Posts Tagged ‘Social Gospel’


Welcome back to the journey of being an outcast to cast out. The Aquarian Gospel chapter 139 flows out of the previous 138, and is the continued journey of discovery for the man who has been cast out, but found belonging in a new community. Now to seek further understanding of the choice made.

You have spent time writing and reflecting on your story in the now, and like the man making the tough decision to step into the story of you that is meant to be.

It becomes a time for Holy Reading for your journey. Take time to centre yourself in a comfortable place for contemplative prayer/meditation. You will be visiting the story three times in this sitting, with each visit having a question of focus for deeper contemplation.

As you centre yourself, bringing your breath deeply, and exhaling deeply.

Feel the room around you begin to fade away.

Feel the room of the 21st century become replaced by the dusty upper room. There are many men and women clamouring, eating, laughing around you. Smells of the ancient city, you are bid welcomed by this labourer turned teacher many talk about—some as sinner or devil others as the way.

Receive the offered food of simple bread, grapes and wine.

Rest on the cushions as you begin to take it all in. The journey to wholeness is in full swing.

Hear the story for the first time. On this visit, what memories are evoked for you? Which one brings the most visceral reaction in your being? Stay with this memory for a time to see what comes through for your journey in the now?

The first visit:

Jesus meets and instructs the man who was blind. Unfold the mysteries of the kingdom. The sheepfold. Declares himself the shepherd. Goes to the home of Massalian, where he abides certain days.

1. When Jesus heard what had been done and how the priests had cast the man whom he had healed, out of the synagogue he found the man and said to him,
2. Do you believe in God and in the son of God?
3. The man replied, I do believe in God; but who is he, the son of God, of whom you speak?
4. And Jesus said, The son of God is he who speaks to you.
5. The man inquired then, Why do you say, The son of God? Is there but one?
6. And Jesus said, All men are sons of God by birth; God is the Father of the race; but all are not the sons of God by faith.
7. He who attains the victory over self is son of God by faith, and he who speaks to you has overcome, and he is called son of God, because he is the pattern for the sons of men.
8. He who believes and does the will of God is son of God by faith.
9. The man in joy exclaimed, Lord, I believe in God, and in the son of God.
10. And Jesus said, I came to open prison doors, to make the blind to see; but, lo, the Pharisees are blind from birth.
11. And when I put the salve of truth upon their eyes, and bid them go and wash, and speak the sacred Word they will not go; they love the dark.
12. A multitude of people pressed about the Lord, and he stood forth and said,
13. You men of Israel, I say to you, The fold of God is large; its walls are strong, it has a gateway in the east, and he who does not enter by the gate into the fold, but climbs into the fold some other way, is thief and comes to rob.
14. The shepherd of the sheep stands by the gate; he gives the secret sign; he knocks; the watchman opens up the gate.
15. And then the shepherd calls his sheep by name; they hear his voice and follow him; they enter through the gate into the fold.
16. The sheep know not a stranger’s voice; they will not follow him; they flee away.
17. The people did not understand the parable that Jesus spoke; and then he said,
18. Christ is the gateway of the fold; I am the shepherd of the sheep, and he who follows me through Christ shall come into the fold where living waters flow, and where rich pastures are.
19. False prophets come and go; they claim to be the shepherds of the sheep; they claim to know the way; but they know not the word of power; the watchman opens not the gate; the sheep heed not their call.
20. The shepherd of the sheep will give his life to save the sheep.
21. A hireling flees to save his life when wolves infest the fold; and then the tender lambs are snatched away, the sheep are scattered everywhere.
22. I am the shepherd of the sheep; I know the sheep of God; they know my voice, as God knows me and I know him.
23. The Father loves me with a deathless love, because I lay my life down for the sheep.
24. I lay my life down when I will, but I may take it up again; for every son of God by faith has power to lay his mortal flesh aside and take it up again. These words I have received from God.
25. Again the people strove among themselves; they were divided in their views concerning Christ. They could not comprehend the words that Jesus spoke.
26. Some said again, He is obsessed, or he is mad; why listen to his words?
27. And others said, His words are not the words of one obsessed. Can unclean spirits open up the eyes of one born blind?
28. Then Jesus left Jerusalem and with Massalian he tarried certain days.

-Aquarian Gospel 139:1-28

As you prepare your heart for the second visit into the story. It is time to centre on the emotions that bubble out as you are taught directly at this time of transition/transfiguration by Brother Jesus.

Spend time living into that emotion and how the Holy Mystery within can resolve it by illuminating the truth of you.

