TEMPLE OUTSIDE, KINGDOM WITHIN

•November 16, 2019 • Leave a Comment

…grant that we, having this hope, may purify ourselves even as he (Christ) is pure; that when he shall appear in power and great glory we may be made like him in his eternal and glorious kingdom

                                                                    (from the Church in Wales Collect for 17th Nov)

‘As for these things that you see, the days will come when not one stone will be left upon another; all will be thrown down.’ (Luke 21.6)

JOHN’S GOSPEL COMMENTS on Jesus’ teaching about the impending collapse of the stone walls outside the Jerusalem Temple that, “ the temple he had spoken of was his body.” The non-dualistic, spiritual/physical texture of John’s Gospel contextualizes the teaching in the verse before, when Jesus says: “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days.” With this in mind, we can read between the lines of Luke’s context for what is probably the same original saying or teaching. When Luke was writing his Gospel, the early Jesus Movement was undergoing persecution, both within the Judaic environ from which it was emerging and from the powerful ruling Empire. He uses a contemporaneous apocalyptic literary style for dramatic effect (possibly present in Jesus’ original teaching) but focuses on the resolve of the suffering early church to use the present moment as an opportunity to testify to the truth. Apocalyptic wars and disasters may well be happening and about to happen, but the Jesus Movement is to hold fast to the teaching of Jesus and not be distracted by any charismatic or powerful alternative leadership. No matter what is going on, locally, globally or cosmically, the kingdom of heaven is present right here, right now. Here and now is where kingdom of heaven being and kingdom of heaven work is to be done.

John wrote his Gospel at least 30 or 40 years later and so had time to work the spiritual and theological aspects of Jesus’ teachings and “signs” through. However, stripped back, both these Gospels, and Matthew and Mark also, reveal essentially one central teaching: No matter what seems to be going on, however powerful or indestructible the given conditions, politically, systemically etc apparently are, Christ calls us to live in the present moment, knowing and trusting the kingdom of God that exists already within and among us, and which is coming into its fullness of being in God’s time and God’s way. We connect through our spiritual practice (John) and respond, from the kingdom in us, to the manifest world (Luke).

 

Eyes closed or eyes open?

•November 7, 2019 • Leave a Comment

eyes 3

The Aramaic word that most likely lies behind the English translation “commandment” is puqdana, similar to the classical or biblical Hebrew   פקודה  from a root פאקאד or paqad. “Fine”, you might say, “but why are you telling me this? The Bible has been translated into my language and that’s good, isn’t it? It’s called Reformation. It put the Bible into the people’s hands!”

Well this is true in many ways but it is still helpful to remember that Jesus didn’t speak English. His words weren’t even the ones recorded in the earliest Greek texts of the Gospels. Reading back into Aramaic, we might come across deeper teaching than our usual translations convey.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is not all about giving commands or any dot to dot theology about God or human beings. Jesus teaches spiritual practice and direct experience of the Divine indwelling. Jesus’  word puqdana means something like continuous teaching. Meanwhile “abide (qawi) in me” refers also to a continuing of an intermingling with creative, cosmic, parenting love (huba) through which we are all created. Abiding in the Abba, parent of the cosmos, is a state all beings should return to at the end of enfleshed existence, but Jesus’ continuous teaching (words and signs for the writer of John) proposes that his disciples (students) do so consciously before their flesh passes away. In this way they will find the pure joy (haduta) that is in him. Haduta carries a meaning of welcoming, here, of an echo or vibration of our divine origin of which we are all unconsciously already aware. This is why beauty, music, the sound of the sea, art etc sometimes touch us so deeply. They remind us. Jesus’  continuous puqdana, so inefficiently rendered commandment, reminds us ever more deeply of who we really are.

Our calling is to contemplate the puqdana

until the haduta joy spills out and reminds others of the divine indwelling in them.

And so it continues.

WHEREVER I LAY MY HEAD…

•June 27, 2019 • 1 Comment
foxes

And Jesus said (to the would-be disciple), ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head…Follow me.’

WHERE DID THE IDEA come from that being a woman or man of faith might be justly rewarded with a life of peace and privilege? To be true, such is indeed the case, but not in the ways ‘the world’ seems to expect. The Peace and Privilege are realised not in the material comforts of our lives but in its thin places; we find out who really are in the wilderness moments of our lives.

Peace breaks out from deep within us, like a fountain of living water; Privilege is in the finding that our suffering has broken us enough that the Eternal Fountain can rise in us through the cracks in our own deluded self-imagining.

How many times have you listened to self-professed ‘atheists’ moaning about the random unfairness of life that negates for them any notion of a loving God? It isn’t surprising though. The blandness of post Enlightenment perceived reality, and of course most of the ‘education’ and associated brainwashing it has spawned, informs and sustains facile moralistic patterns which are in turn superimposed onto images that pass in people’s minds for what God ought to be like. In regard to such patterns and images, I could quite rightly pass for an atheist too!

Love has no place to lay her head in the joined-up thinking of moralistic materialism. Love is indiscriminate and she is beckoning to us all, every creature, plant and element, in every moment. Listen to the birds and the creatures, wildflowers and reeds of the marsh, as they praise God’s love with their song. Let the beauty break you down, until the Christ moves freely through you, flowing like living water out of you and into ‘the world’.

I Am With You Always

•January 17, 2019 • 2 Comments

a poem. click below to listen

Are You Looking at me?

•December 11, 2018 • 1 Comment

 

prophet

“And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins” (Luke 1.76, 77)

“WHO? Me? Are you looking at me? Well I don’t see anyone else, I’m the only one here. Are you looking at me?”

