Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’


Guest Post/Sermon by Benny Leung

The passage that I choose for today’s sermon contains two distinct narratives – the first spans from verses 7-12 while the second spans from verses 13-19.

We know from the earlier chapters that Jesus had begun ministry and saw great success.  At the same time, he also attracted much unwanted attention from the religious political leaders; this led to tension which amounted to conflicts that led to his crucifixion.  Of course, the religious leaders’ worries concerning Jesus were understandable.  After all, Jesus did challenge the prevailing rigid social and religious status quo (i.e. washing of hands, the Sabbath, etc).  More importantly, Jesus’ ministry offered the masses that the religious institution could not offer – healing of illnesses and casting out of demons.

Many of us are familiar with the biblical account of why John the Baptist was killed by Herod.  According to the Gospel writers, John agitated Herodias by challenging her marriage with Herod as illegitimate.  Her anger towards John eventually amounted to a plot that led to his death.  In addition to the biblical account, Josephus had also recorded the account of John’s death in The Jewish Antiquities.  The historical account showed that John’s ministry gained momentum and had thousands of Jewish followers.  Knowing this, Herod feared he was losing control over the people and saw John as a threat to his position.  As a result, Herod proactive sought for opportunities to remove John in order to secure his position before the Roman Empire.

In light of this historical account, Mark 3:7-8 tells us that people came from Judea, Jerusalem, Idumea, Tyre and Sidon to see Jesus.  With the exception of Judea and Jerusalem, all the other cities are quite multicultural in a sense that there were gentiles living among the Jews.  In other words, while John’s ministry was limited in the wilderness and to the Jews, Jesus’ ministry spanned a much larger spectrum in terms of geography as well as culture and nationality; this made Jesus even more of a threat than John.  Thus, Jesus’ withdraw to the lake is likely a conscious response on his part in order to not jeopardize his ministry by the unwanted fame that he was gaining.  Jesus knew very well that the objective of his ministry is to preach the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven and not gain popularity.

Verses 9-10 adds further flavor to Jesus’ withdraw.

9 Because of the crowd he told his disciples to have a small boat ready for him, to keep the people from crowding him.

10 For he had healed many, so that those with diseases were pushing forward to touch him.

The boat that Jesus had his disciples readied was not a pulpit for the purpose of teaching but a means to avoid people from crowding him.  That is, the boat was there to separate Jesus from the crowd.  We can’t help but to ask the question of why the Messiah distanced himself from the people whom he is called to save?  What was the crowd there for?  Clearly, the people did not gather to listen to Jesus’ teaching about the Kingdom of Heaven.  Instead the crowd was there to seek physical healing because they had heard about the great things that Jesus did.  Interestingly, this set of verses did not mention healing of any sort; perhaps Jesus purposely refrained himself from healing the masses in order to emphasize the true purpose of his ministry.  Jesus came to preach about the Kingdom of Heaven, everything else is secondary.

Finally, verses 11 to 12 talk about Jesus’ authority over the impure spirits.  The fact that the impure spirits fell down before Jesus and proclaimed him as the Son of God would indicate the spirit knew about Jesus’ identity.  Interestingly, Jesus ordered the spirit to not tell anyone about him.  Why did Jesus do that?  Clearly, it is not the so-called messianic secret but Mark’s effort to prompt his readers to ask: who shall or is permissible to reveal the identity of Jesus?  In the context of the Gospel of Mark, it is God the Father and the passion of Jesus that are permissible to reveal the true identity of Jesus.  For example:

The voice that came from heaven in 1:11

The foretelling of the passion in 9:9, 10:38-39

The transfiguration in 9:7

The impure spirits were prohibited from revealing the true identity of Jesus because they are incapable of revealing the Son of God in the context of the Kingdom of Heaven.

What follows is a narrative of the commissioning of the disciples.  Beginning with verses 13-15

 13 Jesus went up on a mountainside and called to him those he wanted, and they came to him.

14 He appointed twelve*that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach

15 and to have authority to drive out demons.

we see a sharp contrast from what we had read about the crowd in the previous narrative.  Here Jesus only called those whom he wanted to the mountainside – there was no crowd and the setting had gone from the lake to the mountains.  Mountains are considered sacred places or places of spiritual encounters in the Jewish context.  In the OT, Noah’s Ark landed on the Mountains of Ararat, Moses received the law in the mountains and Elijah heard the voice of God in Mount Horeb, etc.  Similarly, the disciples were about to have their spiritual encounter as Jesus established the team of twelve, giving them the capacity preach and authority to cast out demons.

