Sunday, July 23, 2017

1st August Trinity 2017, Christ-Folk

Mark 8, 27-Mark 9-1 (Peter’s Confession)
1st August Trinity

And Jesus went on with his disciples into the region of Caesarea Philippi (in the north of the land at the source of the Jordan where the Roman Caesar was worshiped as a divine being). And on the way there, he asked the disciples (and said to them), “Who do people say that I am?”

They said to him, “Some say that you are John the Baptist; others say, Elijah, still others that you are one of the prophets.”

Then he asked them, “And you, who do you say that I am?’

Then Peter answered, “You are the Christ.”

And Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.

And he began to teach them: “The Son of Man must suffer much and will be rejected by the leaders of the people, by the elders and the teachers of the law, and he will be killed and after three days he will rise again.” Freely and openly he told them this.

Then Peter took him aside and began to urge him not to let this happen. He, however, turned around, looked at his disciples, and reprimanded Peter, saying to him, “Withdraw from me; now the adversary is speaking through you! Your thinking is not divine but merely human in nature.”

And he called the crowd together, including his disciples and said to them, “Whoever would follow me must practice self-denial and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever is concerned about the salvation of his own soul will lose it; but whoever gives his life for my sake and the sake of the gospel, his soul will find power and healing. For what use is it to a human being to gain the whole world if through that he damages his soul, which falls victim to the power of an empty darkness? What then can a man give as ransom for his soul? In this present humanity, which denies the spirit and lives in error, whoever is ashamed of me and my words, of him the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the shining revelation of the Father among his holy angels."

And he said to them, “The truth I say to you, among those who are standing here there are some who will not taste death before they behold the kingdom of God arising in human beings, revealing itself in the power and magnificence of the spirit.”

Edwin Austin Abbey 
1st August Trinity
July 23, 2017
Mark 8, 27-Mark 9-1 (Peter’s Confession)

There are times in life when we receive a momentous revelation. It can be bad news or good, but in that moment, the orientation of our life is forever changed.

Jesus asks the disciples, 'Who do you say that I am?' Peter receives a momentous revelation. In a flash, he recognizes that in Jesus there dwells the Christ, the Anointed and longed-for Messiah. In Matthew's Gospel he answers, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God!' And with this revelation. the orientation of his life, and of the life of all of humanity, is forever changed.

For humanity, with this revelation, a new foundation for a new kind of temple community begins to be built. The old temple was built on the awareness of the distance between the chosen people and other people. It was built on an awareness of the distance between a fallen humanity and the divine. Offerings were made to bridge the ever-increasing gap, in the hope that God would send a remedy.

The new community is founded on an inner, individual awareness that Christ Jesus is the Son of the Living God. He is the one who gives life and healing to human souls ill with the burden of their karma. This awareness is the foundation of the new community, the Christ-Folk. It recognizes that all must indeed make compensation for their sins. But the Christ community is built on generosity of spirit and on love; and it also recognizes that we can help each other deal with what we each have brought on ourselves. The community can take on the burden of another's karma. For it has received the revelation of the power and magnificence of the conscious spirit of love. 

Sunday, July 16, 2017

4th St. Johnstide 2017, Call of Freedom

St. Johnstide
John in Prison, Rembrandt
Matthew 11: 2-15

When John heard in prison about the deeds of Christ, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?”

Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are awakened, and those who have become poor receive the message of
salvation. Blessed are those who are not offended by my Being.”

When they had gone, Jesus began to speak about John. “Why did you go out into the desert? Did you want to see a reed swaying in the wind? Or was it something else you wanted to see? Did you want to see a man in splendid garments? Those in splendid garments are in the palaces of kings. Did you go to see a man who is initiated into the mysteries of the spirit, a prophet? Yes, I say to you—he is more than a prophet. He it is of whom it is written:
            Behold it well: I will send my angel before your face;
            He shall prepare the way of your working in human hearts
            So that your being may be revealed.

The truth I say to you: among all who are born of women, not one has risen up who is greater than John the Baptist; and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist, and even more now, the kingdom of heaven will arise within human beings through the power of the will; those who exert themselves can freely grasp it. The deeds of the prophets and the content of the Law are words of the spirit that were valid [worked into the future] until the time of John. And if you want to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”

4th St. Johnstide
July 16, 2017
Matthew 11: 2-15

There are at least two ways to land in prison; one way is to transgress the law, the social order. The other is to be captured by evil. Humankind has become imprisoned for both reasons. We have transgressed, and we have been captured by the forces of hindrance. 

