Reminder: No service this Sunday.
Regular service restarts Sun 27 September.
My last newsletter had a calendar embedded in it showing when services and prayer groups were on in the next few weeks. If your mail reader doesn’t like embedded HTML, it may not have shown up. You can view the calendar by going here.
Now, to this week’s readings…
The spirit of humanity is the candle of the Lord: and the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.
The readings this week clarify the spiritual sense of community that I feel “church” should mean. I don’t simply mean one parish community like St Uriel’s or a single denomination like the AJC – I mean the whole gathered community that the old Greek word “ekklesia” referred to.
Readings for the week
The wisdom teachings in the Christian and Gnostic traditions are quite explicit: each of us has the light of God within, though we may not see or admit it, we may be ignorant of the fact.
When we decide to remain in ignorance we are prone to acting in unskillful ways that create more delusion and ignorance for ourselves and others. On the other hand, when we seek out our true nature, the ever-present character of our one-ness with God, we become a light that “…lights the whole world”.
The teachings make it clear, and this is evident in direct experience for many of us, that when we start to experience the uncreated Light of the Divine and we allow that light to shine forth it’s a bit contagious. Others start to be inspired to seek out the light themselves – not necessarily by joining our community or even following a common tradition. In time, perhaps they begin to shine forth themselves.
The ekklesia, in my view, then is this whole, beautiful, noisy, ramshackle, global mob of people walking their own particular journey and refusing to hide the light they discover along the way.
I shall choose you, one out of a thousand, and two out of ten thousand, and they shall stand as a single one.
The history of Christianity is the history of its schisms. The first thing you get straight is who came up with which heresy and which ecumenical council ejected them from the body of the church like nasty virus. Perhaps that’s an inevitable result of getting organised.
The ekklesia in the sense I mean it is not an organisation. It has no Pope, no synod of Bishops and no creed. It is the untameable wildness of the Holy Spirit herself blowing where she will and the recognition in the eyes of each other of the uncreated Light within.
There are millions of us and we don’t dress the same, think the same, believe the same or talk the same language. But when we shine we shine together. When we meet, if we are open to it, we recognise each other, we see a fellow traveller on the path, a sister, a brother.
Love thy brother as thy soul, guard him as the apple of thine eye.
The demand of love, I feel, is to always stretch our boundaries – to learn to love more expansively. Love is destroyed as a revolutionary impulse when it’s restricted to those like ourselves.
To love your brothers and sisters then, is not to decide on a group who constitute your spiritual brothers and sisters and pour your love into that group – it’s to constantly open yourself to the possibility of encounter with each other person you meet. To gaze longingly into their eyes in search of the Beloved, to glimpse the Light, to recognise a sister or brother.
Let me leave that challenge with you this week – seek your light, let it shine, love your brothers and sisters. That, it seems to me, is a church worth building.
Yours in Love and Light,
The congregation at St Uriel’s meets every Sunday at 6pm at:
The Unitarian Centre
15 Francis St
Rector: Father Tim Mansfield
Apostolic Johannite Church