List of articles
by Rev. Michaël Merle
In Chapter 21 of The Revelation to John (The Book of the Apocalypse: Revelation) we read part of the description of the New Jerusalem (a picture of a mighty vision experienced by John in the Spiritual World: “The city has a great and high wall and twelve gates. And on the gates twelve angels, and names were written on them: the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel.” (verse 12)
Jacob (who was later named Israel) had twelve sons from his two wives and their two handmaids. At Christmas 2022 the sermons for the Twelve Days of Christmas focused on one son in turn, considering their characteristic way as the start of an understanding of the twelve ways in which we can enter the New Jerusalem.
The way of Reuben:
We started on Christmas Day with Reuben, the first-born. This helps us understand the significance of recognising Christ as a first-born. The baby born at Christmas is the first-born of a new stage in humanity’s progress. Reuben prepares the way by representing the qualities of a first-born: the powerful energy of everything that comes first: first fruit, the first moment of the day, the beginning of every creative deed. Jacob recognises in Reuben the restlessness (constant motion) of water. This “way of water” reminds us of the power of motion and activity, like the movement and flow of water, that this movement (this flow, and ebb) brings power to our activities, and can be a source of life. If too intense the way of water can be destructive – as we know form the actions of floods and tsunamis. In synagogue art Reuben is often depicted as a rising sun, a reference to his being the first-born. He is also depicted by a bunch of mandrakes. This plant was considered a symbol of fertility. Reuben, in his birth, represents fertility and continuity. The birth of Christ is for us today the birth of our renewed continuity in human spiritual evolution: the way of the Christian, the way of the Christ-bearer. Reuben’s name in Hebrew means: “Behold a son”. This foreshadows the Christmas proclamation of the angelic world, that in Bethlehem on this day a son is born. Our Christmas proclamation from the altar alerts us to behold in Christ the bringer of the healing of the earthly human being. Christmas is, indeed, for us the turning-point of time, the first step in the way of our future human development.
The Gospel Study began the study of the Gospel of Luke in the second half of 2022. After considering the stories surrounding the birth of John the Baptist and of Jesus in Bethlehem, we embarked on the study of the main purpose that Luke tells of in his introduction, to provide a very specific understanding based on the path that he has trodden. Luke unfolds a new eight-fold path that he could clearly see when he placed the events of the life of Jesus in a specific order.
Luke provides the eight-fold path in a particular structure. He first records the deeds and words of Jesus that expound the path and then confirms the path at a meal.
The first path is Right Understanding. Jesus establishes the Right Understanding at a meal at the house of Matthew, who is one of his disciples. Christianity is based on the idea of a relationship to Christ. The church is built on those who were willing to be sent. In The Christian Community we experience this in the Sacrament of Confirmation where the child is sent into youth. This is a foundation that confirms a relationship to the self. At the first meal we understand that everyone suffers under the burden of sin. The Right Understanding is that Christ heals and makes whole. Christ has come to bring back unity to that which was fractured and bring integration.
The second path is Right Thinking. The Sermon on the Field provides the understanding. This is confirmed at the meal at the house of Simon where a woman does what she knows to be right in complete contradiction to the actions of everyone else at the meal. She established a new relationship to Jesus. Right Thinking is a power of trust or faith. We too often doubt what we know, and we doubt that things will be right. Right Thinking is faith through Christ.
The third path is Right Speech. This is established with the Parable of the Sower. This parable is unique to Luke. We learn that the power to hear will give understanding. Nothing is secret from those with the ears to hear. The disciples are told that they have access to inspiration through their relationship with the Christ, while the people who hear the parable have only the imagination – the ability to understand through pictures – to understand. This parable is followed by Jesus expelling a legion of demons (a demon is a protector spirit) from a man. The man is able to tell the people what God has done for him. The act of speaking the truth in this story is key. Right Speech is speaking truth, it is a proclamation. The thirst path is confirmed in the feeding of the five thousand. Abundance comes through the blessing spoken over the food. The word is sufficient to sustain. Everyone hears the words spoken by Jesus.
