Nourishment which Endures (John 6:27)

Do not put your efforts into acquiring the perishable nourishment, but the nourishment which endures and leads to imperishable life. The Son of Man will give it to you. (John 6:27)

If there is anything that binds us to the earth, it is eating and drinking.  We have hardly satisfied ourselves, and hunger and thirst are back again.  They accompany our earthly life from our first breath to the last, not only in the literal but also in the figurative sense of the word.  The thirst for existence is never quenched.  Even when we have died, this thirst sooner or later brings us back to the earth, where we still have something to do.

Hunger and thirst also accompanied the life of Jesus Christ on earth.  “I thirst”—it was one of the last words on the cross.  With this prayer and the bad aftertaste of a bitter beverage He died.  But also after His resurrection His hunger and thirst burn for what only we can give Him.  Someone once heard Him say: “I am thirsty.  I only have what I am given.  I take nothing.” [*]

That is also His question to us in the enigmatic, contradictory words from the Gospel of John: “Do not put your efforts into acquiring the perishable nourishment, but the nourishment which endures and leads to imperishable life. The Son of Man will give it to you.”  How can Christ ask us for something He Himself gives us?

In the language of the altar this gift, which He gives and asks at the same time, is called the communion.  It is much more than a gift.  It is also His entreaty: “What can you give me?  Can you give yourself to me, now that I have given myself to you?”

Only if I give myself to Him is the meal He wants to share with us perfect.  Only then is His thirst for our existence quenched.


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, March 19, 2023

[*] Gabrielle Bossis, Jesus Speaking: Heart to Heart with the King, Pauline Books and Media.


The Transfiguration on the Mountain (Mat. 17:1-18)

The Transfiguration on the Mountain (Mat. 17:1-18)

Never in the life of Christ on earth was the contrast between height and depth, between light and darkness, greater than at the Transfiguration on the mountain and the drama that followed it.  He had only just appeared in His true form on the mountain when at the foot of the mountain He was confronted with diseased humanity that brought Him to despair.  “How weak are the hearts of men, and how distorted the image of man has become in them.  How long must I still be with you?  How long must I still bear you?”

This shrill contrast is the distinctive hallmark of Christ and of those who want to follow Him.  Church Father St. Augustine once expressed it most succinctly with the words: “The history of Christianity takes its course between the persecutions of the adversary powers and the consolations of God.”  This is true not only for Christians, but also for Christ Himself—to be lurched this way and that between persecution and consolation, between transfiguration and temptation.  Not only is this His destiny, but it is also His self-chosen destiny, no matter now hard that sounds.  For after His resurrection He gives Himself the answer to His desperate question: “How long must I still bear you?”  “I am in your midst all the days until the completion of earthly time.”

In the Consecration of the Human Being we ascend the mountain.  The mountain—that is the altar.  The Latin words alta area mean: raised area for offering.  Even though we do not see it with our eyes, it is the place where Christ appears in His true form,  Every time the bread and wine are raised in His name, Christ is transfigured again.  Every time we receive the holy meal we can say with Peter: “Lord, it is good that we are here.”  And every time the holy act has been fulfilled He descends from the mountain with us, from the consolations of God back to the persecutions of the adversary powers on earth.


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, March 5, 2023


Invisible Assistance

“He will be delivered to the Gentiles, and will be mocked and shamefully treated and spat upon; they will scourge Him and kill Him …” (Luke 18:32)

All of this—it was not only the torture that Jesus underwent.  It is the daily occurring acts by which everywhere on earth people are broken.  History repeats itself countless times.  And always we stand powerless as bystanders, as witnesses and as spectators, as long as we are not involved ourselves as perpetrator or victim.  Perhaps powerlessness is the characteristic of all people of good will.  Evil is as old as the world, and with the best will in the world it cannot be eradicated.

The followers of Jesus were also powerless facing their rulers, who were possessed by evil.  And yet, despite everything, a few of them tried to assist Him to the end: the one disciple who knew what it was to die; the mother whose soul was pierced by a sword; the sinner who bestowed a deed of love on Him by anointing Him.  Those were the only things they could do in their impotence: stand by Him, literally and figuratively.

When you carefully look, you see that evil in the world does not only physically mutilate, but that, even more often, the souls of people are mutilated and broken.  But even then there still is something we can do in our powerlessness.  When we cannot do anything with our hands to effectively help, the only way we have left to help is through our prayer, our intercession, our compassion.  This invisible assistance, no matter how small and elusive, is a counterweight on the scale that threatens to collapse under the burden of evil in the world.  And it alleviates the burden of Him who has to bear all, and who says: “What you did for the least of my brothers, that you did for me.”

