For the Advancement of the World 1: Michael’s Call1

Our title has been taken from what even in The Christian Community we call “The Creed”, although we don’t use this specific word to introduce contents in which we would “believe” in the old-fashioned sense, the word “credo” (“I believe”) lacking at the very beginning. What we find in this modern version of the Christian “Creed” outlines in nine sentences, as simple matters of fact, our human spiritual and physical setting in the world. After the crucial middle sentence which describes the Resurrection, there follows the description of Christ’s activity in the world, ongoing since His resurrection, as “the Lord of the heavenly forces upon earth”, now that He “lives as the fulfiller of the fatherly deeds of the ground of the world”. The following sentence says that, “for the advancement of the world”, in time He will unite “with those whom, through their bearing, He can wrest from the death of matter”. Here we find the background for this Michaelmas talk.

In these words the future connection of Christ with human beings is being described. Such human beings for whom Christ has become an inner reality will, according to the beginning of the last sentence of the Creed, by virtue of their own present connection with Christ be able to do their part in preparing this future connection. This will happen in the setting of the one church “to which all belong who are aware of the health-bringing power of the Christ”. It’s this church in which communities may feel united whose members ”feel the Christ within themselves”. This inner connection with Christ constituting communities will be an expression of His “health-bringing power”, and eventually will help to overcome the death within our material world. To this end, these human beings will be able to overcome “the sickness of sin” which defines their physical being; they will receive (we might even say “achieve”, as their own activity plays a part herein) the “continuance” of their human being as well as “the preservation of their life, destined for eternity”.

Between those sentences in the Creed, speaking of Christ’s future connection with human beings, as well as of the future connection of human beings with Christ, we find a sentence which puts to rest a millennium-old problem in the church. This is the question whether the Spirit proceeds from the Father only (as the Eastern Churches say) or from Father and Son both (with the “and of the Son”, the “filioque” of the Western Churches). The modern Creed here modifies its earlier use of “holy Spirit” when speaking of the birth of Jesus, and now speaks of the healing Spirit – the healing Spirit which is working through Christ.

This means that, when thinking about the “advancement of the world”, we must think of human beings “wrested from the death of matter” by the Christ who himself rose from the dead. It’s through Him, the Lord of the heavenly forces on earth, the “healing Spirit” can work. Human beings, aware of the health-bringing power of Christ, united in one church, will also be able to hope for and work towards the renewal of their whole being.

During the last festival of the Christian year, the festival of Michael, what is expressed in these central statements of the Creed comes together. Now Michael, the Archangel, calls on us to become ever more conscious of this life bringing, life sustaining deed of Christ: that more and more we make it of our life – divining it in a higher way. Responding to his call, we human beings turn to him with our heart, in order that the healing Spirit may work in us.

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