reported by John-Peter Gernaat
How do we even begin to think about the future or what we should be doing to carry the impulse of The Christian Community into the next one hundred years? The answer is quite simple: the impulse must live and be alive in the people for whom it matters.
A small group gathered on Friday evening 30 September at 18h00, an hour earlier than the original plan in order to avoid sitting in the dark during load shedding. The message sent out to the community was that this would be a participative conference and would consist of conversations and discussions. Those gathered felt both a weight of responsibility and a sense of doubt that anything they had to say would impact the future of The Christian Community.
Rev. Michaël Merle introduced the conference with a picture given by Dr Rudolf Steiner on several occasions, but, for Michaël, memorably to the teachers. At every moment in our lives we stand in the present moment. This present moment is not a point in time or space, nor a straight line. It is a line of uncertain shape or width that has brought us here and will take us forward into the next moment. We have a past that brought us to this moment in time. We often spend time reflecting in the past rather than living in the present. We cannot change our past and yet we can allow it to have a great influence over our present. Alternatively, we may worry about our future. We have an idea, or a plan for our future, but because we have not yet realised this image or plan we worry that it will not work out as we have planned. The only time when we have real influence is right now, in the present moment.
Rudolf Steiner made it clear that we need to develop a feeling for the present moment in order to be present to it. We think back on our past. It is our activity that creates the seeds for the future. When we have clarity in the thinking of our past we create an image of our past; we could say our past becomes an imagination. When we can sense the future with clarity we can develop an intuition for the future. Our feeling can inspire us in the present moment.
The purpose of thinking back on our past, thereby creating an imagination, and for intuiting the future, is to cross over the thresholds of birth and death, remembering back to before birth and intuiting the future after death.
This picture took us to an exercise. In groups, we listed what we felt were the building blocks of The Christian Community. This is what the founding of The Christian Community and the pioneering work of the first one hundred years have laid as a foundation. Much to Michaël’s joy the final list was very similar to what the pioneering priests and subsequent priests have listed.
The word “seeking” arose from the discussion and was added to the list. Knowing that this list lives actively in us means that we are able to describe The Christian Community to others. We are a community in search of something and in search of continually finding it. We know what it is and where to seek it and thus we are always in the process of discovering it. We are always in the seeking to strengthen our connection to it.
When we hear the Gospel proclaimed from the altar we may be struck that the words attributed to Jesus Christ are spoken in the present continuous tense. The words of Christ may have been recorded almost two thousand years ago but when they are proclaimed they are spoken as the words of Christ in the present moment.
Thus, the next exercise was to find the very first words spoken by Jesus in each of the Gospels.
The last exercise and conversation was to find the intuition for the future. For this, certain words from the words of Jesus were underlined and others were circled. The underlined words were grouped, and the circled words were grouped. We were asked to find the connection within the groups and between the groups.
These words are seek, follow me, look, see, fulfil, come – related to action – all 'in my Father’s house’. The earth is the Father’s house. Our body has become the Father’s house. Or as St Paul puts it, the house has become a temple of the Holy Spirit. We will find Christ in the world and also ‘in me’. We will never be without Christ even though we will continue to seek and look for the rest of our lives. We know where Christ is, there is no uncertainty, but the condition of seeking is still unending. The power of our willing to act (future intuition) springs from feeling (present inspiration) – see again the diagram above. Our thinking to make sense of all that has been “lives in the life of the Holy Spirit”, not in the life of the Father (past) but in the life that brings us to the future.
What is a desire of every human being in every life? It is the desire to be to achieve fullness or perfection. Christ is the example to humanity of what perfection is.
What sentences speak to an intuition that may arise for the future of The Christian Community from the two lists of words?
We are in a moment of creating.
Destiny is the evolution of humanity.
Seek the Power of Christ in the destiny of The Christian Community.
Come into the power of your destiny to understand.
Ennobling the earth through human destiny.
Uniting with the earth’s evolving is unique to The Christian Community.
