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Ukraine Update 5

Here is the FIFTH UPDATE from Ukraine.

Ways to Donate:

Donations to support refugees and humanitarian aid in connection with the war can please be transferred to the account of the West German Region of the Christian Community with a corresponding reference in the purpose of use:

Bank account holder: Die Christengemeinschaft
IBAN: DE96 3702 0500 0008 2597 00; BIC: BFSWDE33XXX; BLZ: 37020500


Bank account holder: Die Christengemeinschaft in Deutschland (Foundation)
IBAN: DE16 8502 0500 0003 6204 00; BIC: BFSWDE33DER; BLZ: 85020500


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Our Humanity

From Rev. Michael Latham, priest to the San Francisco congregation, writing from Germany:

Here the war is more immediate.

Not because there is more news coverage, not because there is more consciousness, not even because we are closer in distance. No, the immediacy is in meeting the “refugees”. They have names, biographies, and homes they have been forced to flee. They have voices that tell the story of their journeys. They have brought everything they can carry in their arms with them.

Maria is 33 years old.

She celebrated her birthday with us on Thursday in the community house, surrounded by people she had only met a few days earlier. She speaks neither English nor German. She speaks her mother tongue Ukrainian. She has bright eyes and a bright smile that seems incongruent to her story. She is destined to bring joy into this world. Beside her, sitting at her birthday dinner, are her two children, Varvara, who is 12 and Elizer, who is 9.

They are deeply, lovingly connected to one another and with the infectious joy of their mother. They run up and down the stairs in the community house with the free abandonment of children. Gisela Thriemer, the priest here, is teaching them German. How to count, how to name things they are eating. And they both agree that ice cream is their favorite food!

They also brought a cat with beautiful blue/grey fur who wants to know who everyone is, because he is also part of the family.

Maria is – was – a music teacher at a Waldorf school in Kyiv. She is also a cellist. She escaped to Poland with her two children and the cat, and anything they could carry in the way of clothing. There, she was met by a friend living in Darmstadt, Germany who brought her to this town where she stayed on a couch until more refugees arrived,  then she needed to move out.

She came to the church on a Sunday, and asked the priest, Gisela, if she could help her to find a place to stay. Gisela did not know Ukrainian so called a friend to translate, while Maria stood by her. ‘Can you help me?’ She is now staying in a room in the community house sometimes used by an intern, to live there for now with her two children and the cat.

Maria plays cello. During a service for peace on Wednesday evening in the church, she joined the beautiful musicians and choir in Darmstadt to play together. The congregation was invited to say prayers, light a candle, then place it in a golden basin filled with water. Many children and families were there; older and younger members sung together. Dona Nobis Pacem was sung, reminding me of our service for peace a week earlier in San Francisco, where we sang this also.

Maria played the cello, loaned to her by one of the congregation. It was beautiful, soulful, and poignant. Yet nothing prepared us for a Ukrainian folk song she sung accompanied by the guitar. It didn’t so much reach our ears and bring its haunting melodies into our hearts. It tore apart the soul – tears were rolling down many eyes. The pain of our human desolation was laid before us.

After this we began the vespers service, candles on the altar were lit.

The trinity crosses that we all share…

The Father-God,
The Son-God,
The Spirit-God.



Then the trinity epistle…

Conscious of our humanity…
Aware of the Christ in our humanity…
Grasping the Spirit through our humanity…



What is said and done at the altar is more immediate.

We have become connected to all our brothers and sisters through our humanity.

Before I joined Maria, her children, and friends at her birthday dinner, I joined Micky Eisele and his sister Julia Eisele-Nazael. Years earlier I had the blessing to accompany a youth group from Darmstadt on a trip to Namibia. Micky was a teenager then, and there in Africa I had the pleasure of getting to know him on his journey towards adulthood.

