Posts Tagged ‘Johannine Community’

Authenticity. Not succumbing to useless prattling, or derogatory yelling to beef up one’s own view as the right way. Living authentically. This is what John writes in his third epistle. As the structure relates around 90-100 CE, the gatherings are becoming more structured and uniform. A drastic change for the Sacred Service communities founded on the Commandment of Love. Worries arising not only in John’s old soul, but in members from the short words he writes that eventually it will be more about pomp and ceremony instead of substance and community.

The Elder,

To the beloved Gaius, whom I love in truth:

Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. For I rejoiced greatly when brethren came and testified of the truth that is in you, just as you walk in the truth. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in [a]truth

-Epistle of 3 John 1-4 (New King James Version)

John reminds the facilitator and leader of the community that there is an authentic vocation in his divine heart for the work within the community. John knows this because others, not Gaius, share what has happened. It is an inversion of today’s world where we are asked why we are good fits, what matters, where we expect those above us to note how great we are. Yet, what John lays out is that the greatest compliment and understanding is when those you serve, are the ones that share the truth about you:

Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren [b]and for strangers, who have borne witness of your love before the church. If you send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God, you will do well, because they went forth for His name’s sake, taking nothing from the Gentiles. We therefore ought to receive[c] such, that we may become fellow workers for the truth.

-Epistle of 3 John 5-8 (New King James Version)

Doing good not expecting to gain anything from it, but the simple act itself. Knowing that if there is enough ripples created in the darkness by pockets of light…

The darkness shrinks away for the new dawn.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating[d] against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.

11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, [e]but he who does evil has not seen God.

12 Demetrius has a good testimony from all, and from the truth itself. And we also [f]bear witness, and you know that our testimony is true.

-Epistle of 3 John 9-12 (New King James Version)

Injured pride. One who did not earn leadership whether it be from within the community with or without title. Turned out in hate and anger, reaping fear and in-hospitality.  Only walking the talk when there is someone there to acknowledge and spread the story or something to be gained. Does this sound familiar? How easily one can be swayed into this idealization of ego that masquerades as good works. In the end it is actually darkness dressed up in fancy clothes.

Missing the point of the act of love.

I had many things to write, but I do not wish to write to you with pen and ink; 14 but I hope to see you shortly, and we shall speak face to face.

Peace to you. Our friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.

-Epistle 3 John 13-14 (New King James Version)

And John ends with what community is about. Yes correspondence is good, but not as good as face to face conversation. Sharing of meals (coffee) and discussion for growth.


Mystic Light Bright 6

Posted: December 18, 2018 by Ty in Brunch & Bible
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Charles and Myrtle Fillmore, Marianne Williamson, Hildegaard de Benign, Meister Eckhart, Francis of Assisi, Eric Butterworth, Ignatius of Lyola, Clare of Assisi, John Shelby Spong, Dorothy Day & Peter Maurin, Thomas Merton, Matthew Fox to name but a few who over time have resonated with the Holy Mystery in a way the disciple, John, did. From monastic to mystic communities to Creation Spirituality, to Unity there is a history that resonates within the Christianities still today. The original writings of John within the canonical Christian Testament show the Gnostic/philosophical/metaphysic under pinning of the community his travels founded. As we know, each disciple post resurrection went forth planting seeds an sprouting different trees within the same forest. Digging new wells for the Holy River to be tasted from.

The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in truth, and not only I, but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love.

-Epistle of 2 John 1-3 (English Standard Version)

It is these communities John writes to in his shortest letter between 85-95 CE. One led within the Holy Feminine, through a matriarchal leadership lens in his second epistle. But it has a a bedrock in the Love Commandment, that is the Sacrament of Service.

I rejoiced greatly to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as we were commanded by the Father. And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it. For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess the coming of Jesus Christ in the flesh. Such a one is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, so that you may not lose what we[a] have worked for, but may win a full reward.Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son. 10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,11 for whoever greets him takes part in his wicked works.