The purpose of building the group of twelve was to extend the longevity of Jesus’ identity on earth through discipleship (i.e. being with Him) and ministry by giving the disciples authority (i.e. enabling them to preach and cast out demons).  Jesus appointed twelve individuals out of his many followers to establish a tight knit community to represent Him and expand his ministry.  The Twelve has an important symbolic meaning in the messianic context – if the Messiah is to come and deliver his people from exile, he must (re)establish the twelve tribes of Israel.  Further to the symbolic meaning, the emphasis of the Twelve rather than an individual would suggest the importance of the community over individual.

The text proceeds to presenting the names of the Twelve ending with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus.  The clear tension between Jesus calling those whom he wanted and the fact that Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus cannot be overlooked.  We ought to ask why did Jesus call someone who would ultimately betray him?  Did the Son of God fail to know what was to come?  For now, let’s toss aside the debate on predestination or the argument of whether Judas was saved.  Instead of challenging Jesus’ competency as a hiring manager, we need to remember an indisputable fact – none of the disciples really knew or understood the identity of Jesus (at least in the context of the Gospel of Mark); it just happened that Judas was an example that stood out like a sore thumb.  For example, James and John, through their mother, was eying for a high position in the Kingdom of Heaven.  In another instance, the disciples argued amongst themselves on who is the greatest.  Of course, we mustn’t forget Peter denial of the Lord.  Finally, the scattering of the disciples after the crucifixion.  All these examples serve as a reminder that none of the disciples really knew the identity of Jesus and the purpose of his coming.  Yet, Jesus saw another reality: The Kingdom of Heaven would be manifested through these stubborn and unworthy losers.

As distant as these stories may seem, the lessons from these stories are ever timely.  The present-day Christian is often under the scrutiny of deadlines – whether at work, family matters or ministry.  Even if we are able to escape the scrutiny of deadlines, we often subject ourselves to various metrics at work and/or ministry.  In the context of church, we measure our success on worship attendance, number of baptism, Sunday school attendance, church giving and so forth.  Over time, we end up worshiping these metrics instead of worshiping God, and we end up losing ourselves in the kingdom of heaven.

It takes integrity and courage to walk away from momentum or temptation of success.  Jesus withdrew to the lake to distance himself from the needy crowd; all those who came to Jesus had a legitimate need – they were either ill or demon possessed.  Yet Jesus knew very clearly that He did not come to satisfy the need of the masses.  The purpose of his ministry was to tell people about the coming of the Kingdom of Heaven.  The healing and the casting away of demons were means to declare the coming of the Kingdom.  In fact, Jesus exerted considerable effort to help people understand the reasoning and purpose behind his miracles.  Throughout the Gospel of Mark, we often see Jesus telling the healed and the liberated to not broadcast the miracles that they had just experienced.  What Jesus was trying to direct people’s attention away from the miracles but indulge them in the mystery of the miracle.

The business of evangelism is often a failure to the detriment in this regard.  I am not going argue whether the healings by charismatic televangelist are legitimate, although I am pretty sure they are not.   What I want to ask today is whether these healing help the healed see the coming of the Kingdom?  Closer to home, I know of folks who are hard-core advocates for evangelism.  Far too often, they are subject to the emotional euphoria from masses responding to an alter call.  In extreme cases, they fall into the trap of the messianic complex where they think they are the Messiah instead of Jesus.

Make no mistake, Jesus mandated his followers to make disciples of all nations; we are called to evangelize.  However, we must ask ourselves what kind of gospel we are sharing today?  Are we advertising a ticket to heaven or are we telling people about the Evangelion – that is, turning away from the old ways, taking up the cross to follow Jesus.  If it is the former, then we are not sharing the right things.  And if that is the case, it is a good idea to do what Jesus did; put everything on hold and take a step back to re-examine what the Gospel is.  The good news of Jesus Christ is about confession, repentance, reconciliation and transformation – it is about taking up your own cross and follow Jesus.

If withdrawing from the crowd takes integrity and courage, then indulging yourself in the community of faith is an act of valor.  After all, opening up yourself and subjecting yourself to vulnerability may not necessarily bring about outcomes that are desirable to our earthly understanding.  I have been involved in a conflict over the past few months of which the details I cannot disclose.  I had personally reached to the instigators to point out the issues, but I was ignored and brushed off.  The issues persisted, and I was discouraged to a point where I made a decision to sever myself from the church.  However, a good brother pointed the folly to such a decision and challenged me to seek a resolution on the matter instead.  Of course, leaving the church is the easiest solution because seeking a resolution means making myself vulnerable to the misunderstanding of blowing up a small matter or taking down the church because of my personal vendetta.  Yet, seeking a resolution also opens an opportunity for the instigators repent and, through it, the church would be able to live out the Kingdom values that we so cherish.

