighty tree concentrated its life into a single Sun-Seed, which dropped onto the earth. The seed died, was buried in the earth. There it germinated, grew toward the heavens, scattering seeds of its own into the heart of each human being on the planet.
The hope of the Sun-Tree is that humans will tend and grow their own heart's Sun-Seed. The hope is that they will eventually become Sun-Trees themselves, living together with the life of the whole universe, branching into the cosmos. Like the original Sun-Seed, they will ever and again die into the earth and grow into the cosmos. Through their love for all other humans, they will help planet earth become an Earth-Sun, radiating life and love back into the universe. As Rilke said,

Not to falter! Not to be found wanting!
Thus must it be, when willingly you strive
throughout a long and uncomplaining life,
committed to one goal: to give yourself!
And silently to grow and to bear fruit.*


* Rainer Maria Rilke, "The Apple Orchard," in (Rainer Maria Rilke: Selected Poems, trans. by Albert Ernest Flemming)

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

3rd Easter 2017, Power Corrupts

3rd Easter

John 10: 11-21

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who works for wages, and who is no true shepherd, whose sheep are not his own, he sees the wolf coming, abandons the sheep, and flees while the wolf snatches them and scatters them. For he is only a hireling and he cares nothing for the sheep.

I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD. I know who belongs to me, and my own recognize me, just as my Father recognizes me in the depths, and I know the being of the Father; and I offer my life for the sheep.

Other sheep have been entrusted to me who are not of this fold; I must also lead them. They too will listen to my voice, and one day there will be one flock, one Shepherd.

That is why the Father loves me because I lay down my life that I may take it up anew. No one can take it from me.  But in full freedom. I myself offer it up. I have the power to give it away and also the power to receive it anew. That is the task given to me by my Father.”

Then there again arose a division among the people because of these words. Many of them said, “He is possessed by a demon and is out of his mind. Why do you listen to him?” Yet others said, “These are not the words of one who is possessed. After all, can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

3rd Easter 
April 30, 2017
John 10: 1-21

Parents nurture the child; they feed and clothe it, protect and guide it. They devote much of their life's energy to provide for the child's welfare. In the end, they release the grown child into life.

A less evolved parent, finding themselves in charge of a demanding yet helpless being, may resort either to neglect or to ruling over the child in an assertion of absolute power. As an assertion of their power, they may keep the child in utter fear and dependency, even into adulthood.

In today's reading, Christ refers to Himself in terms of a good parent, a good shepherd who nurtures and guides. Although as shepherd He has power over those in His charge, he uses it solely to sustain and protect, to heal and increase their life. Even at the cost of His own.

Power corrupts. God has given up absolute power over us. Instead, He has chosen powerlessness.
Even now He allows Himself to be subject to our choices, our foolish absurdities, our cruelties. At the same time, He continues to guide and nourish the life of our spirits. Those who hear His voice know that He is absolutely trustworthy, for He does not seek His own advantage. He is solely devoted to promoting humankind's continuing growth and evolution.

He does not neglect us. He is not seeking our dependency; he does not rule through fear. Instead, he walks before us in life. He devotes His eternal life to sustaining the life of our spirits.  He continues to nourish our spirits as he releases us grown, into life.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

2nd Easter 2017, Inside and Outside

2nd Easter
John 20: 19-29

On the evening of the first day after the Sabbath, the disciples were together with the doors locked for fear of the authorities. Jesus came and stood in their midst and said,
Duccio, Maestra Altar
“Peace be with you!”
And while he said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
Full of joy the disciples recognized the Lord. And again, he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.”

And when he said this, he breathed on them and said, “Receive Holy Spirit through which the world will receive healing. From now on you shall work in human destinies with spiritual power so that they shall have the strength to wrest themselves free from the load of sin, and at the same time to bear the consequences of their offences.”

Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not there with them when Jesus came. Later the disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he replied, “If I do not see in his hand the marks of the nails, and do not put my finger in the place where the nails were, and place my hand in his side, I cannot believe it.”

