Sunday, July 15, 2018

4th St. Johnstide 2018, Drops of the Sun

Unknown Artist
St. Johnstide 
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 15, 2018
Matthew 11: 2-15

The sun can shine mightily. Yet the bird in the covered cage will not sing. The plant kept in the dark will not thrive. Uncover the cage, place the plant near the sunlight, and they respond to the light.

When John the Baptist asks from prison whether Jesus is the Messiah, the answer is not a simple yes or no. Rather Jesus points to the effects of his deeds. He has uncovered the soul-cages, brought human souls to the spirit light.

Not only those physically blind, but also the soul-blind and the soul-deaf can see and hear. Deadened souls are awakened. Weak souls can rise and move forward. The outcasts, the beggars for the spirit receive heaven’s healing richness.

The point is that the working of Christ was and continues to show itself as effective within human beings. “Through Him can the healing spirit work.” And those who choose to follow the Christ path become those who, through Christ working in them, are also effective among their fellow human beings in a healing and uplifting way. 

We can hear in a poem by Hafiz how the Spirit-Sun speaks to our souls:

I know the voice of depression
Still calls to you.
I know those habits that can ruin your life
Still send their invitations.
But you are with the Friend now
And look so much stronger.
You can stay that way
And even bloom!
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From your prayers and work and music
And from your companions' beautiful laughter.
Keep squeezing drops of the Sun
From the sacred hands and glance of your Beloved…**

* From the Creed of The Christian Community
** Hafiz, “Cast All Your Votes For Dancing”, in I Heard God Laughing - Renderings of Hafiz, by Daniel Ladinsky

Sunday, July 8, 2018

3rd St. Johnstide 2018, Invisible Gold

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.
Buddha, Jan de Kok

3rd St. Johnstide
July 8, 2018
Luke 3: 7-18

Sometimes the sweetest fruit comes from an old tree; but usually, it is a tree that has been long cared for with thoughtful pruning and generous stimulus to growth.

One of humanity’s old ‘cultural trees’ is Buddha’s eightfold path. This path is a call to be mindful of how a one thinks and acts. Buddha encourages us to make rightful decisions based on appropriate strivings and to accurately recollect and contemplate our past thoughts and actions.

The eightfold path is echoed in today’s reading. John the Baptist’s suggestions for preparing our hearts and minds for an encounter with Christ is especially relevant for today: Share; don’t hoard. Don’t take advantage. Don’t intimidate. In other words, curb your selfishness. Be generous. Be content.

Tree of Life, Tiffany
heart generosities and soul prunings produce “good fruits in keeping with a change of heart and mind”. It doesn’t matter how young or how old the soul. Nor do one’s genetics, social standing or cultural heritage matter either. We all can practice cultivating our own hearts and minds. For every tree that does not produce good fruit is of no real use to the world. No matter how insignificant our outer lives may otherwise seem, our hearts and minds can become like the tree described by Denise Levertov:
    …this tree, behold,
    glows from within;
    haloed in visible
    invisible gold.*

*Denise Levertov, “Last Night's Dream”

Sunday, July 1, 2018

2nd St. Johnstide 2018, God's Voice

St. Johnstide
John 3: 22-36

After this, Jesus and his
Egbert Codex
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.


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.”

2nd St. Johnstide
July 1, 2018
John 3: 22-36

Workshop of Titian
in the Northern Hemisphere, it is high summer. The earth is in the sun’s embrace. Meanwhile, the other side of the earth is in midwinter. With both sides of her being, the earth is looking to her sons and daughters. Her greatest wish is that the soul of humanity be joined with the Sun-Spirit, just as she herself has joined with Him. In joining with Him we will become fruitful and fulfill our divine destiny.

It is no accident that the gospel reading mentions a bride and bridegroom. For it is the time when the soul of humanity is to wed its Beloved.

St Francis of Assisi said:

I hear you singing, dear, inviting me to your limb.
I am coming, for all that we do is a
preparation for love.

