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by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
Each month one of these world views will be expanded
On the third Sunday of Easter, 26th April, Venus was sparkling magnificently in the west having reached its highest peak of rising and remaining visible beyond midnight. Close by was the chalice of the new crescent moon.
For Plato such an image would be a visible expression of a spiritual reality. For him the Idea is the true reality; an eternal immutable Being, which cannot be grasped with physical senses. The material world only shows us the images of Ideas, which then finally exist in us as reflections in concepts. Beyond this world of temporality shines the World of Ideas in eternal clarity. For Goethe it was also a continual discovery how the world reveals itself for the human being from two sides. To only study the physical world does not lead to a reality, but to really observe without pre-conceptions what nature expresses about itself and in the observation allow the Idea to rise up within the soul, creates a unified comprehension of a true reality. When the outer phenomena ignites the Idea it manifests in the beholder, then the experience is of one of having been grasped by a true, complete reality.
Rudolf Steiner formulates: ‘The world of ideas is the original source and principle of all existence. In it is eternal harmony and peace. …Only that which derives its existence from the Idea is meaningful on the tree of creation in the universe. The Idea is the clear, in itself and with itself fulfilled Spirit. The individual must have the spirit within themselves, otherwise they fall off like a dry leaf from this tree, and were there in vain…’ (GA 40)
Ideals are Ideas, realities in another dimension, living beings which are already what we strive to become. Pre-Christian cultures had mystery schools where initiates learned to open their soul like a chalice for these beings of higher consciousness, so that their wisdom could live and work through them. This is how the cultures were founded which still influence us today. Since then these beings have withdrawn, are ‘far away’ like the stars, looking down on us, waiting…Because since the Easter deed of Christ human beings are free to choose how they look into the world and which thoughts and ideas guide their actions. Every thought and feeling connects with a spiritual being, which is its reality. Whatever our ideals are, we are engaged in a relationship with a corresponding spiritual being. Idealism is not just an abstract philosophy which suggests that reality is immaterial. Idealism is an activity of the soul which releases immense energies for manifestation, be they negative or positive. The images in the heavens we look up to can remind us of our ideals; how to open our soul in reverence and strive to work in conjunction with those higher beings who are already in reality what we still strive to be.
The period of national lockdown that occurred over the Holy Week and Easter period changed the experience of this festival for all of us, in one way or another. The priests and members of community compensated by finding ways of reaching out to enliven this central Christian festival. Here are some thoughts from individual members of our extended community on their experience of this period. Editor
Silvia Jensen: Dear people from South African Christian Community,
I am from Brazil, my name is Silvia Jensen, a Waldorf Kindergarten teacher, and I am very pleased to receive your newsletter letter regularly.
I got to know you through Sonya and Thomas Holtz.
They hosted me in their house and Sonya took me to get to know the church and its surroundings.
Every time that comes a new issue of the newsletter I rejoice because of the deep content and the images you share.
Besides being good it is addressed to the southern hemisphere and I feel understood. It talks directly to my heart.
Thank you so much.
Jean and Evan McGillivray: Easter 20/20
Recent times have been much the same, but strangely different. Perhaps because we live on the church property.
The Eastern weekend was strange, but very powerful. The contemplations and sermons from the Priests by email were extraordinarily uplifting and helped carry the Easter message through the turmoil and confusion.
Everyday life has been fruitful. Evan and I made new curtains out of fabric given to us by a community member and managed to clean dining room chairs etc.
On a more serious note we have made more than 50 masks which were hung on the fence in Dover Street for anyone who needed one to help themselves. This is still going on.
Of course we miss Kerry and her boys and Sean at a Kibbutz in Israel. But we keep in touch here and with Greig in China.
So it remains a case of "Onwards and upwards".
Wendy Smith: Would you please convey 'hearty thanks' to the priests for their dedication and documented insights and photos! Despite the method/medium of communications, it has proved encompassing, sharing warmth and personal spaces of interest.
Annelie Franken: Thank you to Reingard for the contemplations.
It created a sense of belonging to a Community on a deeper level.