The second visit:

 

  1. When Jesus heard what had been done and how the priests had cast the man whom he had healed, out of the synagogue he found the man and said to him,
    2. Do you believe in God and in the son of God?
    3. The man replied, I do believe in God; but who is he, the son of God, of whom you speak?
    4. And Jesus said, The son of God is he who speaks to you.
    5. The man inquired then, Why do you say, The son of God? Is there but one?
    6. And Jesus said, All men are sons of God by birth; God is the Father of the race; but all are not the sons of God by faith.
    7. He who attains the victory over self is son of God by faith, and he who speaks to you has overcome, and he is called son of God, because he is the pattern for the sons of men.
    8. He who believes and does the will of God is son of God by faith.
    9. The man in joy exclaimed, Lord, I believe in God, and in the son of God.
    10. And Jesus said, I came to open prison doors, to make the blind to see; but, lo, the Pharisees are blind from birth.
    11. And when I put the salve of truth upon their eyes, and bid them go and wash, and speak the sacred Word they will not go; they love the dark.
    12. A multitude of people pressed about the Lord, and he stood forth and said,
    13. You men of Israel, I say to you, The fold of God is large; its walls are strong, it has a gateway in the east, and he who does not enter by the gate into the fold, but climbs into the fold some other way, is thief and comes to rob.
    14. The shepherd of the sheep stands by the gate; he gives the secret sign; he knocks; the watchman opens up the gate.
    15. And then the shepherd calls his sheep by name; they hear his voice and follow him; they enter through the gate into the fold.
    16. The sheep know not a stranger’s voice; they will not follow him; they flee away.
    17. The people did not understand the parable that Jesus spoke; and then he said,
    18. Christ is the gateway of the fold; I am the shepherd of the sheep, and he who follows me through Christ shall come into the fold where living waters flow, and where rich pastures are.
    19. False prophets come and go; they claim to be the shepherds of the sheep; they claim to know the way; but they know not the word of power; the watchman opens not the gate; the sheep heed not their call.
    20. The shepherd of the sheep will give his life to save the sheep.
    21. A hireling flees to save his life when wolves infest the fold; and then the tender lambs are snatched away, the sheep are scattered everywhere.
    22. I am the shepherd of the sheep; I know the sheep of God; they know my voice, as God knows me and I know him.
    23. The Father loves me with a deathless love, because I lay my life down for the sheep.
    24. I lay my life down when I will, but I may take it up again; for every son of God by faith has power to lay his mortal flesh aside and take it up again. These words I have received from God.
    25. Again the people strove among themselves; they were divided in their views concerning Christ. They could not comprehend the words that Jesus spoke.
    26. Some said again, He is obsessed, or he is mad; why listen to his words?
    27. And others said, His words are not the words of one obsessed. Can unclean spirits open up the eyes of one born blind?
    28. Then Jesus left Jerusalem and with Massalian he tarried certain days.

-Aquarian Gospel 139:1-28

The final visit, spend time listening directly into the attunement of your heart and life vocation truly called into. Take time to sketch out the image that comes through clearly that reflects this vocation for you.

The Third visit:

  1. When Jesus heard what had been done and how the priests had cast the man whom he had healed, out of the synagogue he found the man and said to him,
    2. Do you believe in God and in the son of God?
    3. The man replied, I do believe in God; but who is he, the son of God, of whom you speak?
    4. And Jesus said, The son of God is he who speaks to you.
    5. The man inquired then, Why do you say, The son of God? Is there but one?
    6. And Jesus said, All men are sons of God by birth; God is the Father of the race; but all are not the sons of God by faith.
    7. He who attains the victory over self is son of God by faith, and he who speaks to you has overcome, and he is called son of God, because he is the pattern for the sons of men.
    8. He who believes and does the will of God is son of God by faith.
    9. The man in joy exclaimed, Lord, I believe in God, and in the son of God.
    10. And Jesus said, I came to open prison doors, to make the blind to see; but, lo, the Pharisees are blind from birth.
    11. And when I put the salve of truth upon their eyes, and bid them go and wash, and speak the sacred Word they will not go; they love the dark.
    12. A multitude of people pressed about the Lord, and he stood forth and said,
    13. You men of Israel, I say to you, The fold of God is large; its walls are strong, it has a gateway in the east, and he who does not enter by the gate into the fold, but climbs into the fold some other way, is thief and comes to rob.
    14. The shepherd of the sheep stands by the gate; he gives the secret sign; he knocks; the watchman opens up the gate.
    15. And then the shepherd calls his sheep by name; they hear his voice and follow him; they enter through the gate into the fold.
    16. The sheep know not a stranger’s voice; they will not follow him; they flee away.
    17. The people did not understand the parable that Jesus spoke; and then he said,
    18. Christ is the gateway of the fold; I am the shepherd of the sheep, and he who follows me through Christ shall come into the fold where living waters flow, and where rich pastures are.
    19. False prophets come and go; they claim to be the shepherds of the sheep; they claim to know the way; but they know not the word of power; the watchman opens not the gate; the sheep heed not their call.
    20. The shepherd of the sheep will give his life to save the sheep.
    21. A hireling flees to save his life when wolves infest the fold; and then the tender lambs are snatched away, the sheep are scattered everywhere.
    22. I am the shepherd of the sheep; I know the sheep of God; they know my voice, as God knows me and I know him.
    23. The Father loves me with a deathless love, because I lay my life down for the sheep.
    24. I lay my life down when I will, but I may take it up again; for every son of God by faith has power to lay his mortal flesh aside and take it up again. These words I have received from God.
    25. Again the people strove among themselves; they were divided in their views concerning Christ. They could not comprehend the words that Jesus spoke.
    26. Some said again, He is obsessed, or he is mad; why listen to his words?
    27. And others said, His words are not the words of one obsessed. Can unclean spirits open up the eyes of one born blind?
    28. Then Jesus left Jerusalem and with Massalian he tarried certain days.