“Yes, child, I am looking at you. You are the Prophet of the Most High. Now go and prepare the way for your Christ. Give the people the good news of their freedom. Go and set my people free. Tell them plainly. Make the path straight for them. Set my people free!”

“But they won’t listen to me. Hardly anybody goes to church now. I’m too old. I’m too young. I don’t know what to say. I’m not a theologian. I haven’t got any charisma. Even my children don’t want to come with me to church. Are you sure you’re looking at me?”

“Stop stressing. Look at me. No, not at my feet. Look me in the eyes. I have already set you free. Free to worship without fear. I have rescued you from your enemies. Your enemies are no one but your own fear. Don’t be frightened. There is nothing to be afraid of. I have called you and you are mine. I will never leave you. You don’t need to run or hide or think up new ways to do God’s work, say God’s words. I am right here. Within you. I have already moved all your obstacles. You just think they are still there. The traps and knots of your mind are just illusions. Their only power is the power you give them. All you have to do to end that power is let them go. There is nothing and no one to blame or to twist your emotions around, tie your thoughts to. I have set you free from your schemes and stories that can never be. Let them go. Look at me. Here I am. You are free to serve, free to love, free to risk, free to bring the light to those whose lives seem dark. Look at me. I am in them too! Just believe what you see here and then go and tell them what you see in them, and they will see me…go now, Prophet of the Most High…
…Prepare ye the Way of the Lord.”

WAIT, BE STILL

•December 1, 2018 • Leave a Comment
stay awake

“Be alert at all times…stand before the Son of Man”. (Luke 21.36)

SIGNS IN THE SUN, moon and stars, trouble among nations, rising sea levels, storms and wars… Our apocalyptic introduction to the gospel for a new Christian Year is physically and politically timely! Global warming, would-be empire proxy-warfare, melting ice caps, petrol/plastic poisoned planet, Brexit and Donald Trump vs Vlad Putin (or any available posturing tyrant with a Twitter account) could so easily be written into a footnote to the passage we’re reading from St Luke’s gospel this first Sunday of Advent.
So is this it then? End of Days? Second Coming of Christ? Could this really be the time? Apocalypse finally now?
Yes of course it could! No, of course it isn’t! Yes. No. I don’t know. Who knows? It seems pretty much every generation spawns those, sometimes many, who think they are living in the Last Days.
Perhaps it is a facet of human personality to think that of course it’s all going to end in ‘my’ life time. After all, ‘I’ am the one who is trying to make sense of all this, looking out at time and space through these eyes, in this head, with this brain…well you know what I’m saying. It’s ego thinking. Ego is driven by the instinct to survive. Ego is helpful to us in life threatening situations, fight or flight, ‘should I stay or should I go now’ moments. But ego ceases to be helpful when its survival at all costs mentality takes control of our whole thinking, feeling consciousness. When we believe we actually are our brain, body or ego, then we lose sight of our true being, our eternal existence in the true Oneness of being that we name God. This is how we let the ‘storms’ and ‘wild seas’ that Jesus spoke about overwhelm us.
But the Word of God (Christ, Christ’s self, according to the Prologue in John’s gospel) is within each one of us, to be found in the centre of our being, dug in like treasure in a field of grace by God. Advent is a time to reconnect with the treasure, the kingdom of God in us, with the Christ who comes like a baby, saying, “Wait, be still, see, HERE I AM.”

SEE THESE GREAT BUILDINGS?

•November 17, 2018 • Leave a Comment
pob clense

“…grant that we, having this hope (faith/eternal Life in Christ)
may purify ourselves even as he is pure” (today’s Collect)
‘Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left here upon another; all will be thrown down’ (Mark 13.2)

WHEN JESUS pointed to the finely built walls of the Jerusalem Temple and told his followers that it would all fall down, he may have been speaking literally, in prophecy, about the destruction that would happen there some 40 years later when the might of Rome would crush their nation’s rebellions, striking at the heart of Judaic consciousness, obliterating their religious place along with their ‘holy’ city. Many scholars and religious people have argued the case for this. No doubt there is truth in this and Jesus foresaw the physicality of it. Mark’s gospel moves quickly on from this moment, as Mark’s gospel always does. However, when John’s gospel reports this saying, the narrative doesn’t jump quite so quickly. John adds, “But when Jesus said ‘this temple,’ he meant his own body”.
The writer of John’s gospel wrote decades later than Mark (probably, incidentally, after the literal destruction of the Temple). John’s gospel is theologically much more advanced. It was written after many years of contemplation, prayer and reflection on the life and ministry of Jesus by someone who traveled with him, slept rough with him, lived hand to mouth with him, ministered with him and sat as a student daily at his feet. John’s is a mystical gospel, with a spirituality more east than west. John’s gospel understands Jesus not as a moralistic indoctrinator of Greek influenced philosophic but as a wisdom master, more Tao Te Ching than Athenian Academy.
John reads Jesus’ actions and teachings as “signs” or teachings about the nature of the kingdom of heaven, which , as Jesus taught all who had “ears” and “eyes”, is among us, within us, now, always. They are signs about our own eternal nature, unseparated from the Oneness that is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Christ is Son but he came to teach us that we are all Son/Daughter/Child of the Oneness. Mark gives us the action, John gives us the meaning. Contemplating all this opens us, as it did St John, to the purification of our souls we have asked for in our Collect this Sunday. We don’t do the purifying, God does it. But we have to provide the intention. Be still. Know God.

 
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