The fourth path is Right Deed or Action. In telling the parable of the good Samaritan, Jesus ends by asking the question as to who was the neighbour to the man beset by thieves. The person with the initial question is able to answer this out of the parable, and Jesus instructs him the go and do the same. This is confirmed in the fourth meals where we learn deeds of love based on the one who teaches how to love, who is Christ. We can act out of our humanity, but there is greater value in relating to the source who makes us human, being able to relate to Christ as the source of our humanity: Christ in me.
We will continue the study of this fourth path when the Gospel Study begins again for 2023 on Thursday 19 January at 17h30. New participants to the Gospel Study are always welcome. Everyone is invited to arrive by 17h15 for a cup of coffee or tea. Sometimes participants bring some biscuits or some other sweet treat to eat with the coffee or tea.
by John-Peter Gernaat
The first full Advent Fair in three years took place on Saturday 3 December. This Advent fair was taken on by a new team of organisers and nine of the people who helped on a stall or activity were doing it for the first time. The entrance at the gate formed a threshold where people entering onto our property were greeted and given an orientation into the Fair. It was done in a way that reflects our aims of building community through the humanity that lives in us.
The stalls in the Community Room and the Second-Hand Books in the church were well patronised. The White elephant Stall was well curated and the better-quality donations we had received were displayed in the Community Room.
The activities for children provided something that awoke a quality in the children that we hope will plant a seed that there is another way to be in the world. This planting of a seed may be enough to ensure that we continue to provide this quality of experience for children for years to come.
The bacon and egg rolls, sold near the entrance, proved very popular. Although we were without electricity for the first two hours, we were able to provide coffee and tea throughout. The lunch, in particular the homemade salads, were well received.
Everyone who assisted in any way with the Advent Fair and who attended the Advent Fair is thanked. It was another day of Community Building where we showed who we are and what makes us stand out in the world. The result of the wonderful activity brought about an abundance in excess of R41 000. More importantly, the effects of the day contribute to the building of community.
Rev. Michaël Merle gave nine talks during the Holy Nights on the signs of the Zodiac. The purpose of these talks was to introduce the great imaginations that lived behind these signs for the Ancient Mesopotamian people who recognised that in the stars above there were divine influences that radiated down to the earth in a very particular way as the sun progressed across the sky in the course of year, but more importantly as the axis of the earth pointed into a particular part of the night sky. As they studied these areas of the night sky that fall in a band across the heavens, they recognised images in the stars that they were able to connect with the pantheon of their gods and the influence that each of these gods brought to earth.
The understanding of the constellations has developed as the human consciousness developed and with it our ‘brain-based’ thinking. This is what YHWH (Yahweh) of the Elohim worked to prepare in the inherited stream of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) and his descendants. This led to the possibility of the incarnation of Christ in a human being.
The influence of the constellation into which the axis of the earth points, which changes every 2 500 years or so as a result of the precession of the earth’s axis, as a gateway for a particular aspect of Divine inspiration was traced from the earliest human civilisations through the present and into the future great cycles of Earth incarnation.
The reports of these talks will appear later in the year in the newsletter and here on the website more expansively.
Reported by John-Peter Gernaat
This is a series of three talks that explores the advent of Christ in the three healing processes as described by Theophrastus von Hohenheim, probably better known as Paracelsus. Paracelsus was born in Egg an der Sihl, a village close to the Etzel Pass in Einsiedeln, Schwyz, Switzerland. At the age of 16 he started studying medicine at the University of Basel, later moving to Vienna. He gained his medical doctorate from the University of Ferrara, Italy, in 1515 or 1516. The name Paracelsus was either a translation into Latin of Hohenheim, meaning beyond the heights, or it was given to him by his students who felt that he had gone beyond Celsus, a Roman writer who had collected an encyclopaedia of medical knowledge, that continued to be referenced into the 16th century. Paracelsus in known as the father of toxicology, but he presented the world with a picture of three healing processes that he referred to as salt, mercury and sulphur. Because of what Paracelsus said about these healing processes we can relate them to some of the primary soul forces that Plato described. We can also relate them to a picture of the human being as we understand it today because of his descriptions of these three processes. The names he gave to the three healing processes, he gave for a reason: these terms already existed and had been used previously. But Paracelsus used these terms because he saw in salt something of a stability, a form that has the ability to dissolve. His healing processes were about substances that can dissolve and then combine or reunite in a new way, in a healing way. Salt is solid, mercury (quicksilver) is fluid and sulphur as a process of burning.