The fellowship of believers, the church, is one of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven.  Love is not the only experience from doing life together; there is also pain and suffering.  Yes, the church is place of love, a place of liberation, a place of openness, a place of inclusion.  Yet the church can also be place where people are wronged, a place of bondage, a place of mistrust, a place of segregation.  God, through the life of Jesus the Nazarene, indulged himself in this mystery.  Because the Son of Man had lived through it, his followers must also indulge themselves in this mystery.  And through this pilgrimage, His followers will own this kingdom mystery, through which they will experience His grace and mercy.

 

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Jesse Stone: Men may know somethings.

Molly Crane: Rape is something women know.

-Jesse Stone: Stone Cold T.V. Movie (2005)

#Timesup. #Metoo.  On one night…January 24, 2018 3 prominent Canadian politicians went down as the lid was blown off the badly kept secret of abusive misogyny in politics. I state badly kept, because the greater country may act like they did not know, but that is because they have been ignoring that which they did not want to know. They have ignored the voices that are being called out for complicity—that were ones shouting from the rooftops. The signs were so easily there, from a premier in 1934 booted from office; to how such Canadian politicians as Sheila Copps and former PM Kim Campbell were treated to name but a few.  This past week a Claresholm town Councillor having her life threatened in her own home by an invader for being political, check any female politicians twitter feed to note the abuse and stalker-like behavioural patterns.

Many astute commentators pointed out it is not a partisan issue, but rather an institutional issue.

Yet, sadly,  it does not surprise me. For the same power over people structures that allow this abuse to be ingrained generation over generation that it is acceptable and our voice does not matter. That perpetuates forced silence of the abused. The #Metoo movement is re-telling an ancient, and modern story. We saw it with the bravery in Sheldon Kennedy breaking the silence over sexual violence in hockey. In the persons with disabilities world silence breakers. We first saw it with the monsters revealed preying on our daughters in classrooms, and now showing that predators come in both genders (although how Riverdale got away with putting forward Archie-Miss Grundy as a relationship and not what it was—teacher rape of a student, though there was some minor redemption with the Black Hood story-line of season 2. But be honest with yourself, it could not have been played off as a relationship or affair if it had been Veronica and Mr. Weatherbee).

Spotlight and the breaking of silence around Cleric abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. That we know statistically is the same within all religious systems, where power works to silence the abused (regardless of gender or sexuality). We can hypothesize the sexual violence against women based on report versus non-report, against males it is harder because of the societal constructs working against it (note the Archie-Grundy myth perpetuating). But the story is not different it is the use of power.

It is a multi-generational trauma highlighted in the TRC in Canada; yet we need to understand it is a generational trauma passed down through thousands of years of conquering/colonialism that stretches at the very least back to the Roman Empire, but probably pre-dates that.

It is a society knowing homelessness, addiction, violence, mental illness and crime are symptoms of something deeper but would rather deal with the symptoms than the actual cancer.  Root cause missed in entertainment with stars blowing out, crashing mentally, overdosing, or doing 180’s that made no sense…the bread crumbs were there if we only wanted to know…

Same as the pain from acting out athletes, or the children of religious sexual violence.

But it is a system that allows Bountiful, B.C.’s pedophile community to declare themselves polygamous. A system where the person is commodified, and not seen as truly a whole person.

Yes, we are more open about talking about sexual violence than we have been in the past. In the past, though there were those in families or communities that worked hard to try to protect the young from it being passed on. Even as simple as a matriarch or patriarch refusing the grandchild to sleepover knowing the other was a predator. Neighbours that would become sanctuaries for children or others in need.

            Why does it continue?

Because we allow our voice to be divided. We allow the command, power and control to continue setting the story. We can speak of #timesup, but without unity of those abused by the corrupt structures of power …speaking as one to shatter them…it will all to easily be lost as a news story and relegated to just another news cycle ala school shootings in the U.S.A., or the annual story that churches should really do something about misogyny.

I wish I could say this is a problem of the last 100 or so years. Yet it is a problem heightened in the social media world of Millennials and Generation Z where they see the power abuse structure as so normative that social media is used to terrorize, commodity individuals until they believe their only option for safety is death. Let that sink in for where we are at in human history.

For I have contemplated these verses many time in my ministry. Told time and again that they were to be read in light of his Easter Resurrection, yet today in history I am convinced more than ever they speak to our world transformation. The foundations we are to shake:

18On account of this, the Jews demanded, “What sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do these things?” 19Jesus answered, “Destroy thistemple, and in three days I will raise it up again.”20“This temple took forty-six years to build,” the Jews replied, “and You are going to raise it up in three days?”…

-John 2:18-20 (Berean Study Bible)

The Temple of Jesus’ day was corrupted: used by the powers to be to oppress, abuse, commodity of human beings and use the people. Sound familiar?

