,

Three Gifts of the Trinity

The Earth has sometimes been compared to a spaceship, a machine hurling through the black void of outer space. In this scientific vision, space is stunningly cold and inimical to all life. But this simplified picture is wrong; it leaves out the Sun.

The Earth is not alone. The Sun’s gravity, warmth, and light, a trinity of forces, constantly bless the Earth.

Gravity holds the Earth in place, spiraling in orbit around the Sun so that it can never be lost in space. (And the Earth’s own gravity holds the Earth together.)

Warmth from the Sun gives the Earth energy so that life can unfold. In all grasses, plants, flowers, trees and all animals, life is ultimately a gift from the Sun brought by its warmth.

Light from the Sun allows life on Earth to become conscious. Animals use many different senses to be aware of where they are and where they need to go next, but it is light that enables the predominant sense of sight. We human beings can only see and understand the things in the world, their connections to one another, and our own relationship to them because of light. Ultimately human insight, the inner light of reason, begins with sunlight.

We human beings are like the Earth with its unknown depths, (if the Earth were an apple, then the deepest well ever drilled goes no deeper than the red skin on the surface), abundant life on the surface and a great being of light that sustains and supports it. There is also a trinity of forces that blesses us constantly. God in his three-foldedness is always with us.

The power of the Father God is much like the Earth’s gravity that reaches us from unknown depths, holding us up and keeping us grounded. We can never be lost for very long from our destiny. The Father God’s laws of destiny and karma give us a solid foundation for our lives. These laws are the manifestation of His love. He pulls us back to those, with whom we are to work out the mysteries of love and forgiveness. The Father’s power is seen both in the forces of our will that rise up from the depths of our unconscious and in the effects on us of all those people who are a part of our lives, past, present and future. The gravity of the Father may teach us through the pain of falling down, through teaching us balance that can only be learned when gravity is present or sending us people who belong in our lives as surely as the Earth is tied to the sun. We can never be far from the Father God because our substance is ultimately His substance as surely as all physical matter is governed by the force of gravity. His love guarantees that every human being has a destiny, a path on the Earth that belongs to us.

God’s warmth comes to us through the Son God. From this second aspect of God, the second person of the Trinity, God’s son, the power to create is constantly flowing to humanity. His love is in the strength and energy he sends to us so that we might deal with every situation in which we find ourselves. This is the power of resurrection available to us through Christ Jesus, in whom the Son God came to earth, gained an understanding of what it feels like to be human and then overcame death. Since that time we have the strength to embrace any destiny given by the Father. We can live life fully knowing that we have the power to rise again after any failure, death or defeat; we can create a path for ourselves where there was no path before. Christ’s love is always flowing toward us bearing within it the power to change things. All of our creating, our becoming and evolving are ultimately the Son God’s power to create at work in us.

God’s light is also always shining in our human consciousness. The spirit in our mind may not yet, or no longer be holy, but it is an ongoing gift from this third aspect of God’s being, the Spirit God. The Spirit God sends God’s love shining as light into our minds and our lives in all our insights into life’s mysteries. Prayer is a conscious activity made possible only because God gave us the power to think. Sometimes the pain that life brings us is a riddle, but it can lead us to pray. “Given my present situation, where do I go from here? What future should I envision and work toward?” We have the power of thought in order to work through such questions, to try to discern God’s wisdom in what is happening.

The Spirit God is known also as the Healing God. Just as light allows us to see each part of the world in relation to every other part, that is, to see everything as a whole, unified by our understanding, so the Spirit God helps us to bring wholeness to our fragmented lives. This is God’s love as the power to unite, starting in human consciousness, what has been separated. Ultimately, it is the love’s power to heal human hearts and destinies through human consciousness. The more we seek to live in the light of God’s Spirit, the more everything we see will be drenched with understanding; God’s wisdom at work in the world will be revealed to us.

The structure of the physical world is not an accident. It is a reflection of the wisdom of God, which originates in the invisible world of the spirit. That is why the substance, laws and dynamic found in the physical universe are a reflection of higher truths. Just as the Sun, Earth’s star, holds, warms and illuminates the Earth, so too human souls are blessed by God’s threefold being: His love, His life and His light shine on us every minute of every day of every year without pause.