The reason for studying these three processes in our Community is that with the coming of the Christ into the forces of life, the etheric realm we can more easily recognise the presence of The Christ forces in the healing processes. It is thus good to recognise the Christ in all processes of healing. It is for this reason that the season of Advent is appropriate to undertake this study.
What can we come to understand about salt, mercury and sulphur in terms of the elements – the elements as described by the ancient Greeks? Paracelsus said that in the salt process it is possible to see two of the elements:
On the other side of the salt process was the process that was clearly:
In the process of burning sulphur burns away completely.
Mercury in its fluidity lives between these two. Thus:
As a consequence of this we can relate this to the human being. We can also refer to Rudolf Steiner who related the salt process to the physical and etheric forces of the human being. The salt process has everything to do with the living body of the human being – physical body and life body. The Mercury process has to do with a combination of the etheric and the astral, the human soul processes. The sulphur process is connected with the astral and Ego-organisation of the human being and thus is connected with the spirit and renewal.
In the sacrament of baptism in The Christian Community we baptise with salt, water and ash, but in the order water, salt and ash. The fluid, mercury process has to do with ensoulment and salt has to do with anchoring us, a stability, and the ash is a renewal process. We therefore associate salt in the baptism with the forces of Christ, the forces of the Son God. In this instance we will focus on the forces of the Son God in all three of the process although it is clear that we can also speak of the forces of the Father God and the Spirit God. Steiner also introduces the three healing processes as processes of the soul.
Because of the salt process in the body, Steiner says, we can think. Through the mercury process in the soul we have the capacity for feeling. Through the sulphur process we have the capacity of will that is really focused on the future.
When we look at the substances of salt, water and ash in the baptism we can, in combing the processes of thinking, feeling and willing with body, soul and spirit, see in the fluid process of water feeling in thought which is the process of the opening of the first chakra in the descending path. The salt, which is placed on the chin, the second chakra, is the activity of thought in willing. Ash, which is placed on the heart, the third charka, is the activity of will in feeling.
This first talk is about the salt process and therefore about thinking and the body.
The most profound experience of salt in ancient literature is the experience of Lot’s wife (Genesis 19). Lot and his wife leave the cities of Sodom and Gomorra as they are being purified in the fire of sulphur (brimstone) – the cities are renewed in the purifying fire of the spirit. Lot and his family are not required to go through this purification process. They journey on but as they leave Lot’s wife turns back to look at what was. This part of the world is represented by the Dead Sea – a sea that is very high in salt content. Before the time of Abraham the human body did not show aging in the physical body. The human grew up to be an adult and then retained that physical appearance until death without looking any older. The signature of decay did not manifest in the human body. In the case of Lot’s wife, upon turning to look back she becomes completely sclerotic, she becomes frozen and disintegrates into a non-living body. She becomes salt. She is the first recorded person to age physically. She becomes the full manifestation of what the human physical body carries.
This is shared by Rudolf Steiner and tells us something of the process of salt as it was, not the process of salt as it is now where it is a healing process. Without the power of renewal that has come about through Christ, we are all pillars of salt – we are all heading towards the densification of matter into a crystalline form.