Eva Knausenberger: The Epistle of Passion Tide describes our human condition in the time of the coronavirus in detail. It attacks the head, (our thinking) our hearts (caring), our blood, (life-giving), our breath (want of, inability to breathe). And while I live in isolation, on an island in the Southern Pacific, where my spiritual strength lies lamenting and in the vain hope that 'this cup pass me by' I felt strongly, that despair would grip me, unless I were able to experience the community of Christians and the healing power of the Sacraments in solitude but also in spiritual togetherness. And on Easter Sunday -at least for moments, I felt joy flooding the world as the sun rose. He is risen for us and for the streams the dead, dying and suffering people. That is a promise we can all live with.
Pam Stevens: On contemplating the Holy Week services, receiving the readings and contemplations from the priests, also being present at the same time and working with what Richard so kindly gave as a guideline.
"The essence for me was feeling the presence of attending at the same time as everyone else. Feeling included and being able to sense the stillness within and without. Also my ability to listen inward became more centred and concentrated…Also having the contemplation to ponder throughout the day or even week has brought a different tone to my days. In gratitude."
I have attempted to do this on my own for a long time, but realising I am included and consciously connecting with everyone has enhanced my ability to be present. Community brings another dimension. Where two or more are gathered.
Wiebke Holtz: The experience of Easter has been new and very inward. It cannot be described other than saying I felt very closely connected to the Priests and the Church Community through the wonderful texts sent out and at the same time feeling an isolation and yet an inner strengthening through the own effort necessary for the work.
Jane Abrahams: A NEW KIND OF COMMUNITY GATHERING
Easter week during the coronavirus lockdown: it is April – time always of new initiatives; the crisp early morning air waking us out of our summer reverie, reminding us that there is work to do – perhaps a new kind of work now.
Every morning, for those who wished to join it, we had a Community Gathering via Zoom. Sitting in our respective homes we were able to meet each other again face to face. To see, every morning of Easter week, the core group of Susan, John-Peter, Gillian and Natalie, with intermittent visits from Lizzie, Abel and Mags, became very precious. We experienced many profound moments in our conversations, which were inspired by the daily contemplations sent out from Reingard, Michaël and Richard.
This was a new way of being part of a community, a pioneering way, brought about by restraints over which we had no control.
These meetings are continuing every Sunday during the lockdown. Perhaps more of us will be moved to come to them. I am so grateful to Susan and John-Peter for this initiative.
Briar and Michael Grimley: To the Priest of The Christian Community in South Africa,
We are writing to thank you all for the central role you played in our Easter experience this year. You did such a soul spiritual deed by making it possible to nourish our souls and spirits and give us substance to deepen our lives and thereby help us develop the capacities we need to stand in the world as helpers.
I (Briar) have attempted a pastel artwork as part of our Easter experience and would like to share it with you. Here are also some notes on it, and a lecture which served as an inspiration for it.
Notes on a pastel art piece by Briar Grimley arising from her Easter experience March 2020.
The outer circle is created by the journey through Time during the Holy Week. The images are taken from the Planetary Seals given by Rudolf Steiner, and the colours from indications given by eurythmists. The journey begins on Palm Sunday – the image ‘coming out of white’ on the top right, and moves clockwise through Monday (Moon day), Tuesday (Mars day), Wednesday (Mercury day), Thursday (Jupiter day), Friday (Venus day), to Saturday (Saturn day), and into the centre for Easter Sunday.
The inner circle is a journey through Space, in the centre is the Earth, now a Sun, and moves through the spacial line up of planets Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn.
Shining out of the centre is the Risen Christ, with Earth, now Sun, in His heart, with feet on Mercury… the stage of Earth evolution at the time of Golgotha… and arms outstretched to embrace the Entire Universe.
The words at the bottom are from Rudolf Steiner’s lecture on Richard Wagner and Mysticism. This arose from watching a video of an opera rendition of Wagner’s Parsifal. In the lecture Rudolf Steiner relays Wagner’s question: Who redeems the Redeemer? The answer is in the writing below the pastel work. I was so deeply moved by Wagner’s ponderings. See the attached lecture.
Every morning our Active Practical Love Group would ‘check in’ at 8.45, a few friends shared pictures of our Easter centrepieces, and on Easter Sunday two friends sent a video of their singing ‘Christ is Risen, Hallelujah’… amongst many other beautiful messages.
