Sunday, January 23, 2022

3rd Epiphany 2022, Glad Hearts at the Marriage Feasts

 3rd Epiphany

John 2:1-11

Brenda Fox

On the third day, a wedding took place in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. And Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding.
When the wine ran out, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."
And Jesus answered her, "What shall be done by me and what by you, O Woman? [ or, "A power in common works between you and me, O Woman."] [or, "Something still weaves between you and me, O Woman."]  The hour when I can work out of myself alone has not yet come."
Then his mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."
There were six stone jars set up there for the Jewish custom of ceremonial washing, each containing twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, "Fill the jars with fresh water."
And they filled them to the brim. And he said, "Now draw some out and take it to the Master of the feast. And they brought it to him.
Now when the Master of the feast tasted the water that had become wine, not knowing where it came from—for only the servants who had drawn the water knew—he called the bridegroom aside and said to him, "Everyone serves the choice wine first, and when the guests have drunk, then the lesser; but you have saved the best until now."
This, the beginning of the signs of the spirit that Jesus performed among human beings, happened at Cana in Galilee and revealed the creating spiritual power that worked through Him. The disciples' hearts opened, the power of faith began to stir in them, and they began to trust in him.

3rd Epiphany
January 23, 2022
John 2:1-11
The choicest wines are the result of a long process. The right grapes, long

ripened, harvested at peak, aged for a long time. It is a process of controlled decay and preservation—it keeps the juice from spoiling and creates a drink that gladdens, a drink that even has medicinal properties.
The state of spirituality in Christ’s time was like wine: harvested, aged, preserved. The problem was that for hundreds of years, there had been no new harvest. No prophet, no new inspiration. No new spiritual wine to gladden, to strengthen, to heal human hearts. The choicest of spiritual wines had been served long before; now, there remained only the lesser.
Christ came to establish a new kind of spiritual wine, out of a new kind of winemaking: wine taken from the lifesprings of the earth herself; wine processed by the highest spiritual being; wine infused with new healing spiritual power for human hearts.
And it has its effect. ‘The disciples’ hearts opened, and the power of faith began to stir in them, and they began to trust in him.’

They began to trust that something new was happening on earth—a new process that would wed the human soul to its intended spirit bridegroom. A new wine was being produced, a wine that would heal the wound that separates us from God.
This process is recreated anew in The Act of Consecration. We have come together to celebrate the ongoing wedding feast of humanity; we drink the wine taken from the life-springs of the earth herself; wine transformed by the highest spiritual master, infused with new healing spiritual power for human hearts. We drink the wine changed by Him into strengthening, healing medicine, gladdening hearts at the marriage feast of the human and the divine.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

2nd Epiphany 2022, Veracity and Love

2nd Epiphany

Luke 2:41-52 

Every year his [Jesus'] parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they took him with them. Now, after they had gone there and fulfilled the custom during the days of the feast, they set off on their way home. But the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know this; they thought he was among the company of the travelers. After a day's journey, they missed him among their friends and relations. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 

William Holman Hunt

After three days, they found him in the Temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And those who heard him were amazed at his mature understanding and his answers. 

And when they saw him, they were taken aback, and his mother said to him, "My child, why have you done this to us? Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress." 

William Holman Hunt

And he said to them, "Why did you look for me? Did you not know that I must be and live in that which is my Father's?" 

But they did not understand the meaning of the words he spoke to them. And he went down with them again to Nazareth and followed them willingly in all things. 

And his mother carefully kept all these things living in her heart. And Jesus progressed in wisdom, maturity, and grace [or, favor] in the sight of God and humans.

2nd Epiphany

January 16, 2022

Luke 2: 41-52 

At twelve, the boy Jesus undergoes a great change.
Overnight he is transformed from a sweet and simple child into a wise and mature young man. His parents don't know what to make of him. They chide him; he answers innocently, yet with some surprise, that he thought it obvious where he belonged. At the same time, he returns with them cheerfully and willingly. 

