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The Light Source of the Body (Matthew 6)

Our eyes have the capacity of adjusting themselves to darkness.  When we come out of sunlight into a dark tunnel or cave, we are at first disoriented. Or when we walk at night from a lighted street into a dark wood, we may perhaps be frightened by the darkness.  But if we do not lose patience we notice that our eyes gradually become used to the darkness, and that we begin to recognize the world around us.  This is actually the best way to overcome fear of darkness—walk step by step into a dark space; wait until you become familiar with the darkness, and you begin to see.

This is not only true in the physical world, but also a spiritual reality.  Every day we are confronted with a world of dark, horrific events.  As a rule, we don’t want to see them at all.  We turn away and try to force ourselves to look at the light side of life.  In our current western world there is even an aversion to every sort of darkness.  We turn away from the sick, the dying, the hungry, the refugees, the criminals.  We don’t want to see the dark side of life.  Or are we perhaps afraid of it?

When Christ spoke of the eye as the light source of the body, He was not telling a parable, but a daily truth.  It is not the bad world that makes us bad.  It is not the darkness outside us that darkens us inwardly.  But it is the way we look into the world that brings us darkness or light.

The question is not: What do I see?

But: How do I see?

Am I looking into the world with fear, with abhorrence, or even with hatred?

Or can I look into that same world with compassion and love, in spite of all the darkness?

This subtle way of looking not only illumines and relieves ourselves, but will eventually also illumine and relieve the darkness of the world around us.

A mother who had lost her two children wrote after a long period of rebelliousness, mourning and depression:

When I

concentrated

and full of love

look at the darkness

then I see

light.

 

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, September 20, 2020

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The Ten Lepers Cleansed

The Ten Lepers Cleansed (Lk.17:11-19)

The better part of our lives as adults consists of duties.  We have little choice: we have hardly finished our work, or when the next duty is already awaiting us.  Many people do little more than move from one duty to another all their lives.  And when a person scrupulously fulfills all those duties and tasks he is praised for his diligence.

No matter how diligent such a person is, he misses something that is indispensable.  We only become truly human when we add to all we MUST do something we WANT to do, without anyone telling us to do it.

When the ten leprous men had been cleansed of their illness by Jesus, they were told to go and show themselves to the priests.  That was the commandment in the law.

But one of them goes beyond the duty and does something of his own accord: he comes back to give thanks.  No one has told him to do so.  And it is certainly not just a formality he observes, for he falls prostrate at the feet of Jesus and thanks Him from the bottom of his heart.  You can’t bow down deeper than that.  You can’t be more convincing in your thankfulness.

All who fulfill their duty are cleansed.  But are they also healed?  Only this one human being, who gives thanks with heart and soul, hears the redeeming words from Jesus: “Your faith has made you well.” (RSV—Greek sesōken, saved)

And we, when we receive His medicine that makes whole, the Sacrament, are we then able to give thanks to Him with heart and soul?

 

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, September 13, 2020

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Announcement: Youth Adventure Camp in October!

YOUTH ADVENTURE CAMP

October 22-November 1, 2020
Sponsored by the Seminary of
The Christian Community

For kids age 13 and older, Canoeing and White-Water Rafting on the
French Broad River South Carolina and Tennessee
For full flyer and info click here

Register Here

Registration Deadline October 1 st

Questions?
Contact Rev Ann Burfeind, annburfeind18@gmail.com

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Sending the Seventy

Sending the Seventy (Lk.10:1-20)

During His life on earth, Christ often sent helpers ahead to each town and place where He would Himself come.  They are called disciples (literally followers) and apostles (from apostello, to send off).

Why was that necessary?

Would it not have been much simpler if He had done everything by Himself?  Everything these helpers did—healing, driving out demons, making peace—He also did Himself, and He did it very differently from his followers.  Only of Christ was it said that He healed with power, with exousia.  The disciples could not work without His help.  But He—why would He not be able to help without helpers?