Julia had been left a rather large, old house from her grandmother. It remained empty of all furnishings until last Thursday night. With Micky and a large van, borrowed from a farmer nearby his home, we went door to door of several members of the community, picking up dressers, dining tables, lamps, bedding, kitchen cookware, plates, knives and forks, and a washing machine and dryer. Julia packed her car with bedding. The three of us filled the house with donated furniture and basic cleaning supplies for the next arrivals:

A mother with two children 9 and 12 years old.
A mother with a daughter 14 years old.
A mother with an 8-month-old baby.
The grandmother to this baby.
A mother with her 4-year-old child and their dog.
They would be arriving in 3 days, also coming through Poland.

The following day we, Gisela Thriemer & I, made our way to Berlin for the ordinations of the priests. She was often on the phone coordinating what was still needed to receive these displaced human beings, and to make sure the beds would arrive at this house on time for their arrival. Although I had helped a little, I felt that there is still so much I could do. But what?

As we alighted in the Berlin Central Train Station, my thoughts were turning to meeting my colleagues and my ordination brothers & sisters that I have not seen in 2 years.

We were on track 10. Directly opposite on track 8, there is a very long and wide platform where people wait for the train. We both stopped and stood overwhelmed. On this platform a sea of humanity was gathered. Thousands were packed together waiting for a train. Many, many women and children with bags and rucksacks.

Deutsche Bahn have given the refugees free passage to anywhere in Germany. These were the ‘refugees’ from Ukraine, arriving now from Poland, waiting for trains to take them to many different towns and cities in the south. There were helpers in day-glo vests with signs inviting those seeking shelter to come and speak with them.

As we moved into the main part of the station, I saw families with little children huddling in groups on the floor of the station, comforting the children, feeding them, playing games.

Holding their children to keep them free of the uncertainty and the unknown of their lives.

Tears welled up in my eyes. I thought everything I was about to do seemed superfluous, silly even – to go on when there are so many needing help. What do you do?

Meeting my colleagues, my friends, my fellow walkers with Christ, we all feel this. It’s not something you can avoid. We are all overwhelmed by the need in front of us. The communities in Germany are responding. They help in any way they can.

Later we prayed together in our vestments, celebrating the arrival of new colleagues into our circle. The heavens opened once more to receive and bless them, and us.

We are a small worldwide church really. Yet, we have been given something so precious & real that we barely know its significance. And its power.

The Sun Being of Christ alights at the altar, and we can unite with Him there. His Body and Blood is given to us, to strengthen us, so we may step into this world of conflict and separation. We can help unite with all our brothers and sisters struggling all over the world.  We can share out of this cup of life, the communion for the evolving of our humanity.

My colleague Guido Rosell in Berlin asked if I would co-celebrate with him this morning, as his colleague was feeling unwell.  The time came for communion. I stood beside my ordination brother at the altar and knew, no matter if it is in San Francisco or in Berlin, this sacrament lives as the sun-filled power needed for our time on this earth and for the journey onwards after we leave it.

I feel blessed to have received my ordination in this church. I feel blessed to have met you, dear community of Christians, who strive with open hearts to bring the real presence of Christ into this world-time that is desperate, and aching, for His Love.

For Maria, Varvara & Elizer.

–Rev. Michael Latham

These pictures below were drawn by the students of the 5th-grade religion class in the Waldorf School in Darmstadt.

The word painted is pronounced “MIR”  and is the Ukrainian word for peace.
Frieden sei mit Euch – is German for Peace be with you.





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Giving Thanks

Life can only be understood when contemplated backward, but it has to be lived forward.” That is the life wisdom of a well-known philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard.

Under normal conditions, these two one-sidednesses keep each other in balance. Imagine that we would only go back: we would eventually, literally and figuratively, be unable to make another step in life. And imagine we would only live forward: we would lose ourselves in bustling busyness. Unfortunately, we see the latter all too often: lots of people do nothing but rushing along without understanding where they come from and where they are going.