His Mother, Mary of Nazareth and his earthly father, Joseph, led the way in showing what could exist with true equality and a new way. The way Jesus taught. One of full inclusion, equality and love for all in the human family and creation.

That is what verse 19 is truly about. Shattering the corruption. Tearing down the temple and rebuilding what is truly meant to be. Or in our hashtag world to the monsters and predators in one unified voice: #timesup.

And the response is the one that is still heard today by the command and control power structure—this took so long to build what are you going to do in 3 days.

Well according to ancient myth poetry of Jesus’ people, in the first 3 days of creation the Holy Mystery, well, she birthed the very good foundation of the cosmos.

Today, let us join voices together across all those who have been abused. Let our voices that are new to the fight, or have been battling longer unheard than any not lose sight of the goal. Let us join our voices together without labels, in the truth that we need to stand firm in. Let us shatter this corrupt temple, and yes…let us build the world where we all belong, we are all honoured, and we know true love of self and neighbour.

Join in tearing down…so that together we can birth the new hope that this light is shining.

The statement for this day is not do we believe. But rather do we stand firm that this must end.

Is it not time to build a world we keep paying lip service to.

A world where all are safe and belong.

A world where the true cause of pain has been exorcised and light truly reigns?

Are we ready to stand with our neighbour against those that prey?

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I was wracking my mind and heart about what to share on this day of new life. Then I do what many do on Christmas day, a family tradition. We would gather throughout my life to watch the Queen address the Commonwealth. So the wife and I once again did today, and her message, the 60th on television, she was the first monarch to use the medium (and has been the only one since)…celebrating her platinum wedding anniversary to Prince Phillip. Speaking of the light in the darkness, the love of neighbour and self through first responders, charity, church and reclaiming/claiming home.

“The simplicity of the call of home this time of year”

-Queen Elizabeth II, head of the Commonwealth, Religious head of the Church of England (Anglican Communion)

From our family to yours this season, please join our tradition, read the article and listen to the Queen’s Christmas Message 2017.

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A BLESSED NEW YEAR.

 


Liturgically I am informed we are in the week of Joy in the journey to the creche. It is also the moment of the Winter Solstice, where we encroach on the shortest/darkest day of the year, after which light begins to grow once more. In each of the cultural-religious celebrations at this time of year it is about light and new life from the darkness.

Which is the struggle in joy.  Hope well, a few weeks back I wrestled with that. Peace-faith, though broken have wrestled through because of the story of a peasant girl. Now we enter joy in the gifts of the season. Perhaps the burden of 2017 finally reached the straw that broke my back. We are taught in seminary to look to prayer and the “Word” to find solace and answers.

And yes even some pablum like answers repeated as mantras of “God brings you to it, he will bring you through it.” Or “God gives you only that He can trust you can handle” or better chestnuts around suffering and being blessed twice fold after (bastardized out of the ancient story of Job).

Discernment for me goes deeper, and that is the challenge this Advent. For Joy is the story of the shepherds—the least of society, one step from the cast outs being the first told of the joy to come into the world:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[a]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

-Luke 2:8-20 (English Standard Version)

spong

A story over 2000 years old. Yet one that still rings with justice-political truth today. I knew this on Sunday in the Christmas Pageant at our church that re-told it with a Canadian twist. The movements of political oppression that caused movement, and economic injustices that lead to poverty. The parts my children and I played as the ranchers, a strong work force the backbone of an economy that can so easily be forgotten. My son through his adaptive technology being able to speak lines, my daughter over the course of her acting and caroling in the week finding her strong assertive voice to project what she knew to be true.

A hint of the inclusion the story echoed us to, 2000 years on should not be a “what a great time” but should simply be normative.

To struggling through brain fog for 4 days as I attempt to put words as the brain glitches, and tears flow. Pain released. Not joy. As Norad reminds us today, 3 days until sleigh launch. Yet is there joy? A hard thing to find even when getting to experience the season through the heart of children.

Then a simple image struck me as a television show ended. Star Trek Deep Space Nine Season 5, Episode 26 “Call to Arms” in which after 5 years and with the threat of invasion by the Dominion imminent, Sisko and the Federation must leave the station back in the hands of the Cardassians. The consummate villain, Gul Dukat (one who believes he is doing what is right—think a Herod, A Pilate, A Caiaphas if you are into Biblical allegory) stands amongst the technological carnage left behind and finds one thing left behind. A message from Sisko (who is also the Bajorans Emissary) to Dukat and the invaders stripping a galaxy of joy: His baseball.

joy

Dukat’s last words to Weyoun as he holds the baseball “A message, he will be back”.
I sit here a bit teary wanting the year 2017 in my rear-view mirror for something normalized if not better in 2018. On the Solstice, the darkness consumes, but rationally I know the light begins to grow again. It is what joy can be found in the now for life will be back.