There are nodal points in all our lives, points where something shifts. Something new emerges; the old dissolves, and the new consolidates. It happens to us; it happens to those we love and think we know, even to adults. 

This reading gives us two lessons: the first is that no one stays the same. We all develop (or else we gradually devolve). 

Therefore the second lesson is that it is helpful to approach each person we encounter with a kind of open and neutral curiosity—as if we had never met them before, even if we think we know them well. Otherwise, they are trapped in a cage we have made for them, a cage of assumptions and expectations, of disappointments, even of disapproval. Such an open, curious, and unprejudiced practice from the heart supports the other in becoming what they truly are. 

With open-hearted curiosity, we can offer them a broad but impartial mirror in which they can see the truth of themselves reflected clearly. We are offering them a form of Christ-love, for He said, 'You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.'* 

Bernardo Luini
So as the poet Hafiz said, 

Now is the time to understand

That all your ideas of right and wrong

Were just a child's training wheels

To be laid aside

When you can finally live

with veracity and love.**

* John 8:32

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



Sunday, January 9, 2022

1st Epiphany 2022, Hidden Ladder

1st Epiphany

Matthew 2:1-12 

When Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea—during the time of King Herod—behold: wise priest-kings from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, "Where is the one born here, King of the Jews? We have seen his star rise in the east and have come to worship him."               

When King Herod heard this, he was deeply disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. And he assembled all the high priests and scribes of the people and inquired of them in what place the Christ was to be born. And they said to him, "In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it was written by the prophet: 

Gertraud Kiedaisch
And you Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

Are by no means the least among the rulers of Judah;

For out of you shall come forth the ruler

Who will be shepherd over my people, the true Israel." 

Then Herod, secretly calling the Magi together again, inquired from them the exact time when the star had appeared. He directed them to Bethlehem and said, "Go there and search carefully for the child, and when you find him, report to me, that I too may go and bow down before him." 

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and behold, the star that they had seen rising went before them and led them in its course over the cities until it stood over the place where the child was. Seeing the star, they were filled with [or, there awakened in them] an exceedingly great and holy joy. 

Entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother; they fell down before him and worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and offered him their gifts: gold and frankincense and myrrh. 

And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed to their country by another way.

1st Epiphany Sunday

January 9, 2022

Matthew 2:1-12 

Humankind has always seen the stars as grouped together in constellations. Especially in ancient times, mighty pictures arose in people's souls when they gazed into the night sky.


For every child, there is a star in the heavens. It is the place from whence the child comes, a place that safeguards the soul's true name. The child brings it to earth, a shining thing in the treasure chest of the heart. Sometimes parents catch a glimpse of this true name, even before the child is born. 

In the gospel reading, a Child is born; a great star appears in the heavens. Upon this star are written His many names: Wonderful, Counselor, the everlasting Lord, the Prince of Peace. In legend, traveling day and night for thirteen days, the three Magi constellate themselves like slow-moving planets around the Child and His Mother. They cross paths with Herod's death star. But in constant devotion the One whose name is also Truth, they themselves, along with the Child, are safe. 

We, too, led by our hearts, have chosen to gather ourselves around the Christ star. St. John of the Cross writes:


Of a dark night, kindled in love…

I went out without being observed….

In darkness and confident, I laid hold

of the hidden ladder…..

I moved sightless without light or guide,

save that which burned in my heart.

Heartlight guided me more surely

than the light of glaring day to the place

where He—yes, I knew— was awaiting me.* 

Each human heart moves toward Christ. We have come together on earth, guided by heartlight, to form his community. Together we are an earthly reflection of His star in the heavens. For our true names, carried in our hearts, are connected with Christ, the star of love. 

* St. John of the Cross, “Dark Night”, in Love’s Immensity, Mystics on the Endless Life, Scott Cairns, p. 128.



Sunday, January 2, 2022

Holy Nights, Jan 2, 2022, Being Recognized

Holy Nights

1 Corinthians 12:31- 13:13 

Strive to make the best out of the gifts of grace working together.