The Bible is full of the longing for the Almighty, for the moment when Christ shows His full powers.  In the Apocalypse this moment is proclaimed by a mighty voice in heaven that calls: “Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.” (Rev.12:10). In chapter 19:6 this empowerment is confirmed with the words: “Alleluia: For the Lord God omnipotent has become king.”   Up to that moment kingship had been in other hands.  One day the prince of this world will have to yield the kingship to the rightful Lord.  But we are not yet there.

Christ asks each one of us: “And you—what can you do to help me?  Will you go before me and prepare the way?  Wherever you go, you can become my helper.  And if you go before me and prepare the way, I will go with you in silence and bless your weak, imperfect efforts—until one day the time of my omnipotence has come.”

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, September 6, 2020

Healing the Deaf Mute (Mark 7: 31-37)

Healing the Deaf-Mute (Mark 7: 31-37)

Illness is a good reason to see a doctor and ask for help.  Obviously, you don’t see a doctor if you show no signs of illness or weakness.  Following the same logic, many people do not feel the need to go to the altar and receive the healing medicine, either in the form of bread and wine or as spiritual communion.*  You might perhaps think: Why should I receive any medicine when I am not sick?  Or why should I go to the Act of Consecration of Man?  Why should I be consecrated?  There is nothing wrong with me!

As long as we look with earthly concepts at earthly human beings, there is indeed nothing wrong.  We can only be grateful when we are not sick or weak, blind or deaf.  But for the spiritual world we are sick, blind and deaf.  We have no eyes to see and no ears to hear.  In our daily life we even act as if there exists no spiritual world!

In the Act of Consecration we become conscious of our heavenly helpers.  Without them we would have no existence, no life, no consciousness.  That is why at the altar sound the words:

He moves in us through all existence.

Our life is His creating life.

Our beholding be drenched with His spirit light.

Only by looking up to the world above us do we begin to realize what we are lacking, no matter how healthy we are.  In the awareness of our human shortcomings we become beggars for the spirit and ask the Savior to heal us of our blindness, our deafness, our weakness.  When we receive the healing medicine He can speak the redeeming word:

Ephphatha – Be opened!

Because of the Act of Consecration we begin to lead a listening life.  We begin to understand the signs of the Lord of Destiny, so that our life becomes more and more a reflection of His creating life.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, August 30, 2020

* In classical theology a distinction is made between sacramental and spiritual communion (communio sacramentalis and communio spiritualis).  St. Francis of Sales wrote: “When you cannot actually participate in the Eucharist, then at least do it in your heart and spirit by uniting yourself in ardent longing with the life-giving body of the Savior.”

Filled with the Holy Spirit

“Filled with the Holy Spirit”

In a recent article we looked at John the Baptist, how he appears in the prologue of the gospel of John. We observed that the Greek word that speaks of the creation of the world through the Logos is the same as the one that speaks of John’s appearance: egeneto – there came into being all things, and there came into being also John. Since the beginning there is a deep connection between the becoming of the world and the becoming of John. All development, from the very beginning and through all past epochs, is present in John: He is the culmination of mankind. Thus, we have seen him carrying the past within him. But we can see him also in the opposite way, and this view is just as true. The first chapter of the gospel of Luke tells us about John’s father, Zechariah, who, as the priest of the year, brings the incense offering in the temple. In the rising smoke appears to him the angel of the Lord who announces to Zechariah the birth of his son and says that he, the son, “will be great before the Lord.” (Verse 15) The gospel seems to imply the nature of this greatness, that in John the dimension of the divine and the dimension of the human are united: “Even from his mother’s womb, will he be filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Verse 15)

