Like Finds Like

In the best sense of the word you can say this of the Three Kings, who recognize in Jesus the highest king, even before they have found him on earth:

“Where is the newborn child who is destined to be king of the Jews? We saw his star in the realms of the East and have come to bow down to him.” (Mat.2:2)

As a king, you don’t bow down to another king—unless he has the highest power, as King of Kings. The three wise men, priests, recognize this power, long before John in his Apocalypse has his vision of the highest King (Rev. 19:16).

In the Act of Consecration of Man there is one sentence that brings this power to perfect expression. Rarely or never do we realize the reach of this one sentence, which sounds repeatedly in every communion: “You, who bear and order the life of the world…” Christ is the key to the life of the world. Everyone and everything that lives in the world owes his existence to Him. Can we ever imagine that He bears the life of billions of people on earth, even the unbearable? Can we ever imagine that He orders all life on earth, even when it shows chaos and destruction?

Now that is a real King, who permeates all that lives in His realm with His bearing and ordering force! Christ penetrates so deeply into us—even though we do not know it, even though we do not want to know it—that all that lives on earth is His flesh and blood. That is how Christian Morgenstern expresses it in one of his most dramatic poems, in which Christ speaks:

All of you belong to me, in me,                                     Alle gehőrt ihr mit hinein.
All of you in my great being!                                          Alle mit in mein grosses Sein!
For no one am I overweening                                        Will mich vor keinem ȕberheben,
For he is life of my life.                                                     Denn er ist Leben von meinem Leben.
Whoever he is and whatever he does,                         Wer er auch ist and was er auch tut,
He remains my flesh and remains my blood.             Bleibt er mein Fleisch und bleibt er mein Blut.

Christ came into the world in order, lifelong, throughout life, in all future cycles of time, to bear and order the burden of life. But His task on earth can only be completed if we, each one of us with the means at our disposal, help Him bear and order—we, together with Him. Christ came into the world to rescue what could be rescued, to redeem what longs for redemption: in us, through us, with us.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, January 9, 2022


Happy New Year

When the new year has begun, we traditionally wish each other a Happy New Year.  That sounds nice—but these days you have to wonder whether that wish is still realistic.  Actually, we already know, don’t we, that the new year won’t be as happy as we wish it for each other.

Our future is overshadowed by the ballast of the past, by unfinished business, by lingering conflicts and crises.  We bring all of that with us into the new year without much prospect of improvement, let alone miracles.  At best we could wish someone happiness with unhappiness for the new year, in the hope that the damage will remain limited.

Or does perhaps the unhappiness, which has our entire humanity in its grip, still have something else in store for us?

A century ago, Michael Bauer, one of the most prominent modern mystics, described a memorable encounter with the angel of suffering, who came to bring him unhappiness.  He writes:

“Once, when I was visited by suffering, I was so awake that I could see the messenger of God.  To my surprise I noticed that he was holding his right hand behind his back, as if he was hiding something in it.

‘May I know what you are hiding?’ I asked.

‘Not yet entirely,’ he answered. ‘But what I can tell you is that it is something precious that gives joy.’

‘Are you then not only the angel of suffering, but also of joy?’

‘Certainly, how could I be an angel if I would only bring suffering?’

‘For whom is the joy intended that you are hiding in your hand?’

‘For you.’

‘For me?  O, when can I get it?’

‘As soon as you trust and your soul is stilled.’”

Perhaps that is the best thing we can wish each other for the future: trust in the spiritual world, in order to welcome the angel of joy and suffering with a stilled soul.  For also in suffering, also in unhappiness, yes, even in ill fate the angel of destiny goes with us, all the days, to the end of the world.


Rev. Bastiaan Baan January 2, 2022


Parable of the Ten Maidens – Matthew 25: 1-13

“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be compared to ten maidens who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.  For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them; but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.  As the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.  But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom!  Come out to meet him.’  Then all those maidens rose and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’  But the wise replied, ‘Perhaps there will not be enough for us and for you; go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’  And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast; and the door was shut.  Afterward the other maidens came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’  But he replied, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’  Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Everything and everyone in the world around us wants to be known, recognized, acknowledged.  As long as that is not the case we stand before a closed door and before riddles.  Now, the greater part of our life consists of riddles.  We should not have the illusion that those can all be solved.  But what we can do is, step by step, conscious of our ignorance, unveil the riddles—knowing that only when we have died, will we stand face to face.  That modesty has an ancient name: learned ignorance, docta ignorantia.

This is depressing for most people, and they give up the search—See?  We’ll never know it; all the effort is in vain.  But like Sleeping Beauty the world around us is waiting to be awakened: known, recognized, acknowledged.  With every attempt in that direction, no matter how humble, we find a little bit of our destination, both we and the world around us.  The poet expressed it in the words: “A song is sleeping in all things, which are dreaming on and on, and the world begins to sing, when you only find the magic word.”*

Woe to the one who like a sleepwalker wanders through the world all his life without making any effort to get to know anything or anyone.  When such a person comes to the end of a senseless life, the door closes and the painful words resound: I do not know you.