Yet, I will show the way that is higher than all others.

If I speak out of the Spirit with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, then my speaking remains as sounding brass or tinkling cymbal. And if I had the gift of prophecy and could speak of all the mysteries and could impart all knowledge and, further, had the power of faith that removes mountains, yet am without love, then I am nothing. And if I were to give away everything that is mine, and lastly were to give away even my body for burning, yet am without love, then all is in vain.

        Love makes the soul great;

Love fills the soul with healing goodness;

Iris Sullivan
Love does not know envy;

It knows no boasting;

It does not allow falseness;

Love does not harm that which is decent.

It drives out self-seeking.

Love does not allow inner balance to be lost.

It does not bear a grudge.

It does not rejoice over injustice.

It rejoices only in the truth.

Love bears all things,

Is always prepared to have faithful trust.

It may hope for everything and is all-patient.


If love is truly present, it cannot be lost. The gift of prophecy will one day be extinguished, the wonder of languages cease, clairvoyant insight come to an end. Our insight is incomplete, incomplete is our prophecy.

But one day the perfect must come, the complete consecration – aim; then the time of the incomplete is over.

When I was still a child, I spoke as a child, and I felt and thought as a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.

Now we still see things in dark outlines, as in a mirror. Some day we will see everything face to face. Now my insight is incomplete, but then I shall stand in the stream of true insight, in which recognizing and being recognized are one.

We find permanence that bears all future within it in the exalted triad:

In faith

In hope,

And in love.

But the greatest of these is love.

Holy Nights

January 2, 2021

1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13 

Paul describes love as a soul’s way of being and acting. 

Jan de Kok
He speaks of the loving soul’s open spaciousness, a soul that is aligned with truth, balanced and patient. A loving soul foregoes meanness and selflessly supports decency. In other words, a soul is filled with love is full of goodwill. 

Love works as a healing force, both the love we receive, but more importantly, the love we generate and give. 

Love’s antitheses—spiteful envy, arrogance, and selfishness—bespeak a soul whose will is ill, a soul in need of healing. 

The mystery of the Act of Consecration of Man, the communion service, demonstrates the process of learning how to love. 

First, we receive God’s love by listening, receiving a portion of the life of Christ in the Gospel. Then we undertake to make a real inward offering. We gather our purest thoughts, our most Christ-ened feelings, and our most energetic will, and we pour them into the chalice along with wine and water, offering them all to the Father as a chalice of healing. 

Our modest, meager act of love toward Him is made strong and potent by Christ’s love joining ours. In Communion, the love we offered to the Father returns to us multiplied, as the gracious, peaceful love that Christ embodies in the bread and wine. It is His love that we take in, that enters us. We receive the healing medicine for our will’s illness. 

This is an enactment, a kind of foreshadowing of what will one day be fully realized. Right now, we can only enact love partially, in outline, as in a mirror. But one day, we too will, in goodwill, work face to face with the Master of Love, in Whom recognizing and being recognized are one.


Sunday, December 26, 2021

Christmas Season, Dec 26, 2021, The Stoning of Stephen


Christmas Season

Acts of the Apostles, 6:8 – 7:1, and 7:53-60

And Stephen, filled with the touch of the spirit and with divine power, performed great deeds and signs of the spirit among the people. Then some of those who belonged to the synagogues of the Libertines of the Jews from Cyrene, Alexandria Cilicia, and Asia began to argue with Stephen, but they could not withstand the wisdom and spirit of his words. Then they put forward men who were to say, "We heard him speak derogatory words against Moses and against God." Thus, they stirred up the people and the elders, and the scribes.

Finally, they went up to him, overpowered him, and led him before the Sanhedrin. They put up false witnesses who said, "This man never ceases to revile the holy place and the law. We have heard him say, 'Jesus, the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs, which Moses gave us.' "

Then all who sat in the Sanhedrin looked at him, and they saw his face shining
like the face of an angel.