-Aquarian Gospel 139:1-28

As you complete sketching the image re-enter your meditative breathing. Allow the cushion to vanish, the noise of the upper room, know the Cosmic Christ within Brother Jesus exists within yourself as the ancient world fades away and your contemplative space now reforms.

Bring yourself when you are ready to a focus on the image sketched.

Sit in a meditative contemplation of this image.

Let your breath become more regular.

When ready re-open your eyes.

Spend time each day looking at the image.

But today…

What is one step you can take this week to make this image more of a reality in your life?

—The social gospel is about transfiguring the world into the true heart of the Holy Mystery—that transfiguration begins with our own—


What blocks you in your false life from living truly free and within/through the Holy Mystery?

What holds you in the past, and not being able to step fully into the glory of the present?

leaving-the-church

Aquarian Gospel chapter 138

Brother Jesus discourses on ancient laws that were designed to limit harm to others. To bring more a balance to a situation of reprisal (eye for and eye, instead of massacring your whole tribe for the loss of my eye). It was pointing to the pain that existed within or that selfishness that holds one in blindness of what truly can happen in your life. This story uses an existence that the ancient world could understand to show this juxtaposition. A blind man.

What is the blindness you exist in today? It is not a physical impediment. Are you in the wrong job? The wrong life? Can you not connect to that holy work (vocation) that fills you up? The soul flow that energizes you and aids you in being deeply rooted into the cosmic dust we are formed from?

This is the story of blindness.  The blindness kept the man out of true community, for he was isolated. In the 21st century our isolation is created through giving ourselves fully into the wrong work, the wrong life, the selfishness we mistake for holy love, that is true self hatred and destructive.

As this story unfolds, it shows that this is where the unjust, the oppressors, those that seek power and control over others want us to exist in.  Just look to the Pharisees response, not seeing the celebration of a holy family member becoming whole. Rather it is to challenge that it can’t be holy because it happened contrary to the control mechanisms, it happened on a day of rest. But whomever stated that the work of loving neighbour as self, was the work we are to rest from on the Sabbath?

The man’s own parents even though celebratory, bowed to the oppressors and lived into the injustice towards their son out of fear of being cast out themselves. But the man stood his ground, even though now whole, awakened, he was still once more cast out because he shook the foundation of the oppression (perhaps the first Marxist calling out the cabal creating the opiates of the masses?).

Move into this story yourself. Each of us have had moments of needing to willingly or being forced out of those situations where we need to make the moral over money or belonging or safety choice. Where we needed to walk in the Holy Mystery and trust blindly. For let’s be honest, the Holy Mystery is well, a mystery that is meant to be lived.

Take time to centre yourself with a candle or light imaging prayer. Feel your body relax before you come back to the words of the text with a fresh heart.

The Christines in Jerusalem. They meet a man blind from birth. Jesus teaches a lesson on the cause of disease and disasters. He heals the blind man.

1. The Lord with Peter, James and John were in Jerusalem; it was the Sabbath day.
2. And as they walked along the way they saw a man who could not see; he had been blind from birth.
3. And Peter said, Lord, if disease and imperfections all are caused by sin, who was the sinner in this case? the parents or the man himself?
4. And Jesus said, Afflictions all are partial payments on a debt, or debts, that have been made.
5. There is a law of recompense that never fails, and it is summarised in that true rule of life:
6. Whatsoever man shall do to any other man some other man will do to him.
7. In this we find the meaning of the Jewish law, expressed concisely in the words, Tooth for a tooth; life for a life.
8. He who shall injure any one in thought, or word, or deed, is judged a debtor to the law, and some one else shall, likewise, injure him in thought, or word or deed.
9. And he who shed the blood of any man will come upon the time when his blood shall be shed by man.
10. Affliction is a prison cell in which a man must stay until he pays his debts unless a master sets him free that he may have a better chance to pay his debts.
11. Affliction is a certain sign that one has debts to pay.
12. Behold this man! Once in another life he was a cruel man, and in a cruel way destroyed the eyes of one, a fellow man.
13. The parents of this man once turned their faces on a blind and helpless man, and drove him from their door.
14. Then Peter asked, Do we pay off the debts of other men when by the Word we heal them, drive the unclean spirits out, or rescue them from any form of sore distress?
15. And Jesus said, We cannot pay the debts of any man, but by the Word we may release a man from his afflictions and distress,
16. And make him free, that he may pay the debts he owes, by giving up his life in willing sacrifice for men, or other living things.
17. Behold, we may make free this man that he may better serve the race and pay his debts.
18. Then Jesus called the man and said, Would you be free? would you receive your sight?
19. The man replied, All that I have would I most freely give if I could see.
20. And Jesus took saliva and a bit of clay and make a salve, and put it on the blind man’s eyes.
21. He spoke the Word and then he said, Go to Siloam and wash, and as you wash say, Jahhevahe. This do for seven times and you shall see.
22. The man was led unto Siloam; he washed his eyes and spoke the word, and instantly his eyes were opened and he saw.
23. The people who had seen the man for many years sit by the way and beg, were much surprised to see him see.
24. They said, Is not this man the Job that was born blind, who sat beside the way and begged?
25. He heard them talk among themselves; he said, Yes I am he.
26. The people asked, How were you healed? who opened up your eyes?
27. He said, A man whom men call Jesus, made a salve of clay and put it on my eyes, and bade me say a word and wash in Siloam seven times; I did as he commanded me, and now I see.
28. A certain scribe was passing, and he saw the man and heard him say that Jesus, by the Word, had opened up his eyes.
29. He therefore took the man up to the synagogue, and told the story to the priests, who asked the man about the miracle.
30. The man replied, I never saw the light until to-day, for I was blind from birth.
31. This morning as I sat beside Siloam, a man I never knew put on my eyes a salve that people say he made of clay; he bade me say a word and bathe my eyes in water seven times; I did as he commanded and I saw.
32. A lawyer asked the man, Who was it opened up your eyes?
33. The man replied, Some people say, His name is Jesus and that he came from Galilee; but others say, He is the son of God.
34. A Pharisee came up and said, This is the Sabbath day; a man who does a work like this, regarding not the Sabbath day, is not from God.
35. Some of the priests were much amazed and said, A wicked man could never do a miracle like this; he must possess the power of God. And so they strove among themselves.
36. They asked the man, What do you think about this man from Galilee?
37. He said, He is a prophet sent from God.
38. Now, many of the Jews did not believe the man was blind from birth; they said, There is no power to open up the eyes of one born blind.
39. And then they brought the parents of the man before the Pharisees that they might testify.
40. They said, This is our son who was born blind; we do not know how he received his sight; he is of age and he can tell; ask him.
41. They were afraid to say what they believed, that Jesus is the Christ who came to manifest the power of God, lest they offend the priests and be cast from the synagogue.
42. Again the rulers said, This Jesus is a wicked man. The man who had been healed stood forth again and said,
43. This Jesus may be sinner or be saint, I do not know; but this one thing I know; I once was blind, but now I see.
44. And then the scribes and Pharisees reviled the man and said, You are a follower of this man from Galilee. We follow Moses, but this man, we know him not, and know not whence he is.
45. The man replied, It is a marvel that you know not whence he is, and yet he opened up my eyes.
46. You know that nothing but the power of God can do such things.
47. God hears not sinners pray, and you must know that he is not a wicked man who can employ the power of God.
48. The Pharisees replied, You wretch! you were begotten and were born in sin, and now you try to teach the law to us. And then they cast him from the synagogue.

