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The Tribes of Israel Reconsidered, The new way into the New Jerusalem - the way of Dan
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)
This year we hope to uncover an understanding of the twelve ways in which we can enter the New Jerusalem.
The way of Dan
The name Dan means “to judge”. The process of discernment, of judgment is a key characteristic of the human being. Animals can through instinct evaluate a situation, but only the human being can weigh up all the known factors and attribute genuine feeling for what is and is not significant and arrive at an independent judgment. This insight into how to judge in such a way that objective justice is expressed out of subjective discernment is the path of Dan, the fifth son of Israel. Objective justice is at the heart of any civilisation.
The symbol used for Dan is most commonly the scales. This instrument connects Dan to the mighty spiritual reality at work in the constellation of Libra: the heavenly judgment of the Archai Michael. Dan is also at times depicted as a horned snake. This refers to Israel’s (Jacob’s) assessment of his fifth son. The serpent was seen as the most calculating and conscious of God’s creatures (and hence often the symbol of deception and trickery – as seen in the story in the Garden of Eden). A horned serpent is one that has visible the organs of perception (horns) to ensure that the calculations and discernments are fair, true, just and in line with the intentions and mission of the Spiritual World.
The theme of the Christian Eight-Fold Path was introduced on Easter Sunday in a talk that showed that the concept of a eight-fold path is aligned with scripture. The first step on the path, being Right Foundation was explained with Paul in his letter to the Corinthians stating that the one foundation is Jesus Christ. The other seven steps on this path: Right Judgement, Right Word, Right Deed, Right Standpoint, Right Striving, Right Mindfulness and Right Contemplation were opened up in sermons during the daily contemplations at the altar in the evenings.
The Gospel Study
Only one Thursday evening Gospel Study was held in April that continued to look at Right Effort (Right Striving) on the Eight-fold Christian Path that Luke sets out to establish as the purpose of his Gospel. Applying effort can be without purpose while having a purpose changes effort to striving. This step on the path in Luke’s Gospel concludes with Zacchaeus who has a striving to meet the Lord. We learn that when we actively strive, we are met with an outcome. Our striving on the Christian Eight-fold path is to recognise the Lord.
Denominations of Christianity
Rev. Michaël Merle presented two talks on the major and lesser or fringe demonisations of Christianity. Michaël presented the principles that each denomination holds to in their expression of Christianity. This provided a clear understanding of where the focus of each branch of Christianity is with respect to the Beings of the Trinity and how the thinking of the founders of each denomination led to the changes in focus and understanding. Many of the more fringe denominations had their founding with a individual who had a personal epiphany on which they based their theology. The talks are being written up and will become available in the next month as part of developing our own understanding of how we see ourselves as The Christian Community.
Rev. Oliver Steinrueck, Oberlenker and the link for our Region to the Circle of Seven leadership of The Christian Community, visited us from 14 to 21 April. During his visit the priests of the Southern African Region met with his in a synod. Oliver addressed the community on Sunday 16 April and shared something of the wider Christian Community moving into the next century of our mission. On Wednesday 19 April Oliver was able to meet with the Board of Trustees to gain a greater impression of the Johannesburg community.
List of articles
The Tribes of Israel Reconsidered, The new way into the New Jerusalem - the way of Judah
by Rev. Michaël Merle
The fourth son of Jacob (Israel) is Judah, whose name means the acknowledged leader. Judah’s name (Yehuda יהודה) includes the four letters (that make up the Tetragrammaton, YHWH יהוה) that are in the name of the mighty Divine being who leads the nation tribe (family and their descendants) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – the people of Israel. Although the fourth born son, Judah is the leader whose descendants would become the kings of Israel, beginning with King David. The way or path of Judah, is the path of leadership. This was recognised from the time of Judah and his brothers as a path of selflessness – which is a most vital ingredient in true leadership. We know from the genealogies in both Matthew and Luke that the boy Jesus is a descendant of the tribe of Judah. The symbol most commonly associated with Judah is the Lion. This references Judah as a leader and father to kings, as the lion is considered a king among the animals and represents strength and majesty. The association was made by Jacob in recognising these qualities in his fourth son. This symbolic association also links Judah to the spiritual powers and forces in the constellation of Leo. The ancient world appreciated the great power of this constellation. The way of Judah is for the Lion to lie down with the Lamb – the power of Leo to align with the power of Aries. In Jesus Christ the descendant of Judah lays down his life in the sacrificial act that John the Baptist recognises when proclaiming him as The Lamb of God.