I hear you singing, my Lord, inviting me to your throne.
We are coming, dear, for all the toil you have
blessed us with is a preparation to know and hold the

I hear you singing, my soul, but how can it be that
God’s voice has now become my own?
“That’s just a wedding gift for our
Divine Union,”
my Beloved

*A Wedding Gift”, St Francis of Assisi, in Love Poems to God, Daniel Ladinsky, p. 44. 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

1st St. Johnstide 2018, Tailor Your Robe

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:

Tamara Rigishvili
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]

1st St. Johnstide
June 24, 2018
Mark 1: 1-11
“Behold, I send my angel before your face. He is to prepare your way. Hear the voice of one crying in the loneliness of the human soul.” Mark 1:1, 2

These words, of course, refer to John the Baptizer, and his role in preparing the way for Christ Jesus. At the same time, we can certainly resonate with the mood of these words; for many of us, this desert loneliness of the human soul is how modern life feels. We all feel like John.

At the same time, we each also
have an angel that walks before us. This angel helps us make straight our own soul paths so that Christ can find entrance into the depths of our hearts.

We are hovering at the solstice. The year is turning. As the outer light diminishes, it will turn into warmth. Now is the time to begin again; to turn around, to change our hearts and minds. It is time to begin to turn inward, to warm our hearts. As the poet says:

This is now.  Now is,
all there is.  Don't wait for Then;
strike the spark, light the fire.
The green earth
is your cloth;
tailor your robe
with dignity and grace.*

*Rumi, “Begin”, (adapted by Jose Orez from a version by Coleman Barks in The Soul of Rumi).  

Sunday, June 17, 2018

4th June Trinity 2018, Waters of Life

Additional June Trinity
John 7: 33-44

Jesus said, ‘Only a short time shall I still be with you; then I go to Him who sent me. You will seek and not find me. Where I am you cannot come.’
And the Jews said to one another, ‘Where could he go that we would not be able to find him? Perhaps he intends to go to the Jews in the Greek lands and teach the Greeks himself. What does he mean by those words: You will seek and not find me: where I am you cannot come?’
On the last, the great day of the festival, Jesus stood there and called out loudly: ‘Whoever thirsts, let him come to me and drink! Whoever fills himself with my power through faith, from his body shall flow streams of life-bearing water, as scripture says.’
He said this to indicate the spirit which those were to receive who unite with him in faith. But this Spirit was not yet working, for Jesus had not yet revealed his spirit-form.
Some of the people who heard these words said, “He is the Christ. Still others said, “How can the Christ come from Galilee?  Does not scripture say that Christ is to come from the seed of David and from Bethlehem, the town of David?” And so there was a division about him among the crowd. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid hands on him.

4th June Trinity
June 17, 2018
John 7: 33-44

Human culture has created many ways to send water to where it is needed. Essentially they all involve some form of capture, in a vessel or a pipe or canal. And somewhere at the other end, there is a place of release for the water to flow out. For the whole point of capturing water is to let it go again so that it can support life.

In this reading, Christ likens Himself to a giver of water. He gathers the Father’s life-giving spirit waters. He makes Himself the conduit for these waters of the spirit. At the end, he will pour out the water of life. He pours His Life first into wine and bread at the Last Supper. In so doing he creates another extension of the channel, a conduit that reaches through time into the present day. Then he pours His blood and water from the cross, re-enlivening the dying earth. And finally, He ascends to the clouds, to inhabit the life sphere of the whole earth, to pour the waters of life, both spiritual and physical, onto the earth. This is what He means when He says: “Then I go to Him who sent me. You will look for me and not find me. Where I am going you cannot follow.” John 7:34  We cannot yet follow Him in all His ways, into the biosphere, for we have not yet ascended. So He pours out his life as He rains down on us from the clouds.

Yet this process involves not only Him; we are also included, for He says: “Whoever fills himself with my power through faith, from his body shall flow streams of life-bearing water.” John 7: 38 For Christ’s life-giving spiritual-physical power flows not only in rain, in the wine, in His blood; His waters of life flow now through the blood that flows through every human heart. The poet says:

There are different wells within your heart
Some fill with each good rain.
Others are too deep for that.
In one well
You have just a few precious cups of water.
That “love” is literally something of yourself.*

Christ’s waters of life now flow through the blood that flows through the heart of everyone who drinks from the well of His being. We become the conduits of His streaming life. From human hearts can flow the streams of His life-bearing waters. We receive His waters of life in order to let them go again, to pour out the water of life, of love, wherever it is needed.