Of old, it was known that every day we should look back to understand in retrospect what really happened. Through reflection—and most of all self-reflection—we will sooner or later understand the threads of destiny in the fabric of our life. And once we learn to have an overview of all the threads of the fabric, we can lastly be thankful for everything in our life, for joy and suffering, happiness and unhappiness, good and bad luck, because we recognize: it belongs to me. For life is right, in every case.

We take the highest standpoint in the backward contemplation only after we have died. In the life panorama that the Lord of Destiny shows us, we understand backward how we lived forward. If there is anything that connects the living and the dead, it is thankfulness. But as long as we are only thankful for this one human being, for this one happiness that came our way, we have not yet arrived at the right destination with our thanks. The dead recognize whom we have to thank for our existence.

And we? At St. John’s Tide we join in with this highest standpoint, and cry to Him at the altar: “To the Father God, all wielding, all blessing, shall stream our souls’ devoted and heart-warmed thanks.”

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, St. John’s Tide, 2021

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



       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

A Few Thoughts on Clouds for Ascension

The clouds are more than they seem. We see them all the time. They are never fixed to one spot or shape and they are more than just a misty mass of white fluff. They are a dynamic mix of water in liquid, solid and gas (which is also amazing that water can do that!) .

Clouds are also made up of very small particles of dirt, the earth! The fluffy cloud in the sky is really quite heavy by weight but it defies gravity, is ruled by levity. Warmth and coolness meet and change in the cloud. Rising and falling and moving all the particles around. Creating static electricity…. lighting and thunder!

When we really take a moment to look at the clouds, this drama and wonder can fill our soul. Our souls and the clouds have quite a bit in common. We could even imagine our souls to be a cloud.

Our souls are also quite dynamic. Our souls are the meeting place of heaven of earth. The dramas of our lives play out in our souls. There can be a battle of gravity and levity in our souls.  Suffering, conflict, war, can rage in our souls. We can battle ourselves as well as the world outside us. We can lash out in anger and pour out our tears. We know though, as the morning verse in the Waldorf school says, “The Sun with loving light makes bright for me each day...
On the darkest of days the sun is behind the darkened clouds. The sun rays its light though the clouds. We can hold this as a true picture that the Christ’s light rays through the dynamic landscape of our soul. The light illuminates, clears and warms the coldness and darkness of our souls. Uniting us with Christ Jesus. The one who is also of the heaven and the earth.

Rev. Ann Burfeind
The Christian Community Vancouver

Contemplation on John 16

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have much hardship; but take courage, I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

Contemplation on John 16
By Mimi Coleman

So many people have been in their homes now for weeks, a month or more.  We have tried to keep our distance, to keep ourselves safe, to keep others safe. In order to do this we’ve had to step out of our usual rhythm of life, away from all the things we would normally do.  It has given us the opportunity to establish new patterns and activities, to set aside other habits, and to think about how we might like to go forward next, while also knowing that we may need to withdraw to our homes yet again.

How was it for us as we went to our homes?  Were we prepared for our loneliness?   Did we scatter and withdraw well-equipped for what we would face?  I don’t mean only did we have enough food or supplies, but also did we have the inner resources we would need?

In this week’s gospel reading we hear that the disciples will be scattered, “each one to his home,” or, depending on the translation, “every man to his own,” or again, “each one into his own loneliness.”   This now sounds very familiar to us, not only as something that was said to a few people thousands of years ago.  This is very timely, though the reasons then were different than they are now.

Christ Jesus explains earlier in the chapter, that it is also to the disciples’ advantage that he goes away to his father where he had his origin, “…for if I do not go away the comforter will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you.”  We thus hear him encouraging this kind of aloneness for his disciples.  Do we dare encourage ourselves to be alone?  Are we being alone out of fear, or because we were told to do so? Or are we finding the opportunity within the imposed, or self-imposed, isolation.  How are we using this time?  Are we able to tune in to the divine all around us and within us?

