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

Our life- and soul-sustaining rhythm of waking and sleeping mirrors a life-building rhythm of living and being dead, of dying and then once more coming to life in a new incarnation: living on earth, living in a spiritual world. Dying, we move into the spiritual world which we left at birth, our spiritual home which “squirts forth” human beings. This is the world of the nine heavenly hierarchies, a centrifugal world, “flying the center”, dispersing; in fact, this world is kept together by the centripetal spiritual world.

When incarnated on earth, we move within the phenomenal world belonging to this centripetal spiritual world which is squirting forth this phenomenal, sensory world; after death we live within the centrifugal spiritual world of the hierarchies, which squirts forth human beings. And only through human beings do the hierarchies of the spiritual centrifugal world have contact with the spiritual centripetal world behind the sensory world (which by virtue of its material realities appears within the human being as a phenomenal spiritual world); in this way the hierarchies are able to keep their own world together. The human role in the world, “in between” those spiritual worlds, does indeed seem to be crucial.

In the festival time of Michael this human role comes out clearly. The words of the festival prayer of Michaelmas evoke an inner vision within our praying souls. Slowly, from the feet up, the figure of Michael takes shape, the figure of him who is Christ’s countenance, Himself “the healer of Man”. Under Michael’s feet, “free from the weight of earth”, he is seen to keep those powers in their place who would fetter the human spirit in chains of earthly slavery. From human hearts he is able to bring forth free power, power able to lift up what is earthly into heights of heaven, that it may become pure and spirit receptive. Thus, with Michael’s developing image, under his earnest countenance, we move from the sphere of the will through the heart upwards. Healing Spirit may work in us when we turn our hearts to Michael (as the words of the inserted prayer remind us), our hearts having been enkindled by true longing for salvation.

In the Transubstantiation part of the Service we have before us a comparable gesture, at that most silent, holy moment when the priest kneels down before the altar. Here, words are spoken with which Christ gave his body, his blood to his disciples. Rising, after having knelt down with bread and chalice, the priest makes three crosses over the bread and over the wine. The words following affirm that with Christ’s body and blood once more the divine has been given to human beings. Now in our thoughts the new confession, the new faith can live. Enacted within our own space, before our eyes the offering deed of Christ is literally elevated in such a way that, willingly, we may open our thinking to Christ’s suffering and death, to His resurrection, His revelation – in order that Christ’s transubstantiating power become part of our thinking.

When during divine service we make our personal three crosses, we pray that God the Father may be in us, that God the Son may create in us, that God the Spirit may enlighten us. With these three crosses, we want to unite ourselves with the three specific, different ways of the Godhead. Christ’s transubstantiating power having come alive in us, we human beings will be able to become part of the working of the Godhead in fulfilling the revelation, the ordering of the world in space and time. Here, the crucial importance of human beings in the world comes to light.

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