Christ sent his angel, Elijah-John, to awaken us in our captivity. Through him, we become aware of our guilt, but also of our captive state. And He announces the arrival of our Liberator, the one who will spring the trap, free us, and help us cleanse our clogging guilt.

The angel John was himself imprisoned, both by evil forces and by humanity's collective guilt. In his captivity, others were the ones to bear witness for him, to bear witness to that which he could no longer experience directly. They witnessed that the Liberator gives the insight of vision. He gives inspiration and movement to human souls. He brings cleansing and blessing. And He brings the glad tidings of a new state of freedom for humankind. And so, may we hear Christ's wish for us in the words of the poet:

As a bird soars high
In the free holding of the wind,
Clear of the certainty of ground,
Opening the imagination of wings
Into the grace of emptiness
To fulfill new voyagings,
May your life awaken
To the call of its freedom.*

John O'Donohue, "For Freedom", in To Bless the Space Between Us.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

3rd St. Johnstide 2017, Loving Embrace

St. Johnstide
John 3: 22-36

John in Prison
After this, Jesus and his disciples came to the land of Judea. There he stayed with them and baptized. John also baptized; he was at Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there, and people came to him and were baptized. For John had not yet been imprisoned.

Then a dispute arose between the disciples of John and the Jews about the path of purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Master, he who came to you beyond the Jordan, to whom you bore witness – here he is, baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

John answered, “No human being can grasp spiritual power for himself that is not given to him from the higher worlds. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’

“He who has the bride, he is the bridegroom. But the friend of the bridegroom, who stands by and listens to him, he is filled with joy at the bridegroom’s voice. This joy of mine is now full. He must increase, but I must decrease.

He who descends from above, out of the spiritual world, is elevated above all beings of the earth. Whoever is only of the earth, whose being arises from the earthly, his word is also earthbound.

He who comes from the heavens is elevated above all who have arisen from the earthly. What he has seen and heard in the world of the spirit, to that he can bear direct witness, but no one accepts his testimony.

But whoever accepts his testimony, sets his seal to this: that God is true [truth] [that there is no higher truth than the reality of God]. Whoever God has sent, his words are filled with the power of divine thought, for God gives the spirit to human beings not according to human rules, but according to the creative power that he awakens in man.

The Father holds the Son surrounded in his love, and has given everything into his hands. Whoever trusts in the power of the Son within himself, he grows out of the earthly into timeless life.

Whoever cannot trust in the power of the Son within will not behold the world of life; rather the working might of the spirit world must one day burn him like a fire that will consume him.”

3rd St. Johnstide
July 9, 2017
John 3: 22-36

The plant grounds its roots in the earth; it rises and spreads its leaves into the air. And then it holds up the chalice of its blossom to the sun. It sends its fragrance and pollen heavenward, where they will be enriched (and inseminated) by the sun's life-giving rays. Into its chalice-blossom the plant receives new life, which will form in its seeds.

Without the sun, none of this would happen. The plant and its processes have their reality. But the underlying, pre-existing reality rests in the sun.

But the most real reality, the real antecedent truth behind the existence of everything, even of the sun, is God. God is the highest, the truest, the most real of all levels of reality. Far in the future, nature and all its forms will have disappeared. But God will still be, holding all in His loving embrace.

He gave us, gives us His Son, whose presence abides with us, in us, on earth. With His Son, God has given us the power to awaken His own creative potential, His divinity, within us.

As we raise the chalice of our heart, as we send the fragrance of our self-offering toward the Christ-Sun, He, humanity's bridegroom, in turn sends His life-giving grace to fill our hearts, to make fertile the seeds of divinity within us. He sends into us the highest reality of God, as seed of a new life.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

2nd St. Johnstide 2017, Heal the World

St. Johnstide
Luke 3: 7-18

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You are sons of the serpent yet! Who led you to believe that you can avoid the decline of the old ways of the soul? Produce true fruits in keeping with a change of heart and mind. And do not begin excusing yourselves by saying, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I tell you that God can raise up sons for Abraham out of these stones. The ax is already poised at the root of the trees, so every tree that does not produce good fruit is felled and thrown into the fire.”

“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.

John answered, “Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same.”

Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?”

“Do not collect any more than you are authorized to do,” he told them.
Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?”

He replied, “Do not intimidate and do not accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ, the Messiah.

John answered them all, “I wash you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will wash you with the breath of the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, while he burns up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

And with many and various exhortations John preached the good news to the people.