-Aquarian Gospel 138

When ready, have your journal ready. Seek where the Holy Mystery is guiding you in life at this moment. Which role in the story speaks to your current situation?

  1. Peter/James/John
  2. Blind Man
  3. The parents
  4. The Pharisee

Take time to re-write the story from that point of view. Remember during the re-write to include insights and emotions as the character.

Spend time each day for about a week re-reading your story, asking where it is speaking into to your life now.

How does this ancient wisdom speak to your modern life?

Ready to step from story to life-story?

kids


Faith without works is dead. That is one of those sentiments that can tend to stick with you. Traditionally it is from one of the most contested epistles within the Christian Testament. That of James, whom tradition teaches was a brother of Jesus of Nazareth, it also shows the matrilineal lineage of the early tribe as an ascent this quickly into leadership and teaching would be via Mother Mary of Nazareth, those whom was adopted by the Beloved Disciple (which is you read the Gospel of John through a mystic lens then it should be us inserted into each instance of the term being used, so it is us that opens our arms to the one society would turn out for being outside).

But I digress, for this does tie into the Aquarian Gospel readings, which seem to be more thematically clumped as the work progresses. Chapters 137-141 create an arc of teaching that would make James proud (and for those that have spent any real time in Marian theology and her call to the world of hope, justice and inclusion, as well).

Yet it starts in Chapter 137 with a teaching on prayer. Where Jesus lays out the Lord’s prayer, as Levi has imagined it into his era (there are many different versions one can find by simply googling, the one’s from the Indigenous perspective are quite good). Yet it is pared with a parable of a wife in need for caring for the traveler:

A housewife was alone at night and, lo, some guests arrived, and they were hungry, having had no food for all the day.
11. The housewife had no bread, and so at midnight she went forth and called a friend and said, Loan me three loaves of bread, for guests have come, and I have naught for them to eat.
12. The friend replied, Why do you trouble me at midnight hour? My door is shut; my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise to give you bread; to-morrow you can be supplied.
13. The housewife asked again, and then again, and then because she pled, and would not be refused, the friend arose and gave her bread.
14. Behold, I say to you, Ask firmly and you shall receive; seek trustingly and you shall find; knock earnestly, the door will open up.

It is much like the petitioning when the masses were hungry, and one step forwarded, a child (again someone without voice in the world) to show the way. From that miracles happened, perhaps it was like this where those who had but were unwilling simply became willing. It is how our world truly runs, we are an interdependent species and as such we need to care for one another to make this world work.

Some would call it justice, some a social contract, some a social gospel or a liberation gospel But what 137 does is line it up that it begins with prayer, and then prayer/meditation leads to action, and action leads to compassion which leads to loving our neighbour as ourselves.

Or truly living into this from the Gospel of Matthew:

Matthew 25 (3)

To Be Continued as we reflect on Chapter 138

prayer_orig


woodsworth

J.S. Woodsworth was a Methodist minister, who was a labour and human rights activist, pacifist, during the general strike in Winnipeg would be beaten by authorities and imprisoned. He would lead the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation during the hey day when they almost reached popularity enough to form government if not for machinations by the two mainline parties working the first media campaign.