(This blog post originally appeared in February 2013).

 

,

Ascension – the Marriage of Heaven and Earth

In a good partnership between two human beings, such as a marriage, each brings who they are as a gift to the other. What each one has, flows to the other, changing them, lifting them. And the union of the two creates something more than just the sum of one and one.

One can also experience Ascension in this way. Ascension can be seen as the marriage of Heaven and Earth.

The highest of Heavenly beings came down to Earth and incarnated in the being of Jesus of Nazareth. He lived and loved, and felt the joy and sorrow of being human. This Heavenly being penetrated all the way down into the physical, even unto death.

Then came the resurrection, and Christ began the process of raising the physical, the process of transfiguring the Earthly into the Heavenly. He appeared as the Risen One. He taught his disciples for 40 days, helping them to transform into true leaders of humanity. Then at Ascension, Christ rose into the clouds before them, lifting all that was physical towards the spiritual — lifting the Earthly up to the Heavenly.

We can have an experience of these uplifting forces at this time of year whenever we walk outside. All of nature turns upward towards the warmth of the sun. Everything seems to call to you: Look out, look up! The blue sky, the leaves unfurling on the trees, the blossoms… they are irresistible. One cannot feel down, or inward. One steps lightly, stands taller, and feels the joy of life.

At Ascension, our souls are lifted. Our souls are opened. We prepare, like the disciples, for the gift of the holy spirit that comes at Pentecost. Heaven and Earth are united again, and we find that both are our true homes. And what is created is more than just the sum of one and one.

—-

This originally appeared as an article in the Spring 2017 North American Newsletter.

To read how Ascension is celebrated in the Christian Community, visit our festivals page. This theme of the Earth’s relationship to Heaven is also taken up in the beautiful children’s story, A Journey to the Heavens.

, ,

a prayer

The following prayer was offered by Rev. Nora Minassian at the 24th Annual MLK Community Prayer Breakfast on April 7th, 2018 at the Phoenixville Middle School in Phoenixville, PA.

Let us pray:
Dear Lord, we come to you with gratitude for all your creation filled with wisdom and beauty. You send your light to us. You give us air to breath, bread to eat, water to drink and ground on which we walk. They unite us all.

We come to you with humility. For we know not what we do with your works, with your creation, with the gifts of life that you give us. We claim them to be ours and deny them to our fellow men. We draw borders and deport our fellow men. We pollute the air, take down forests and build mountains of trash. We impose sanctions so we can consume. We kill so we can drive. We look at the speck in our brother’s eye and become blind to the log in our own eye. Forgive us and open our eyes.

Help us stop turning against your creation. For our fight is not against flesh and blood like the Apostle Paul says (Eph. 6) but against the attacks of the adversarial forces tempting us with fear, lies and greed. Help us seek justice not by revenge but by forgiveness, by imbuing ourselves with truth, with you, Lord. Help us protect each other with the knowledge that you are in each one of us; you are in our diversity – whatever height, gender, sex, race, faith, religion, age, language, color. You are in all of us. If one of us suffers, we all suffer; if one of us is honored, we all rejoice. (1. Cor. 12)

We thank you for our diversity. Our differences are not there for us to just tolerate but to embrace and celebrate. Open our hearts to find you in each other. You call us your friends and give your life for us. Help us be each other’s friends and lay down our lives for each other. Help us love those who hurt us, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. says, “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” Your love unites us all.

Teach us that beautiful timeless prayer that you taught your disciples, that makes us your and each others’ brothers and sisters. We pray with you Lord:

Our Father, who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done as above in the heavens, so also on the earth. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.

Amen

This prayer was published in the Spring 2018 North American Newsletter, which can be found in its entirety here.

,

What Love Makes Possible

Think about what love makes possible:

~The great works of art

~The procreation of human beings

~The raising and education of children

~The healing of the sick

~The reversal of direction from self to other

~The transformation of pain into wisdom

~The possibility of sacrifice for the good of the whole

~The unfolding of the inherent goodness in every human being.

