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The Peace of Christ

In our world peace is hard to find.  Even if we live in a country with relatively uneventful circumstances, the discord of the world pushes its way into us from all sides.  We only have to open the door or open the newspaper—the chaos of the world comes into us from all sides.  Peace feels like a fata morgana that looms up on the horizon from time to time, and then disappears again without a trace in the desert of every day.  How can you live in such a world and at the same time be at peace with the world?

And yet, the Act of Consecration of Man says of Christ: “I stand at peace with the world.”  For many people of our time this sounds like an unattainable vision that every moment is dashed to pieces again by hard reality.

Christ is at peace with the world.  We would actually have to say it differently, but our language fails us when we try to find the right words.  In the original language of the Act of Consecration it sounds different: Friedvoll stehe Ich zur Welt.  He does not have peace with the world—on the contrary, He places His peace face to face with it.  If He were at peace with the world as it is, He would leave everything as it is without undertaking anything.  That is our traditional, authority-oriented picture of peace, where everything comes to a standstill: Rest in Peace.  But that is not even true for the deceased, for they have to ceaselessly work on their purification.

The peace of Christ is not of this world.  It is wrested free from death and the underworld.  He wants to share this most precious gift of the Resurrection with us, so that we may bear His peace, which passes all understanding, with us in a restless world.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Summer 2022

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The Logic of the Heart

At this time of the year the waterlily, the queen of the water plants, is blooming in many places in our country [Holland]—in ponds, in ditches, even in the drab canals in our big cities.

Waterlilies have a long way to go before out of the mud and water something so beautiful as its snow-white flower is born.  Nymphea alba it is called, the white nymph.  For just like the water beings, just like the nymphs, the flowers strive to come to the surface somewhere and play with water, air, and light.  Rarely is there such a world of difference in the realm of plants between darkness and light, between root and flower.

Looking at the plant you may recognize–what the waterlily does by nature shows us something of the long road that still lies ahead of us.

In every human being inconceivable forces are slumbering that are waiting to be awakened and come to blossom.  In antiquity these were called lotus flowers: invisible flowers that can be awakened to life.  Every human being is all too familiar with the dark bottom in which these forces are rooted—buried under murky thoughts, passions, and desires.  The first step on the path from this murkiness to light is: saying yes to yourself—also to the characteristic that most strongly resists change from temptation to strength.  In every human being lives a hidden longing for light, even when we are trapped in darkness and temptation.

We would not seek the way to the altar if we were not led by the longing for light that guides us upward, step by step.  One day to be reborn from above.  One day to awake and to blossom in a world of light.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Summer 2022

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Longing for Light

At this time of the year the waterlily, the queen of the water plants, is blooming in many places in our country [Holland]—in ponds, in ditches, even in the drab canals in our big cities.

Waterlilies have a long way to go before out of the mud and water something so beautiful as its snow-white flower is born.  Nymphea alba it is called, the white nymph.  For just like the water beings, just like the nymphs, the flowers strive to come to the surface somewhere and play with water, air, and light.  Rarely is there such a world of difference in the realm of plants between darkness and light, between root and flower.

Looking at the plant you may recognize–what the waterlily does by nature shows us something of the long road that still lies ahead of us.

In every human being inconceivable forces are slumbering that are waiting to be awakened and come to blossom.  In antiquity these were called lotus flowers: invisible flowers that can be awakened to life.  Every human being is all too familiar with the dark bottom in which these forces are rooted—buried under murky thoughts, passions, and desires.  The first step on the path from this murkiness to light is: saying yes to yourself—also to the characteristic that most strongly resists change from temptation to strength.  In every human being lives a hidden longing for light, even when we are trapped in darkness and temptation.

We would not seek the way to the altar if we were not led by the longing for light that guides us upward, step by step.  One day to be reborn from above.  One day to awake and to blossom in a world of light.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Summer 2022

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Docta Ignorantia

“I did not seek Christ, but the truth.  He, who is the truth, then bestowed on me the grace to find me.”

With these words, Simone Weil, the French atheist, testified of her search and roundabout way to Christ, almost a century ago.

In our time it is beginning to look as if every person has his own truth, and that THE truth doesn’t matter anymore.  Denials and distortions of the truth are happening all the time in our world.  We are living in what is sometimes called “the post-truth world.”