He wrote Canadian Social Gospel theology out of his time as the superintendent of the Winnipeg Mission, the gateway to Canada for new comers where mats were provided, health care, employment training, education, and then tracts of free land on the prairies.

Over his lifetime his theological beliefs would transform from Christian to Social Gospel to finally surrendering his ordination, as he became a universalist that moved close to if not truly becoming a Pantheist. Though judging by reading the liturgies he would craft for his Labour Church would show much more of a Panentheist, understanding the inter-connectedness of all of creation within the Holy Mystery.

He comes to mind as we simply touch upon some readings from the Aquarian Gospel for your own reflection on answering Woodsworth’s question above.

Am I that Neighbour?

Where does the following stories resonate in your own life?

How are you called to be a neighbour?

Aquarian Gospel:

Chapter 132

Chapter 133

Chapter 134

Chapter 136

34 But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

-Gospel of Saint Matthew 22:34-40 (English Standard Version).

Loving God and neighbour, starts with loving yourself as the connected very blessed being you are created to be.

Out of this love that connects your core within and throughout the Holy Mystery, is that which connects you with your neighbour.

So as you step into your daily life, reflecting, praying and meditating on the 4 chapters above…now what is your action steps?

Are you that neighbour being called out in Holy Love?


Ah parables. How best to reach an oral culture only kind of coming into written records. And those written records are tied more to the authorities, the wealthy than the collected masses, or as Marx would dub us the proletariat. The working classes. These are the classes that Jesus of Nazareth, Brother Jesus would emerge from. AN unwed mother married to a carpenter/labourer to literally save her from an unkindly street death. But he was one that got it, connected deeply to the source of all that is. Showing the way that we all could be connected into the source of Love.

It is the parable that touched into the deeper levels of the person, and allowed for the early followers of the Cosmic Christ in the flesh so diverse. Just think of it—outcasts, those with health issues, mental health concerns; sex trade workers, labourers, wealthy religious (in secret), Roman soldiers/officers and Zealots to name but a few. It was this type of parable that the social gospel movement in Canada tied into to get folks active for political and societal change. For example the story of Mouseland, with one of the most famous being Tommy Douglas, but also among the ranks Bible Bill Aberhart, Preston Manning, Joe Clark, Pierre Trudeau, J.S. Woodsworth, Agnes MacPhail (her image now gracing the $10 Canadian note), Paul Martin Jr., Rev. Bill Phipps, Elizabeth May, my own parents and grandparents,  to name but a few. But truly it is those driven by a deep conviction that we are created good, and as such we are to live out this ideal of justice, peace, faith, hope and love as laid out by Brother Jesus. So, I am sure there are many examples within your own world and life if you take but a moment to pause and ponder.

For it is in the parables that Brother Jesus lays out a path of self-discovery. A path that shows where we and our neighbours can be existing, but also at different phases in our lives where we have existed. For with planting soil changes over time, that which was not able to grow previous with the right tending and additions can become quite fertile.  This is the thrust found within the parable of the sower.

It is in most gospel texts that one would class as canonical, so if you wish to use this reflection with those texts, they can be found in the synoptic gospels in: Matthew 13:1-23, Mark 4:1-20, and Luke 8:1-15. Though we will continue to use Levi’s Aquarian gospel from the early 1900’s as the newer wording may touch a different chord. In that text it is found in chapter 115, which you may read here for full context

As always, I invite you to get comfortable where you are sitting. It is a meditative lectio divina as you hear the parable three times, with different focus questions to see where the soil of your heart is at, and where it is being renewed.  Before you begin, write on a scrap of paper that which you need to leave in the hear and now that can distract you. Once written crumple up and throw into the recycle. Those distractions, busyness, weights of the heart can come back after, but here, now your full presence is asked for.

Take time to slow your breathing, deep breaths in of cosmic love, the dust that formed your very essence as good. Breathe out the chakra sludge that separates you from that goodness.

Feel the 21st century technological buzzing fade away. Feel the chair you are sitting on disappear, along with the walls of where you are. The time. Travel back. Feel the dust and fresh breeze untouched by the Industrial Revolution. Smell the sea air.  The smell of the crowds, intermingling. You are on the outskirts of the crowd. People had spoken about this teacher, this Jesus of Nazareth. Some called him a bastard child and/or insane. Others said he was a master teacher, one with a new way to truly transform things.

As you hear the story the first time, think of when your heart was like the rocky soil where messages/actions of love were easily carried away by others, like the birds. Sit with one memory, what has or has not changed in your life since then?