Every morning Michael and I would light a candle from our changing centrepiece, create a holy space, say the Lord’s Prayer aloud, read the recommended bible reading by the Christian Community priests, then their individual contemplations, and ended by reading the corresponding passage of each day of the Holy Week from Emile Bock’s ‘The Three Years’. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights we watched and listened to Wagner’s Parsifal, to Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis on Saturday evening, and on Sunday evening to Handel’s Messiah. On Saturday and on Sunday mornings we watched the sunrise… brightly coloured on Saturday, and a battle between light and dark on Sunday, with the joy of the light being victorious.
And every day I travelled alongside a nearby friend who sent me a photo of a new painting she painted each day, with such soul depth that my heart was overwhelmed and constantly on the edge of tears. Each painting was inspired by the communications from the priests.
And then a bit on the ‘ridiculous’ side… our friend and neighbour celebrated Easter Sunday with us, with a festive meal… she on her side of the fence, and we on ours. Community, come what may!
It is with enormous gratitude to all of you who played the smallest to the biggest parts in this journey that I humbly share my experience.
brotherliness - a found poem
as an Eastertide greeting by Shirley Marais (Higgins)
the leaves pinnate
odd or even
alternate and pinnately compound
and serrated toothed
feather-formed some say
around the petiole
the stalk that joins the leaflets
to the stem
and the in-breath
where the leaves end
before the sepals begin
and the sepals themselves
those five brothers
who hold the consummate red
roses are shrubs
climbing or trailing
the stems of which are usually armed
copiously with prickles
commonly known as thorns
oh never mind
and never mind the thorns
it’s the fragrance
saturation of light
and form and colour
that aches the heart
give me the aching colour
the star-shaped scent
that speaks in the deep heart
give me the starry fragrance
that aches on the in-breath
and awakens my heart’s deep sun
so for a moment I can feel
I am a brother
of the heavens
and of the earth
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by Rev. Reingard Knausenberge
Each month one of these world views will be expanded.
In pre-Christian times, in the highly developed cultures of Egypt, Greece and far earlier cultures of antiquity, the leaders and initiators were those who were able to connect with higher Spirits in their soul. Thoughts and feelings were not experienced as subjective and personal productions, but rather as living Beings; powerful Spirit Beings – Angels, Archangels, and Archai.
Archai could permeate a human soul and body, inspire and speak through them. Great cultures were founded and guided like this. It was a time when the human being was not free, did not yet experience being an individual, separate from the whole community. What came about was therefore in complete harmony with the greater Cosmic Order and human beings were also imbedded in this cosmic order.
Today, we cannot have this kind of experience because of the Deed of Christ. It has changed everything. Now we experience ourselves as autonomous individuals and have freedom and cognisance. Now it is our task to reach out and “Up” to and learn to work together with the Angels, Archangels and Archai. This requires self-reflection and self development. In as much as this is the direction of spiritual unfolding, we are Psychists.
There is a descriptive direction in psychism which leads to observing and witnessing of the deeper layers of the unconscious Self where heredity and universal archetypes is met. Then there is a dynamic direction which leads to “over-consciousness” and requires active deeds of self discipline and conscious transformation. This source of “Self”, our “I” - our core being, is eternal and indestructible. It is “of God”. Though it is embedded in the garment of the soul and body, we can work at becoming aware of this Higher aspect step by step. It is accompanied by processes of “dying and overcoming”. It is a slow painful process of active practice which transforms our whole constitution. Every effort in this direction progressively strengthens our complete soul structure, which means, the quality and nature of our “I”. It will lead to the awakening experience which St. Paul describes as “I am, yet not this “I” but the “I am” in me.
The individual “I” is then in harmony with the Being of Cosmic Order. Striving towards a new unity with the hierarchies in the world of Spirit, we human beings can work together to form, inspire and create a truly new culture. That is why we are here together on earth now.