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, February 19, 2023


Standing before Christ

Our society is arranged in such a way that in daily life we can act as if Christ does not exist.  Even worse, He has been banished from our society.  Wherever you look, in our schools, shops, banks, factories, in our daily intercourse, no trace of Him is to be found.  Instead we live in a world in which power and money, algorithms and efficiency run things. That may sound radical, but we only become really conscious of it when our life is hanging by a thread.  It is a well-known phenomenon that everything looks different to someone who has stood on the crystal bridge and comes back from a near-death experience.  What seemed important in our everyday existence suddenly becomes insignificant; and the seemingly insignificant sometimes turns out to have great value.  At the boundary between life and death our life appears as an open book, of which the pages are closely covered with writing: nothing of what we have thought, spoken and done is lost.  It is preserved, not in our memory, but in the consciousness of the Lord of our destiny.  Someone who came back from an experience on the boundary of death and life said: “His gaze brought about that I saw myself with His eyes.”

What was manifested in this exceptional experience will one day become reality for every human being.  “… all peoples of the earth will behold the Son of Man …,” says Christ (Mt.24:30) and John adds: “All eyes shall see Him, also the eyes of those who pierced Him” (Rev.1:7).   How can we prepare for that encounter?  And how shall we be able to keep our footing when one day we will stand eye to eye with the Son of Man?

In the Consecration of the Human Being there is one moment when we literally stand before Christ.  In that moment we give ourselves to Him as He gives Himself to us—unconditionally.  That is why the Communion is called the highest form of community.

When you receive this gift, know then: I stand before Him.  Even if I am blind, He sees me.  He gives Himself to me.  He touches me.  In this consciousness I prepare for the moment when I will see myself with His eyes.

Rev. Bastiaan Baan, Dec. 2022


Christ In You.

The text of the Act of Consecration of Man consists of words that are like seed kernels that are waiting to sprout sooner or later. Some of those words and sentences are promises for the future that are expressed in the form of a possibility. Sometimes the verb is even missing so that it does not become clear whether it is a wish, a petition, or reality: “Christ in you.” What does it mean? Is He in us? Or are we asking Him to dwell in us? Or are we called to give Him a dwelling place? Who is able to say of himself: Christ is in me?
“Our life is His creating life.” Has that come to manifestation in our daily life? We usually act as if our life is not His life but our own. Perhaps in a distant future, looking back from the highest standpoint, we will be able to acknowledge: Yes, our life was His creating life.
But that does not mean that we should meekly wait until that time perhaps comes. On the contrary, every day, every moment calls on us: can you make this day, this moment into His creating life? Can you even do that with the mind-numbing daily work that countless people have to perform in our time? Billions of people on earth have to work as insignificant links or as slaves of technology. When you ask them: “What are you doing it for?” the discouraging answer is usually: “I am doing it for the money.”
But also the most thankless, seemingly senseless work can make a contribution to life on earth, when we not only ask: What do you do? but also: How do you do it?
With everything we do Someone sees us—Someone Who wants to connect His creating life with every human life. His deepest longing is: I in you and you in Me. Everything we do we can do in the knowledge: I am doing it for the earth, for my brothers, for my sisters, for Him Who wants to live in us: Christ in us.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, November 20, 2022


The Thinking Heart

The Thinking Heart

We are living in a world in which we are used to keeping everything at a distance.  Admittedly, we are daily reminded of the misery of the world, but usually we don’t stop to think of it much.  When we have seen the daily news we go back to the order of the day.  After all, there is not much more we can do if we want to fulfill our daily obligations.  The only way to bridge this distance and still be able to do something at that distance is to take the misery of the world to heart, irrespective of the fact that we can actually do so little.  A master in this art was Etty Hillesum (1914-1943)* who, during the terrors of the Second World War, gave herself the task: “I want to be the thinking heart.  I would wish to be the thinking heart of a whole concentration camp.”  Her broken life is a witness of taking-to-heart, whereas outwardly she could do nothing for others. What do we then have left?  The thinking heart.

There is a moment in the Act of Consecration of Man that asks for taking the world to heart.  But usually at this culminating point of the service we are so busy with ourselves that we forget the rest of the world.  After all, it is the most intimate moment when we, each for herself or himself, receive the peace.  What kind of peace is that?

The Act of Consecration itself gives an answer, but we tend to forget this answer when we receive the peace of Christ.  For early in the Communion, He says: “This peace with the world can be with you also…”  In radical terms: His peace is not earmarked for me, but through me: for the world, with the world.  In the most precious moment of the Act of Consecration of Man, if we take the suffering, battling world to heart in our thinking, this world can briefly come to rest in us and find peace.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, October 23, 2022.

* Etty Hillesum was a young Jewish woman in Holland who was picked up by the Nazis during World War II, spent time in the Dutch concentration camp and died in Auschwitz. She left a diary in which she recorded profound experiences.


Let us…

In the first words of the Act of Consecration of Man a task is expressed that can stay with us for the rest of our life.  You can make a beginning with it when before the service you look around: with whom will we fulfill the Act of Consecration of Man?  Who are meant with the little word “us?”  Can I in some way take those present along in this great prayer?  That becomes more difficult when someone is present for whom we feel antipathy, or perhaps even worse than that.  But such a person also forms part of the Act of Consecration of Man.  Even for our enemies and for those who persecute us do we have the task to pray (Matthew 5:44).