2nd St. Johnstide
July 2, 2017
Luke 3: 7-18

Although there is a constant invisible core, living things change. They continually change and evolve their outer form. Only stones remain inert.

John the Baptist encourages us to change, that is, to remain alive. He wants our hearts not to be backward looking, stuck in the past. Otherwise, our hearts turn to stone. Rather, we are to be open to renewal and change. When asked, he encourages us to find new ways to help others, to take no more than our fair share. We are to avoid suppressing others or lying. We are to be content, reconciled with our karma and our place in life.

These practices purify the soul of its egocentricity. They prepare the soul for its great moment, for its Baptism in fire. This fire is fanned with the healing breath of the Holy Spirit of love. This breath of the Spirit is the love that enables us to change and evolve. This is the love that will ultimately heal the world. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

1st St. Johnstide 2017, Speaking Light

St. John’s

Mark 1, 1-13

This is the beginning of the new word from the realm of the angels, sounding forth through Jesus Christ. Fulfilled is the word of the prophet Isaiah:

Behold, I send my angel before your face.
He is to prepare your way.
Hear the voice of one calling in the loneliness of the human soul
Prepare the way for the Lord within the soul,
Make his paths straight, so that he may find entrance into Man’s innermost being!

Thus did John the Baptist appear in the loneliness of the desert. He proclaimed Baptism, the way of a change of heart and mind, for the acknowledgment of sin. And they went out to him from all of Judea and Jerusalem and received baptism from him in the river Jordan and recognized and confessed their failings.

John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. Fruits and wild honey were his food. And he proclaimed:
‘After me comes one who is mightier than I. I am not even worthy to bend down before Him and to undo the straps of His sandals. I have baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the fire of the Holy [healing] Spirit.’

In those days, it happened: Jesus of Nazareth came to Galilee and was baptized in the Jordan by John.

And at the same time, as he rose up again out of the water, he beheld how the spheres of the heavens were torn open, and the spirit of God descended upon him like a dove.

And a voice sounded from the world of the spirit:

‘You are my son, the beloved —in you is my revelation.’ 
[‘Today I have conceived (begotten) you.’ Luke 3:22]

St. John’s
June 24, 25, 2017
Mark 1, 1-13

We stand at a still point, at the solstice, at this midpoint of the year. The entire past stands behind us. And the entire future leads away from this moment. What can happen in the now, in this moment of stillness, is that the soul opens in gratitude.

We give thanks and praise for all that has gone before – for those no longer with us on earth; for those divine beings who guide us; for the elemental beings whose work supports us on earth.

We give thanks and praise for all the events that have brought us here, to this place and time. We give thanks for all who have made this moment, this 'now', possible for us. And we are grateful for the fact that there is a future. We give thanks for all who are coming toward us from the future; for all future guidance, for all the future support. We know that we will be given the strength and love to meet it. In the words of Adam Bittleston, our hearts pray:

For the speaking light of the senses
Which bears into our souls
The world's abundance,
We thank the powers of heaven.

For the health that is in our bodies,
Even in illness and need,
Sustaining, renewing, refreshing,
We thank the will of Christ.

For the wonders of human friendship,
Which bless the life of earth
With the hope of eternal being,
We thank the Father's love.*

*Adam Bittleston, "Thanksgiving", in Meditative Prayers for Today, p. 50

Sunday, June 18, 2017

2nd June Trinity 2017, Truth Is Here

June Trinity
John 4, 1-26

At this time, the Lord became aware that it was rumored among the Pharisees that Jesus was finding and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, though his disciples did.) Therefore, he left Judea and went back again to Galilee.

Now he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the plot of land Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was also there. Jesus was weary with the journey, and he sat down by the well. It was about midday, the sixth hour.

Then a Samaritan woman came to draw water. And Jesus said to her, “Give me to drink.” For his disciples had gone into town to buy bread.

Then the Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a Samaritan woman?” For the Jews avoided all contact with the Samaritans.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew how the divine world now draws near to men, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me to drink’, you would ask him, and he would give you the water of life [the living water].

“Sir,” the woman said to him, “you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. From where will you draw the living water? Are you greater than our Father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his flocks and herds?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I will give him, his thirst will be quenched for all time. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up as true life for eternity.”

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may never be thirsty again, and need never come here again to draw.”

He said to her, “Go call your husband and show him to me.”