A prayer by Adam Bittleston reads, “Without love, the earth would become a bleak and barren dessert.”

And so it has become, for so many people. How have we managed to reach such a high level of technological and intellectual advancement without taking care of our basic needs? Without taking care of one another? Have we just left the heart behind?

Thinking and feeling are not by nature, mutually exclusive. We have been trained to be “objective” and “rational” because feelings tend to complicate matters and cause us to lose focus. But thinking can actually involve the heart. When the heart becomes involved then we begin to see co-creative, synthesizing problem-solving, which brings about win/win solutions for everyone, like edible silverware and tiny houses for the homeless.

There is no problem that we could not solve. What is impossible for human strength becomes possible through the power of love. When the hollow of our bones is filled with the life of Christ, when we allow ourselves to feel the pain of the world and let those feelings guide us, we come to know our true purpose.

Love has made every beautiful, good and admirable thing in this world possible.

Christ is the teacher.

,

The Meaning of the Earth

On Easter we celebrate a victory.  It is the day we strive to recognize how a certain being died and then overcame death, changing death itself forever.

But that little word ‘death’ seems to have lost its sting, its immediate and visceral power, and so it can be hard for us to develop any kind of feeling for what Easter really is. Indeed, who is really afraid of death anymore?  When surveys are taken of people’s greatest fears, it doesn’t even make the top ten.

But Meaninglessness – that is truly scary.

For us, being alive but severed from all purpose, direction and meaning is far more frightening than death.  Indeed, it is this experience that causes countless souls to seek death as a way of escaping this feeling.  This experience is the abyss that opens up in our time, in our age.  For us, this experience of being severed from meaning and purpose is the experience of a death while we are still alive.  This is why the ‘walking dead’ emerges as an imagination in our culture. And this is the deeper background behind the unique and new expression of the Easter message in our service: Christ is risen to us as the meaning of the earth.

In order to enter more deeply into this Truth we can imagine a river, flowing, full of life toward the great goal of the delta where it becomes one with the mighty and immeasurable mother-ocean.  Now imagine that this river is life.  Not just the things happening around us but imagine it is the life element itself, in all its fullness, vitality and meaning.  This river is The Life of the World, full of direction and purpose.

Now imagine being in that river, being a part of that river, a part of life, flowing with the same sense of direction, integrated in the deep flow of existence, towards its ultimate goal.  But then imagine being spat up on the banks of that river and sitting on the side on the barren rocks, unable to re-enter the flow, going nowhere. That is a place, a very distinct place in the universe, that dry bank outside of the river of life, and it can only be found here on earth.

How does someone speak who knows this experience, who knows this place?

All is in vain…

That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
Is there anything of which it may be said,

“See, this is new”?

This is the voice of a king of Israel:

 I, the Preacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. And I set my heart to seek and search out by wisdom concerning all that is done under heaven; this burdensome task God has given to the sons of man, by which they may be exercised. I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and indeed, all is vanity and grasping for the wind.”

 In such a voice the writer of Ecclesiastes speaks, a profound book to find as a part of the sacred scripture (written some 400 years before Christ).  “All is vain” it speaks, and this word there can be alternately translated as futile, absurd or non-sense. Gautama Buddha came to a similar if even more painful analysis of life on earth expressed in the Four Noble Truths: All life is suffering.

In the gospels, as well, we can hear this voice, spoken from the Cross by Jesus.  There he experiences that same part of the Universe we call ‘earth,’ that part that is truly distant from God, fallen out of the great river of life-pulsing purpose and meaning, saying: “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?”  At the culmination of his journey from divinity to humanity, Christ tasted that empty place, that horrific void: the place separated from all meaning and purpose that our creed calls, ‘the grave of the earth.’  He went there; he went in there.

And that was the key.  The God of the River, The God of the Life-Stream of Mankind, the God of the warm flow of purpose-filled, spirit-radiant meaning – He entered the emptiness place.  The God of Life entered Death. And death has never been the same.