Why does Lot’s wife become a pillar of salt and show effects of aging and the sclerotic forces? She turns around because she is lacking certainty that she is on the right path. She turns around to look back at what was for one last time. She still longs for the past and has not yet moved on. She carries doubt in herself that the new journey of Abraham is the journey she should be on. She does not have faith. This tells us that the human being needs faith only when in the physical body. Once we cross the threshold we do not need faith, we are faced with the reality of all things. In the body we need to develop the eye of the soul to see the spiritual reality of things, we need faith. We can develop the eye of the soul so that in our body we can carry this extraordinary element. This is why the Christ can say to his disciples: “you are the salt of the earth!”. It is in the human body that we carry that which the earth will need. Why is that? It is only so because Christ forces have come into the very being of the disciples through their association with Jesus – the Christ forces radiated into them. This is where the Christ comes into the healing process of salt, because Christ entered into the very being of Jesus of Nazareth, into the human constitution. It is possible from then, through the Mystery of Golgotha, for all of us to bear the Christ in us. It is the birth of the Ego-organisation IN the human being. This redeems the body so that we are not destined to become pillars of salt, but rather that we become the salt of the earth. This is important because we now carry something that can preserve the future development of the human being. This is what cannot afford to die. We were in a process of a dying earth existence. Christ comes to renew the dying earth existence by renewing the forces in the human constitution. Through that the world around us is renewed. We become the cardinal – the hinge – of Christ’s activity in the world.
If Christ acts in the world, he does so in two ways. Firstly, by associating with the body of the earth – the body of the earth is now the Body of Christ. Secondly, he acts in the human being through the incorporation of the I-organisation. We work with the Christ in us as we meet the Christ in the body of the earth. We do this by receiving the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ in the Eucharist is connected with this healing process. We shall see the forces of the water and the wine connected with the mercury and sulphur processes. Thus, in the Communion we have the totality of the healing processes for body, soul and spirit.
The salt process in the body gives us the power to think. Steiner says that if we could understand the digestive process, when salt is taken in is that it enlivens the etheric. This makes the physical-etheric combination that is the living body more alive. We should realise that this is where most of our healing must take place, for our bodies will continue on the path of ‘saltification’, in the old sense of the word. When we receive Communion we hear: “that the soul die not”. The etheric and astral combination has the capacity to accompany the ego-organisation. Before the Communion we hear the final of the three prayers which speaks of the healing processes: “not unto death, but unto the life of the soul and my formative forces” – the etheric and the astral at work. This is what we want to heal. If that is healed it will connect the ego-organisation all the more with the physical body. How does this affect our thinking? We can see the pole of salt and sulphur as earth and fire, and also the poles of sulphur and mercury as masculine and feminine, and when the two come together, a body – salt is formed, an existence on the earth can take place. We can look at these in different ways, but in the Act of Consecration of Man we are aware, during the Transubstantiation, that: “our hearts unite with Christ”. From the heart-unity with Christ, from this in-between space, we are able to stand at peace and unite in such a way that our thinking and willing are able to engage in the evolution of humanity. There is a strong connection between thinking and willing. What we think will affect the way we act in the world and the way in which we engage positively in the world will have a beneficial effect on our thinking. The point is that Christ comes into the very body of the human being to transform the very way in which we think in the body. The way we think when we cross the threshold is very different to the way we think in the body. The processes of being embodied is a process of developing a new capacity for thinking that can only come about in a body. That capacity for thinking needs to be healed. We reached a certain high point in our capacity of thinking on the earth. The Greek culture expressed the high point capacity of human thinking on the earth in expressed and written philosophy. This was the high point of the ability of human thinking when the human being tries to take hold of the world. That needs healing because in itself it is not perfect. The forces of Christ perfect that human thinking. This becomes clear in the letters of Paul. He is able to bring the forces of Christ into the philosophy of the Greek culture. He uses the Greek philosophy to explain how in our thinking we can come to understand the Christ. This process of healing is part of the salt process. Thomas Aquinas would not have had the capacity to do what he did with only an Aristotelian thinking capacity. It was through the advent of Christ in human history, and in human experience that we come to feel the creative capacity to create the embodied thinking we need to dispel doubt so that faith can grow from our thinking. Salt has the capacity to dispel.
