There are two trees in paradise. The one produces beasts; the other produces man. Adam ate from the tree which produced beasts, and becoming a beast he begat beasts. God created man and man created god. So it is in the world. Men make gods and they worship their creations. It would be fitting for the gods to worship men.
– Gospel of Philip
The theme in this fourth week of Eastertide suggests that we focus on how we are assisted in our quest for liberation by the Divine.
At Sophia Café a few weeks ago we discussed the idea that Yeshua, the Hebrew name the we transliterate as “Jesus”, means “liberation”. The name is more commonly translated as “salvation” or perhaps “deliverance”, but in the 1st century Jewish context the ideas of deliverance or salvation would have been understood in the context of the plight of the people. Salvation from domination by the Romans, or before them the Hellenistic Empire. Deliverance from captivity in Babylon or Egypt.
Salvation – such a commonly used concept in Christianity, so common there is a whole area of theology called “soteriology” devoted to it – would have primarily meant “liberation” to both Yeshua and his disciples. Salvation has come to refer to something like “forgiveness from sin” to many traditional Christians. Given the doctrine of Original Sin and the huge role guilt seems to play in many people’s understanding, this meaning seems to be more about bondage than liberation.
This week’s reading from Philip gives us a way to understand something of what’s going on. To me, the reading implies that much of what we call religion, rather than genuine devotion to the transcendent, involves instead the worship of our own projections: feared images of a judgemental parent eager to be obeyed without question.
The Gnostic view of the Divine, by contrast, is of the radical face of Spirit both utterly ineffable and transcendent as well as utterly intimate and immanent – not separate, close as your own breath, the Unspeakable Name unspoken in Silence. The Divine waits, entices, demands that we turn from our egoic fantasies – the small view of the jailer on whom we blame our own cruelties. “Step into freedom”, comes the whisper. “Face your True Nature, stand up in truth, acknowledge your responsibility and embrace Me and your neighbour. One, one, one.”
The service this Sunday will be a “Sophianic Eucharist”. The service praises Sophia or Holy Wisdom as the immanent, feminine face of the Divine and celebrates the sacred marriage between the immanent and transcendent aspects of Spirit. The service features prayer and chant and the sharing of the Body and the Blood in the form of bread and wine.
Sophia Café – 7pm
Sophia Café follows the service – stay around for tea, snacks and conversation. Each week starts with a short talk by someone from the community followed by open discussion.
This week we will meet to choose our next study text. Come and browse the choices and express your opinion.