By pouring Himself into the empty place, by entering the grave, he transformed it into something else; He changed that dark place within the earth into a kind of womb, a cocoon from which the spirit-filled human being may rise.  This is the victory.  Through Christ’s pouring himself into the earth through his blood on the rock of Golgotha, the grave has become a womb for the birth of our true humanity. Death no longer makes all things vain; it has been integrated into the story of life.  And this means that the earth herself has been united with her purpose.  She is no longer just a grave for the human spirit. Through Christ the grave of the earth becomes the womb for our higher being.

And now we can say, as we do to the children during each Sunday Service: He leads what is living into death that it may live anew.  We need only seek His presence while we are in this place.  For, now He is here.  And when we feel His presence, the presence of the One who rises out of the tomb – when we feel the uplift of His pulsing life within our blood, we enter into the very substance of Easter and feel His victory over death. Through Christ, death becomes not something separated from meaning, separated from spirit, separated from God, it becomes the element Christ leads us into in order that our highest Self can be born and rise.

And so, perhaps, we begin to understand in our depths why the Easter message appears in our movement for religious renewal in a completely new and potent form, expressed in the words: Christ is risen to us as the meaning of the earth.

***

Join Rev. Patrick Kennedy for Initiation of the Heart: Deeper dimensions of the practice of compassion in our time and the revelation of the Fifth Gospel, a three part webinar series hosted by the Anthroposophical Society in America.

When: Wednesdays April 11, May 2, May 16 from 7:30-8:30 pm (Eastern)

Why: In this three-part webinar we will explore a signature experience of being alive in our time – the overwhelming experience of taking in the suffering of the world. We will ask, “Why is divine wisdom leading us into these experiences?” To answer this question we will delve into Rudolf Steiner’s research called “The Fifth Gospel,” a gospel uniquely appearing in our time. We will especially focus on the so-called, ‘unknown years’ of Jesus, from age 12 to 30, where his path leads him through experiences that open him up to become a bearer of the world healer, the one we know of as ‘Christ.’

April 11: Feeling the World: The “world significance” of our inner lives

May 2: Initiation of the Heart: Jesus and his path to becoming the bearer of Christ

May 16:  Pentecost and the Healing Language of the Heart

Where: Online with Zoom. (Can’t join us for the live webinars? No problem. All registered participants will receive emailed recordings within 24 hours of each live event.)

How: Register at this link. $40 suggested donation.

***

To read about how we celebrate Easter at the altar in the Christian Community, visit our festivals page. You can also find an Easter-tide children’s story here.

,

from the wounds

The Creator God, the Logos, the Cosmic Son, emptied himself of his mighty power and descended into a human being. God became fully human in Jesus, through suffering what we suffer, being hungry, tempted, misunderstood and wounded even unto death. We call this being Jesus Christ. And in this Easter time, we celebrate His resurrection and His transformation of what makes us human. For if we look closely at the Risen One, what is most human, His wounds, remain – His wounds remain but are different- changed. Healing power now radiates to us from His wounds.

Because of this, within each one of us there is now also this healing power. And this healing power is calling each one of us to accept and take hold of our wounds, calling us to transform in His image so that our wounds, too, can radiate healing power to others.

But so often we would silence this power in us. Instead of entering and working through the pain like Christ, we would deny, escape, blame.

And yet, individuals everywhere take up this call, take up this power. The doctor – inspired to heal by the pain of having a sick brother, the woman who is barren and then adopts orphaned children, the psychotherapist – inspired to help others because of his broken childhood, the activist working to overcome oppression out of the pain of his people. All are examples of healing power radiating from the wound.

This is how God works in the world, in our lives. Because to be united with Christ means to find deep meaning in our marks of pain – to be united with Christ means to have access to liberating joy even in the midst of suffering.

Dear friends, The Community of Christians is made up of wounded healers, those who radiate healing power from wounds. May this power continue to permeate our hearts, our earth, our humanity.

***

Join Jonah Evans for a webinar, The Heart of Easter: Becoming New, Encountering Christ, hosted by the Anthroposophical Society in America on Tuesday, April 3. Listen live or register to download the webinar later. Click here for more details.

