Can you also be an angel for your neighbor?

Each human being has an angel, thank God.  We badly need him in our chaotic daily lives, for otherwise, we would get into big trouble.  Even when we are about to lose our inner compass, the angel still watches over us and does his utmost to keep us on the right track.  A Dutch saying goes: Children and drunkards have a special angel.

Still, an angel is not sufficient to prepare our way on earth.  What would happen to us if there were no human beings who cross our path?  One person can become as an angel for another when he serves him selflessly.

Christ—even Christ—also needs such a companion on earth, who prepares His way.  “See, I send my angel before you.” (Mt.11:10) This task, the task of John the Baptist, is given to each human being, not only to the greatest of all human beings on earth.  Each of us, wherever we go or stay, is called to stand ready for his neighbor like an angel.  Since Christ lived on earth, since someone asked him: “Who is my neighbor?” we know who that is: for every person we meet on the path of our life, we can become a neighbor.

Keep your eyes and ears open, for in every encounter sounds a question.

You do not only have an angel.

Can you also be an angel for your neighbor?


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, July 17, 2021


St. John’s Tide

When as parents you have taken care of your children for years, when you have spared no cost or effort to give them the best that was possible, perhaps the moment comes sooner or later when they give something back.  As small children they naturally accepted little and large gifts without any idea of what it took to get those for them.  As growing children and rebellious youths, perhaps they never uttered a word of thanks, sometimes even the opposite.  And when that time is also past, when they are experiencing personally what it takes to care for others day in, day out, the moment comes perhaps that the children give something back to their parents, out of their own free will.  Usually, the story starts from the beginning again as soon as our sons and daughters get children of their own.  Then only do they realize what their parents have done for them.

God is as a Father for human beings on earth.  No heartless, despotic tyrant, but a Father who ceaselessly bestows love on us, whatever happens.  Our humanity mostly reacts to this gift like little children: carelessly, ignorantly—or like rebellious youths: mockingly, shrugging their shoulders.

In the Act of Consecration of Man we learn what this gift means to us.  For the Divine Father this is the moment when His beloved daughters and sons respond to His gift out of their own free will.  Every Act of Consecration is a eu-charist—literally: thanksgiving.  In St. John’s Tide this eucharist culminates in the eulogy:

“To the Father God … shall stream our souls’ devoted and heart-warmed thanks.”


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, July 11, 2021


“In your midst already stands one whom you do not know.” (Jn.1:26)

“In your midst already stands one whom you do not know.” (Jn.1:26)

In our fragmented world, which more and more breaks apart into differences and oppositions, there is an open spot in the middle.  You might think of the middle between two extremes, but also of a place in each of us where we come to ourselves.  Now, most of the time this middle is hard to find because we live in such a torn world, and that tear most often runs right through us.

To find the middle you have to learn to walk a tightrope, keeping a balance between extremes, and step by step bridge the chasm of opposites.  And to learn to keep balance, you first have to find it in yourself, usually by trial and error.  The instrument we use in these efforts we call the I.  That is not the little, everyday ego, with which we constantly alternate between fight and flight, between recklessness and fear.  The world is full of egos, and all of them fight for first place.  The true I is only itself, no more and no less.

Only after we have died does the I show itself in its true essence—as one single tone in the world symphony, the harmony of the cosmos.  Then only do we discover: I am that—and without me the world symphony would not be complete.  But during our life we can already practice trying to catch a glimpse of this true I and enable it to manifest as a reflection in our work.  I do this by asking with everything I think or do:  Lord, what is Your will that I do?

“In your midst already stands one whom you do not know.”

Get to know Him by listening to the still voice of conscience, in which Christ is speaking.


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan

, ,

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


“I pray for the human beings which You have given me.” (Jn.17:9)

“I pray for the human beings which You have given me.” (Jn.17:9)

When praying we are never alone.  No matter how lonely we are, there are always others who pray with us in silence.  We can notice that especially in the Act of Consecration of Man, where our weak attempts are supported from all sides.  That is also the actual reason why at the altar we form a community: communal prayer gets wings.  The individual forces are not only added together, they multiply, they potentize each other.  More than ever it is necessary in our time to work together in prayer.  “One single one does not help, but whoever unites himself with many at the right moment.” (Goethe)

In the Act of Consecration, we unite in prayer not only with the visible congregation but also with all “those from whom You received before us Your Son’s offering.”  Soon after this sentence is spoken in the Act of Consecration, sounds the Lord’s Prayer.  Have we in that moment connected ourselves with the invisible congregation?  At any rate, they, the deceased, connect themselves with us.

But more than any other, the Father connects Himself with us whenever we speak a true prayer.  In antiquity it was said: “God hears our prayer.”  The psalm in which this sentence occurs does not add: God answers our prayer.  That is up to God alone.  But since Christ lived on earth, He prays with all and for all who want to follow Him.  The High Priestly Prayer, spoken by Christ just before He was taken captive, is one great intercession: “I pray for the human beings which You have given me.”

Therefore we trust, even in the greatest loneliness: when praying we are never alone.