The first hearing:

  1. And Jesus stood beside the sea and taught; the multitudes pressed close upon him and he went into a boat that was near by and put a little ways from shore, and then he spoke in parables; he said,
    Behold, a sower took his seed and went into his field to sow.
    3. With lavish hand he scattered forth the seed and some fell in the hardened paths that men had made,
    4. And soon were crushed beneath the feet of other men; and birds came down and carried all the seeds away.
    5. Some seed fell on rocky ground where there was little soil; they grew and soon the blades appeared and promised much;
    6. But then there was no depth of soil, no chance for nourishment, and in the heat of noonday sun they withered up and died.
    7. Some seed fell where thistles grew, and found no earth in which to grow and they were lost;
    8. But other seed found lodgement in the rich and tender soil and grew apace, and in the harvest it was found that some brought forth a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold.
    9. They who have ears to hear may hear; they who hearts to understand may know.
    10. Now, his disciples were beside him in the boat, and Thomas asked, Why do you speak in parables?
    11. And Jesus said, My words, like every master’s words, are dual in their sense.
    12. To you who know the language of the soul, my words have meanings far too deep for other men to comprehend.
    13. The other sense of what I say is all the multitude can understand; these words are food for them; the inner thoughts are food for you.
    14. Let every one reach forth and take the food that he is ready to receive.
    15. And then he spoke that all might hear; he said, Hear you the meaning of the parable:
    16. Men hear my words and understand them not, and then the carnal self purloins the seed, and not a sign of spirit life appears.
    17. This is the seed that fell within the beaten paths of men.
    18. And others hear the words of life, and with a fiery zeal receive them all; they seem to comprehend the truth and promise well;
    19. But troubles come; discouragements arise; there is no depth of thought; their good intentions wither up and die.
    20. These are the seeds that fell in stony ground.
    21. And others hear the words of truth and seem to know their worth; but love of pleasure, reputation, wealth and fame fill all the soil; the seeds are nourished not and they are lost.
    22. These are the seeds that fell among the thistles and the thorns.
    23. But others hear the words of truth and comprehend them well; they sink down deep into their souls; they live the holy life and all the world is blest.
    24. These are the seeds that fell in fertile soil, that brought forth fruit abundantly.
    25. You men of Galilee, take heed to how you hear and how you cultivate your fields; for if you slight the offers of this day, the sower may not come to you again in this or in the age to come.

-Aquarian Gospel 115: 1-25

As you prepare for the second hearing. Think of the next step of life in self-discovery, within that inner battle of transfiguration. When have you been like the seed battling in the soil with the weeds to emerge and not taking hold? Let these memories move from your mind to your heart. Spend time with the root cause of rooting in the weeds instead of the seed of love? Are you ready to breathe out this sludge?

The second hearing:

  1. And Jesus stood beside the sea and taught; the multitudes pressed close upon him and he went into a boat that was near by and put a little ways from shore, and then he spoke in parables; he said,
    Behold, a sower took his seed and went into his field to sow.
    3. With lavish hand he scattered forth the seed and some fell in the hardened paths that men had made,
    4. And soon were crushed beneath the feet of other men; and birds came down and carried all the seeds away.
    5. Some seed fell on rocky ground where there was little soil; they grew and soon the blades appeared and promised much;
    6. But then there was no depth of soil, no chance for nourishment, and in the heat of noonday sun they withered up and died.
    7. Some seed fell where thistles grew, and found no earth in which to grow and they were lost;
    8. But other seed found lodgement in the rich and tender soil and grew apace, and in the harvest it was found that some brought forth a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold.
    9. They who have ears to hear may hear; they who hearts to understand may know.
    10. Now, his disciples were beside him in the boat, and Thomas asked, Why do you speak in parables?
    11. And Jesus said, My words, like every master’s words, are dual in their sense.
    12. To you who know the language of the soul, my words have meanings far too deep for other men to comprehend.
    13. The other sense of what I say is all the multitude can understand; these words are food for them; the inner thoughts are food for you.
    14. Let every one reach forth and take the food that he is ready to receive.
    15. And then he spoke that all might hear; he said, Hear you the meaning of the parable:
    16. Men hear my words and understand them not, and then the carnal self purloins the seed, and not a sign of spirit life appears.
    17. This is the seed that fell within the beaten paths of men.
    18. And others hear the words of life, and with a fiery zeal receive them all; they seem to comprehend the truth and promise well;
    19. But troubles come; discouragements arise; there is no depth of thought; their good intentions wither up and die.
    20. These are the seeds that fell in stony ground.
    21. And others hear the words of truth and seem to know their worth; but love of pleasure, reputation, wealth and fame fill all the soil; the seeds are nourished not and they are lost.
    22. These are the seeds that fell among the thistles and the thorns.
    23. But others hear the words of truth and comprehend them well; they sink down deep into their souls; they live the holy life and all the world is blest.
    24. These are the seeds that fell in fertile soil, that brought forth fruit abundantly.
    25. You men of Galilee, take heed to how you hear and how you cultivate your fields; for if you slight the offers of this day, the sower may not come to you again in this or in the age to come.

-Aquarian Gospel 115: 1-25

Prepare yourself for the last hearing. When soil is fertile for the seed to take hold. Is there a time of remembrance in your life, your very soul energy that you can remember this? Even in the journeys that go to and fro where we exist mostly in rocks and weeds, there are glimmers of this or long lived life in the nourished soil. Take hold of the memories. Spend time going deeper into them to the core spark/stardust that is the ember of the Cosmic Christ within.