To read about how we celebrate Easter at the altar, visit our festivals page. You can also find an Easter-tide children’s story here.

,

What is truth?

And heaved and heaved, still unrestingly heaved the black sea, as if its vast tides were a conscience.

Herman Melville, Moby Dick

The altar is a mysterious place. It renders its mysteries only slowly and in stillness. This is why the altar wants to be visited more than once. The religious experience is nourished by its repetition. Religiousness therefore roots in the essence of all things: the sun rises more than one morning; we get to know the seasons through their returning; day and night live by their alternation. The altar gathers the pathways and orbits out of which all repetition can unfold. We come to the altar, leave, and come back. This breathing of coming and going, of appearing and disappearing, gives life not only to the human but also to the divine being. In the interplay of giving and receiving, of concealing and revealing, the divine can mirror itself in the human. For what does it mean to be human? The human being shows and hides itself at the same time. We stand in the world. We live and work in it, experiencing joy and sorrow. That part of us is visible. Another part of us, though, cannot be found in this world. It remains invisible. It withdraws itself. It is there and it asserts itself, but remains removed never the less. This is our spiritual being. We carry this secret part of ourselves to the altar in the Act of Consecration of Man. In doing so, the altar becomes an image of our own being: it is both visible and veiled. It waits and is patient. It grants the fullness of its secrets only to those who return. Faith, Goethe said, is love for the invisible. It is an openness for the secret, a willingness to be addressed. This willingness to receive a revealing word, a blessing gesture, or the silence in between them, is a condition for experiencing the elusive thing that we call truth. For truth is not the mere establishing of a fact. It is not the rendering of a correct assessment or the verification of certain circumstances. Truth is much more than that. “The truth is not a fixed system of concepts that can manifest itself in only one way, but is a living ocean in which the spirit of man lives, and that can bring forth waves of the most different kind at its surface.”[1] (Rudolf Steiner)

The notion that truth is not correctness but a deep, moving force with a surface and hidden depths, opens up new possibilities of thought. The German philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was able to delve into these possibilities with pertinent skill. Versed in Greek, he let the original words speak for themselves. Truth is called aletheia in Greek. This sparked the imagination of Heidegger. Because for the good listener this means, that according to the Greek truth meant bringing something or someone out into the open. The word aletheia is a compound of the word Lethe and its negation, a. In Greek mythology the Lethe is the river that brings forgetfulness. In that respect it is the counterpart of the river Styx, that brings remembrance. Just before a human being is born, he or she wades through the river Lethe. Human beings forget the life they led before they were born. The part of ourselves that we forget about when we enter this world, is the part we leave behind. It is the part of us that remains hidden, sheltered in the spirit. When we die, we remember who we are. Dying is disclosing. We are reunited with our essence, our eternal being, and we awaken. This awakening is brought by wading through the river Styx. When truth is called aletheia, the word itself thus indicates that truth shreds all veils of ignorance. Aletheia means the vindication of what was left behind. It means the opening up of what was closed at birth. The truthful person or truthful event is therefore he or that which stands in the unconcealment (Unverborgenheit) of things. For Heidegger it became a matter of great importance not just to grasp this intellectually. He wanted to live this to the fullest of all extents. This he did in thought. It became clear to him that truth is less like a field of stones and more like water. He crossed and followed the Lethe and the ocean of Being opened up to him…

[1] GA 6 Goethes Weltansschauung, Kapittel 1, Persönlichkeit und Weltanschauung.

This post is from an article published in the spring 2018 issue of Perspectives, and can be found in its entirety with the editor’s permission here. To subscribe to Perspectives, and receive issues via email, please visit their site.

,

Light from the darkness

Black is the color of Passion.

It is the part of the visible spectrum where all light is completely absorbed. It is the visible end of the cosmic path of light – its grave, its tomb.

It is also the color of carbon – the element essential to our life, here on Earth.
It is carbon, which provides physical foundations for all life; one only has to think of carbohydrates – so essential to our nutrition, or of carbon chains – the great framework, the skeleton of all biological life.

