Do You Love Me? (Jn.21)

Do You Love Me? (Jn.21)

Love has to be a two-way street.  In this well-known saying the secret of the alchemy of love is expressed.  Love should not just be given; we should also learn to receive it.  Only through the interactive effect of both, giving and receiving, something new comes into being that neither of the two persons involved would have been able to achieve alone.  That is called alchemy: the beginning of a new creation.

Some people only want to receive love, and it is never enough.  Others can only give, so that you are buried under a superabundance, and there is no room left for you.  In the shadow of such people, endowed with a shining charisma, you may feel small and insignificant.

Christ gives a love that transcends all human ability to imagine it.  People who have experienced it themselves say: “His love knows exactly all I have done in my life, all I have done wrong—and in spite of that He loves me.  This is why Christ is called the teacher of human love.  But He not only bestows His love on us; He also asks each one of us:

“Do you love me more than the others?”

And when we, like Peter, are not capable of giving Him unconditional love, He asks more modestly: “Do you love me?”

And when we, like Peter, are also incapable of doing that, He finally asks: “Are you my friend?”

He does that for our sake, for in His love for the imperfect, even our deficient friendship is for Him an indispensable gift.

Love has to be a two-way street.  Can I give Him something?

Commentary on the text in John 21: 15-18

In many versions of the Bible the text is not correctly translated.  It looks as if the Risen One asks Peter three times almost the same thing: Do you love me more than these?  Do you love me?  Do you love me? (RSV) Moreover, in this translation it looks as if Peter gives three times the same answer as the question he was asked: You know that I love you.

However, in the first question Christ speaks of the highest form of love (Greek agapē): Do you love me more than the others?  Peter, who is not capable of giving this unconditional love, replies three times: You know that I am your friend. (Greek phileō) (Madsen: you are dear to me)

The second time Christ no longer asks for love “more than the others,” but for unconditional love without comparison to the other disciples: Do you love me?  Again, Peter can give nothing other than philia, friendship.

The third time Christ, knowing that this is all Peter is capable of, asks him for friendship.  That is His unconditional love for the imperfect.

With these three questions Peter is, in a certain sense, set free from his three denials.  And to indicate the connection between these two events, John specifies: They saw a charcoal fire there (Greek anthrakia, the only two times this word occurs in the New Testament—Jn.18:18 and 21:9).

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Dec. 27, 2020

Watch and Pray

Watch and Pray

It is a well-known phenomenon that some events are so huge, so overwhelming, that they exceed our comprehension.  We don’t see them coming, until we are placed before accomplished facts.  Sometimes we don’t want to see them at all, and act as if nothing is the matter.  Think of the two world wars which, in hindsight, announced themselves long before, but people were asleep.  Sometimes they are gifts we don’t recognize because we are blind to the signs of the time.

That is how it went with the coming of the great prophets, the saints, the initiates, and most of all with the coming of Christ.  They were not recognized.  Thus, humanity is time and again surprised by destiny and fate, by gift and crisis that befall us.  Such a gift, which at the same time brings about a crisis, is the second coming of Christ—an event that for one person is more real than anything else and is not seen by another.  The only way to recognize His coming is: wakefulness.  The only way to prepare for His coming is: prayer.

“Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation.” (Mt.26:41) These words, spoken in the loneliness of prayer of Gethsemane, are a timeless call, not only on each human being separately, but also on every community that wants to follow Him.  If a community wants to become the body of Christ, the individual members again and again have to step across their own shadows in order to recognize the light of the Coming One in the other—in friend and enemy, proponent and opponent.

Watch and pray, that His coming may not pass you by without a trace!

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, December 20, 2020

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100 Years -The Christian Community – CG 2022 becomes LOGOS

CG 2022 becomes LOGOS

The planning team for the “100 Years The Christian Community” festival is sending this e-mail to all priests, coordinators, and to our correspondents and friends.

Dear members and friends of the Christian Community,

As usual, you may find the current multilingual newsletters for our festival “100 Years TheChristian Community” at https://cg-2022.org/wp/index.php/filedownload/.

In these days, we appreciate the homily of Bastiaan Baan:
https://www.thechristiancommunity.org/blog/second-coming-far-or-near :

The greatest closeness is: being far and feeling near.
The greatest distance is: being near and feeling far.

So we may also keep contact to the preparation of our festival “100 Years The Christian Community”, use our technical communication channels: www.cg-2022.org.

With warm greetings and good wishes for the ending Advent season and for a Christmas that challenges us all.

–Dr. Wolfgang Jaschinski
Redaktion des CG-2022 Newsletters “100 Jahre Die Christengemeinschaft”
Editor of the CG-2022 Newsletter  “100 years The Christian Community”
Tagungsbüro / Conference Office:  Mergelweg 31, D 42781 Haan



Second Coming – Far or Near

Second Coming – Far or Near?

In a world of estrangement, the concepts of nearness and distance are no longer unequivocal.  Is someone near because he happens to sit next to me?  Some people may live together for years and experience nothing but loneliness, as if they were miles away from each other in their estrangement.  And in reverse, people may live miles away from each other, separated by mountains and oceans, but in spite of this feel each other’s closeness in unbreakable friendship.

There is a saying that expresses the paradox of closeness and distance in the words:

The greatest closeness is: being far and feeling near,
The greatest distance is: being near and feeling far.

Between these extremes human relationships grow or starve.

Only one being on earth is simultaneously present everywhere and near to each human being separately, as if that human being were the only one He is concerned with.  His presence is as the air that envelops the earth like an invisible mantle.  The apostle Paul expressed this omnipresence with the words:” In Him we live and move and have our being.” (Acts 17:28) Since his Second Coming, Christ is present every day, just as truly as the air in which we live and move and have our existence.

For each of us, and for humanity as a whole, there will come a moment in which all that surrounds and carries us will fall away, when the moment has come to go through the eye of the needle.  Then only He will be close to us and lead us to a new form of existence.  That is the reason why Paul, who was the first to see His Second Coming, could say: “Rejoice! … The Lord is near!” (Phil.4:4-5)

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, December 13, 2020


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Awaiting – Waiting – Expecting

Waiting and watching—that is the characteristic position of the human being who observes the world around him without doing anything himself. It is the attitude of the modern person who watches events around him from a distance: “Wait and see.” Most of the time, this expression means that we are standing aside as silent witnesses.

But in our time it is beginning to look as if we are less and less inclined to watch the world scene from a distance as objective spectators. As soon as fear starts playing a role we look at the world around us with different eyes. And fear reigns in our time. In a state of fear we are no longer awaiting things from a distance; our view is no longer impartial or objective. Fear makes blind.

A well-known playwright once depicted a dramatic expression of blind fear: in his drama Dream Play, August Strindberg displays a scene in which a ship is in distress, rudderless in a storm, big waves washing over the deck. In their mortal fear the people aboard cry to Christ for help. Suddenly a bundle of light breaks through the clouds, and a shining figure walks to them over the water. In their panic, the people on the ship fail to recognize that their prayer has been heard. In confusion they jump overboard and drown in the sea.

That is what happens when people are blinded by fear, and no longer understand the signs of the time: they drown in the chaos of events.

Advent is the time of year that calls on us to await and watch; in the best sense of the word: we begin to expect. Are we able to keep our footing in the storm, and recognize what is coming to us? Are we prepared to stand before Him, who is coming?

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, December 6, 2020.