Reverence for Life as a foundation of The Christian Community.
The Christian Community is consequent. It is real.
We always find ourselves in the presence of the moment for a future.
The reason for underling “fulfilled” and “fulfil” is that the Act of Consecration begins with the words: “Let us worthily fulfil …” One might have started the sacrament with other words but using the word “fulfil” means that we participate in what is about to come into being; it does not happen without our participation. It also means that the sacrament will be filled with the content of what we bring to this celebration.
The words that are circled are words of the Archangel Michael: “come” – the invitation, “power” and “destiny”.
In his talk on the Sunday of the Michaelmas Conference, Michaël introduced the picture of Three Archangels with Tobias by Francesco Botticini.
(Michaël gave a talk on this painting in September 2015, click here).
This picture reflects the last diagram above in another form. What is presented is how we live in three states of time: past, present and future. We live in all three; the present is the future realised, which immediately passes to become our past and we step into our future which becomes the present moment. The three angels mentioned by name in Christian scriptures are present: Gabriel on the right, Raphael in the middle leading Tobias, and Michael on the left. They are presented in the order where Raphael is in the present moment with Tobias and is leading him into the future – a very Michaelic stance – and being supported by the past through Gabriel, the Archangel who announced the births. The painting seems to place Michael in front with Gabriel bringing up the rear while in fact the four are all walking abreast. Tobias is thus always in his past and in his present and in his future. There isn’t a leading angel or a trailing angel, they are all together. Imagination, inspiration and intuition are all together. These Archangels equally represent our thinking, our feeling and our willing. The qualities of the human being are seen accompanied by mighty angelic forces.
In this time of Michael the impulse is to find and recognise the seeds that are growing which are potentially going to unfold.
In the course of the conference, one of the things that was noted is that there is a turning point in our Creed. The first part of the Creed is about the past, the things that have been. Until we reach the point where the Christ is able to achieve something, “after three days” – the overcoming of death. There is a natural pause at this point. The next sentence begins with “Since that time …” Since then ... and now ... and into the future … The tense changes and becomes present and continuous. “Through Him the Healing can the healing Spirit work", present and future. Later, “Communities who feel themselves …” present tense, not inherited communities but present communities who are and who are becoming. We can sense ourselves as being here for the very first time, in this constellation creating The Christian Community. We are being and creating the unfolding of The Christian Community.
When we look at our festivals we have the festivals of Advent, Christmas and Epiphany at the beginning of the liturgical year. These are festivals of the past, festivals of the Father. Then we engage in the active festivals of the Son that create the conditions that change everything: Passiontide, Easter and Ascension. Then we enter into the last three festivals of the year: Whitsun, St Johns and Michaelmas. There are festivals of the Spirit, festivals of the future. We do something quite extraordinary in The Christian Community compared to the liturgy of other Christian groups; we turn St Johns and Michaelmas into long seasons of celebration because they open up for us our stepping into the future, particularly Michaelmas, where we have extraordinary colours. Where do the pale peach pink and pale green colours appear from? They are the Easter colours with white – the paint quality of light – added. The red and deep green of Easter becomes the beautiful light peach blossom and pale green. The hope and the spring opening to a future in light, and light, and light. This is the quality that we are looking for. In the next 100 years we must find our Michaelic quality all the more and live in it all the more and be present in it all the more.
This is the essence that we hoped to discover in this Michaelmas Conference that recognise that we are already in our second century of existence.
In a mini-sermon given to the children, Michaël shared the four symbols that Michael is often seen carrying. These are the two-edged sword of truth, the scales of balance, the sceptre of uprightness which is the “I”, and an orb of wholeness. The orb is often of pure translucent crystal. The word wholeness is connected with healing. We speak of the Spirit that makes whole in the Act of Consecration of Man – holy, making whole and healing are aspects of the same reality. Michael represents truth, balance, uprightness and wholeness, which are the qualities we need as adults to recognise the Christ in us and in the other.
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