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Passiontide

Passiontide

When you listen carefully to the words of the Act of Consecration of Man you will eventually notice that a few times something is lacking.  Although in itself the text is perfect, it sounds as if some sentences are not complete.  The verb is lacking:

Christ in us

Christ in the lifting of our hands

Christ’s light in our daylight

These sentences move in a realm between possibility, wish, and full reality.  Is Christ fully in us?  Or is that a wish? A prayer? A promise?

The only thing we know for sure is that He is usually not in us, when we are busy with our everyday things.

Christ in the lifting of our hands—that does not happen all by itself just by lifting up our hands.

Christ’s light in our daylight—it has not yet appeared, but we, He and I together, have to make this possibility a reality.

At this time of year, we enter a world of darkness that shows us from all sides: Christ is not in us—on the contrary.  For now, we find ourselves in a state of isolation and deprivation, far from the light of Christ.  Passiontide is a time of disillusion, of painful diagnosis of our human shortcomings, in which we have to accept how poor we are, since we lost the spirit.

Ask the Savior for healing.

Pray for Christ’s light in our daylight.

Lift up your hands as a beggar for the Spirit—and He will stretch out His hands to you.

Ask, pray, seek—and it shall be given to you.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, March 14, 2021

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“The Light of the Body is Your Eye” (Lk.11:34)

“The Light of the Body is Your Eye” (Lk.11:34)

A large part of our lives—maybe the largest part—consists of watching events without being able to do anything. That is true for the news the world dishes up for us every day; it is also true for countless events that happen to us. Natural disasters, illness, human tragedies, war and terror—they all put their stamp on the world, and we, powerless, can only watch. This powerlessness is our collective lot; and it is also a sign of this time. We have developed a spectator consciousness that has the tendency to keep looking, even when the situation asks us to act. “I stood there and watched.” No more, but also no less. Rarely do we realize that through our glance we can add something to the reality around us. How do we look at it?
One person’s confused gaze makes the darkness around him or her even more turbid than it already is, whereas another can light up the darkness with a lucid glance.

Of course this does not relieve us of the duty to act when we possibly can. But if watching is the only thing we can do, our glance has to be clear.

“The light of the body is your eye.”

Our eyes can do much more than watch: they can perceive. And if our inner light is sufficiently lucid, they can do even more than perceive clearly. They can add something to the reality:

A look of recognition
An enlightening insight
A stream of love.

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, March 7, 2021

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YOUTH ADVENTURE CAMPS!!

Youth Adventure Camps!

This summer, the Youth Adventure Camp of The Christian Community is going to the trail, to the beach, to the rivers. We will run outdoor adventure camps this summer with room for twenty participants on each trip.

Each trip will create an independent and full camp experience, with singing, stories and projects as well as the outdoors camping aspect of building our own camp, cooking our own food, and on some trips, traveling to our next camp location.

How to Heal? A Youth Conference
June 16 – 23, Atlanta, GA
For rising 9th – 12th graders

North Carolina Kite Camp
June 27 – July 3, Hammocks Beach State Park
for rising 6th – 8th graders

NY Backpacking Camp
July 12 – 21, Harriman State Park
for rising 6th – 8th graders

Youth Adventure Canoe Camp
July 26 – August 5, Flambeau River, Wisconsin
for rising 9th – 12th graders

Children’s Canoe Camp – Camp Greenwood Lake
August 8 – 18, Namekagon River, Wisconsin
for rising 6th – 8th graders

Click here to learn more about the trips or to register:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1OrCScNgEKJNAoEayodmHlKkz7dNWbwFF/view?usp=sharing

Participation cost is $1000
with a $100 sibling discount for each sibling attending

FINANCIAL AID: No one should stay away for financial reasons! Financial Aid is available on a need and availability basis. Email Youth Adventure Camp director Jen Zimberg at ccyouthadventurecamp@gmail.com

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The Transfiguration on the Mountain (Mt.17:1-13)

The Transfiguration on the Mountain (Mt.17:1-13)

Each era has its own images of Christ.  Each of these images has its own one-sidedness, but maybe together they form the whole truth.  In the first few centuries of Christianity there were only symbols of abundant life and trust: the fish, the anchor, the shepherd.  Only in the third century the countenance of Christ was depicted for the first time—the countenance of the Risen One.  When humanity was wrestling with questions about death, He appeared in countless representations as the Crucified One—the Man of Sorrows.  And when there was nothing left but materialism, His image was reduced to Jesus, the simple carpenter from Nazareth.

Not long ago, a new image appeared, something that had not been seen in the history of Christianity before.  In a short time, this picture became famous and went over the whole world.  It is the sculpture of a poor man, a drifter, who is lying on a bench in the open air, covered with a coat.  Only his bare, wounded feet betray who he is.  “Homeless Jesus” is the title of this artwork.  This image tells us what we did to Him: in our society there was no place for Him anymore.  He has been banished from our daily life.  What can we do in our time to give Him a place where He is at home?