We can so easily get in a rut of just seeing the negative or locking into our own paradigms. This week of Advent calls us to look outwards and inwards to what brings true Joy to your soul, community and world? #advent2017


Lectionaries are designed within liturgical/mainline churches to have the entire Hebrew Bible and Christian Testament heard within the community in a 2 or 3-year cycle depending on the lectionary used, Other liturgical prayer book resources will take a daily reflective practice for the person through the whole of these two scripture compilations usually within a year.  It is unique that in this part of the lectionary cycle this is the reading that came up in the Roman Catholic lectionary, in the midst of the rise of fascism, Nazism, extremism (at the point of extremism the qualifier of right-left or religiosity is removed for it is simply about hate, power and control, nothing more).

But, this reading also struck on my own renaissance of the past months with my Trekkie ways (that many previous posts have touched upon) and it reflects the Healing Journey of James Tiberius Kirk as seen in the Star Trek II to VI.

As you hear the words of the gospel whether you read within your heart or with your lips, may they embed upon yourself. And the old Franciscan idiom of living it as nature before moving on touch upon your soul:

21 Then Jesus left Galilee and went north to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22 A Gentile[e] woman who lived there came to him, pleading, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! For my daughter is possessed by a demon that torments her severely.”

23 But Jesus gave her no reply, not even a word. Then his disciples urged him to send her away. “Tell her to go away,” they said. “She is bothering us with all her begging.”

24 Then Jesus said to the woman, “I was sent only to help God’s lost sheep—the people of Israel.”

25 But she came and worshiped him, pleading again, “Lord, help me!”

26 Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.”

27 She replied, “That’s true, Lord, but even dogs are allowed to eat the scraps that fall beneath their masters’ table.”

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

-Gospel of Matthew 15:21-28 (New Living Translation)

Brother Jesus is a prick in this telling, let’s be honest. The man that has been teaching to rest in the love does the dance of ignorance based on race superiority. His non-chalant I am not here for you people, does come across as a supremacy statement at first blush.  Especially with a child’s life hanging in the balance. It would definitely be jarring for his disciples to hear.

Jarring because it was Brother Jesus espousing what they held to be true of their beliefs as the children of Israel. The Messiah was there for them not those who were actively supportive of the Empire.  I mean one of the many rumours (or truths depending on the narrative of Jesus’ early life you follow) is that Roman soldiers raped Mary and Jesus was the result, but was blessed, others would hold he was born directly from God, and many other stories as the Gospel of John tell us that would be too many to keep up with. Yet the gentiles, or Empire were non-Jews, mostly in this age they were ones that had sold out Israel, battled with Israel, or were Romans in general who only saw Israelite’s outside of the wealthy and religious leaders (that could be used to keep control of the people) as property to be used and/or abused as they wanted.

This is not even touching upon the general view of women across all nations at this time. A view that Jesus’ circle had shattered with their egalitarian equality, equity and justice.  Yet when this woman came upon them and they reverted to old ways. The ways that Jesus mimicked.

“Only Nixon can go to China”

-Spock, Star Trek VI: Undiscovered Country

 

Within the cold war height of hysteria, Star Trek’s original crew was in their movie arc. It was this future used to reflect the destructive ways that seeing American or Soviet as the other or capitalist-communist as the other and building fear would lead to.

Within Star Trek it was the Federation-Klingon Empire.  Star Trek II saw Spock give his life to save the Enterprise, quoting the famous line, the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. And the genesis bomb went off on the planet Spock’s body was left to rest on.  Kirk had found he had a son, David, yet his best friend, his moral compass was left behind dead.

Now, as we go through quick touchstones of the others. I do encourage you to watch the movies and see other gems available, as this is just quick points and not as in-depth as could happen with these storylines.  As another aspect these movies could touch on would be the grief cycle of 5 stages, or the U theory of change, but again, those are for another time.

This is the journey of healing and transformation as the inciting incident of this arc was Spock’s death. In the third film, it is revealed that Spock’s essence is within McCoy. The Klingons want genesis, David and Saavik find a reborn Spock due to the Genesis bomb (life from lifelessness).

This is the rising action that sees Kirk and crew determine the needs of the few or the one can outweigh the many. They break Federation protocol, steal the Enterprise and head back to Genesis to get Spock. Before ultimate win though, the Klingons kill Kirk’s son, David.

Blind rage and grief move from a Cold War battle with the Klingon Empire, to a personalization of hatred for the other within Kirk.

Star Trek IV has Kirk and crew using a stolen Klingon cruiser to go back in time to save humanity from our own shortsightedness as the Klingon Empire sabre rattles for the “war criminal Kirk” to be turned over to the Klingon justice system.  But saving the universe must come before politics as the Crew on their newly christened HMS Bounty go back in time to well, bring back a lost species to communicate with a probe—the Humpback whale.