Stoning of Stephen, Uccello
The high priest said, "Is this so?" and he answered, "Men, brothers, and fathers. Listen, you have received the law through the mediation of angels, but you have not kept it."…

While they were listening, their hearts swelled in great agitation. And they ground their teeth. Stephen, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the light of the revelation of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, "See, the heavens are opened to my beholding. I see the Son of Man at the right hand of God."

Then they cried out with a loud voice, covered their ears, and rushed upon him all together. They drove him out of the city and stoned him and the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. And as they were stoning him, Stephen said, "Jesus, Lord, receive my spirit." And he fell to his knees and called out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." And when he had said this, he breathed his last.

Christmas Season

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Acts of the Apostles 6:8-7:1, 7:53-60 

So closely are life and death intertwined! Today [Dec 26] the day after we celebrate the divine birth, we remember the first person to die in Christ’s name. 

Two days ago, December 24, was Adam and Eve Day. We remembered the apple of Paradise. Eaten before its time, it brought sickness and death to humanity. But hidden in an apple is a secret. 

A thin slice of an apple cut crosswise reveals a star, the symbol of the human
form. And this star in the apple is embedded within a white, five-petalled rose, the image of the pure blossom of the human body that emerges from thorny suffering.

In between Adam and Eve Day, and St Stephen’s Day, the Christ-Star descended into earth existence. Christ suffered life’s thorns and its death. He produced the pure white rose-form of a new kind of human existence. 

And he offered this fruit of his to Stephen, whose face shines in gratitude like that of an angel, whose death is an example of the pure white rose of a new, forgiving humanity. 

We all carry within us, like the apple, the secret image. In Rilke’s words: 

We are only the rind and the leaf

The great death, that each of us carries inside

Is the fruit

Everything enfolds it. *


So in remembrance of Stephen, the first ordinary human being to die in the power of Christ, we can ask in Rilke’s words: 

God give us each our own death

The dying that proceeds

From each of our lives

The way we loved

The meanings we made….** 

May our lives and our deaths be fruitful. May we find and reveal the Rose and the Star within.


*Rilke, The Book of Hours, Macy and Barrows, p.132

** Rilke, The Book of Hours, Macy and Barrows, p. 131

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Christmas 2021, Pure Humanity

Christmas II, Dawn

Luke 2:1-20 

Now is proclaimed the [middle of the Gospel[s], according to Luke in the second chapter. 

artist unknown
Now it came to pass in those days that a proclamation went out from Caesar Augustus that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone set out to be enrolled, each to the town of his ancestors. 

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he belonged to the house and lineage of David. He went to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed. And Mary was with child. And it came to pass that while they were there, the time was fulfilled for her to be delivered. And she bore her son, her firstborn. And she wrapped him in linen and placed him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn. 

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks in the night. And an angel of the Lord came upon them [appeared before them], and the light of the revelation of God shone about them. And great fear came upon them. 

But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for I announce to you a great joy, which shall be for all on earth: today is born unto you the Bringer of Healing, in the city of David, Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign for you: you will find a little child wrapped in linen, lying in a manger." 

And suddenly around the angel was the fullness of the heavenly angelic hosts: their song of praise sounded forth to the highest: 

possibly Margarethe Hauschka

God's Spirit reveals itself in the heights

And brings peace to all on earth

        In whose hearts goodwill dwells! 

And as the angels withdrew from them into the heavens, the shepherds said to one another, "Let us go to Bethlehem to see the fulfillment of the Word that has happened here, which the Lord let be proclaimed." 

And they came hastening and found both Mary and Joseph, and the babe lying in the manger. And when they had seen, they made known the Word that was spoken to them concerning this child. [or, When they saw that, they understood what had been told them concerning this child.] And all who heard it were astonished about what the shepherds said. 

But Mary treasured [or, preserved] all these words, pondering them [or, turning them over] in her heart. And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God to everyone for everything they had heard and seen, which was just as it had been announced to them.