Thinking is a new creation of form. Our thinking informs us. We must understand that the forces of form are disintegrating. The formative forces of the Elohim have been disintegrating for several centuries already as they ‘hand over’ to the beings of personality, the Archai, who are preparing for the next stage of human evolution. We have to hold a form that is no longer held for us, that is no longer being held for us. Through our thinking we inform a process. When we think in a certain way we can act in a certain way. This is part of becoming our own person.
The second talk looked at the mercury healing process and the influence of the advent of Christ in this process.
The 8th century Arabic writer Jabir (Abū Mūsā Jābir ibn Ḥayyān) described mercury as a feminine principle and the sulphur as masculine principle. Paracelsus would have been familiar with the work of Jabir. We can thus see in the mercury process the capacity to bear life which is the feminine principle. Mercury, which was more commonly known as quicksilver, where ‘quick’ means energising and bringing to life. Sulphur with its capacity to burn with a passion bears the masculine principle.
A mercury healing process had to do with fluidity or easing flow. Previously we considered salt as structured and as giving form. We use the term ‘crystal clear’ when we have a clear grasp of a concept in our thinking. We come to understand that the structured, crystalline form of salt is connected with thinking. We need fluidity in our feeling. There needs to be an ease of flow. When our feelings become stuck they can hold us back. Our feelings rise up in us and they must then take us somewhere.
In considering mercury as an element, number 80 on the periodic table bearing 80 protons and neutrons and having the symbol Hg for hydrargyrum. In the Latin name there is ‘hydra’ for water and ‘argyrum’ which comes from the Latin argentum for silver. The name is thus watery-silver. Mercury formed one of the seven metals of the ancient world. The ancient Sumerians understood that the seven mobile stars endowed the earth with the gift that we can find only when we go into the earth: the seven principal metals. The ancient Sumerians recognised in the sun, moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn mighty divine beings who worked together as a mighty force. Mercury was gifted by the planet Mercury. The god of the ancient Sumerians connected with communication was Nabu, god of scribes and writing. Writing was seen as a quicksilver process because it enlivens the experience of the reader of that which had been written. We can thus see that the god connected with communication remained connected with quicksilver even as the various cultures changed the name of the god. Mercury is the Roman god derived from the Greek god Hermes who carried a rod bearing a double-headed snake entwined around the rod. This picture of the rod derives from a Sumerian god who was the rod with the double-headed snake. Hermes thus carries another god with him providing the communication he carried with wisdom and creative forces from the rod he bore. Of the seven metals, gold, silver, tin, lead, copper, iron and mercury, only mercury is fluid as room temperature. It is the only metal that appears as liquid at room temperature (25°C). Gallium, Caesium, Francium and Rubidium are metals that become liquid at near room temperature, respectively becoming liquid at 29.76°C, 28°C, 27°C and 39°C. But these are not recognised as part of the seven metals gifted by the mobile stars. Mercury becomes liquid at -39°C. It is a very viscous fluid but has a great ease of flow. The ancient Sumerians recognised a connection between mercury and the human lungs, the ease of flow in the lungs. The sun was connected with heart formation, Jupiter with liver formation and Venus with kidney formation and copper.
Fluidity brings us to feeling which resides in the central area of the body. We feel more alive when we take in a deep breath, and we are able to release something with a sharp out-breath.
What is the Christ in the healing process of fluidity and water? In the mercury healing process Christ gives us hope. Hope overcomes the fear that we may have about moving into our future. A paraphrased quote: “we must be careful that we are not frozen out of fear of the future but rather open to moving into our vision of the future”. Without the presence of Christ our feelings can freeze – part of the fight, flight, freeze, flock mechanism of fear. Christ enables us to remain fluid in our feelings providing hope which allow us to move into the future. Salt in Christ provided surety of faith in our thinking so that we can be embodied as human being. Mercury is the flow that allows us to move with hope in the life of a Christ-formed soul.
Mercury is the fluid feeling in thought. We have to think about the vision of the future. We must use our thinking to create the image of the future. Then we can flow in our feelings towards this future. This is the great gift of the mercury healing process that also speaks to the quality of the bearing of life.