“I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You have well said that you have no husband. Five husbands you have had, and he whom you now have is not your husband. This you have said truly.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews say that only in Jerusalem is the place where one should worship.”

Jesus answered, “Believe me, o woman, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship a being you do not know; we worship what we do know. That is why salvation had to be prepared for among the Jews. But the hour is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father with the power of the spirit and in awareness [knowledge] of the truth.”

Then the woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming who is called Christ. When he comes, he will teach us all things.”

Jesus said to her, “I AM he who stands before you and speaks to you.”

2nd June Trinity
June 18, 2017
John 4, 1-26

Human beings have always visited sacred places in order to honor the divine. At first, they were simple stone memorials at a place where a great spiritual event or visitation had occurred. Then gradually temples were built as gathering places for honoring the divine with story, song and ritual.

Christ meets the Samaritan woman at Jacob's 2,000-year-old well. She asks him about places of worship. Should humankind worship on a mountain top, or in a temple? Christ answers that the sacred space will be within the human heart and mind. "the hour will come, and it has come, when the true worshippers of God will worship the Father," He says, "with the power of the Spirit and in knowing awareness of the truth." John 4: 23

Cologne Cathedral
We can imagine that a kind of soul altar exists within each human heart. And when a group of human beings come together to enact a ritual of offering, the walls of each heart expand. They fill the room, so that hearts work among hearts, within hearts. Together they form a greater heart, the common heart of the community. Hearts offer themselves in a common spirit, out of a communal truth. As e.e. cummings said,

seeker of truth

follow no path
all paths lead where

truth is here*

* e. e. cummings, in Complete Poems 1904-1962 p. 775.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

1st June Trinity 2017, Nuptials of the Soul

June Trinity
John 3: 1-17

There was a man in the circle of the Pharisees, whose name was Nicodemus; he held high rank among the Jews. He came to Jesus in the night and said, “Master, we know that you are a high teacher of mankind, come to us from God, for no one can do such signs of the Spirit as you do unless God himself is working together with him in his deeds.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “The truth out of the spirit I say to you: whoever is not born anew from above cannot behold the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born again when he is old? Can he return to his mother’s womb to be born again a second time?
Jesus answered, “the truth out of the spirit I say to you: whoever remains as he is, and does not come to a new birth out of the formative power of the water and out of the breath of the spirit [or, …and is not born anew out of the spiritual power of eternal becoming and out of being touched by the might of the spirit world] cannot enter into the kingdom of God. What is born out of earthly elements is of earthly nature. But what is born out of the breath of the spirit, is itself spirit. Do not wonder that I said to you that you must be born anew from above. The spirit wind blows where it will; you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from, or where it is going. So it is with everyone who is born anew out of the breath of the spirit.

Nicodemus replied and said to him, “How can one attain this?”

Jesus answered, “You are a teacher of Israel and do not know? Amen, the truth I say to you: we speak of what we know, and we bear witness to what we have seen in the spirit, but none of you accepts our testimony. When I speak to you of earthly things and you do not believe them, how shall you believe when I want to speak to you of heavenly things? No one has ascended to the spiritual world who has not previously descended out of the spiritual world, that is, the Son of Man.

Just as Moses once lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who finds his power in their hearts can win a share in the higher life beyond time. God has so loved the world that he has given his only begotten Son. From now on, no one who fills himself with his power shall perish, for he will share in timeless, higher life. God did not send the Son into the world to condemn it, but in order that the world be saved [healed] through him, and not fall prey to ruin.”

1st June Trinity
June 11, 2017
John 3: 1-17

Pine Pollen
Clouds of pollen rise into the upper atmosphere, to be inoculated with the living powers of the sunlight. The virgin queens of new hives ascend into the heights for their nuptials. When the pollen and the bees descend, they bring with them the possibility of new life.

Our lives, too, require an ascent. We offer the fragrance of our heart's prayers, our love, the purity of our thoughts, to Christ, the Sun-God, and His Father.

Our ascending heart offerings make it possible for the grace of a new kind of life to descend and to be born in us. This new life is born out of Christ's eternal capacity for becoming, developing, evolving. It is born out of the nuptials of the soul with humanity's Bridegroom. It is grace.

As Hafiz says,

…Now is the time for the world to know
hat every thought and action is sacred.
That this is the time
For you to compute the impossibility
That there is anything
But Grace.
Now is the season to know
That everything you do
Is sacred.*

*Hafiz ,"Now is the Time", in The Gift, by Daniel Ladinsky, p. 160.