Eight days later, the disciples were again gathered in the inner room and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”

Then he said to Thomas, “Stretch out your finger and see my hands, and stretch out your hand and put it into my side. Be not rigid in your heart, but rather feel and trust in my power in your heart.”

Then Thomas said to him, “You are the Lord of my soul; you are the God whom I serve.”

And Jesus said to him, “Have you found my power in yourself because you have seen me? Blessed are those who find my power in their hearts, even when their eye does not yet see me.”

2nd Easter
April 23, 2017
John 20: 19-29

If I were to say that there is a big red thing hovering above the altar, you would naturally look to see it. Unless you could see it yourself, your natural reaction would be disbelief; and perhaps you might begin to distrust my sanity! For our perceptions are based on what we can see, hear, taste, touch.

Thomas questions whether what his fellows report could be real. Like us, he needs to verify it with his own experience. And Christ rewards his healthy skepticism. 'Stretch out your finger and see, stretch out your hand and put it inside,' He says. 'Trust in my power in your own heart.'

Christ asks Thomas, asks all of us, to stretch out our powers of perception, to expand the ways in which we see, hear, touch. This expansion is to move in both directions: outward, toward the world, and inward, toward the faculties of the heart. We are to begin to perceive beyond the merely material sensory world. We are to expand our awareness, open ourselves to other levels of being.

These levels are both higher and deeper. They are both within the world and within us. For Christ and His Healing Spirit of Love is here, now, on the earth. It is planted as a seed within our hearts, for us to nourish and grow. He gives us the strength to grapple with our old habitual ways of seeing, our rigidity of heart. He gives us the strength to bear and work creatively with our destiny.

Finding Christ's power within our hearts gives us the trust and peace that moves us beyond our ordinary way of understanding. Through Christ, worlds open up.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Sunday, 2017, Weaving Fires of Fate

Easter Sunday 
Mark 16: 1-18

And when the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices, so that they might go and anoint Him. And very early on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb just as the sun was rising. And they said to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the door of the tombAnd looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back—and it was very large.

Mileseva Monastery
And they went into the tomb. There they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clad in a white robe; and they were beside themselves with amazement. And he said to them, “Do not be startled; you seek Jesus of Nazareth the Crucified One. He is risen; He is not here; see, there is the place where they laid Him [his body]. But go, and say to his disciples and Peter “He will lead you to Galilee. There you will see Him as He promised you.”

And they went out and fled from the tomb in great haste, for trembling and astonishment had come upon them; and being awestruck, they were unable to say anything to anyone about what they had experienced.

When He had risen early on the first day of the week, He appeared first to Mary Magdalene from whom He had driven out seven demons. And she went and told those who had walked with Him, as they mourned and wept. But when they heard that He was alive and had been seen by her, their hearts could not grasp it.

After this, He appeared in another form to two of them on the way as they were walking over the fields. And they went back and told the rest, but they could not open their hearts to their words either.

Afterwards, He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were celebrating the meal. He reproached them for their lack of openness and for their hardness of heart because they had not wanted to believe those who had seen Him, the Risen One.

And He said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the new message from the realm of the angels to the whole of creation. Whoever unites his heart with it  [believes] and is immersed in me [baptized] will attain the salvation. But whoever closes himself against it does not let the power of selflessness into his heart [does not let the power of My Self into his heart] will meet his downfall. And spiritual powers [these signs] will stand by those who unite themselves with it and will attend their path [believe]: Through the power of my being [in my name] they will drive out demons; they will speak a new language; serpents they will make upright, and poisons they are given to drink will not harm them. They will lay their hands on the sick, and give healing forces to them.

Easter Sunday
April 16, 2017
Mark 16: 1-18

Even if they are beautiful, stones are lifeless. The only change they are capable of is turning into dust. They symbolize what is hardened and dead, inert. Living things, by contrast, are capable of a thousand transformations.

There are such stony, deadened elements in our own nature – the mineral element in our bodies; the old habits of mind and body that no longer serve; the protective shells around our hearts.