How would it be if with everything we proclaim we would at least in all modesty say: This is MY truth?  No more and no less, in the awareness that I, as a single individual, am not capable of comprehending THE truth.  In times past this awareness was called docta ignorantia, “learned ignorance.”  That is no false modesty, but modest realism.  For no matter how much I have seen, learned, and thought, as an individual I am not capable of knowing the truth.  What I see and recognize is a riddle picture in a mirror.  What I seek remains hidden from me my whole life long, until I suddenly stand face to face, eye to eye, with Him who is the only one who can say of Himself: I AM the truth.

Perhaps, at the end of our life, we can then say: “I have sought the truth.  He, who is the truth, then bestowed on me the grace to find me.”

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Summer 2022

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Ukraine Update 6

Here is the SIXTH UPDATE from Ukraine.

Here are ways to donate:

The Christian Community in Hillsdale, NY has offered to receive checks and PayPal donations which they will wire to The Christian Community in Germany.  These donations will go to support refugee and humanitarian aid in connection with the war.  If sending a check via mail:

The Christian Community
c/o Treasurer
10 Green River Ln.
Hillsdale, NY 12529
Memo: Ukraine

You may also use their PayPal donation button, but be sure to add Ukraine as a note/instruction.

Those wishing to help Waldorf schools and their families in Ukraine can make donations directly to the Friends of Waldorf Education (Freunde der Erziehungskunst), which has already mobilized a worldwide network of financial and logistic support via its secure website by clicking here.

Non-profit Relief Fund: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ukraine-crisis-relief-fund/

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Ordinations in Toronto

Many people streamed together, not only from North America, also from as far away as Australia. They came to celebrate the Sacrament of Ordination for four individuals who have decided to leave behind the lives they have led and to take up the work of a priest in The Christian Community. They absolved the last phase of their training at our seminary attached to the Toronto church, engaging regularly with the congregation there. Under the leadership of Seminary Directors Revs. Jonah Evans and Patrick Kennedy, assisted by other priests and artists, they prepared themselves from mid- January on for this momentous step. We welcomed three members of the Circle of Seven, the central leadership of The Christian Community, one of whom, Rev. Oliver Steinrueck, celebrated the ordination services. The organizational team, composed of members and friends from as far away as Calgary and Vancouver, took care of a flawless and welcoming venue. All in all, everyone present experienced a heartwarming and inspiring festival. The names of the new priests are Robert Bower (USA), Nigel Lumsden (Great Britain), Damien Gilroy (Australia), and Erica Maclennan (Canada).

Donations to the Ukraine Update

For those who have recently sent donations marked Ukraine to the Hillsdale community, they have been transferred to the West German region of the Christian Community to support refugees and humanitarian aid in connection with the war in Ukraine. The Hillsdale treasurer received the following acknowledgment:

We thank you very much for this generous donation. We will be able to support many important things with it.

Warm greetings,
Mit herzlichem Gruß
Die Christengemeinschaft
in Westdeutschland KdöR
(Koordinator)

Hilldale will continue to receive donations marked Ukraine.  Here are ways to donate:

The Christian Community in Hillsdale, NY has offered to receive checks and PayPal donations which they will wire to The Christian Community in Germany.  These donations will go to support refugee and humanitarian aid in connection with the war.  If sending a check via mail:

The Christian Community
c/o Treasurer
10 Green River Ln.
Hillsdale, NY 12529
Memo: Ukraine

You may also use their PayPal donation button, but be sure to add Ukraine as a note/instruction.

Those wishing to help Waldorf schools and their families in Ukraine can make donations directly to the Friends of Waldorf Education (Freunde der Erziehungskunst), which has already mobilized a worldwide network of financial and logistic support via its secure website by clicking here.

Non-profit Relief Fund: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/ukraine-crisis-relief-fund/

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Update from Odessa

Update from Rev. Andrei Ziltsov. Odessa

Dear friends!
Christ is risen! He is truly risen!

Easter this year was a very essential experience! The seriousness of Holy Week was felt much more clearly than usual, especially during the daily Gospel work and the common reading of the Gospel texts at the hour of the death of the cross in front of the altar. And the real miracle was that the joy of Easter is a reality that no war can stand in the way of. The joy was quiet and tender, but very clear and deep, and also the hope for the future was and is really present. Despite that everything else is also present.  Of course, without any confidence that tomorrow something will change radically, but everything will already have a meaning. And the hope that from the graves of souls a new future can rise.