As Scotty would chime before the jump forward, “We got whales here!”.

It is truly a connecting of the Cold War of the `80’s into the Star Trek universe. It is also a trip where Kirk gets to experience Spock’s new entry back into his life, and learning what it means to be a person of two worlds…both Vulcan and Human.

In fact, the outcome of his Federation court martial is to be stripped of his admiralty and given to be Captain of the new Enterprise A. That is even the Federation realizes the best place for Kirk is as a captain of a star-ship out there exploring and discovering, much to the anger of the Klingon Empire.

Star Trek V has Kirk entering into a search for God thanks to Spock’s half brother Sybok. But the challenge of the search for God is a loss of pain. It is within this journey that Kirk begins to understand that pain is not what is the problem, but when Sybok takes the pain he takes the learning, the growth, the understanding. The intangibles that created who each of the crew were.

Also it raises the question when they are face to face with the entity pretending to be the Creator. It is petty, mean, and separatist. It is the being that extremism creates to give credence to their hatred. Kirk sums it up greatly on his transformational journey at this point, “Why is God angry?” Truly, if you are seeking wisdom, answers and truth. If you are seeking to love and include…then yes, why is God angry?

Which brings us to the end of the rising action and to the climax in Star Trek VI where this exchange happens between Kirk and Spock about the Klingons:

Spock: They are dying.

Kirk: Then let them die.

Sound familiar? Almost like the disciples with Brother Jesus. All this personal discovery, learning and transformation. Yet when the climax came to make a choice, Kirk almost took the path of the comfortable instead of healthy change. Yet it is within the Undiscovered Country that Kirk reaches the point with the Klingons that Jesus brought his disciples to with the woman in 15:28:

28 “Dear woman,” Jesus said to her, “your faith is great. Your request is granted.” And her daughter was instantly healed.

Kirk was at peace and heading to retirement, as was many of his friends on the crew. The denouement. Then the final resolution of his life was seen in Star Trek VII: Generations as he saves the Enterprise-B and falls into the Nexus, and then with Picard and crew will save the universe again. He imparts this wisdom to Picard: You are where you need to be. The best place, the Captain of the Enterprise, do not let them take it away, do not let them promote you. Stay there for it is the best place. Completely understanding the need to find your passion, and then live it and not let your ego or others building the ego to create a false you that removes you from that path.

Even with detours as seen in Kirk’s life can get back on track, things will thrive and grow. Healing will happen. Transformation and release of the pain associated with your own story. The shadow blocks can be removed for a better world, that begins with a better you.

Much like Kirk.

As Brother Jesus played a mirror for his disciples in how they were still not getting it.

And as trite as it maybe you will live a life, that will make your own part of the world a better place for you being a more complete and you- you.

Do you choose this you?

“It was fun.”

-Captain James T. Kirk, Star Trek Generations, last words.


Have you danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?

-Joker (as portrayed by Jack Nicholson in 1989’s Batman)

There are many catch phrases in Christendom that have grown out of the Pauline, Johannine, James’ and Jesus’ schools of ancient thought (to name but a few, but each of the original 11 surviving men, and 7 women established their own mystery schools and so began the cult of saints).  But I digress. The opening quote does tie into a spiritual practice/discipline. For there are two catch phrases that seem to resonate around again and again within Christendom—that of John 3:16, but also of “Remember who you are.”.

Over the past few weeks in church our minister is doing a series on the Letter to the Church in Ephesus (also known as Ephesians). It was written by a student of Paul’s.  In the early chapters of the letter Pseudo-Paul spends time getting the hearers to remember who they were, what they have come through and who they are now. It is deeper than just what we in the 21st century think of when we hear remember. For it is the pilgrimage.

The struggle between shadow and self; the unity of anima/animus; yin/yang. Both sides of a coin. The pieces that need to find unity for completion, and those parts we need to work beyond (ala Cosmic Christ moving beyond Ego).  Or as Levi reminds us in the Aquarian Gospel:

  1. The living waters always leap and skip about like lambs in spring.
    8.The nations are corrupt; they sleep within the arms of death and they must be aroused before it is too late.
    9. In life we find antagonists at work. God sent me here to stir unto its depths the waters of the sea of life.
    10. Peace follows strife; I come to slay this peace of death. The prince of peace must first be prince of strife.
    11. This leaven of truth which I have brought to men will stir the demons up, and nations, cities, families will be at war within themselves.