Gospel Study - Gospel of Luke
reported by John-Peter Gernaat
The path of Right Living – the fifth path – can be viewed as being about the right way to constitute oneself. In reading the parable of the master and servants, one gains a very different perspective when one realises that these are not different people, but rather the various parts that constitute a human being. The master is the I-constitution. The servants are the parts that make up our soul. The parable is about the astral body being subservient to the I-constitution. Without the proper integration of the self we will feel ourselves to be torn apart, for example when we crave for something that we know in our conscience we should avoid and yet give in to the craving. The power of the incarnating I-constitution will result in people who are closely related coming to an inner moral position and no longer being able to agree with their siblings or parents. The incarnating I-constitution, which is the gift of Christ, will divide people until all of humanity can operate from the position of the Christ-in-me.
The next path is the path of Right Effort. This is most clearly explained in the parable of the Lost Son (the Prodigal Son). The son “comes to himself”. This is what each of us is expected to achieve in an earthly incarnation. There are many themes that can be read into this parable. The son asks for his portion of the substance that belongs to him. We hear in our Trinity Epistle that our substance is the Father God’s substance. The human being is gifted the substance of the Father God and we travel a far distance into another country of materialism. When the son returns to the father, the correct translation is that the father places the priestly stole upon his son. The “coming to himself” has changed his whole being. There is also the story of the twinning of Adam. There is an apocryphal story that when Adam was sent from the garden, his twin remained in the spiritual world and did not undergo earthly incarnations. This is the older son who expresses jealousy when the Father recognises to wonder of the return of the younger son. The preceding parables of the 1 lost sheep and the 1 lost coin presents the picture that there is no completion – 10 represents completion, as does 10 times 10 – until the one that is lost has been found. The human being is only complete when the part that undergoes earthly incarnations is again united with the part that remains in the spiritual world. Right effort is an inner process of coming to stand in one’s own understanding of what is right without requiring an external measure, such as the law.
Passiontide – and not Lent
a talk given on 12 March 2023 by Rev. Michaël Merle
Passion originally meant suffering, although now it is also associated with intense outbursts of strong emotion, ardent desire, and the arousal of great enthusiasm. The term was used for centuries to refer to the week of suffering prior to the glory of Easter Resurrection. What we now call Holy Week was then known, and may still be considered as, Passion Week.
The question may arise as to why we do not celebrate Lent, but rather focus on Passiontide? What is the difference? Why do we have four weeks of Passiontide and not simply one week (Holy Week) within the Lenten season? What is new in our approach that seems to extend this week-long intense time into a longer (four week) tide? In the traditional liturgical year of some Christian denominations, Passion Sunday is the fifth Sunday of Lent, marking the beginning of a two-week period called Passiontide (the week before Holy Week and Holy Week). In 1969, the Roman Catholic Church removed this two-week Passiontide from the liturgical year, but the day remains observed on the fifth Sunday of Lent in some Christian denominations such as the Anglican Communion and the Lutheran Church. This adds another dimension to our questions: If Passiontide was traditionally a two-week period within Lent, and continues to be so for some, then how did it become a four-week season in the renewed liturgical year within the Christian Community?
Lent (Latin: Quadragesima, 'Fortieth', English: Lent, shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning ‘spring season’) is a solemn religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar of traditional denominations that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks later, the night before Easter Sunday, or in other traditions on Maundy Thursday evening with the start of the three days: Easter Tridium. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter. The traditional 40 days of Lent are marked by fasting, both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance. The three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigour during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbours); these are known as the three pillars of Lent. Self-reflection, simplicity and sincerity (honesty) are emphasised during the Lenten season. In a renewed movement of Christianity, would such emphasis: the justice towards God, self and neighbour (in appropriate form) and a simple and sincere self-reflection not be a year-long reality? Lent is a response to the frivolity and excessiveness of an un-reflected life. The celebrations of Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, marked by using up the butter and sugar in the house in the making of pancakes and the carnival (literally “putting away meat”) and Mardi Gras (literally “Fat Tuesday”) festivities speak to an old licentious living. As such Lent was a stark reminder, as it echoed the forty day fast in the desert when Christ entered the human experience, that we have to let go of the old ways of unrestrained expression and enter into a new way of self-management. May it be that now weshould know this to be the case at all times? Emil Bock well explains the significance of Passiontide (which in its four-week structure reminds us of the preparation that Advent is for Christmas):
Our discipline of preparation is now focused in Passiontide in the sacramental words. The human ‘I’ which in Easter resurrected joy learns to stand upright and ready to receive the Spirit at Whitsun, now is spoken of as prostrate and lamenting. We prepare in a modern way for Easter in the four weeks of Passiontide which also takes us through an ever-deepening sense of our full preparation: physical, etheric, astral and ego. As Emil Bock describes:
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