When we attempt to contemplate something of the essence of the Trinity we can describe the following aspects: The Father-God is the power which is the foundation of all existence, since the very beginning he is the Ground that bears all being. – Of Christ the Creed speaks that “he is the Son born in eternity.” He goes forth from the Father at all times, he is always young, as the light radiating from the sun is always young. – Thus, we can view the Father-God as working from out of the past and the Son-God as coming to us into the present. – And the Holy Spirit? The Russian philosopher Vladimir Solovyov spoke of the Holy Spirit as “the idea of humanity”. This idea is not an abstract theory, but a living, a spiritual being, Solovyov identified the idea of humanity with the Holy Spirit who goes forth from the weaving between the Father and the Son. And this “idea of humanity” – don’t we long for it to become reality in the world? Do we even know what humanity is? We know what it means to be “human-all-too-human”. But humanity? One thing can become clear to us: All creatures of nature – stone, plant, animal – have developed to their perfection. It would be absurd to expect a crystal or a butterfly or a rose to become more perfect than they are. And this is what sets the human being apart from other earthly beings: that the human being has not reached the state of perfection, that, unlike the beings of nature, he can become more human, more “he himself”. The realization of the “idea of humanity” is our future. And how can this realization happen? Through “history”! We go through all historical epochs, with their ordeals and challenges, failures and achievements, so that we become what we are meant to be. “For the sake of the far exalted goal, the human being goes through history.” (Rudolf Frieling). History is the path toward the realization of the idea of humanity. The one who, at the turning point of time, appears as John the Baptist “will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb”. He is the bearer of the “idea of humanity”. Working out of the power of the Holy Spirit he is the enlightening genius on the way to the exalted goal.

 

Rev.  Erk Ludwig

Ioannes-John

“Ioannes-John”

       The first verses of the prologue of the gospel of John speak about the creation of the world through the Word: The world and all things in it came into being through the Logos, “and of all things that came into being not even one came into being without him.” Then, in the sixth verse, there appears Ioannes (as John is called in the gospel): “There was a man…” This is a rather poor translation. For in the Greek text it is striking that the word that speaks of the coming into being of all things and the word that speaks of the appearance of Ioannes is exactly the same, egeneto: contained in it is “genesis”.

“There came into being a human being (anthropos)” There began the becoming of a human being who is able to lift up his gaze to the world above, “anthropos” suggests this meaning. His name is Ioannes. What does a name express, a “name that is written in the heavens”? (Luke 10:20) Doesn’t it proclaim the mission, the mandate of the one who bears it? “Ioannes” has a great content: it is something like “the divine I pours out his grace.”

This name directs our gaze to John the Baptist. The prologue speaks about him, and at the same time it goes beyond the historical personality who appears at the turning point of time. He is the son of the priest Zechariah and his wife, Elizabeth, his mission is to prepare the way for Christ’s incarnation. But the prologue sees him in a greater context: his origin is in God who sent him, the being of Ioannes-John is connected with the very beginning of the world’s and mankind’s becoming. Indeed, Rudolf Steiner speaks of the first human being, of Adam, as the same who at the turning point of time appears as John the Baptist.

His call for a change of mind comes from the depth of his consciousness of mankind’s distance from God. He has this deep consciousness because he himself went through the fall as Adam. (According to Christ, John was Elijah in a previous incarnation (Mt 11:11-15). Why then does John deny that he is Elijah? Could it be that he had to focus exclusively on his present incarnation in order to be the preparer of Christ’s way?)

John bears in himself all becoming of mankind since the beginning until his time. He is the culmination of humanity. After the baptism of Jesus, John “stands” as he sees Jesus “walking”. (Jn 1:35-36) The climax of human becoming has been reached; with Christ’s coming a new movement begins. Because the entire past is present in John, he is able to direct his gaze to that which comes, graciously, toward mankind from the future.

The faculty to place oneself, while fully conscious of the past, into the service of the new impulse – we can call this historical conscience.

Rev. Erk Ludwig

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Midsummer Verse

Painting by Silvia Gorr

St. John the Baptist
(Midsummer)

Thou herald spirit, by the Father’s grace
Abiding witness to the Light of Lights,
Look on our seeking.

All we have done on earth has left its trace,
And all we say sounds on for spirit ears.
Help at our judging.

Baptizer of the waking soul, lead out
Our lives from barren conflict in the dark
Into Christ’s presence.

Let sound the music of thy faithful heart,
Prophet of days to come, for brother men,
Unto Christ’s glory.

–Adam Bittleston

 

 

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100 Years of The Christian Community: Worldwide Festival in Dortmund, Oct 7-11 2022

Dear Members & Friends of the Christian Community,

At St. John’s tide, here are the current multilingual newsletters for the festival, “100 Years of The Christian Community: Click here

Click here for the ENGLISH VERSION

Please note: More articles on this website!