The Third Hearing:

  1. And Jesus stood beside the sea and taught; the multitudes pressed close upon him and he went into a boat that was near by and put a little ways from shore, and then he spoke in parables; he said,
    Behold, a sower took his seed and went into his field to sow.
    3. With lavish hand he scattered forth the seed and some fell in the hardened paths that men had made,
    4. And soon were crushed beneath the feet of other men; and birds came down and carried all the seeds away.
    5. Some seed fell on rocky ground where there was little soil; they grew and soon the blades appeared and promised much;
    6. But then there was no depth of soil, no chance for nourishment, and in the heat of noonday sun they withered up and died.
    7. Some seed fell where thistles grew, and found no earth in which to grow and they were lost;
    8. But other seed found lodgement in the rich and tender soil and grew apace, and in the harvest it was found that some brought forth a hundred fold, some sixty fold, some thirty fold.
    9. They who have ears to hear may hear; they who hearts to understand may know.
    10. Now, his disciples were beside him in the boat, and Thomas asked, Why do you speak in parables?
    11. And Jesus said, My words, like every master’s words, are dual in their sense.
    12. To you who know the language of the soul, my words have meanings far too deep for other men to comprehend.
    13. The other sense of what I say is all the multitude can understand; these words are food for them; the inner thoughts are food for you.
    14. Let every one reach forth and take the food that he is ready to receive.
    15. And then he spoke that all might hear; he said, Hear you the meaning of the parable:
    16. Men hear my words and understand them not, and then the carnal self purloins the seed, and not a sign of spirit life appears.
    17. This is the seed that fell within the beaten paths of men.
    18. And others hear the words of life, and with a fiery zeal receive them all; they seem to comprehend the truth and promise well;
    19. But troubles come; discouragements arise; there is no depth of thought; their good intentions wither up and die.
    20. These are the seeds that fell in stony ground.
    21. And others hear the words of truth and seem to know their worth; but love of pleasure, reputation, wealth and fame fill all the soil; the seeds are nourished not and they are lost.
    22. These are the seeds that fell among the thistles and the thorns.
    23. But others hear the words of truth and comprehend them well; they sink down deep into their souls; they live the holy life and all the world is blest.
    24. These are the seeds that fell in fertile soil, that brought forth fruit abundantly.
    25. You men of Galilee, take heed to how you hear and how you cultivate your fields; for if you slight the offers of this day, the sower may not come to you again in this or in the age to come.

-Aquarian Gospel 115: 1-25

 

Are you willing to take hold of that ember and fan it?

Are you able to live from that spark into and out of the divine?

When you are ready with that spark. Visualizing it moving through each of the seven chakras to firmly root in the opening/awakening crown chakra. Breath in deeply the love of all, breathe out the love of all. Feel the fresh air fade away. The breeze on your face stop. The noise of the crowds. You are the fertile soil the Master Sower has found.

Hold to this truth.

As you move forward through time.

As your room reforms around you.

Your chair.

Your breath slowly returns to normal.

Your eyes re-open.

Your very essence awakens.

Are you willing to truly live as the Master Sower has sowed you?

What are you going to do today to step into your destiny of love?


Sacrament:

a religious ceremony or act of the Christian Church that is regarded as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace, in particular.

For any pilgrim, it is the ceremony that is the outward reflection of our inward journey. Throughout Christendom there has been a sacrament of penance/confession. That is admitting when one has done wrong and seeking unity again with God. But this is a simpler understanding of what it has morphed into, now the sacrament of reconciliation. For this is a deeper understanding of holy relationships that permeate everything. The interconnection of the Holy Mystery in all, with all and through all. For Christians, it is the Holy Spirit, for others the creative force.

This is what ego, greed (pick your word for that which removes you from the flow, and allows “other” to create division) disrupts. It is the time of deep inward reflection, to be able to understand pain we have inflicted, or pain that has been inflicted, wrong done to us, or wrongs we have done to others, the list can go on and on.

Yet the piece of the sacrament that we have learned from our brothers and sisters around the world, is that the story needs to be told. It needs to be out there, and then we need to decide to move forward from that in a new beginning.

            My Father used to say,

Don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.

-Desmond Tutu

The moment when you can move from shouting matches, to actual discourse, dialogue, debate and argument is the moment you are no longer seeing one another as other but as equals in discussion…once seen as equals, you can move forward.

This is the sacramental challenge that lays heavy on my heart. For I do much work with folks throughout their lives to speak the truth of their story, and then to reconcile to move forward. Then there are moments when I am too stubborn to do the same.

Yet the Creator knows those moments, and enjoys laughter. It is in these moments that outward acts begin forcing inward change. I do not know where it will lead or what it means. Am I in a hurry to once again become a member? No.

But the last several weeks being back in a United Church of Canada congregation has become a sacramental act of reconciliation for me. My story has been told, it is out there for the universe to know. Now, it is time of contemplative action, letting my kids wonder in Wonder Kids, and rest in a chair during the service with the wife. Am I ready to move forward?

1401836884-desmond-tutu-forgivness-wisdom-quotes

The new beginning has been laid before me.

The soul sludge is burning off.

Moments of laughter.

A social gospel congregation?

Yes, it is easy to rest in the labels of other, but at our core we part of the family of humanity on a journey to make our little corner of this world better.

Sometimes, it is simply easier to release that which may be holding us back on the journey towards the heart of the sacred, and the sacred heart that exists within us.

And yes, sometimes, that which we thought had been put to rest and released, was not and it takes literally stepping across a new threshold to reveal the light that burns off the darkness.

Now the question that remains when reconciliation work is working…

What is next?
What is the new beginning?

