For the Advancement of the World 2: The Living and the Dead1

When the world turns apocalyptic, it’s not all roses over here on earth. Neither when, according to descriptions in the Gospels, at first we are only dealing with, and suffering from, “the begínning of the birth-pangs” (Mt 24:8, Mk 13:8). Tribulation, death, hate will come to those who will try to keep their Christianity in those days – those who endure will meet tribulations on the human and on the cosmic scale. In the “Letters to the seven churches” in the Apocalypse, we find described the gamut of inner and outer problems those who intend to endure will experience, of virtues to be developed, of gifts waiting to be received.

Many of those confronted with apocalyptic texts in the New Testament, by various ways and means, try to get out from under the reality of what is described – some smart-aleck intellectuality often being used as the driving force to question either the intentions of the writer or the contents of the book. Indeed, the apocalyptic process can’t be taken realistically without realizing that we ourselves, and that many times, will be part of the stages of both earthly as well as heavenly human evolution, of which we get a glimpse in this book of an “Apocalypse”. Without, indeed, the idea of reincarnation, without the reality of human evolution incorporated in this idea, one would, if one would at all attain one of the stages of heavenly bliss depicted, stay mired in that stage, without anymore being able to move onward. At the end of human evolution we would be left with a kind of staggered humanity – humanity mired in evolutionary stages, in the way fossils make visible some of the many preparatory physical stages on the way to the “full” human being on earth. Words of Christ in the “Apocalypse from the Mount of Olives” in the Gospels, inklings of Paul in his letters, and a text like the Apocalypse to John show that we all have to make the grade, the full grade – or will be left outside ongoing human evolution. For a while already, and not only for our own sakes, we have, both “living” as well as “dead”, been part of an evolution for the sake of “the advancement of the world”.

The Act of Consecration of Man prepares us for the world of resurrection, letting us already have a share in it – not yet fully in the body but in the soul. It is remarkable that the structure of this Divine Service in a way mirrors the way the Revelation to John unfolds, when we look at it in the way described above.

The Gospel Reading in the service corresponds with the experiences which John has in his first vision, of Christ as a Son of Man and of his words. In this part of the service, the word of Christ can flow from the priest’s lips out of a pure heart. In the Creed the congregation formulates its consciousness of human involvement with Christ’s deed.

What opens up in the second vision in the Apocalypse and continues through six other visions corresponds with the Offertory and Transubstantiation part of the service. We reach out to the realm of the Father, the Ground of the World, addressing him 7 times, to bring our offering, to let our offering merge with Christ’s offering, praying that Christ’s body, his blood, live in the Christ offering, that He receive this offering. We do this while conscious of the dead, praying for their input, their sheltering power.

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