Monday, January 26, 2009

Human Being or Human Doing?

* Mark 1:14-20 - Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.” As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.”18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

The evening conversation around the dinner table that night began the same as every night. It had been along day—12 hours on the lake in the hot sun—arms aching and the stench of raw fish hanging in the air. Salome slapped the top of John’s hand as it reached into the hot skillet to sample the sizzling sardine steaks. “Stop that, Jonathon! How can a son be so incorrigible?” she scowled—releasing a smirk across her mouth. “Mother—it’s been a long day. I’m tired and hungry—please throw me a scrap from your delicious cuisine!” “Ack, Ack! Wash your hands young man. And then set the table.”

John kissed his mother on the forehead as he snatched a smoldering olive from the skillet. “Love you Mom!” And off to the cleaning basin he went. At about that time James came through the door with his wife Phoebe and little Joel in tow. “Grandma!” the boy toddler exclaimed running into Salome’s arms. “My little grandson—how big you are getting! Phoebe, what are you feeding this child?” “The same as you fed me, Momma—fish and bread.” James cut in. “What else is a fisherman’s family to eat?”
“James—such disrespect for your mother,” Phoebe replied with a condescending grin. “Don’t pay attention to him, Mother. I fix him the same—and there are no complaints. Are there my dear husband?” she flashed her eyes. “No my love,” James responded. Fish and bread are good for the likes of one so in love—with a fisherman’s wife like you.” “You see, Salome,” Phoebe smiled. “Your son has been made respectable!”

Salome and Phoebe laughed together. Nothing was so sweet as the combined collaboration of a mother and her daughter-in-law. In fact, no man could match the collective power of that kind of feminine energy. Salome and Phoebe continued the preparation of the evening meal as James began to set the table. “Father,” little Joel asked. “Yes, Son?” answered James as he pulled tin plates from the cupboard.” “Why do we eat fish all the time?”

Joel was turning 5 next week. Although his mother didn’t allow him to follow his father to work on the lake—he often listened to the stories of the fishermen, told by his uncle John, with awe and wonder. “Fishing is an honorable profession,” James said, lifting Joel upon his lap as he sat down at the crude wooden table. “My father was a fisherman, as well as my grandfather. And I suspect you will be one someday—just like me and your Uncle John and the rest of our family. And if that is so, then eating the fish that you catch yourself is an honor too. You see, we fishermen provide good things to eat for many, many people—especially to people that can’t always work for themselves. You’ll learn more about it when you start school at the synagogue next year. Now, go wash your hands—and find out where your Uncle John is.”
Joel jumped off James’s lap and scampered outside. Phoebe slipped her arms around James’s neck and kissed him on the head. “You are a good father, my husband—now time for you to wash those dirty fishermen’s hands.” “Yes, dear” and James followed his son outside.

“He looks tired,” Salome reflected. “Do you think something is wrong?” “I don’t know,” Phoebe answered. “He has been quiet today. Perhaps something is going on at the docks.” “What is this about the docks?” Startled by the booming voice Phoebe and Salome screamed as Zebedee entered the kitchen and slammed the door behind him. “Zebedee!” exclaimed Salome. “Where have you been? We’ve been waiting for your return and dinner is just coming to the table.”

“Speaking of the docks—just some trouble to contend with. I’ve been meeting with some of the other business owners after pulling in the nets for the night.” “What is the matter?” Salome questioned her husband. “Oh, nothing too alarming. It seems that some of the fleet have unexpectedly closed their fishing business. I’m not sure who it is yet, but we are looking into it. An announcement is coming tomorrow concerning reallocation of fishing quotas.” Salome grabbed her husband by the waist. “Why would anyone do such a thing? With the Romans exorcising more taxes on us, and businesses losing so many servants to military enlistment, you would imagine that anyone having a good paying job would stay with it.” “Not to worry, my wife. We will just have to increase our own efforts to make up the quotas. More fish for us to catch means more denari in our pockets. Our boys will be up to the challenge. Speaking of our boys, where is my little grandson?”