Christmas II, Dawn

December 25, 2021

Luke 2:1-20

When we were born, we crossed the great divide between heaven and earth. We died out of the realm of the angels and fell into the material world, the world of death. And the angels mourned their loss of us.

The Christ Child, however, draws heaven across the divide, onto the earth with Him. The angels do not mourn because one of their own disappeared into the far country of death; rather, they accompany Him, proclaiming:

God's Spirit reveals itself in the heights

And brings Peace to all on earth

In whose hearts goodwill dwells. 

The light of heaven has descended into the earth night. The open souls of the shepherds, as do ours, receive the good news. An ancient hymn says: 

Why doth the sun re-orient take

Stephen B. Whately

A wider range, his limits break?

Lo! Christ is born, and o'er earth's night

Shineth from more to more the light!


This is the day of Thy dear birth,

The bridal of the heaven and earth,

When the Creator breathed on Thee

The breath of pure humanity.*

* Hymn XI From Cathemerinon ("The Hymns of Prudentius"), Aurelius Clemens Prudentius (348-405), Translated by R. Martin Pope.

Sunday, December 19, 2021

4th Advent 2021, Who Is To Come

1st Advent

Luke 21:25-36 

Ninetta Sombart
And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars; and upon the earth, the nations will be constricted with anxiety and doubt with the advent of these spiritual revelations, as before a roaring sea and waves. And people will lose their inner strength of soul out of fear and foreboding of what is coming over the living earth: for the dynamic powers of heaven will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud, in the sphere of life, with dynamic power and great radiant glory. 

And when these things begin to happen, stand upright and lift up [or, raise] your soul to the spirit, for your deliverance draws near. 

And he gave them a comparison, saying, "Observe [or, behold] the fig tree and all the trees when they burst into leaf. Seeing this, you know yourselves that summer is near. So also, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 

"Amen, the truth I say to you: this present age of being human shall not pass away until all has happened. 

"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

"Guard yourselves lest the perceptive power of your hearts be smothered by an excess of food and drink and by over-concern with the cares and worries of life, and the light of these spirit events break upon you suddenly like a snare; for it will come upon all who dwell upon the face of the whole earth. So be awake in the spirit at all times, praying, so that you may have the strength to live through all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man." 

4th Advent 2021

Luke 21:25-36 

The arrival of storms darkens the skies. But there are moments
when the ever-present sunlight breaks through. And then, if we look for it, the rainbow with its seven colors glistens against the backdrop of darkness. 

In ancient India, the god Indra used the rainbow to slay the serpent demon god. Later, in the Gilgamesh epic, the rainbow’s colors glisten in the fountain of life beside the tree of Immortality. And of course in Hebrew tradition, Yahweh places the rainbow spanning the heavens as a promise of future salvation. 

The rainbow’s placement in the sky and our delight in its ethereal colors make it seem more related to the human soul than to the earth. In the soul, there also lives a rainbow of many colors. The outermost color, red, is the color of loving warmth, of courage, and strength of will. At the other side, the innermost color is a barely visible royal purple, the color of the regal heights that the human being can and will attain in the future. It is the color of our innermost trust and faith in what is to come. 

Stephen B. Whatley

And in the center, at the heart of the rainbow, is the living green, the color of balance and of hope, the color of Christ. Our souls move through the colors. Starting with Christ’s living, balanced hope of green we can move out into the world with love and courage. And we can also move from hope’s green toward the inner depths from which our souls evolve toward the future. We will make it; we will move into the future; we will evolve. The rainbow is the seal of God’s promise. For planted in the royal purple of the soul are the seeds of our future selves. In patient trust we can know that one day these seeds of our future humanity will sprout into the living green of the tree of immortality. 

God placed the rainbow in the sky to remind all of humankind to abide in hope, especially in dark stormy times. The rainbow of the soul conquers the dragon of fear. And sometimes, up in the sky, we can all catch a glimpse of the colored halo of Him who was, who is, and who is to come.