-Epistle of 2 John 4-11 (English Standard Version)

What is the source of actions? Does the means and ends resonate in the same harmony? These are considerations for one who abides in Holy Love, would not be wrecking destruction. Would not be leading others into the shadows, or to give into their Gremlins or setting them up for failure. That is the anti-Christs (antithesis of the Cosmic Christ, the opposite)… what is seen in the Empire that controls the world they know.

John is encouraging a steady travel. He knows that many will look to those groups that are growing rapidly, building projects, money coming in as the end that is needed in growing the teaching. It is seen in the flash and glam. Yet, that is not what John is writing about, he is reminding the communities that it is about depth of character, and discovery of true being that is the most important. It is not the “sexiest” of the work, it is not something that brings glory or riches, but it brings the greatest reward.

 Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete.

13 The children of your elect sister greet you.

-Epistle of 2 John 12-13

And the ending in our crazy busy world. Where everyone is constantly connected and on call. Where it can appear technology is replacing everything from community gatherings to social events is an ancient and modern reminder for the reader. There are many things he can easily communicate or teach through writing, but that is not how life is done. John is coming to spend time, break bread, and abide within the community.

When was the last time you slowed life down? Turned off the technological noise, and simply were with your self? Your family? Your neighbours? Your community?

For the Sacred Service of the Love Commandment begins with the simple act of BEING.

For to be, is the beginning of BELONGING.

I wonder as I read the closing of the Epistle of 1 John if the disciple John knew the change that was to come by the time he wrote Epistle of 2 John. That is, did this ancient elder know that what had been built as community around the Love Commandment, would be changing through structures of Christendom. What was he thinking? He still wrote to draw people back to the original. Some would say that when it comes to communities changing, it needs to be managed. It needs to be strategized, the acceptable loss, the acceptable net gain. What money would go down, what money will go up is the 21st Century motif. Will this change upset what people gather for? Whom will be lost? Are the big donors still happy with us?

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him.By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

-Epistle of 1 John 5:1-5 (English Standard Version)

Faith. It is a key word. For faith, is a journey. A journey where the journey itself can come to mean more in our personal and communal development than the destination itself. Also, lends itself to the understanding that the journey is renewal, as experience brings new understandings.

John, knew his community would go on a new journey as the Christianities became Christendom. He wrote for those who would enter not a change to manage, but a grief journey. Somethings were going to be lost. Somethings may remain. But a new birth for the communities of the Cosmic Christ awaited and had started. It was a grief journey, which is why he was bringing the community back to core values of understanding of who they were.

 This is he who came by water and blood—Jesus Christ; not by the water only but by the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth. For there are three that testify:the Spirit and the water and the blood; and these three agree. If we receive the testimony of men, the testimony of God is greater, for this is the testimony of God that he has borne concerning his Son. 10 Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself. Whoever does not believe God has made him a liar, because he has not believed in the testimony that God has borne concerning his Son. 11 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.

-Epistle of 1 John 5:6-12 (English Standard Version)

As 1 John aligns almost as a commentary to the Gospel of John, written to the Johannine Community I ponder this passage of remembrance. Bringing the hearer and reader of this epistle to the story of Nicodemus, we know in the Gospel of John 3 . Is it a reminder to fall in line with others who hold the same beliefs? Probably. But, what if it is also a reminder to community members that sometimes one must come in the cloak of night to uncover the truth. That is, even though an institution tells, espouses and enforces one belief structure does not mean it may be true. That one is commissioned to seek truth, true self and holy community, as Nicodemus did.

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life. 14 And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God[a] will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death.

18 We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

19 We know that we are from God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.

20 And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

-Epistle of 1 John 5:13-21 (English Standard Version)

What is sin? If we remember the teachings the disciple John brought forth in his community and writings it was centered on the Love Commandment. The sacrament of service at the Last Supper (foot washing). The fact, that each of us experiences the life and teachings of Brother Jesus as the Beloved Disciple, the one so loved Jesus’ mother was entrusted to us to care for. It is that esteem, that inherent worth. The true self.

A familiar refrain on this site. Yet it is an important one. Sin is when we let our own shadows, gremlins, saboteurs or egos to take hold of us and lead us into our own destruction. If we are serving, we serve out of that darkness, not the light given to us. It is succumbing to loves beside our divine being in oneness with the Holy Mystery and neighbour. It is succumbing to the love of self (pride), money, power, to name but a few. It is the succumbing to control of others, not love of others. Even if the destination appears holy, the journey is one of destruction.