Christ Jesus would prepare us for such a time as this that we are living.  After all, he withdrew many times throughout his ministry, either on to a mountain, or by himself alone, away from the crowd.
The disciples have to go to a place of their own, to withdraw and feel the meaning of the events of Holy Week and of Easter; only then will the Holy Spirit be able to come and enlighten them.  My hope is that as many of us as possible will also experience that comforter in our loneliness, when we are on our own.  May we have the spirit courage we need to get us through this time.

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A Prayer for One’s Country

Mother Earth – NASA

Prayer for One’s Country (adapted)

–Adam Bittleston

O Christ, Thou knowest
The souls and spirits
Whose deeds have woven
This land’s destiny.

May we who today
Are bearers of this destiny
Find the strength and the light
Of thy servant Michael.

And our hearts be warmed
By Thy blessing, O Christ,
That our deeds may serve
Thy work of world healing.

This appears as a “Prayer for Britain” in the 1966 edition of Meditative Prayers for Today by Adam Bittleston. It does not appear in the current edition, available at http://shop.steinerbooks.org/Title/9781782504672 . This much-loved collection can be used as a kind of breviary. From the description:

Growing into the daily use of these meditative prayers makes us conscious of how we stand in great world rhythms. We learn to follow the alternation of waking and sleeping, the ordering of the seven days of the week, and the course of the seasons, as gifts of heavenly powers gradually become known to us.

This is a small, elegant guide to aid meditation.

C O N T E N T S:


Evening and morning
The week
The year
Against fear
For one who has died
Intercessory prayers
For children
The guardian angel
Blessing on a house
For a journey
For the peoples of the world
Grace before meals

A note about the Lord’s Prayer

This appears as a “Prayer for Britain” in the 1966 edition of Meditative Prayers for Today by Adam Bittleston. It does not appear in the current edition, available at http://shop.steinerbooks.org/Title/9781782504672 . This much-loved collection can be used as a kind of breviary. From the description:

Growing into the daily use of these meditative prayers makes us conscious of how we stand in great world rhythms. We learn to follow the alternation of waking and sleeping, the ordering of the seven days of the week, and the course of the seasons, as gifts of heavenly powers gradually become known to us.

This is a small, elegant guide to aid meditation.

C O N T E N T S:


Evening and morning
The week
The year
Against fear
For one who has died
Intercessory prayers
For children
The guardian angel
Blessing on a house
For a journey
For the peoples of the world
Grace before meals

A note about the Lord’s Prayer

–Rev. Cindy Hindes

Uncertain Times

In times of uncertainty, of sudden disruptions and upheaval we look for indications, for signs that can help us to process all that is upending our lives. And it is natural to search frantically for any sign that promises safety, security and a return to normalcy. And when the kind of life raft needed to get us there is still unknown, fear takes over.


But what if the fear driven, frantically thrashing about should actually be the most exhausting part in trying to stand up to the gigantic wave of massive disruption of life as we have come to know it and expect it?


Maybe the very remedy, the most effective way to deal with the wave of disruption and of uncertainty is to dive down under in a kind of active, attentively perceiving surrender, and a soft but steady will to breathe while doing so? Not with frantic, pressing questions that exhaust us but with a gentle, heart motivated curiosity as to what it might all mean. With a desire to plumb and to fathom what might be found in the dark, in the deep of the unknown and to find a place of stillness in its center.


The wise have always known: to see the light we have to first go dark.


No answer is found without entering the unknown future, however frightening a prospect that may be. Or as the provocative philosopher Nietzsche put it: ‘Without the grave there is no resurrection’. Joseph Beuys, the revolutionary and far sighted artist of the 20th century, said: ‘Every creation begins with a cross’.


It is the sign. It is the way that will take us into a new reality, into a life as we have never known before.

From Rev. Gisela Wielki’s Facebook page, March 15, 2020