“Grandpapa!” shouted Joel as he ran into the kitchen followed by James and John. “Well! Here are my strapping sons to share my table.” “And me too!” Joel yelled. “And don’t forget your beautiful and kind daughter-in-law!” Phoebe laughed, pecking Zebedee on the cheek. “Now enough child’s play!” Salome exclaimed. “Everyone, sit down, sit down. Husband—bring us the blessing!”

After a second of scrambling for chairs, all were seated around the weathered wooden table. Zebedee grabbed the hands of his wife and grandson and bowed his head. “Sh'ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad. Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. Your gifts of plenty bring seasons of thankfulness. And may our thankfulness inspire new gifts to you. Amen.”

“Amen!” the family echoed—and dinner began as Salome passed the platter of freshly fried fish around the table. “Have you noticed a decrease in musht over the last few hauls recently?” James asked his father. “I heard it was from the unusual winds coming from the Galilee hills,” John interrupted. “They say the storms will be the worst ever this spring. Fish don’t like storms.”

“I think it’s the young fishermen that don’t like storms,” laughed James. “I’m not afraid” John quipped back. “How could anyone be afraid of a little wind and rain?” “Well, I don’t think it’s the wind or the storms,” James reflected. “It’s the Romans.” “James!” Phoebe whispered in a quiet shout. “You mustn’t speak so. There are spies everywhere. You know what happens to dissenters now that Caiphas and Pilate are bedfellows.” “I’m not afraid of the Romans! Or the pompous Pharisees,” John blurted. “How long will we let these foreign mongrels and their puppet priests dictate what we discuss or how we live?”

“Enough!” Zebedee exploded. “Not in my house. We will eat tonight without speaking of such things.” The room became silent with the exception of clinking spoons and knives on tin plates. Quietly a tiny voice pierced the silence. “What’s a mongrel?” asked Joel. John turned to his nephew and smiled. “A mongrel is just a fancy name for a dog, Joel.” “I like dogs!” Joel replied. “Dogs get to do anything they want. Sleep outside. Play in the street. Take baths in the lake. And I bet they don’t have to eat fish every night!”

The laughter exploded around the table. “Yes, my grandson.” Zebedee smiled. “The life of a dog can be very—care free!” Seconds passed without conversation. The night was closing in and a new day was just hours away. But James knew he needed to say something. The anxiety gripped his stomach as he struggled to form his words, when out of the blue John spoke up.

“Andrew and Simon left their nets today.” James looked at his brother and sighed. The easy part was over, but now came the tough conversation he and his brother discussed having with their father. “What do you mean they left their nets today?” Zebedee raised his eyebrow. “Father, they’ve left the business.” James answered. Salome gasped, “Andrew and Simon? But why? Where did they go? What will they do? What about their families? Does their father, Jonas know? Did you talk to them?”

“Woman, let them speak!” Zebedee shouted. “Tell me son. What happened?” “It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen,” James continued. “We were mending our nets after pulling in the last haul for the day and we saw Jesus approach them from the shore. “Jesus? You mean my sister, Mary’s son? Your cousin Jesus? He’s here from Nazareth?” Salome asked. “Yes, he’s here!” John replied. “We heard Jesus was with John the Baptist and his disciples in the wilderness. But today he was walking along the beach and came up to Andrew and Simon and…”What John? What happened?” Salome cried. “Jesus told Andrew and Simon to follow him. He said that he would make them fishers of people. He told them to leave their nets and help him build God’s kingdom.”
“But how?” Salome asked in shock. “How will they live? What about their families? They can’t just leave the family business? What is Jesus going to do with them?”