On Easter Sunday we had a human consecration ceremony at 7:30 in Ukrainian and then again at 10:00 in Russian. The first time was due to curfew, which lasted until 6:00 am, and we wanted to give people a chance to arrive on time. At 11 o’clock we could even celebrate a Sunday act with 4 children and afterward, as it is proper, enjoy a festive table. On that day, many people who had not been in the community for a while came to the ceremonies and I was surprised that, despite the fact that many had fled, we had a total of forty “feast-guests” together.

Today is the 62nd day of the war. The events in Ukraine are more and more localized to the east and south, and by south we mean not only Mariupol and Melitopol but also Kherson, Nikolayev, and Odessa. After the sinking of the armored cruiser “Moskva” two weeks ago, the situation in Odessa had become somewhat more relaxed for a few days, although hardly a day or night passed without air alarms or explosions.  And life in the city had become a lot more lively: quite a few people had returned, some cafes were and are open and even some activity can be seen on some construction sites. I was even able to visit a hair salon on my birthday! And then it came again last Saturday: the whizzing of an anti-aircraft missile right over the community center, explosions in town, and the burning of an apartment building three kilometers from us. In the meantime, we had in the house two confirmands, who stayed in Odessa with their parents all the time, and some helpers. The matter especially upset the children but did not prevent them to go for a walk after an hour. And even the task: to find something that gives joy and strength to the soul, – was brilliantly fulfilled. The children enthusiastically told about the grass… and flowers… and even a little lamb. In this way, we prepared for confirmation this year. And on Sunday Dasha and Lola wished that at the confirmation some unoccupied chairs in their row be put down, so that in this way we could include all the other children who belong to the group and are now in Germany, Poland, Spain, and elsewhere. And there it came again: the true Easter spiritual reality: quietly, but surely and inexorably. The feast was a real one and afterward, we could play boisterously and greet the now confirmed young people.
Otherwise, we are in contact with friends in Eastern and Western Ukraine. We offer to move to Odessa to people who are in a worse situation, and it is wonderful to see how Waldorf-anthroposophical life in the west of the country is inspired and blossoms by Waldorf teachers who have come from Kyiv, Dnjepr, and Odessa.

On the streets of the city or in the supermarkets warm short conversations arise with unknown people because everyone is much more open and helpful than usual. It is strange how this exists together, as if in parallel worlds: Attacking troops, who are about 170 km away from Odessa and are constantly shelling the neighboring city of Nikolaev from some “Grad”, “Igla” and whatever the stuff is called; the permanent missile danger from the air in Odessa and the “almost-normal-looking” life in many spots in our city.

The Odessa parish continues to carry the daily rhythm of consecration acts, alternately in Ukrainian and Russian. There are quite a few people from the parish active as volunteers, always doing or collecting something for the refugees or for the army.

We were even able to celebrate a baptism about two weeks ago. Because the godmother came to Odessa for three days and the family wanted to use the opportunity to “give the child a godsend”. It was necessary to quickly look for another godfather, because the “old” one supported the fact of war from the side of the aggressors, if not outwardly, but inwardly. The preparation was fast and turbulent, but at last, we were all allowed to congratulate the happy Vasilisa and her family.

During Holy Week I decided to record daily video sermons. A new experience – to speak blindly “in front of no one”. My wife is teaching two eurythmy students “live” in the parish hall and many others are online 4 days a week. As fate would have it, on the first day of the war – February 24 – I was supposed/allowed to give an online lecture in Forum 3 about Ukraine, later also some talks and interviews with friends in the West. Now it is to go online to the proseminar east to Moscow from 6 to 9 May. During my last visit to Russia, we agreed with Annushka that we should start it there as well. Now more than a dozen students are registered and we don’t want to cancel it either. Am curious!!!

Otherwise, besides the church’s everyday life, I work in the Ukrainian anthroposophical Sophia Foundation. Thanks to many donations from Europe, we have already been able to provide 400 individuals and families with emergency aid. Soon we want to have a flyer printed to appeal for donations in Europe. If any of you can help with printing and distributing flyers as widely as possible in the anthroposophical institutions and foundations, please contact me (or use admin@thechristiancommunity.org)

In this spirit, I greet/hug you all warmly from Odessa and look forward to seeing you again.

Yours, Andrei Ziltsov.
Odessa. 26.04.22

Note: Original available here.