The women at the grave ask, "Who will roll away the stone for us?" It is their intention to set aside what is lifeless. And in answer, they see that it has been done. They see an angel, a Son of Life, sitting on the right side – the active side – of the tomb. For from that moment, death is no longer inert. Death has become a portal into something transformative, something living. It has become a portal into a new kind of life.

Christ's transformative power inhabits death. It gives us the strength to overcome the deadened parts of ourselves - our useless habits, our hardened hearts. With Him, we can overcome the death-dealing forces in us. With Him, we can learn to speak a new language, a language of uprightness and healing; a language of love.

We each have our own angel, sitting beside the grave of our heart; all we need to do is to set an intention, set the intention toward what is living and transforming, and ask our ever-active angel, devoted to Christ:

You, my heavenly friend, my Angel
You who've accompanied me to the earth,
And you who will accompany me through the gates
of death . . .
Do not cease to enlighten me, to strengthen me, to counsel me,
So that from the weaving fires of fate,
I may emerge a stronger vessel of destiny
and more and more learn to fill myself
with the meaning of God's World goals . . . *

* "Guardian Angel Meditation", Ernst Karl Plachner, (not Rudolf Steiner)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday 2017, Fire of Life

Holy Week, Good Friday

John 19: 1-15

Then Pilate took Jesus and had him scourged. The soldiers braided a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and threw a purple cloak around him, walked up to him and said, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and struck him in the face.

And again, Pilate went out to them and said, “Behold, thus I bring him out to you, so that you may know that I find no guilt in him.

And Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple cloak. And Pilate said to them, “Behold, the man!” [Behold, this is Man!]

When the chief priests and the Temple attendants saw him, they shouted, “Crucify him, crucify him!”

Then Pilate said, “Take him yourselves and crucify him, for I find no guilt in him.”

Then the Jewish leaders replied, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he has made himself a Son of God.”

When Pilate heard these words, he was even more alarmed, and again he went into the courthouse and said to Jesus, “From where have you received your mission?” But Jesus gave him no answer.

Then Pilate said to him, “You will not speak with me? Do you not know that I have the power to release you and also to crucify you?”

Jesus answered, “You would not have power over me unless it had been given to you on high. Therefore, the greater burden of destiny falls upon him who handed me over to you.”

From then on, Pilate tried to set him free. But the people shouted, “If you release him, you are no longer a friend of Caesar, for everyone who makes himself a king is against Caesar.”

When he heard these words, Pilate led Jesus out, and sat down on the judgment seat in the place called the Pavement, in Hebrew Gabbatha. I was the day of the preparation of the Passover Festival, about midday. And he said to the people, “Behold, this is your King.” But they shouted, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!”

Pilate asked them, “Shall I crucify your King?”

And the chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar!”

Holy Week, Good Friday
April 14, 2017
John 19: 1-15

Salvador Dali
Holy Week is the arduous and inexorable march toward Christ Jesus's death. And we have finally arrived. On the cross, Christ feels the approaching darkness. He knows that he has accomplished the final step, the final descent into Jesus's human body, into Jesus's very bones. The astringency of the vinegar is the final pull, the final consolidation. He has fully entered the bones at whose very marrow the fire of the new life of the blood is burning. It has been accomplished, he says, and breathes out his spirit.
It is as though, having gone as deeply as he can, he crosses the null-point, a threshold into the very realm of creative life. His pure life's blood seeps into the earth. His strong spirit-life is breathed out into the atmosphere. And then his body, bones unbroken, wrapped in its own weight of healing herbs, is given over to the earth. He continues his descent, into the earth's blood, its rivers, into its bones, the minerals. The earth becomes his new body.
The gospel hints at a tender process that continues after His death, for it says that the tomb, cut out of the rock, is new, fresh. And the tomb lies in a garden.
Bernhard Eyb
Christ entered the realm of life through the gateway of dying. He entered, alive, into death's own realm. There he assembles a whole new human bodily form in which all can live who have united themselves with him.

In the funeral service of The Christian Community, Christ says, I am the new birth in death. I am life in dying. Through him, because of him, with him, we, too, can remain alive when crossing through the gateway of death.

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