Bastiaan Baan, May 30, 2021


Easter Octave

“And while He said this, He showed them His hands and His side. (John 20: 20)

When hearing the word peace, every person will make some association.  More than just an abstract concept, the word evokes images in us.  You can see it before you: a peaceful landscape in the light of the setting sun, a still lake under a blue sky, a little child in deep sleep—all of them are pictures we yearn for, exactly because the world in which we live is such a jumble of unrest, chaos, and conflicts.  And when words and images fall short, there are always sounds that can perfectly express peace: a lofty symphony, a lovely pastoral, or just a simple lullaby.

If there is anyone who knows what peace is, it is Christ.  Not only is He a human being in perfect harmony, but He is also at peace with the world.  How in God’s name is that possible?  Not only with the world in as much as it is still in a state of harmony but also, and above all, with the disharmony of the world.  You can tell by looking at Him.  When after His Resurrection He bestows peace on His disciples, He shows them His hands and His side.  Whoever receives His peace has to see His wounds, has to see what human beings have done to Him.  It is as if with these wounds He wants to say:

My peace is not of this world.

My peace is born out of pain.

Whoever endures the pain with Me,

Whoever has fought the battle with Me,

On them I bestow My peace.


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, April 11, 2021


The Easter Epistle and Insert

Thank you to Rev. Paul Corman who is visiting the US for offering this contemplation:

The Easter Epistle and Insert

Easter Sunday this year has come and gone, but the Easter season will continue for 40 days until Ascension.  In these 6 weeks we will hear in the Act of Consecration of Man, the Easter Epistle.  Taking into account what we have heard during Passiontide, we will notice that the motifs continue to transform into the main motifs of Easter.  The “locations” of the transforming activity have remained the same: the heart, blood, the breath, and consciousness.  It is the effects that have changed.

Before in Passiontide, the heart was empty and burning; now it is the tomb that is empty and the heart that is full.

Before, we lived in the cold earthly house, forsaken of the spirit; now we feel the warmth that transforms the beat of the heart into rejoicing and healing power.

Before, it was loss and abandonment that we felt; now we feel fulfillment and the comfort of the spirit.

Before, what touched our consciousness was waiting and a ray of sadness from a tomb of hope that penetrated our gaze; now we experience the vanquisher of death, joy and grace.

It may seem obvious that, with Easter, sadness leaves and jubilation and joy take over our experience.  This is what we feel and celebrate, especially with children.  However, if our celebration takes place mostly in the emotional realm, very soon the worries of life and daily chores will demand most of our attention and the deeper meaning of Easter will fade into the background.  The truth is that Easter has to be the center of our Christian life all year long.  It is to give “flavor” and “color” to all the other festivals and, indeed, to everything we experience throughout the year. This aspect of Easter is seen even more strongly in the prayer inserted in the middle of the Act of Consecration during the festive seasons.  The Easter insert advises us that the Easter resurrection is not only for us humans; it says that jubilation and delight live “in the air around the Earth” and that the breath of the Earth lives in the sun, radiating the power of the spirit. Easter re-unites the spiritual forces of the Earth with those of the Sun through the Christ.  Christ’s deed of Easter brought something of unification back into the universe, something which since the fall had been separated. But even more than that, the human being is inserted into the universal fabric in a way that was never before possible.  Truly, from Easter Sunday onwards, everything is different.  It will, however, take time until human beings become aware of this fact in such a way that from our consciousness, we transform our behavior.  The insert goes on to explain that Christ has entered the pulse of our lives from where he can transform our souls.  First of all, it speaks of the devoted soul.  Devote comes from the Latin “devotus”, given to, offered to, consecrated to.  The prefix “de” means “from top to bottom”, that is, completely, and the word “vote” comes from the Latin verb “vovere”, to consecrate, to dedicate, to offer, but also has to do with another Latin verb “votare”, to make vows, offerings, to promise, to express a desire.  We have several words that come from these verbs: vote, devote, devotion, devout and vow.  The word “devoted”, then, encompasses the religious, social and political fields, revealing the relationship of the religious underpinnings in other areas of life.  Imagine how different the world might be, if we would feel more this undercurrent reality of our voting in an election or when committing ourselves to an impulse or a project, and when taking vows in marriage.

The insert then presents some extraordinary images to make even more vivid what happened with the resurrection: what in strength has risen “from the chains of death”, what in light has been born again in “the life of Christ”, “what heals the self” in the depths of the soul.  It speaks of the human constitution and the transformation of its constituent members, by the forces of the resurrection: “the soul that was dead, lives; the self that was dark, shines, the spirit that was closed springs open and “abounds”.  But, for me, the most striking thing is what follows.  The human soul that was a tomb has been opened and now forms an altar.  Christ as a priest celebrating the offering on this altar, which is illuminated not by candles, but by “the spirit-light of man”.  And again, the insert broadens our view of space and time to the utmost, saying that Christ celebrates this offering at the altar of the human soul “to the worlds afar, to the earth near, now and beyond all cycles of time.”