“Oh What a Faithless and Distorted Picture of the Human Being You Have!” given as a sermon by Rev. Michaël Merle on 8th March
In the gospel passages of the Transfiguration (Matthew 17, Mark 9 and Luke 9) Peter offers to pitch three tent canopies (booths, shelters), one for Moses (the law giver), one for Elijah (the prophet) and one for Jesus (the master and Bearer of the Christ). Peter is moved to do this as a consequence of the vision of Jesus, transfigured in bright, brilliant, radiating white light while in a communial conversation with Moses and Elijah. Peter is drawing from a Hebrew tradition (a festival still celebrated by Jews to this day, Sukkot) and to the idea that this vision heralds an ‘end time’, a permanent establishment upon the earth which could call for a tent to be pitched and never taken down, a sukkot feast to end all feasts, so to speak. In his prologue to the gospel, John expresses the concept of the Word (Logos) becoming flesh and dwelling amongst us literally as, “The Word became flesh and pitched his dwelling tent amongst us”. The divine Logos (the Word) came to dwell on earth, pitching his tent here, so to say. This idea of pitching a tent as an expression for the earth as our home, allows us to see the earth as a wonderful, albeit temporary, dwelling place. Our life as human beings is not limited to the time on earth between birth and death. As much as this earthly life is representative of being ‘home’, this earth is our home, we are also only passing through, pitching our dwelling tent for a time, not building a permanent structure. Our true home is in God (in the divine existence). Our picture of our full humanity needs to recognise the seeds of our future spiritual development as present in us and in a process of development. We need to realise that our life is both pre-existent and post-existent (before our birth, and after our earthly death). What is our full picture of life and being human?
After the event of the Transfiguration, Jesus returns to the crowd and encounters the man whose son is moon-struck, a lunatic, and hence not in his reason. The young man is literally beside himself (and hence, out of balance), falling into the fire and into the water. Could these be metaphors for our desire to find initiation paths, the path of purification (in the cleansing fire or the cleansing water)? If we hold a true picture of the human being (with the in-dwelling of the Christ), then we can know that it is this relationship to Christ that makes it possible for us to experience a new path of initiation. He is our cleansing internal fire, the pure cleansing water of life. We are initiated into our fuller selves ‘in Christ’.
Rudolf Steiner reflected that the earth was created for the human being to learn the lesson of Love. Our new path of development in love is the path of Christ, who is the teacher of the love of humankind.
Report on the talk given by Rev. Michaël Merle “The Revelation of the Father in the Son” on 8th March
by John-Peter Gernaat
This talk speaks to one of the cornerstones of Christianity: that of the Oneness revealed in the Trinity – that the Creator is a Father and has a Son.
It is of note that when we turn to the Gospels the Son is spoken of before there is mention of the Father. Mark is the oldest Gospel (and some consider that he and the other synoptic Gospel writers may have used a single older source). Mark’s Gospel begins with the Baptism. This provides clear insight into the importance this event held for early Christians. The Baptism marked the beginning of the Christian story. [It is important to note that the eucharistic meal, which is the evolution of the Passover meal with the Mystery of Resurrection, forms the heart of Christianity.] It was important that the event of the Baptism was witnessed. It was John the Baptist who perceived the opening of the heavens and the Spirit descending like a dove. He heard the words: “You are my beloved Son, in whom I am revealed”. The Son is spoken of before we hear any reference to the Father.
The Act of Consecration of Man, other than the blessing, begins by speaking of the Divine in terms that do not specifically imply a Father - Son relationship: “Divine Ground of the world…”; “to you, O Ground of the World…”. There is no splitting of the Trinity, rather speaking to the oneness of the Godhead only.
Later we hear: “O Father God…”
It is only the New Testament that provides insight into the Trinity and we arrive at the heart of the Trinity in the Baptism event. The synoptic Gospels describe the Baptism while John’s Gospel does not, it describes the consequences of the Baptism. The synoptic Gospels all use the same word and one of the synoptic Gospels uses the same word when describing the Transfiguration. This word is Eu-do-keo (transliterally). In describing the Transfiguration Luke uses the words eklegomai. Jon Madsen, in his translation of Emil Bock’s translation, renders this word as ‘Chosen One’. Both these words are an expression of the same reality.
Eklegomai literally means “in whom I conclude out of myself” where the words ‘out of’ are key. Alternatively: “out of myself this is what I have concluded”. This tells us that the Son is not chosen from among the Father’s creation or creatures, but out of himself. The Christ principle comes out of the Father.