For, that is yet to come…

and blessedly undecided…

yet will be chosen with a refreshed heart, mind and soul.


A non-Western-centric view of the spread of Christianity shows the tree branching out from the roots in the Middle East (Judaism), into a trunk that is Orthodox, to branches of many different flavours (i.e. Coptic, Mormon, Jehovah Witness to name but a few), from the Roman Catholic branch breaks out Protestantism, and then subdivides from there (Anglican, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, and on we go, then those break down more into the more esoteric-metaphysics movements such as New Thought, Christian Science to the spiritual-aesthetic ala Unitarian-Universalist).

As well off R.C.’s comes the religious life.

That is the beginning of the tree of Christendom. Yet there is two prevalent branches that happened in the Western World that is a thrown into the mix as overarching branches, especially in the microcosm that is North America, and more specifically the Untied States of America and Canada, that has back benched some shaping of national identity: Prosperity and Social gospels.

Now these may look at first blush as new movements starting late 19th-early 20th century.  BUT they are not, they actually can be found in the very root system of the tree. A cursory contextual-anthropological reading of the Hebrew Bible books of Judges-Prophets shows both systems at play.

  • Prosperity Gospel- Those who are in tune with God, and are blessed will thrive and grow in riches.
  • Social Gospel- A community centered movement to care for all of God’s children (widow, orphans, aliens, etc.) in a just world.

What would usually happen is that the blessed nation would get off track in the social gospel end, embracing the prosperity above all, thus creating the cycle of deserving/undeserving of blessing, and a judge or prophet would interject to get them back on track. The wisdom books tried to show the cycles of life detached from this ideal of prosperity being blessed, with the best example being the use of the Satan character to challenge the devout Job to show that bad things happen to good people, and it is what happens in the midst and how the community responds that matters. Are we a Job or his friends that scatter?

It is this dichotomy that can be seen within the religious movements that have shaped social policy in both Canada and the USA.  The official writing of the social gospel came from a writer in New York named Rauschenbush.  In later 20th century in America the movement would latch onto the idea of Red Letter Christians, in Latin America it would become Liberation Theology, still other dubbed theology of the margins would also crop up that would fall into the broad category of Social Gospel.

The Religious Right though would take the strong road of prosperity, and one just needs to look at how the social system of the U.S.A. has been developed, and barriers created to see that outcome. Especially in the battle for something as simple as universal health care, and acceptance of refugees. It underlies the drive of the meta-story of America of coming in to independently achieve the American dream.

In Canada, the Social Gospel really took root in church basements sprouting out labour movements, suffragists, and tied strongly into socialism which brought about politically Progressive Party, Labour Party, eventually convalescing into the CCF federally whose ideas so shook the status quo that it forced the two major parties to shift their focus onto just society, and yes labour rights, women’s rights, indigenous rights and universal health care.  It underlies the Canadian story of working together in a mosaic to create a home for the world.  Highlighted by such stalwarts as J.S. Woodsworth, Tommy Douglas, William Aberhart, Pierre Trudeau, the Famous Five and many others who should be named openly…and I would say continues with many most notably, Elizabeth May.

An aside of experience, is during the rise of the social gospel movement, the movement created a “Christian Flag” to rally behind in protests showing the lie the oppressive forces of the day chasing prosperity no matter the human cost stating it was “Christian” and “ordained by God”. The movement shook the establishment and walked with all to craft a different story.

Years ago in Arizona I was witness to a very fundamentalist church saying a pledge to the Christian flag. It was driven as a pledge with the underlying beliefs that they were to out breed the other religions. It was said as a pledge to support shooting the illegals crossing the boarder as the Gospel of Christ proclaimed. The rallying cry was used for exclusion to ensure their own prosperity would continue. I almost did not get out alive pointing out the history of this artifact and what it was meant for, the fact I was an “ill-informed” Canadian in their mind is probably what saved my life.

That is a small story that shows what happens in the extremes of forgetting who our neighbour is and what it means to love our neighbour and ourselves as we love our God. A very linked triangle that shows all pieces need to be in place for healthy self and society from a faith perspective.

The question in the dichotomous and dogmatic world we live in is one right or wrong? That is dependent upon one’s point of view. Yet is it worth being prosperous, if it means leaving behind many in poverty and pain where they need to decide on simple matters like food/heat or rent? Setting a broken limb of a child or homelessness?

There is shift’s happening, and yes, the prosperity mind set is taking root in the world, but should it? What is the counter? What changes if all move forward healthy and prosperous? What if, as has become a movement in our schools we move from ME to WE not just locally, but hold to our roots and truly live it?

You see, this is the underlying narratives within our nations, though not founded on “Christian principles” as many want us to believe, the stories crafted the narratives of expectations of the people. Now we are in a time when the narratives have allowed hate in some circles to over shadow love in the pursuit of money…

So, what choice will you make for yourself, your family, your community?

If you state you are of faith, what will you choose, prosperity or social gospel?

Individualism or community good?

To end, it is a question asked by Rev. James Shaver Woodsworth, when he was the superintendent of the Winnipeg Mission that was the open doors for the immigrants and refugees to populate the prairies. It shaped his view, his founding of the labour church, his stance against the money-making war machine, and eventually to surrendering his vocation. It is a simple question for you to answer:

Who is my Neighbour?