A Seasonal Contemplation
Going beyond: Crossing a threshold
by Rev. Michaël Merle
The final Sunday Gospel reading before Passiontide (on the Second Sunday after Shrove Tuesday) combines the beautiful and radiant picture of transfiguration with the healing of a young boy torn about (described as falling into water and falling into fire). This young boy is also described as "moonstruck" or a lunatic - in other words, not operating from his reason (as a healthy human being would) but crazed, as if held by the moon and not by the sun. What can it mean to fall into something? Could it be that the boy is simply unable to prevent himself from harm, potentially exposing himself to burns or drowning? Might we see this falling as an attempt to find solace and healing in the elements that represent the two different kinds of baptism: water and fire?
Baptism means plunging and the baptisms of John in the Jordan would have involved full immersion into the waters of the river. There one experienced a threshold of death to be reborn upon rising out of the water. This baptism is the baptism of old that required the experience of death (as did the initiations in the ancient mysteries that required a three day temple sleep). In Christ we have all been carried through death to new birth. Paul describes it so in his letter to the Romans: "... as Christ was awakened from death by the light-glory of the Father, so we, too, walk on our further ways with renewed powers of life ... If we have died with Christ, then our faith lets us share in his life" (Romans 6: 4,8). Our Baptism is no longer one of submersion in water but rather one of a Baptism in the Fire of the Spirit. John points to this very significant shift when he says: "I baptise you with water: but One is coming who is mightier than I, and ... He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire." (Luke 3: 16).
Baptism in a truly Christian sense is to act in accordance with what has been enlightened by the Holy Spirit in the fullness of Whitsun for the human constitution which carries an incarnated "I". "... act in accordance with it, (the human constitution in a love relationship to God and neighbour) and you will find life" (Luke 10:28). In The Christian Community the Sacrament of Baptism is not about the confession of sins and the joining of a church. The whole character of baptism has changed. It is now the spiritual completion of birth: the community becomes the womb where the child is to be spiritually conceived and borne on this side of the threshold. Now the soul is able to mature and unfold in the comfort of communion with the Christ Jesus. As adults we do not need this. We are able to draw ourselves in to relationship by acting in accordance with the new constitution of the human being - one that has the element of the Christ-I incarnated into the full being of a person.
The Gospel readings in Passiontide will extend this picture. Hans-Werner Schroeder describes this as follows: "... Christ Unites himself with the darkness and the depths of human life on earth. He takes them, unites them with his own divine-human being, and wards off the death-bringing consequences of the 'sickness of sin.' The human soul need not be crushed by the load of earthly sin, when it feels united with Christ, a renewed call to a devout contemplation of the deed of Christ, the love of Christ ... Body, life and soul are touched in these events of Passion."
Who are we?
The Christian Community recognizes the Christian way to be a path of freedom. Fostering the freedom and responsibility of the individual is seen as a fundamental part of the Christ's message and deeds. All who come with an attitude of reverence and open-minded questioning will find the greatest measure of intellectual freedom.
In the Southern African Region, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, there are four congregations with resident priests. Johannesburg is one of these four congregations.
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The Act of Consecration of Man
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