Could there be more beautiful, more encouraging, more hopeful images, that at the same time reveal our participation in and responsibility for Christ’s work and goals?  In this brief attempt to present the epistle and the Easter insert, we can discover enough material to continue thinking about and contemplating the deeper meaning of Easter, during the 40 days until Ascension, and, indeed, for the rest of our lives.


–Rev. Paul Corman, April 2021



It is with deep gratitude that we announce this to be the last of Reverend Baan’s weekly contemplations. His offerings have been a deep nourishment for our souls through a challenging year.    


On the first Easter morning, after three days, truth came to light.  No longer was Christ hidden in the heart of the earth, but He appeared as the Risen One in the light of day.  The first ones to see Him with their own eyes recognized their Lord and their God at first sight—the only one who could say of Himself: “I AM the truth.”  The doubters too, even doubting Thomas, had to believe.  Thus it went for forty days.  Truth had come to light.

What happened after that?  How can we, doubting Thomases and vacillating Pilates, discover truth?  Actually, the age-old question of Pilate has become a question of all of us: “What is truth?”  And Thomas’ unbelief is reflected in our saying: “Seeing is believing.”  These days we live in a world in which everything is pulled into doubt, in which nothing is as it seems, and in which our faith in human beings, in life, and in truth, is severely put to the test.  When that is about to happen, you have to fall back on incontestable truth.

Someone who had spent years in a concentration camp in Indonesia told me once how she had survived that hell.  Day after day, year after year, she had watched the sunrise.  That was the only certainty that gave a firm ground to her shaky existence.  For whatever is going on, whatever happens to us, each morning the sun appears and pursues its unwavering course through heaven.

The service at the altar is for human beings and angels what the sunrise is for the earth.  Christ Himself walks over the earth, from altar to altar, and fulfills the sacrament with the light of His Resurrection.  In the fulfillment of the altar service, in every true sacrament that is fulfilled on earth, we slowly gain the unshakable trust:

Whatever may happen in the world around us, the Christ-Sun rises each morning and fills the earth with His presence.


-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Easter 2021


Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday

Behind every human being stands an unseen, unknown world. What we see and hear is but the person. In ancient Rome persona was the word for the mask through which an actor spoke on the stage. The word literally means: sound-through.

We are surrounded by masks, which usually speak in riddles—just as we do. Frequently, someone or something other than ourselves speaks through such a mask. Who is it that speaks through us when we want to enrich ourselves at the expense of others, or when we want to exercise power over other people? And who speaks through us when we dedicate ourselves to serve other people or a high ideal?

Whether we want to or not, with every word, every deed, every thought, we create or destroy, visibly or invisibly. Don’t look at the outside but listen for the “moral music” behind the words; try to catch the hidden language of the intention—and you will learn to recognize who is speaking through the per-sona.

Without realizing what they were shouting, on Palm Sunday people said the truth with the words “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mt.21:9)

He came in the name of the Lord.

And we?

As long as we only come in our own name, in our own interest, we disturb something in the world around us. Today this is happening on a large scale with the earth. We are confronted with the destructive consequences of our egotism and greed.

Wherever we go or stand, we can bless and be blessed. You don’t need to shout it from the rooftops, like the crowd did on Palm Sunday. You can simply come, think, walk in the name of the Lord, without even mentioning His name.

And He will give His blessing—a blessing none of us can give out of ourselves.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Palm Sunday March 28, 2021


I Do Not Condemn You Either (John 8:1-12)

I Do Not Condemn You Either (John 8:1-12)

Wherever we go or stand, everything and everyone demands a judgment of us—good or bad, for or against, yes or no. We even ask it of children: What do you think? From childhood on we have to have an opinion on everything.

Our judgments make it hard for us to observe with an open mind, let alone to find the truth. The harder we become in our judgments, the more we lose sight of reality. Hard judgments eventually become prejudices. And prejudices become unbending points of view. Whoever once takes such a standpoint, in the end he can’t make another step; he keeps himself imprisoned in a world of his own laws. In a world where differences are becoming ever greater, we tend to fall back on the Old-Testament judgment of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Only when we combat our superficial sympathies and antipathies do we begin to see the other—not the way we think he ought to be, but as he really is. Then only does the other feel seen and recognized: he has the right to be.

The story of the woman who committed adultery in John 8 speaks volumes about our deeply rooted inclination to judge and condemn. True, a thin layer of civilization keeps us from actually stoning such a person, but with our judgment on the guilt of others we stone them no less effectively.
And Christ? He was the only one who did things differently. He went to places on the earth where not only the shadow of guilt prevailed, but also the darkness of condemnation. It just is the way it is—sinners are stoned, literally or figuratively. He alone could say: “Whoever among you is free of sin, let him throw the first stone at her.”

He alone, the only one who is without sin, has the Old-Testament right to stone her—and He does not do it. Instead, He takes what is unbearable in our sin in His hand and writes it with his finger into the earth. That is another expression of the classic words: “See, the Lamb of God who takes the sin of the world upon himself.”

And when we want to find His light, the light of the world, there is no other way than to follow Him through the darkness of guilt. Without this darkness we are not able to recognize His light. And without His light we are not able to overcome our darkness.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, March 21, 2021