These are the idols John is warning his community about. Ensure they stay true to who they are. Do not surrender to a path that was contrary to who they are.

This is the grief journey. For the outcome is about whether or not what is birthed as new is not just sustainable, but livable.

John knows the journey ahead, and is letting his community know what it means to be who they are meant to be.

Historically we know that Jesus was not born at Christmas time. It is symbolic, but what a powerful symbol. Overlaying the ancient Winter Solstice celebration, it becomes a breathing allegory of the Gospel of John 1…the light in the darkness. This is what the Johannine Community resonated with. Mysticism. Living rituals to understand faith in action. John wrote beautifully of this in the fourth chapter. A great reflection for the liturgical season of Advent. Advent is waiting, and preparing. It is a journey into the darkest day, when light is born, and the days keep getting brighter from there.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already.Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:1-6 (English Standard Version)

Holy visions since the early Church have taken the form of Mary of Nazareth, Jesus’ mother. This is because she can easily bring the story of Love and Hope without the baggage the institution has laid on her son. It is the resonating message of the gospel, in a different form. Sadly, yes the anti-christs have co-opted the spiritual life and teachers for many forms of evil.. terrorism, pedophilia, rape, fraud, money laundering, wealth building, oppression, and political power. This is why sometimes the messenger has to be different than the way that the Holy Mystery came in Brother Jesus. Yet there are many paths for the love light to shine in our world.

At this time of year the greatest reminder is the jolly elf himself, as my son terms him in his spastic verbalness, “ho ho ho”. That’s right: Santa Claus. The spirit of joy and giving this season.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.17 By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.19 We love because he first loved us. 20 If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot[a] love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.

-Epistle of 1 John 4:7-21 (English Standard Version)

Some like to default to the rampant consumerism. But miss the point, there are always those that will look for the darkness in the light. Not the fact that it brings together community, it is a time to celebrate. It is also a time of year in which the story of the creche (as Francis of Assisi was the first to bring to life) is about a family in which the world had no room for them. Sadly, the fastest growing demographic of homelessness in Calgary is like the Holy Family of the Nativity. 30 years ago the Government of Canada pledged to eradicate child poverty in Canada, and now we accept homeless shelters for families.

Our society will be judged on how we love the least of these. That is our elders, our differently abled brothers and sisters, our children. Do we want to be known as the generation that normalized institutional hopelessness? Or do we want to be known as the generation that transfigured a city, province and country and truly made love of neighbour happen and complete a 30 year promise?

Suggested reflection listening: Toby Keith’s (1995) Santa I’m Right Here

Values. It is a scary word. It speaks to what we, well value. What is important to us, as individuals, a community. They can be used to divide if the value is about control, power, etc. Or they can be life giving. John is writing to a community in a constant flux of change. They are in the mystery of the journey of life. Having re-discovered the Love Commandment, and figuring out what it means to live that way. What needs to go away? What needs to stay? What needs to be brought in?

It is a change process.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears[a] we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is.And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure.

Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him. Little children, let no one deceive you. Whoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous. Whoever makes a practice of sinning is of the devil, for the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s[b] seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

-Epistle of 1 John 3:1-10 (English Standard Version)

As we know, change is about loss. Even positive change of better employment, goal achievement, birth of a child, discovery of true self, sobriety, graduation, the list can go on. There is grief, for what happens with the change is what was known is gone. Let that sit for a while as we reflect on this part of sin and deceit from these first ten verses. It is about clinging to what was, knowing it is over, but not being able to grow upon the foundation. It is also about one’s personal and communal values. Has the change created something you can still be apart of? Has the change, literally or figuratively changed the vocation you are called to? Values are icky. They are hard mushy conversations many want to avoid. Much like understanding that change is a grief journey. May be short, may be long. But it is about honouring and letting go of the old, being present in the now, and living into the new birth.