The Son of Man, who wants to connect as a bridegroom with every single one of us, goes from human being to human being, seeking light, spiritual light on earth.  And even if he finds but a tiny spark of light, sooner or later the door will open and He invites us to the marriage of heaven and earth.

Then we will wholly know, as we are known.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, December 12, 2021

*Schläft ein Lied in allen Dingen
Die da träumen fort und fort
Und die Welt fängt an zu singen
Triffst du nur das Zauberwort.
–Joseph von Eichendorff


How can we become a lampstand? Revelation 1:20

The seven stars are the angels of the seven congregations,
and the seven
lampstands are the seven congregations themselves. (Revelation 1:20)

Through the centuries people have pictured the divine world as a world of light and fire.  The higher a person can look up, the more radiant is the light, the more scorching the fire.  It is no coincidence that the highest angels have the name of seraphim—it means the flaming ones.  When the prophet Isaiah received his calling, it had to be by a seraph touching his lips with a glowing coal from the altar of God.  Then only was he able to bring the fire of the spirit to the earth and prophesy.

We people of our time are no match for prophets—let alone seraphim.  For us to bear the fire of the divine world it has to be tempered down to a modest flame.  But even then, when an angel or an angel of the congregation brings this fire to the earth, it needs an earthly bearer, a lampstand.  If it found no bearer it would withdraw again to its own realm.  But where no angels can dwell, there is room for fallen angels, for demons.

How can we become a lampstand?  How can we unite our forces so that the fire of the spirit can get a place on earth?

The most precious thing we can give the spiritual world is our service, our worship service.  The question is not whether or not at the altar the fire of the spirit is kindled.  The angel of the congregation is already present before the first words of the Act of Consecration are spoken.  The question is, every time anew, whether we are able to unite our forces in common prayer.

It is no secret that some people in our congregations often have a difficult time with each other, that they annoy each other.  That is not to be wondered at; after all, we did not choose each other.  Coincidence—or perhaps the Lord of coincidence—brought us together seemingly arbitrarily.  The Christian Community does not consist of saints, but of people.  Just like the rest of the world, we have to find a way to make it together.

Am I ready to unite in prayer, not only with people who are dear to me, but also with those whom I dislike, who are an obstacle on my path?  Then only does a congregation become a lampstand.  Then can the Act of Consecration of Man be worthily fulfilled.


-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, October 31, 2021


The Key Power of the I

The Key Power of the I

At all possible times the world, with all that goes wrong in it, pushes itself into our lives and demands our attention.  Illness, famine, climate crisis, conflicts, and wars—we cannot escape from alarming reports.  Closing ourselves off from them is of course not the solution.  That would in the long run make us unsociable outsiders.

But from time to time, we do need a key to close the door, so we are not inundated by the tidal wave of misery the world pours over us every day.  The more we are confronted with this, the more does a feeling of impotence threaten to paralyze us.

The Apocalypse has a name for this key that can create boundaries for us: “The key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens.” (Rev.3:7)

To keep our footing in the whirlpool of events we have to close the door time and again and check in with ourselves before we let the world come into us again.  Only in that way can we let life penetrate into us without losing ourselves in it.  This holds true for everyone and everything that comes to meet us from outside.  Out of self-preservation we often have to say: “Not right now.”  “The key of David, … who shuts and no one opens.”

It is not only needed to shut out the world, but also to open our own inner space and check in with ourselves.  “The key of David, who opens and no one shall shut …”  What should I do?  What is being asked of me right now?  When we want to serve the world it is more than ever necessary to take ourselves in hand, to become lord and master over ourselves as kings in our own realm.

In this kingdom, Christ wants to continue His creation on earth—as “King of kings and Lord of lords.” (Rev.19:16)


-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, October 24, 2021


Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 6

Letter to the Ephesians, Chapter 6

The first Christians had a remarkable saying with which they distinguished themselves from their contemporaries: “We Christians stand above destiny.”

Was it courage, presumptuousness, or hubris that led to this saying?  One thing is certain: even when they had to die a horrible death, they faced their lot with unwavering trust.  Bishop Cyprian of Carthage wrote in a letter to his congregation where that trust came from:

“We do not leave the martyrs unarmed, but we provide them with the shield of the body and blood of Christ.  For those who are not armed for the battle are incapable of martyrdom, and the soul becomes powerless when it is not fired by the holy meal, the eucharist.” *

The first Christians knew from their own experience: a day will come when evil will reign.  Every day they prepared themselves for this day with the sacrament of bread and wine, knowing that a time would come when they would have nothing to lose anymore and would make their last stand.