Water, as a substance is connected with this. We speak of the two substances, bread and wine, on the altar. We have taken grain and grape and turned grain into bread and turned grape into wine. In both cases the process has been one of crushing to release what is held in the grain and the grape. We also have water on the altar. We bring the three processes of the salt healing process in the bread, the mercury healing process in the fluidity of the water and sulphur process of healing in the wine. We have all three healing processes coming together on the altar. The bread that is held up is broken (fractio panis in Latin) and a tenth is added to the chalice, bring all three healing processes together in the chalice. This enlivens the three processes to form a unity. The chalice thus bears the wine blended with water and infused with the salt bearing process of the bread. This is an alchemical process that brings the full strengthening of the healing that the sacrament brings.
The mercury process is the healing that hope brings in the human being. Hope springs eternal in the heart of the human being. We always go to bed in the hope of rising. If we do not rise to life on earth, the hope is that we rise to life in the spirit.
The healing processes that we are considering have been identified because they each encapsulate some of the characteristics that we see in the substances from which they derive their name. But these healing processes are not about the ingestion of these substances, they are much more pertinent and relevant in their connection to the elements, as described above, and to the soul processes.
We find references to sulphur in the Odyssey when Odysseus wishes to clear the house to which he returns after ten years of wandering, he asks for sulphur to be burned. Sulphur is connected with the gods in the Greek tradition, which the Greeks in turn inherited from older cultures. We find that substances that contain sulphur and are then further enriched in sulphur are given the name ‘thio’, which refers to God. This connection with the gods concerns the process of purification. We may consider that the presence of sulphur in Hades or Hell is connected with a purification that occurs to those who find themselves there. There is also a link between sulphur in the Underworld to the sulphurous processes in volcanoes.
The sulphurous healing process was always seen as a burning process, reducing to ash, taking something away so that something new becomes possible.
Salt is connected with thinking, mercury with feeling and, therefore, sulphur with willing. The ash we use in the Sacrament of Baptism is connected with renewal. The water is placed as a triangle on the forehead of the child signifying that this fluid process has to do with feeling in thinking. The salt is inscribed as a square on the chin connecting with structure and form signifying thinking in will activity. Ash is inscribed as a cross on the breast bone (heart) signifying the renewed forces of will in the sulphur process that is about will in feeling. The most important feeling is the one that connects us. This connection is with ourselves, with others, with the world and with the Divine.
Christ in the healing processes brings faith in the salt process, hope in the mercury process and love with the burning sulphur process. These healing processes no longer operate without the renewing presence of Christ. The great act of love is the great Deed of Christ in the Mystery of Golgotha. It is love that conquers death. Love makes resurrection forces possible. In the sulphur process there is renewal and regeneration. Something new can arise out of something that has been completely annihilated, completely ended.
The three healing processes are also connected with Epiphany in the three substances that the Magi bring as gifts to the wise child that they recognise as the reincarnation of Zarathustra. They bring gifts that represent thinking, feeling and willing. The gold that is so often fashioned into a crown to hold the thinking space. This is thinking that is formed, and pure, and shining, and bright, and bands (holds) us. The frankincense, a resin, which can be burned bring a fluidity and flow. Myrrh, also a resin, used in the processes of embalming, assisting in the process of transformation of a life that undergoes death to a renewal of a new birth and new life in the spirit. The three gifts carry the same essence that we find in the salt for our thinking, mercury for our feeling and sulphur for our willing. We see relationships that are very specific to these healing processes.