 For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be surprised, brothers,[c] that the world hates you. 14 We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15 Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17 But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? 18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

19 By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; 20 for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. 21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; 22 and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. 24 Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God,[d]and God[e] in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

-Epistle of 1 John 3:11-24 (English Standard Version)

What is newly birthed? Is it a new birth completely or a rebirth of the old with impediments, sludge burnt away? Are you comfortable after the change? Does it still resonate with who you truly know yourself to be? This is the metaphor used with the story of Cain. A move from sibling rivalry. That is yearning for what your neighbour has, living in discontent, making everything a monetary value. Or bringing people down to a number, in churches and non-profits it can be seen as simply a donor line item of their value based on what they gave. For populist movements politically it is about taxpayers, those that pay taxes are the only needs that matter in society- not children, seniors, those with disabilities… 2000 years on from Jesus of Nazareth’s wanderings, teachings and living out the Love Commandment, and worlds built supposedly on these pillars. We are still having adventures in missing the point.

Change is scary. It is scary due to the fact it is grieving. You feel. You have to acknowledge feelings. Acknowledge values. Gut check. Sometimes it is stepping out into a new reality even if you have no clue how it will work. But the path has been illuminated before you.

Do you follow the light? or rest in the darkness?

Do you manage the change and maintain…

Or jouney through grief to a rebirth?

Image may contain: textFiction. Movies. Poetry. Music. Does it need a deeply religious vein to actually tell the story? To resonate? To aid the pilgrimage to the heart of the sacred. The Johannine Community I could picture as not only philosophers, but artisans, writers, singers, actors, musicians…the list goes on. Those that do not see the world as only black and white, but in its beautiful rainbow colours. The true vividness of the original blessing, when the Holy Mystery gave us all of creation to care for.

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments.Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

-Epistle of 1 John 2:1-6 (English Standard Version)

Now, I am not leading one towards the Christendom-mega-plex of movies, books and music. Yes, there is some good things there. Yet as a storyteller myself, I find they come to a good point and then too often try to ramrod through some schlocky moment of altar call analogy which ruins what could be a good story. It takes away the trust in the reader, or viewer to understand and critically appreciate what is being told (it is like the Book of Esther with the tacked on Apocryphal passages that ensure God is actually stated in black and white).

Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard. At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in him and in you, because[a] the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. 10 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him[b]there is no cause for stumbling. 11 But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

12 I am writing to you, little children,
    because your sins are forgiven for his name’s sake.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
    because you have overcome the evil one.
I write to you, children,
    because you know the Father.
14 I write to you, fathers,
    because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
    because you are strong,
    and the word of God abides in you,
    and you have overcome the evil one.


15 Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life[c]—is not from the Father but is from the world. 17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.

-Epistle of  1 John 2:7-17 (English Standard Version)

In the Hebrew Bible we have misunderstood prophetic works to be of the future. When in fact it is those that came to speak drastically for the needed change in society, before it would reach its inevitable conclusion- invasion, war, poverty, famine, or outbreaks. Yet, even with warnings of catastrophe there was still those that refused to hear and turn. I hear this passage on the renewal of the Love Commandment as a prophetic voice out of the Johaninne Community. The disciple reminding people what needs to happen.

It is a message that can be seen within many stories of our time. I would point you to Star Wars, most super hero movies, Star Trek, and such great television as Lucifer. Within the written world there is many things that come to mind.

What modern stories can you see a prophetic reflection in?

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 19 They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. 20 But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.[d] 21 I write to you, not because you do not know the truth, but because you know it, and because no lie is of the truth. 22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.25 And this is the promise that he made to us[e]—eternal life.

26 I write these things to you about those who are trying to deceive you.27 But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him.

-Epistle of 1 John 2:18-27 (English Standard Version)

I love how it is so often missed. The religious look for the one big evil that will wipe us out, and allow a new world to be built. John turns this concept out on its head. It is not one moment in history he puts out for us. Rather it is multiple moments in time, when the Love Commandment will be challenged. The use of plural is highly intentional, and one just needs to look at human history to see the cycle.