* Hafiz, “Some Fill with Each Good Rain”, in The Gift, by Daniel Ladinsky, p. 76.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

3rd June Trinity 2018, Providence

3rd June Trinity
June 10, 2018
John 6: 53 – 69

Jesus answered, ‘Yes I tell you, if you do not eat the earthly body of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my body and drinks my blood has life beyond the cycles of time, and I give him the power of resurrection at the end of time. For my flesh is the true sustenance, and my blood is the true draught. Whoever truly eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. As the life-bearing Father sent me, and as I bear the life of the world by the will of the Father, so also he who makes me his sustenance will have life within him through me. This is the bread which descends from heaven. It will no longer be as it was with the fathers who ate of it and died. Whoever eats this bread will live through the whole cycle of time.’ He said this in his teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
Many of his disciples who heard this said, ‘These are hard and difficult words; who can bear to hear them?’ Jesus was aware that his disciples could not come to terms with this and he said to them, ‘Do you take offence at this? What will you say when you see the Son of Man ascending again to where he was before? It is the Spirit that gives life; the physical by itself is of no avail. The words that I spoke to you are spirit and are life. But there are some among you who have no faith.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who would betray him. And he went on: ‘This is why I said to you: No one can find the way to me unless it is given him by the Father’.

3rd June Trinity
June 10, 2018
John 6: 53 – 69

The story of the creation of the world makes evident that the Creator provides. Step by step and with foresight, the world was created until everything was in place to receive and nourish His final creation: the human being.

We count on this providence, this foresight of God, even today. We know that we must plant in order to harvest, for that is how God made the world; that we must care for the animals in order to have the food and other things they produce and to maintain the balance God created in nature.

In today’s reading, Christ talks about another level of providence. He is speaking
Arild Rosenkrantz
ahead of time about nourishing and sustaining, not physical bodies, but human spirits. At His Last Supper, He gave of Himself as food for our spirits. He poured His soul, His love, His life into bread and wine. He turned bread and wine into His body and blood. And he gave to his disciples, and to all who will come to Him and learn from Him in future ages, the power to do the same, to concentrate his essence, his life and love into bread and wine. His body as bread heals our ills; his blood as wine gives us the strength to clean up our messes, and to deal with what is coming in the future. In His providence, he created something that makes it possible for our spirits to be healed, nourished and strengthened even today.

Out of our mindful remembrance of His deed and through our hearts’ connection with Him, His healing essence is concentrated in bread and wine, even today.  For as a poet said:

….The Four Kingdoms of Earth
Prepare the Way-Bread for healing.
Let us now harvest and press,
Let us grind and bake
And consecrate everything that needs it.

Then Man the Consecrated approaches the Grave-Table,
And with him the folk and the circle
Experience creating the Open Secret
That He gives to them time upon time. *

* Sebastian Lorenz, „Menschen-Weihe“ in Die Christengemeinschaft 10_06, pg 507. Translated by C. Hindes.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

2nd June Trinity 2018, Waking Up

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.

Moses Lifting Serpent, Tissot
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.”

2nd June Trinity
June 3, 2018
John 3:1-17

We are approaching the longest day, the
pollen cloud
shortest night of the year. The plants have grown enthusiastically. Their flowering has released clouds of pollen. Carried up by the wind and thermals, it will be kissed by the life-giving power of the sun. When it returns to the plants, it will bring them the potential to create the seeds of new life.

We too have our times when we expand out into the universe. Mostly we do so unconsciously, in sleep. When we return to our bodies in the morning, blessed and strengthened by an encounter with our angel, we are refreshed and ready for the new life in a new day.

Nicodemus comes to Christ in the realm of night. And Christ tries to make clear to him that it is now necessary to become aware, to consciously work with these spiritual forces of new birth from above with our day-waking consciousness. The spirit breath, the spirit wind carries with it words of creation, the potential for the next step in the evolution of humankind. The spirit gives us the impulses for the new—a new way, a new direction, a new paradigm. For the old is falling away. But the spirit needs our voluntary cooperation.

As we approach the zenith of the year, it is time to open ourselves. It is time to receive the blessing and strength from the spirit, for what is coming. We may not know where exactly which direction the impulse for the new is coming from; we may not know where it will lead us.

It will most certainly at first lead us through the death of the old way, just as following Christ led Nicodemus through the events of Christ’s death and resurrection. For we hear of him helping to prepare Christ’s body for the tomb. John 19:39 Nevertheless, we can listen for the sound of the spirit wind, and rise to hear the words of becoming, sounding on the breath of the spirit. As we do so, we will begin to share in Christ’s timeless, higher life. John 3:16

As poet said:
Beyond living and dreaming
there is something more important:
waking up.*
*Antonio Machado, The Winged Energy of Delight, translations by Robert Bly