HOMELESS JESUS, TIMOTHY SCHMETZ, 2013

Only once in His life on earth Christ showed Himself in His true form, in the overwhelming appearance of His Transfiguration on the mountain.  When this image disappeared, the Father gave us a task for all time with the words: “This is my Son whom I love.  In Him I have been revealed.  Hear His word!”

Christ is no longer visible on earth.  He leads a hidden, occult existence.  But we can hear Him through the words He spoke, words that want to be weighed in our heart until our heart is moved by them.  Or by the still voice in us, the Christ voice of conscience.  Then we begin to walk with Him, and He with us.  If we listen to His voice, He will find a place on earth where He can live.

 

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, February 28, 2021

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The Temptation in the Desert (Mt.4)

The Temptation in the Desert (Mt.4)

In countless ways power is wielded over people in our time.  True, the battle for power is as old as humanity, but the battle is getting worse.  We know the weapons through which this happens: Force is power. Money is power. Knowledge is power.  Not only physical weapons are used to subjugate people, but also the more subtle weapons of technology, money and knowledge are employed on a large scale.  The newest, strongest, and most insidious means of power is called information.  Whoever has data has the future, is the message.

How often do we condemn the powerful of our time, until we come under the spell of power ourselves, and cannot resist the temptation to subjugate or belittle others.  In this way, as weak human beings, we all are part of the vicious cycle of power and powerlessness.

Three times Jesus is tempted to the utmost to exercise power:

Power over matter—by turning stones into bread,

Power over the laws of nature—by commanding the angels,

Power over earthly riches—by possessing everything.

He can do it, but all three times He chooses the royal way of powerlessness.  In the same way He will also confront His death—as the God of powerlessness.  Then, when He has been nailed to the cross, one more time the tempter will stand before Him in the guise of the crowd of people that tempt Him with the words: “He trusts in God; let God deliver Him now … for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”

Because He, the almighty Creator, chose for powerlessness, He became truly our Lord.

And we?  Are we willing to follow Him on the royal way of powerlessness?

 

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, February 21, 2021

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Luke 18: 18-34

Luke 18: 18-34

One of the most striking and most disturbing phenomena of our time is the division that is growing on all fronts of society.  It does not stop at the national borders, when peoples keep off anything that goes beyond self-interest.  We see this division also in groups and individuals who fight for their self-interest and, in the process, shut others out—everyone for himself.

As long as we do this we remain stopped before the eye of the needle, which we sooner or later irrevocably have to pass through, for there is but one way that leads across the threshold—the narrow way through the eye of the needle.  There we gradually lay down all that we have, in order eventually to enter the world of the spirit merely with what we are.  Gradually—meaning that this high art of living has to be practiced step by step by the highest art of dying.  It is the only way to overcome the sickness of the ego, egotism, and yet remain yourself.  In different words, whoever wants to overcome his ego must learn to sacrifice.

That is the way Christ shows to the rich man: “Sell all your goods.”  That means: Leave all attachment to the world of earthly goods behind.  For you can take nothing of it with you to the other side of the threshold.  Whether it be earthly possessions or a rich talent, everything we want to hold on to at all cost—sooner or later we will irrevocably lose it.

This is also the way Christ shows to his followers: to renounce everyone and everything that binds them, in order to have less and less, and be more and more.

Finally, it is the way Christ Himself went as no other human being.  Beyond renouncing, He decided to embrace suffering—to be an outlaw, to be ridiculed, tortured, flogged and killed.  It is His sacrificial way, which leads to life out of death.

 

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, February 14, 2021

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STAND UP! (Jn.5:8)

STAND UP! (Jn.5:8)

Illness is everyone’s affair.  This not only means that we will all fall ill some time or other, but that each human being carries a lifelong ailment with him or her.  In the language of the Act of Consecration of Man this is called the sickness of sin.

A critical question applies to every form of healing, including the sickness of sin: “Have you the will to become whole?”  Not only does this question sound in many different ways in the healings Christ performed during His life on earth; today also, this is the most important question that can make healing possible, yes or no.  Of course, a physician can provide a remedy that takes the symptoms away.  But that does not affect the cause, and sooner or later the illness will raise its head again in another form.  Strangely enough, there are people who don’t even have the will to be healed anymore.  The only thing they want is a miracle drug that does the work for them.

Such a one was the paralyzed man in Bethesda.  He had almost given up the hope to be healed—even though he was still waiting for someone who would take him to the water at the last moment.  He did not even answer the critical question: “Have you the will to become whole?”  Instead there was his despondent message: No one helps me.  Nothing helps me.  I give up.  But as long as there was a trace of life, Christ called in the depths of his despair: “Stand up!”