Paul, with his foresight, described in his letter to the Ephesians the time when evil would reign.  In his own language, he called it literally “the evil day.” (Eph.6:13)

Although it is a long time ago that Christians were thrown to the lions, in our time the powers of the adversary, perhaps more than ever before, are having free play.  The evil day—we are in the middle of it.

Whoever thinks they can handle the battle on their own power are the real presumptuous ones and will get the worst of it against the demons that are lord and master in our time.  But whatever happens, whatever befalls us in the trials, those who make the Lord of Destiny their Lord and Master stand with Him above destiny.


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, October 10, 2021

* 57th letter of Bishop Cyprian of Carthage (app. 210-258 AD).


The Blind Man of Jericho (Lk.18:35-43)

Sometimes blind people can recognize more than those who have eyes with which to see.  Once, in a group of people who were observing flowers, I was impressed with the way a blind person examined a flower.  Very cautiously he traced with his fingertips the stem and the leaves; even more gingerly he touched the flower, attentively breathed in the scent of the flower—and afterwards he could tell us more about this one flower than all the other people.  Now, which of them is blind, the blind person or the seeing ones?

The same thing happens with the blind beggar by the wayside and the people who pass him by.  The people may walk in crowds ahead of Jesus and behind Him, but they only recognize the carpenter’s son from Nazareth in Him.  “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by,” they shout at him.

But the blind man sees something else: not Jesus of Nazareth, but the Messiah. “Jesus, son of David, have compassion on me!” he loudly calls out.  The son of David, that is after all the identifying mark of the Messiah.  Long before the people finally recognize Him as the Messiah, for a moment, on Palm Sunday (“Hosanna to the Son of David!”) the blind beggar had seen it already.

And we?  How often do we blindly pass by the most precious thing in the world?  Learn from the blind, from the beggars, the homeless, and the outcasts who have nothing to lose, to distinguish the essential from the non-essential.  And otherwise: realize that you are blind yourself, and become a beggar for the spirit.  Maybe then you will learn to see the world with different eyes.


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, August 22, 2021


Sending the Disciples

“Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.” (Lk.9:3)

That sounds like an impossible task in a world where we are used to traveling with full suitcases.  What was still possible two thousand years ago seems in our time like a reckless undertaking.  How can we fulfill this task—perhaps not in a literal sense, but in the figurative sense of the word?  Can we go out into the world without inner ballast?

Every person carries a load with him from the past, not only from the course of his own life, but also from the lives of his ancestors.  We have been marked by all of these, whether we want to or not; it has made us into prejudiced persons.  Usually, it is with this burden that we meet other people.  The burden becomes ballast when it is the only basis on which we evaluate others. Whatever does not fit into our limited images is then soon condemned.

“Tabula rasa” *, clean slate, was the name of the wax tablet used in antiquity, on which one wrote with a slate-pencil, and which was afterwards rubbed clean again, so that it could be used anew.  It was a picture for the original state of the soul before it was filled with observations, thoughts, and feelings—a clean slate.  We will never be able to go back to that original condition.  But what we can do is to become conscious of the baggage we have brought with us for this life—in order, if only for moments, to become all eyes and all ears for every human being we meet, as if it were the first time we met this person.  And otherwise, as if it were the last time we were meeting him—in order then to continue on the closely written path to our unknown destination.  When we meet another person in this way, we fulfill the task Christ gave to His disciples: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.”


–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, August 16, 2021

* Literally: rubbed out writing tablet.


“Judge not, that you be not judged.” (Mt.7:1)

Do not judge. That seems like an impossible task in a world of clashing opinions—perhaps the most difficult task in the world.  Hardly have we met a person, and our judgment is made, sometimes with the irrevocability of the Last Judgment, so that from that moment we can no longer meet this person with an open mind.  Do not judge—how do you do that?

As soon as we have even a little bit of self-knowledge the judgment falls back on ourselves.  For it is because of my one-sidednesses, my prejudices, that I cannot see others as they really are.  If I would be all eyes, others would be able to appear to me in their own true individuality, instead of in my muddled look.  In order to learn to see others, I must not only observe them all the time, but also myself.  After all, my judgment says more about myself than about those others.

To make a step on the stubborn way toward open-mindedness the most effective means is perhaps to meet each human being as a riddle.  For that is what we are to each other as long as we only appear to each other in our outer form.  Within this riddle hides in the Holy of Holies the unknown I, which is still in a state of becoming.  Each human being has a secret—so deeply hidden that we are even unable to discover our own secret, let alone that of another person.  Whoever is aware of this riddle will guard against judging anyone.

Do not judge—not even yourself!

For judgment is not ours, but that of the Lord of the living and the dead.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, August 1, 2021


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