Aquarian Gospel 113:7-11

The war within. The eternal struggle between angelic and demonic ways. The stardust and chakra sludge. Giving in to the easy journey of selfishness and independence instead of striving for selflessness and interdependence. Now before you say how does the Joker show us this? Think back to any portrayal of Batman-Joker you have seen; or Superman-Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman-Ares; heck even Captain America-Red Skull, (Robin Hood-Prince John/Sheriff of Nottingham) and what you see in these tales that keep going over and over again that become our archetypes to show that unity means wrestling with the darkest pieces of ourselves manifested. And yes, in those instances as noted above the darkest shadow self, is our greatest strengths twisted when we are at our most lost in the wilderness of our interior castle.

  1. And Philip said, Must men and women suffer in the flames because they have not found the way of life?
    14.And Jesus said, The fire purifies. The chemist throws into the fire the ores that hold all kinds of dross.
    15. The useless metal seems to be consumed; but not a grain of gold is lost.
    16. There is no man that has not in him gold that cannot be destroyed. The evil things of men are all consumed in fire; the gold survives.

-Aquarian Gospel 116:13-16

Let those words resonate as you begin or continue your pilgrimage to the sacred heart within you. To get to gold the fires must burn away the crud and sludge, that which stops the shine and shimmer. So is the pilgrimage to our interior castle to live out of it. The crap must be burned away, a purgatory if you will (and yes there is some Roman Catholic theology around purgatory as this type of thing) that only leaves the truly good, very blessed creation continuing to live forward. Also, sometimes the sludge we have built up that has been cast on us is not due to our own actions, but the abuse of others, but in the process we also need to allow the purging of this crap to be able to shine forward as we truly are.

  1. Go forth and take possession of the unclean quadrupeds.
    20.And they, and all the evil spirits of the tombs went forth and took possession of the breeders of the plague,
    21. Which, wild with rage, ran down the steeps into the sea, and all were drowned.
    22. And all the land was freed of the contagion, and the unclean spirits came no more.
    23. But when the people saw the mighty works that Jesus did they were alarmed. They said,
    24. If he can free the country of the plague, and drive the unclean spirits out, he is a man of such transendent power that he can devastate our land at will.
    25. And then they came and prayed that he would not remain in Gadara.

-Aquarian Gospel 118:19-25

An ancient story of Jesus casting out the torments of Legion into the unclean animals, showing that even when we take this as a story of the pilgrimage we can be like the people of Garda standing on the precipice of unification with our Cosmic Christ only to push back and away.

But is this the point there is two paths to choose, and we must contemplate which one as we literally/figuratively and allegorically dance with our own personal devil in the moonlight?

  1. And Jesus said, We cannot look upon a single span of life and judge of anything.
    27.There is a law that men must recognise: Result depends on cause.
    28. Men are not motes to float about within the air of one short life, and then be lost in nothingness.
    29. They are undying parts of the eternal whole that come and go, lo, many times into the air of earth and of the great beyond, just to unfold the God-like self.
    30. A cause may be a part of one brief life; results may not be noted till another life.

-Aquarian Gospel 114: 26-30

The role of life and decisions. The build up of karma when we choose the path of selfishness/ego for this life, next life or past lives… BUT when we choose the path of angelic/Cosmic Christ and living into and out of L-O-V-E (Dharma) our selves and our localized world transform for the better. Much like the pebble in the pond creating cosmic ripples through the stardust that connects everything into the Holy Mystery and the Holy Mystery into everything.

Today, as we celebrate the giving of sacred life with those who are our mothers; grandmothers; crones whether by birth, choice or tribal roles given. Take time to decide if you are going to choose the path of light or dark?

At this moment in time, will you choose the path of the hero or the villain? What will you need to do to be able to change direction of your path. To be able to become your own Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman?

Are you willing to dance in the moonlight?

 

 


Mendicant. It is Latin, and as such appears to hold airs of awe-ness. Yet when the word is translated it means open hand or to be more abrupt how it was used back in the 13th century for Francis of Assisi and his circle of friends—pan handler, beggar. That which we attempt to continually criminalize today. Those that seek a share of blessings of others, and then continue to spread out from there.

For Franciscans Mendicant is a call to remember where the blessings and possessions flow from. The Source of the Holy Mystery that will continue to provide, given that the flow is continued within the blessings to continually move out and not store up.

The teaching of the Exodus Story as the people wandered, Quail and Manna was sent each day to be gathered, on the 6th day, there was more so an extra portion could be gathered. When there was attempt to horde, it rotted.

In Acts 5:1-10 the physician Luke recounts this tale of the early church:

Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.”

When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. Then some young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him.

About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?”

“Yes,” she said, “that is the price.”

Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.”

10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events.

A desire to remind the community the source of blessings, the choice to openly share, the need not to lie or horde. The choice to live out of the love of the Holy Mystery within. If you would like a bonus spiritual practice, take this story and write it from the perspective of Ananias or Sapphira, what is revealed about your own journey?