The word Eu-do-keo is often simplified to “in whom I am revealed”. Within this word is the word for ‘well’ (as in ‘fare thee well’) or ‘wellness’ which also carries the intention to experience these richly or fully. One alternative rendition which could assist our deeper understanding would be “in the full or rich wellness of the Father the Son is revealed”. But there is also the intention in the word that this has to do with our thinking ability to discern. Therefore, this word also has the intention to say: “in whom my discernment will prosper” or “in whom my personal judgement will fare well”.
From all of this we know that at the heart there is a relation of Father to Son.
Humanity had the privilege of getting to know the Son, and through His words and actions the Divine is revealed. We can come to know the Father more fully than we could before Christ was incarnated.
In the relationship of the Father to the Son the Spirit comes into being. The Spirit exists between the Father and Son. (Reingard often says that in the spiritual world 1 + 1 = 3; a third principle always comes into existence in the relationship between two spiritual beings.) Through coming to understand the Son, we can come to more fully understand the Father and only then can we come to understand or experience the Spirit. In the Gospel of John we can learn more about the relationship of the Son to the Father in all that is said at the Last Supper. It adds to the understanding we can arrive at through the Old Testament.
To repeat the relationship: “in whom I am fully expressed”, “in whom I am well revealed”, “in whom my discernment will prosper”.
The epistle that is read in the Act of Consecration of Man during Trinity also aids our understanding of the fullness of God.
The Creed of The Christian Community also guides us to an understanding of the Trinity.
The first statement is not necessarily Christian, it describes only the Father as an almighty Divine Being. However, the description of this Being as being spiritual physical is a very new idea. That He is the ground of existence is common to all religions. That He goes before his creatures like a Father is a potent image of how a father leads a child before the child follows its own path through life. It is a different image to the way a mother leads. The image is therefore not intended to give a gender to the Father but rather to describe the relationship of the Father to his created creatures. We follow the Father to become whom we are intended to be.
The second statement describes the Son as being “born in eternity” to this Divine Being – the Father. A picture is given in Kabbalistic teaching of God withdrawing into Himself in order that creation could come into being. In the act of creating the Son principle comes into cognition.
We know that we are made in the image of the Divine. We also know that we are in process. It therefore is clear that the Divine is also in process. Also, we understand relationships because the Divine is in relationship.
In the Creed the first seven statements are from the past. Statement eight begins: “Since that time…”. There is a change in direction to the present and the future. Since the Resurrection, the Son fulfils the work of the Father. The Son is fully revealing the Father, where fully also means richly fulfilled.
In the Transfiguration we come to a new understanding of the Godhead and that we can have a relationship to the Father. “Christ comes out of me and in the Son I am fully understood / revealed / discerned.” “I am Father. I have created and this brought Son into Being and between us is a relationship which can be experienced as Spirit.”
In Greek the word Doxa is used to capture the essence of a Hebrew concept of the ‘fulness of revelation’ that is translated as ‘glory’. This is the heart of the statement we hear in the Act of Consecration: “what You have received from the Father and made whole through the Spirit in all cycles of time”. This speaks to a relationship and to the understanding that since the Resurrection the Son reveals the fullness of the Father.
The way of grasping the concept of Father is through a relationship to the Son and then we can understand the Spirit. Then we find ourselves in the relationship between Father and Son.
by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
(This talk was given on Sunday, 15th March.)
The Sacrament of Baptism as it is practiced in The Christian Community is a new ritual in the stream of Christianity’s evolution, congruent with the evolving consciousness of humanity in our time. It is conceived specifically for a soul which is sent down from the world of spirit into the earthly world. It welcomes the child into this very different dimension of life. It gives an orientation for the basic processes which constitute this earthly reality as an outer physical, inner soul and a spiritual experience.
At the outset, the priest conducting the ceremony turns toward the heavenly powers with his/her own threefold capacity of willing, feeling and thinking. The heavenly powers will be transmitted through the three substances used in the baptism: water, salt and ash. In this way a threefold relationship will be established between the world of heavenly beings from which the child has descended and the soul of the child. Through the physical substance, the Word and the placing of the substances onto the body of the child in a specific way, a first step is realised. The second step is carried through the Word transposing the substances into soul processes. The third step is realized in the power of the Word connecting to the three-foldness of the Trinity while three crosses are inscribed into the invisible body of the child. It will be a free choice of the adult, if this child will become a conscious confessor of Christ. Yet it is the assembled congregation which makes it possible that the soul can be shown a way to develop a conscious Christ-relationship and that two named ‘God’-parents commit to accompany the soul through its search in life for this relationship.