What anti-christs, those that are out to do hate? Grow Empire? Control? Horde money and power? Reflect on it. It is the darkness that constantly arises in the world, universe, and those moments when the light has to be shone brighter. To confound, confuse and drive back the darkness. As the opening of the Gospel of John mimics the Genesis Creation poem; so this epistle chapter points to the outcome of eating of the tree of good and evil. That they are twinned. Outside of ourselves, and within ourselves.

It is part of Eastern and Indigenous mystical teachings that the West outside of our “secret societies” has lost. The light and dark within ourselves. Which do we feed? Do we hide our light under a bushel, or simply turn it off to allow the darkness to reign?  A very mystical understanding of the seeking for wholeness of self. For once one is resonating within the Holy Breath, the authentic self burns away the shadow and leaves it trapped, to shine brightly in the world as the authentic you.

28 And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.29 If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him.

-Epistle of 1 John 2: 28-29 (English Standard Version)

I point to the ancient and modern storytellers and troubadours for us to find our light. It can be seen in music, movies, books, poetry, plays, comics, and art. This is the beauty of the world that speaks to the intangible within. My life of ministry was built, and continues to be built upon aiding communities and individuals into discovering the story that resonates with their true self- their vocation. As the story goes, so goes the pilgrimage.


That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.

-Epistle of 1 John 1:1-4 (English Standard Version)

The Johannine Community was formed around the mystic-Gnostic interpretation of the teachings and life of Brother, Jesus of Nazareth. The second most prolific writer (after Paul) in the Christian Testament, and one of the most controversial. John, known as the Evangelist, the Apostle, one of the Sons of Thunder (with his brother, James) for their headstrong ways to dive in without thinking or fully knowing. Part of the inner-circle of three as reported in the Canonical Gospels. Tradition dictates he was the disciple Jesus said would not pass away before his return; and many mis-interpret the beloved disciple at the cross in the Gospel of John as him. Though a mystic reading of the Gospel of John, makes one realize the beloved disciple is each person in the world, and draws us into the journey.

John, is controversial due to his writing of Revelation. A highly misunderstood book of the Christian Testament. That due to a literalness movement at the turn of the 20th Century with the coming of the Scoffield Study Bible, and a misuse of passages in Thessalonians. It created a strain of theology, that was best on display in the late 20th Century in the Left Behind, Christian novel series and movies. Revelation was also controversial, because many argued against its inclusion in the Christian Testament, this can be due to the allegorical nature of the work. It was also highly sedition writing, as the images used for those in the know, was about the overthrow of the Roman Empire. Not surprisingly that this came to John to write while in exile on the island of Patmos (which led to the rather astute joke on my part in Bible college that Revelation came out of a licking of tropical hallucinogenic frogs on his part).

I would say in regards to John’s strain of Christianity, it became canonical as a method to keep the more moderate Gnostic-Mystics within what the Empire would subsume as the Church after Constantine’s conversion. I say after, because it was Constantine that brought in a harsher level of what constituted a “Christian” than had existed previously.

Which brings us to his letters, although the first one is not really a letter as much as I see it as an accompanying commentary to his Gospel. All three epistles were written between 94-110 CE in Ephesus, and one can see through the three the development of early church structures.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

-Epistle of 1 John 1:5-10 (English Standard Version)

Light will shine in the darkness confounding and confusing it. Do not hide your light, under a bushel as This Little Light of Mine tells us. But what does it all mean? Very philosophical language of the time to explain an unknown God that had no image. Yet, it was important because it spoke to the interior of a person. Cleansing out the sludge. Or as the metaphysical movements such as New Thought would phrase it, the false self, that needs to be denied in affirmative prayer.

Not only do we need to deny the false self, the shadow, the darkness, but we need to encourage the light. That is need to let it shine (yes I know isn’t that song getting stuck in your head now…this little light of mine, I am going to let it shine…). Through affirming our true divinity.

It also lets the light grow brighter into the community. For where other forms of the Christianities (ala Pauline) focused on the meal part of the Last Supper. Those in the Johannine Community focused on the servant part: the washing of feet (much like Anabaptist’s today). The writing of John also simplified the Great Commandments even more for his community members:

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another

-Gospel of John 13:34 (English Standard Version)

What happens when you remove the bushel,

and let your little light shine?