And we?  When sooner or later we go through an illness, when we have direct experience of the sickness of sin and are close to despair—listen to the still, strong voice that calls: “Stand up!”

 

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, February 7, 2021

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“According to Your Faith, So Let It Be” (Mt.8:13)

“According to Your Faith, So Let It Be” (Mt.8:13)

It is in our social environment not at all a matter of course to trust people.  How often is our trust in others betrayed?  But as foolhardy as it is to blindly trust people, so destructive can it be to face the whole world with distrust.  And yet, these days this happens everywhere, people against people, party against party, all against all.  Even in our own circles individuals are divided by distrust.  And that does not go away by itself, even though in the Act of Consecration of Man we are reminded of Him “who makes hearts to be at peace, strengthens wills, unites mankind.”  Why then do we not succeed in becoming one?

We can only connect with people who have different ideas when we really search for the essence.  The essence—that is Christ in us.  Easily said—hard to achieve.  For how often is that essence hidden behind outer appearance?  In our world, where everything is focused on tangible results, we are all in danger not only of losing our essence, but even of burying it.  But if that ever happens—even what was buried can still be raised from death.  Look at the world through the eyes of Christ.  Most of all, look at your opponent through His eyes—and you will help him to come back to himself again.  Have you prayed for your enemy?  Have you forgiven him, because he has become a debtor just like you?  Do you put your trust in the essence that will sooner or later come to light?

In the tragedy of life it can come to the point that a person loses himself and doesn’t even know that he can’t find himself.  Even then, I can still find him: in my faith, in my hope, in my love.  This most profound trust is what Christ asks of his followers.

When He was still living on the earth, people often listened to Him with the usual distrust and disbelief.  That is how people are, even then.   But when an individual recognized Him and believed, He could achieve miracles in the life of that individual.  To such a person He could say: “According to your faith, so let it be.”

Now that He is come again and goes with us all our days, He asks of us: “Recognize Me—even though I am hidden in the least of your brothers and sisters.”  And if we do recognize Him there, He can say to us also: “According to you faith, so let it be.”

 

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, January 31, 2021

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“And His Disciples Believed in Him” (Jn.2:11)

“And His Disciples Believed in Him” (Jn.2:11)

In a society where everything is focused on visible, tangible results, we all actually live according to the principle of first seeing, then believing.  Whether we want to or not, we have in a certain sense all become materialists.  We want to see, hear, touch and taste—then only do we believe that something really exists.

Thus it goes at the wedding in Cana: the disciples see and hear—and not until it has passed the test of their senses, and they have drunk, do they believe.

Just like doubting Thomas, we can stay at a distance, ask critical questions, and have doubts.  But we can also, if we want to, take the test.  The test—for us that is the service at the altar.  The Act of Consecration of Man has been given to us to learn to believe through all our senses.  Whoever does not want to take in the words, but judges like an aloof spectator, remains on the outside and cannot believe.  But experience teaches that the presence of Christ can be recognized, heard, touched and tasted.  At the altar He manifests His Light Being day in, day out—until we become His disciples and believe in Him.

And whoever has once recognized Him in the bread and wine can, just like doubting Thomas who sees, hears, and touches Him, affirm with heart and soul: “My Lord and my God!” (Jn.20:28)

 

-Rev. Bastiaan Baan, January 24, 2021

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And His Mother Kept All These Words in Her Heart

And His Mother Kept All These Words in Her Heart

Lack of understanding separates people all over the earth.  It causes barriers between individuals, groups, and peoples.  Wherever we go, everywhere on earth we see the tangible results of these invisible hurdles.  Lack of mutual understanding can escalate so badly that people exclude each other or threaten each other’s lives.  Each of us, whether we want to or not, forms part of the collective confusion of thinking that shuts out those who have different ideas.  Before we know it, we are involved in a conflict by spouting a judgment or taking sides.

How will these separate worlds ever come together again?  How can we ever understand what the other actually wants to say when we are always kept apart from each other by walls, words, judgments, and prejudices?  Most people take the easy way: they turn away from their opponents as if they don’t exist anymore.  However, sooner or later the confrontation will begin again.

Perhaps we have to look for a different place to put the words and ideas we don’t understand—somewhere beyond our lack of understanding.  The gospel shows a way to find such a place for all we don’t understand.  When the child Jesus, after having disappeared without a trace, returned to his parents after three days, he spoke words no one understood: “Why did you look for me?  Don’t you know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk.2:49) The gospel has an extraordinary expression for the way His mother received these enigmatic words: “His mother kept all these words in her heart.” (Lk.2:51)

No more than this and no less than this is needed to create a space for all that we do not understand—even for the injustice that happens in the world.  Bear it with patience.  Take it into your heart.  Sooner or later life itself will give an answer to the riddle you were given.

–Rev. Bastiaan Baan, January 17, 2021