Paracelsus very carefully selected these names for the healing processes where he recognised the healing in the processes that build up, and the processes that break down, and the processes that permit flow. We recognise them as the processes in our body we refer to as anabolic processes – processes that build up, catabolic processes – processes that break down, and metabolic processes – processes that allow something to be balanced and allow substances to move from one reality or space to another. We therefore already have an understanding of these processes. Thinking helps to build up our sense of the world, our relationships that form and create concepts that we can hold onto for crystal clarity. This is the formation of something that builds up: the processes that build up our thinking are the same as the processes that build up our body: anabolic processes. The feeling of finding our way, a reflection on our feelings – we often draw our feeling into our thinking (“Take this into your thinking” from the Act of Consecration of Man), what resonates in our feeling we take into our thinking to understand it so that we can work with it. Rudolf Steiner says that feelings are personal, they have nothing to do with the world, but how we think about them, taking the percept of feeling and combining it with a concept in thinking has something to offer the world. Feelings require a relationship through thinking to be of value and to not become harmful and corrosive when we react through feeling. This relates to the mercury healing process. When we take our feelings into our will, imbuing our feeling with action that through love can build something constructive in the world, that is the burning process of sulphur. We can also see that the balance of thinking through our feelings and taking this thinking though feeling into action is important, the three processes working in harmony.
The sulphur process is a process in Christ because in Christ we receive the gift of love that overcomes hatred.
There are three dark forces: doubt for which we need to develop faith; fear for which we need to develop hope, so that we can move again; and hatred for which we need to develop love. A renewed security in love comes from the connections we build through the burning away of what was (and is not of value) through the sulphur process. The salt and mercury foundation allow the sulphur process to come into its own.
In Advent we wait to face a future of the Son of Man, that Being which provides us with the forces to build our thinking, that Being which provides us with the capacity to move in our feeling, and makes it possible to will our actions out of love. The sulphur process though the advent of Christ is the possibility to love. In this world it is easy to hate, because it is easy to see the separation and to ‘other’ other people, seeing them as different and through this difference as being ‘less than’, and, hence, worthy of hatred. Community is the place where companionship can take place. This is an important aspect of the sulphur process with the advent of Christ as a healing process that it allows us to build a new capacity as stated in Luke 21. The new capacity is the capacity for love. Love is the one true thing that can overcome everything. Love is the force that moves the universe. We have known it since Dante described Paradise when he realises that everything in the universe that moves, that flows, that connects, that renews is as a consequence of love. It is love, he says, that is at the heart of everything in the Cosmos. This is the advent of Christ.
by Rev. Michaël Merle
On the first day of the year 2023, some in our community gathered after community tea-time that follows The Act of Consecration of Man to consider the year ahead in terms of the theme: “What must die and What may not die? How to create space for the new”. Having considered the habits, attitudes, actions and interactions that were considered harmful, hurtful and unhelpful on the previous evening, old year’s night, the new year’s day gathering concentrated on what must not die: that which must make our year ever more alive, prosperous (as in, able to thrive), blessed and happy.
What emerged from the conversation are examples of that which if undertaken with consciousness expresses our ongoing striving to realise our full humanity. The importance of courage was a dimension brought up early in the conversation. How do we act out of true courage, overcoming the fear that would hinder our progress? How do we work in such a way that we recognise that which calls us to stand for the truth and take appropriate action? This dimension of courage corresponds with the notion of the courage of our convictions. It speaks to the essential element of faith – not as the idea of unfounded or unproven belief but rather as that which we know to be true, a knowledge and understanding based on a way of seeing and relating that opens up the reality of the spiritual world for us.
Another key component of the discussion was on the importance of true and effective communication in real conversations. The group explored how to use new media without it creating an illusion of conversation that removes the in-person dynamic engagement at the heart of truly human communication. How do we ensure that we are present fully and consciously in our conversation with others? The two dimensions of a good conversation were carefully considered: speaking and listening!
Other themes that emerged were the essential need to consider our relationship to our environment and our responsibility to care for the environment, the importance of prayer as a regular feature in the ordering and structure of our lives, and the regard we should give to pacing ourselves and not succumbing to the false notions of rushing ahead without taking the time to pay attention to the world and the people around us.
It is in the spirit of Christ as the creator-spirit of the Fatherly-ground of the world, who through choosing the earthly body in which we would dwell, saves us from the deceiving false light and from our senses unworthy cravings that we can take up our strivings in 2023. May the essence of what was discussed in our community on the first day of the year inspire us all to strive in Christ to become evermore fully human in this new year.
by Rev. Andreas van Breda
Autumn in Germany emerges gradually: the Sun rises that bit later every day, the air is fresh and somewhat cool and the leaves on the tree’s burst into bright colours of red, orange and gold, a last flourish before the winter comes.