It is, however, equally true that all spiritual, supersensible life – that all spiritual beings incarnated here on Earth, visible in stones, plants, animals and in us, in human beings – are in essence entrapped, entombed in the darkness of carbon, in the grave of the Earth. That we all are enslaved in chains of carbon, which nevertheless make our lives here on Earth possible.

There is however one type of carbon, which breaks free from such despondent picture of things. Diamond is also carbon! But how different, compared to common coal does it appear to our eye! Diamond, this sublime gemstone, which already went through its earthly initiation; it went through the process of growth against incredible pressure, yes – against immeasurable pain and suffering – in order to reveal that which lies lamenting in every single atom of common coal, which lies buried in the tomb of the Earth – a pure, crystalline, immaculate spiritual light.

Christ consciousness is a diamond of our human experience. He is the hope and the path shining out of the darkness of the tomb, growing out of the depths of our confrontation with our own lower nature, out of our painful knowledge of what it means and what it takes to become truly human, here on this Earth enslaved by darkness of matter.

To learn more about how Passiontide is celebrated in the Christian Community, visit our festivals page.

Painting: magic square 19 by Deborah Ravetz

,

Living Black

The color of Passion time is black. We see the black frontal on the altar, the black robes and collars of the servers, the black stole and belt of the priest, and the black chasuble the priest wears in celebrating the Sacrament. We see this black because of the light filling the sanctuary.

But where do we see a black from which light is streaming out, out of the darkness, out of the black? A light that is unseen, truly invisible, supersensible, for it does not transform the darkness; the black remains black, but it is filled with light, light streaming out of the blackness.

There is one place on Earth where this happens.

That is when two human beings truly meet one another and look into each other’s eyes. We see; it is a supersensible perception, a genuine clairvoyant experience, we see the light shining out of the center of the eyes of the other as they are seeing the light shining out of our eyes. It is in the meeting that it happens. It is tangible. It is self-evident. But it is too powerful to endure for very long–either to so see in the holy of holies of another or to be so seen in the sacred center of ourselves.

With ourselves and others that is so in this earth existence.

But we can have another experience, another truly supersensible experience. We can come to experience, to sense, to feel, to know, to truly trust–there is One who does see into my center all the time, even when I am not aware of that center myself. There is One who knows me in my darkness, who knows me in my light, who knows me in my sickness, who knows me in my health, who knows me in my weakness, who knows me in my strength–One in whose presence I am always standing even when I fall, even when I am lying on the ground.

It is to this One that we turn in Passion, that we open up our darkness to, that we seek to see, to meet, in His darkness, in His Passion, in His Light shining, streaming out of that darkness into our hearts.

This post was written for the Washington D.C. community in 2016. Rev. Richard Dancey crossed the threshold on February 14, 2017.

For more information on how Passiontide is celebrated in the Christian Community, go to our Festival page. You can also find a children’s story for this time of year here.

,

Wisdom into Being

If you had to speak to a large group of people about the existence and meaning of Christ, how would you prepare for it? Where would you go? What would your sources be? You could read all you want from the Gospels, or Thomas Aquinas or any number of theologians but you could still be swimming in the darkness.

You would have to go deep into your own soul to find some nugget of truth that you could really stand behind and to which you could bear witness. You would have to find truths you have sought for and won. That would be a beginning.

Here is where I began:

The whole world, visible and invisible, organic and inorganic, is made up of wisdom. Wisdom, which is hidden; wisdom formed through sacrifice. There is nothing, nothing at all, of nature or of human making that is not imbued with wisdom.

When we have interest in something, or someone, for longer than a minute, a transformation begins to happen: As we direct our interest toward the hidden wisdom within the person or thing, then that wisdom begins to reveal itself. We gain for ourselves the wisdom, which lay hidden in the thing outside of us. That becomes a part of us; it is within us.

Through the release of wisdom, we come to love. We love that which we comprehend. Even if what we comprehend is some evil working in the world, it is still of great value. We find relief in comprehending as a light shining in the darkness.

It is the dawn of a new year. May we have the courage to dig deep and to discover the wisdom that has conjured the world into being, so that we may come to love one another and the world. This is the manifestation and the gift of Christ in us.