These thoughts bring us into meditating upon the Aquarian gospel 111:

Jesus teaches. A man requests him to compel his brother to deal justly. Jesus reveals the divine law, the power of truth and the universality of possessions. Relates the parable of the rich man and his abundant harvest.

1. And Jesus taught the multitudes; and while he spoke a man stood forth and said,
2. Rabboni, hear my plea: My father died and left a large estate; my brother seized it all, and now refuses me my share.
3. I pray that you will bid him do the right, and give what is mine.
4. And Jesus said, I am not come to be a judge in such affairs; I am no henchman of the court.
5. God sent me not to force a man to do the right.
6. In every man there is a sense of right; but many men regard it not.
7. The fumes that rise from selfishness have formed a crust about their sense of right that veils their inner light, so that they cannot comprehend nor recognise the rights of other men.
8. This veil you cannot tear away by force of arms, and there is naught that can dissolve this crust but knowledge and love of God.
9. While men are in the mire, the skies seem far away; when men are on the mountain top, the skies are near, and they can almost touch the stars.
10. Then Jesus turned and to the twelve he said, Behold the many in the mire of carnal life!
11. The leaven of truth will change the miry clay to solid rock, and men can walk and find the path that leads up to the mountain top.
12. You cannot haste; but you can scatter forth this leaven with a generous hand.
13. When men have learned the truth that bears upon its face the law of right, then they will haste to every man his dues.
14. Then to the people Jesus said, Take heed, and covet not. The wealth of men does not consist in what they seem to have–in lands, in silver and in gold.
15. These things are only borrowed wealth. No man can corner up the gifts of God.
16. The things of nature are the things of God, and what is God’s belongs to every man alike.
17. The wealth of soul lies in the purity of life, and in the wisdom that descends from heaven.
18. Behold, a rich man’s ground brought forth abundantly; his barns were far too small to hold his grain, and to himself he said,
19. What shall I do? I must not give my grain away; I must not let it go to waste; and then he said,
20. This will I do; I will tear down these little barns and built up larger ones; there I will store away my grain and I will say,
21. My soul take now your ease; you have enough for many years; eat, drink and fill yourself and be content.
22. But God looked down and saw the man; he saw his selfish heart and said,
23. You foolish man, this night your soul will quit its house of flesh; then who will have your garnered wealth?
24. You men of Galilee, lay not up treasures in the vaults of earth; accumulated wealth will blight your soul.
25. God does not give men wealth to hoard away in secret vaults. Men are but stewards of God’s wealth, and they must use it for the common good.
26. To every steward who is true to self, to other men, to every thing that is, the Lord will say, Well done.

Get comfortable, and prepare to enter the story. Slow your breathing down. Feel the chair you are in melt away. Feel the room fall away. Move back into the time of the ancestors. In the gathered market place, you have travelled from a small centre to hear the travelling labourer turned teacher. The words you have heard of this man speaking have shaken up the wealthy in your town, and scare the religious leaders.

 

  1. As you hear Brother Jesus for the first time, let the words truly sink in. When were you lost in the mire? When were you like the farmer trying to horde away all the crops and letting them rot instead of trusting provision. What emotions does it bring up? What memory really sticks out? Sit with the memory and what happened within it? What is revealed of your heart in these moments in your journey?
  2. As you hear Brother Jesus for the second time, let the words truly sink in. When has the clay slipped away to allow you to ascend the mountain top? What memories come up in the moment when you know you were in sync with the Holy Mystery, a true mendicant? Stay with the feelings. What opens within your soul?
  3. As the words tumble from Brother Jesus’ lips a third time Let the heart of the Holy Mystery become one with yours. Where are you being called to wealth and wisdom within your vocational life? Sit with this call and let it resonate within you. Are you ready to take the first step?

Slowly bring your breathing back to normal. Feel the dust vanish. The noises of the market place vanish. You travel forward in time, feel the room reshape around you. Your chair again. When you are ready open your eyes.

The call is as simple as when Jesus offered Peter the keys to the kingdom. He stands in your heart, all is connected. The Cosmic Christ offering you the keys to the kingdom. Are you ready:

17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter,[b] and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades[c] will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be[d] bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be[e]loosed in heaven.”

-Matthew 16:17-19

To answer are you ready for your call, re-read the passage above from Matthew, only replace Simon, Son of Jonah, with your first name and who your parents are, replace Peter with your name. Now re-read it 3 times, pausing each time to let the words and sentiment truly set in.

Our Brother Jesus has laid out a path of unity and oneness for the family of humanity, it is simply bound together in L-O-V-E. The Cosmic Christ holds the key to unlock Universal love for you.

Are you open to stepping out of materialism, and into the Holy Mystery?