In this festive mood two-thousand-three-hundred-and-fifty-six people descended upon the Logos Conference in Dortmund from thirty-eight countries, in celebration of The Christian Community’s Centenary and with a hopeful glance towards the future. Both young and old were to share five intense and joyful days together, having travelled from all corners of the world.
The Conference took place on the sprawling grounds of the George Waldorf School & Pedagogical Centre, surrounded by leafy woods. Several tents were erected to house the large gatherings and provide a place to meet and eat.
We were welcomed with festive cheer and heard an inspiring talk from a young Dutch priest, Mathijs van Alstein, who described how in 1922, the word found a completely new expression in the world. It was in this year that the BBC launched a news service and suddenly, through speaking into a microphone, people were reached in their homes and could listen to the news on a radio - a ground-breaking experience, no doubt.
Of course in the same year, a different Word began to speak and shine into the world also, in the form of the renewed Mass, the Act of Consecration of Man. For the first time, a very different language came into being, a new kind of religious activity, beginning a new relationship to the spiritual world in the founding of The Christian community.
Mathijs went on to describe two pillars of our Movement for Religious Renewal: on the one hand we may experience how essential is the need for form: The physical structures of the churches, the vestments and their changing colours in the festival year, the forms of the Sacraments themselves. And on the other hand, equally as essential is the continual need for movement: the conscious celebration of the festivals anew, the striving to develop new thoughts, new impulses, welcoming original ideas, and being authentic in our changing relating.
And with a view to the future, he warned against becoming a closed, isolationist community, but rather, like the Honey-Bee who, yes, is working in the hive for its health and vitality, but then goes out into the world, pollinating flowers and tree’s so that new life may emerge. With this inspiring picture, the Conference began.
By far the most difficult decision to make in these days was what not to participate in. There were more workshops and talks to choose from than was possible to attend, with a great variety of themes, one more interesting than the next. And each was rich and inspiring, filled with thought and conversation, working with a myriad of questions of our time, of the Human Being and of the Earth.
The ‘free-time’ between the organised events was filled with dancing circles, singing youth groups from different parts of the world and lots and lots of human encounters.
Everywhere people were in conversation; some for the first time, somehow having found one another in a crowd, and many warm reunions of old friends. The warmth and joy of these encounters were palpable and are surely the creative substance that can radiate into the many parts of the world where each person has now returned.
A further hallmark of the Conference was the celebrating of the Act of Consecration of Man each morning. Several altars were erected in different rooms on the School grounds to accommodate the large number of participants. Each day the Eucharist sounded from the altar, celebrated in nine different languages over these days. In addition four candidates who had been prepared to take up the task of priesthood, were Ordained, one on each day. Every Conference participant had an opportunity to take part in one of these Ordinations, which took place in the large School Hall. These events were filled with reverence, with joy and with great hope. Our founding began with Ordinations, perhaps marking the Centenary milestone with Ordinations was most fitting.
And as we said farewell at the closing ceremony on the last morning, with singing, a riveting mime act and parting words, each person began to think of the next part of their journey perhaps with new questions.
What will the next one-hundred years bring? How are we to be in the new world? What do I need to access it, and what is my contribution?
The Christian Community is indeed a being. A being which spans the continents of the world, which we may feel a part of. And a spiritual being, which takes great interest in our work as a congregation. In the cool autumn air in Dortmund, (but also experienced in all the congregations around the world), The Christian Community’s Centenary was worthily celebrated. A look back at our beginning, remembering the Founders who formed the vehicle for this being to draw near; a sense of where and who we are today and a hopeful glance into the future.
In directing our souls-eye with what radiates forth from our altars, then and now, we may in a true Michaelic sense, each individually feel the earnestness of our own responsibility in cultivating a relationship with the being of Christ, for the development of Man on the Earth and into the future.
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