The central core of the sacramental act is concentrated around the mystery of The Name. In this is hidden the individual purpose and mission on earth, which will unfold as the personal destiny path: ‘…and he has a name inscribed which no one knows but he himself.’ Rev. 1:12
This mystery, that every human being shares the same name to identify their Self, yet is totally unique in how it is expressed, is central to Christ and Christianity. In the sacrament the child is endowed with a name with which every other person will be able to ‘call out’ that inexpressible name in them. In the sacrament the given name is used to ‘called in’ the child’s higher being to connect with this body. Every action from thereon in the baptism is permeated with the name and its true intent. In the closing words of the sacrament it becomes clear that the baptism is actualised through the investment of the celebrant and those connected with the child by the endeavour to understand and then invest sensitive cognisance during the proceedings. The Lord’s Prayer spoken at the end embraces this soul within the world-wide Christ-Community.
The Sacrament of Baptism is the strongest, positive, affirming gift we can give into the unconscious soul of the child, as a true experience and transmission of the message, that (and how) the World of Spirit can be found within this material-physical world of the senses into which it is now immersing itself.
by Rev. Reingard Knausenberger
(This talk was given on Sunday, 22nd March.)
The Sunday Service for Children is the first ritual service conceived specifically for children. It is not a ‘Sunday School’ or religious teaching lesson. It is a dense, short ritual celebrated for school children from age 6 or 7 until age 14. Considering that the sacrament of baptism is also only for children, one becomes aware of the very special constitution of a child before puberty. In these first years of life, the incarnating soul is first building a physical body - muscle, bone, nerves, inner organs - that will suit its own mission, using the model given by the parents. When this groundwork is done, energy is set free for other further development. During the primary school years, the soul is ‘tuning its physical instrument and learning to start playing on it’, so to say. This means the rhythmical organisation of the body, which is the carrier of all life-supporting activity, needs to develop harmoniously and strongly to be a healthy support for the rest of one’s life. Therefore, the Sunday Service ritual is based on rhythm, on the ideally regular attendance throughout these seven years. If a child would attend every Sunday for seven years then it would have come to 365 Sunday services, a ‘year’ of Sundays inscribed into its constitution. It will have added into its constitution a quality that directly supports its further awakening to its unique self and which is not a product of nature but of practice and effort.
The service begins with the receiving of the child as it crosses the threshold into the space of the altar. The servers, who receive it will affirm: ‘you know…’ One could say, children have a deep unconscious knowing of ‘where they come from and where they are going’. Then ‘we lift up our thoughts and feelings’- i.e. over time learn to give them conscious direction. The words that follow acknowledges Spirit reality and recognises it in all the kingdoms of nature, as well as in human thought and action. It highlights the fact that life includes death processes, and that this Spirit power at work in nature also leads us into, within and through these into a new quality of life. The facts that underlie this statement are then expressed: Christ is that Spirit power, he died, he can become alive in us. How, and for what purpose is then stated. Then in short, clear sentences the purpose of life on earth is laid out beautifully: the reason we learn and the point of work is to learn to love, and Christ is the teacher for this. In the following prayer, the children experience the practice of prayer and learn how the Spirit of God is present in both conditions of our life: our existential aloneness and our connection to others. Then follows something which resonates deeply with the first words of Christ uttered in direct speech in the Gospel of John: ‘What do you seek?’ It is a question each of us must answer individually. For the children it is a profound moment when they can hear that their seeking is accompanied and can be satisfied. The ending of the ritual speaks of dismissal. Just as clear as the beginning was a receiving in, so is the ending a clear sending out, to make what has been learnt reality by living it.
Both the sacrament of baptism and its further realisation through the Sunday Service for children establish in the organisation of the child a deep knowing and trust in spirit reality, laying a foundation for health and self-confidence in life.
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