In the course of the Act of Consecration the circle of the community with whom we pray opens out.  All Christians and all who have died may participate in the offering.  Whenever we feel together with a soul who has died, who offers with us on the other side of the threshold, we begin to experience that not only this one, but countless deceased souls want to participate in the altar service.  Even when a few people are praying, it may be “full” at the altar.  That is why the text of the Act of Consecration says: “… all who have died.”

In the last part the altar service opens itself once more for the word “us.”  The communion speaks not only about us the living, about Christians, and those who have died, but about the life of the world.  Eight times the word “world” sounds in this part.  The peace of Christ is meant for the life of the entire world.  The Act of Consecration of Man is so great that we can include everyone and everything in this prayer.  Christ does not want to redeem a small select group, but the whole world.  However, He cannot do this alone. Our Christian Community may in the coming century and centuries perhaps remain an insignificant small movement, but the Act of Consecration of Man can also in a community of a few persons grow to infinity.

Christ needs our prayer.  May the word “us” grow forever and encompass all—all who are present, all true Christians, all who have died, until eventually the world has become part of our prayer.  Thus we can help Him to bear and order the life of the world.


-Rv. Bastiaan Baan, October 2022


“Young man, I say to you, stand up!” (Lk.7:14)

“Young man, I say to you, stand up!” (Lk.7:14)

Standing up is a matter of willpower, which is needed to overcome gravity.  That takes no effort as long as you are healthy and strong, but it is different when you are tired or exhausted.  You have to do it yourself, with your own strength.  No one else can do it for you.  And it becomes even more difficult when you are sick or bedridden.  Gravity and impotence then take their toll.  Two forces are ceaselessly in conflict with each other; of old this has been expressed in the words “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

When then the trial is over and a long, debilitating illness comes to an end, you can be incredibly thankful that you can stand on your two feet again and that you are free to stand and go where you will.  Is that really only your own spirit that overcomes the weak body?

There is also another, more or less hidden force that wants to help us stand on our own two feet.  It speaks to us every time we are about to lose courage or when despair strikes.  That is the voice that called the youth of Nain out of death to life.  That is the still, strong voice that goes with each one of us until death, into death and in life after death—the voice that calls out to us: “Stand up, let us go on.”


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, September 25, 2022


Healing the Deaf and Dumb Man (Mk.7:31-37)

The healings Jesus Christ performed during His life on earth were no incidental acts meant to release individuals from their physical ailments, but signs.  This word is frequently used in the Gospels to make clear that their meaning reaches beyond the healing of an individual.  Through this sign the human being is restored again in his worth and in the image of God.

The sign of the healing of the deaf and dumb man is preached to deaf ears as long as we keep thinking that it is about someone other than ourselves.  Consider how much is standing in the way between Christ and us humans.  It seems as if everything in our noisy world tries to drown out His voice.  And not only are we deaf to the divine world, we have also become unintelligible.  Our words are estranged from their divine origin; they only speak the language of perishable reality.  Christ has been banished from our daily work and our everyday conversations.

The only thing that helps me is that He goes with me away from the crowd, in order to be alone with me—and I with Him.  There, in the silence, where the noise of the outer world does not penetrate, I can learn to listen to His voice, and I can learn to speak with the language of the heart, which He understands.  Then only, when nothing is standing between us anymore but only silence, can He speak the redeeming word: “Ephphatha!” – “Be opened!”

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, August 27, 2022


Healing the Blind Beggar (Lk. 18:35-43)

Healing the Blind Beggar (Lk.18:35-43)

When you think in terms of numbers, of visible and tangible results, you soon come to the conclusion that Jesus Christ did not accomplish much during His life on earth.  For what do a mere twelve disciples add up to in a population of many thousands?  And what is the importance of healing one blind man compared with the countless blind people who never had any help?  In that way, the Gospel is full of riddles and things that don’t seem to make sense and that we can’t comprehend with our everyday intellect—things even that evoke ridicule and irritation in many of our contemporaries.  Why just this one blind man?  Was it only because he kept calling and praying, even when the bystanders wanted him to be quiet?

As long as we are only looking at outer reality we are facing riddles.  But blindness is not only a disorder of the eyes, but also of the heart.  And that disorder afflicts us all.  The healing of the blind man shows us what we are all lacking, and what we can do to be healed.

Most people are living in the illusion that they can see.  But our judgments, prejudices, our sympathies and antipathies make us blind for the reality in which we live.  We are really confronted with that when we get into a conflict.  Usually we think in such circumstances: I am right—the other is wrong.  And if both parties stick to their positions it becomes an unbridgeable impasse.  And when obdurate standpoints collide and bring about lifelong separations, the drama turns into a mystery drama that takes not years, but several lives before we are healed of our blindness.

The first step in this drama is the realization that we can at most see a little glimpse of reality.  The blind man sitting by the roadside calls out to us: “Become aware of your blindness, become a beggar for the spirit, pray to the Savior as long as it takes for Him to take pity on you and open your eyes to the mysteries of destiny and fate, of guilt and forgiveness.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, August 21, 2022