“Now, Salome!” Zebedee interrupted. “You can’t expect these boys to know everything that happened. I’m sure there is a logical explanation for the whole thing! Maybe Jesus just wanted a job. I’m sure they could use a few more hired hands on their boat, right sons?” he turned towards James and John. A long pause drifted across the room as Zebedee looked into his son’s eyes—and then down at the table. “He asked you too—didn’t he?” Zebedee looked up at James and John. “Yes, Father” James answered. “Jesus asked us to follow him too. And we are. We leave tomorrow for Capernaum.”
“You’re leaving tomorrow—for Capernaum? Did you know this Phoebe?” “Yes, Salome. I did know. We’ve discussed it, and Joel and I are going with James.” “I’m going to!” John added. “But how? How can you leave your father? How can you follow this man? How will you live? What will you do?”

Salome could take no more as she jumped from the table and fled into the bedroom. The table fell silent. After a moment Zebedee stood up from the table and walked behind his boys, laying his hands on each of their shoulder. “You are good men,” he began. “And times are very different now than when I was your age. Yahweh’s people have been enslaved by evil influences. Our religious and government leaders value power over peace and use our sacred texts as weapons against us. I didn’t bring you into this world to be oppressed by it. And I hope that this man, your cousin Jesus can liberate us from it.

James and John stood up from the table and embraced Zebedee. “We love you, Father” they said through tears. “You’ve taught us well—to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. And event thought we are no longer fishermen, we will continue to cast our nets for God’s kingdom.”

Let us pray. Lord, we sit here today, in this community of doctors and firefighters, caretakers of children and business executives, students and administrators, musicians and ministers, teachers and preachers—contemplating a gospel text that challenges us in our day jobs. Just like fishing was to the disciples—we work in our chosen professions and hear your call to become more. We hear your call to become disciples of Christ—to dive into mission and ministry to the world. Give us the fast reflexes of those first four disciples—Simon, Andrew, James and John. There’s a part of us that hesitates, afraid to get out of our boats; fearful of setting aside our roles and personas. We know that your call may come at any time to leave behind our comfort zones and respond to needs we never expected. But in that moment, give us the courage to make the immediate decision to follow Jesus—and become who you challenge us to be, setting aside the temptation to accumulate possessions, or accomplishments, or degrees, or labels that attempt to bring us a sense of worth or value. Instead, reveal to us the opportunities in our own lives that will engage us in a deeper journey with you. For we know that it isn’t what we do, that makes us your blessed children, but who you created us to be in each moment of our life. And all the people said, “Amen.”

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Voice in Your Head

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* Mark 1:4-11 - John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.

It had been along time since I had remembered it, but every once in a great while a certain forgotten memory comes crashing back into the present. The story is that, growing up, I had been given a nickname at my high school—which on the surface didn’t seem that awful! There was this group of guys that apparently thought I was an odd sort—and would make a habit of embarrassing me in class. One of the guys would yell under his breath “nice” and the other would echo “Brice.” Well, as you can suspect—being considered “Nice Brice” should have been a compliment. But only if you were my grandmother. But in the context of a “Christian” school and in the company of some very unchristian behavior—it singled me out as a teacher’s pet or goody two shoes if you will. “Nice Brice” was a name I was called that eventually created my reputation as being abnormal—when normal was considered rebellious and renegade.

I also had other names though—especially when my mother was angry and then it was my first and middle name said loudly and fast. You can imagine my fear when hearing those two put together...Brice Arnold!!!!!! When you hear your own name spoken, what thoughts and ideas does it conjure in your mind? No doubt there is some baggage from the past, maybe some ideas about your past self that you are trying to shed, as well as hopes for the future based on wants and desires. These thoughts are just ideas. However; you tend to personalize them and make them mean something about yourself and life.

When you hear the name “God” spoken, what thoughts and ideas does that conjure in your mind? On page 15 of his book, Eckhart Tolle says that God is unnamable. God is not an entity that exists in some particular place. Rather God is the underlying essence of all things. This essence is beyond language. Tolle points to the danger of getting stuck on any particular names for God. These ideas about God tend to be the same as the mental ideas of self you get stuck on. In other words, if you have an idea that God is a personal being, you tend to believe that your ego is personal. If the ego is personal, then when someone criticizes a role you play it feels like a thoroughly personal attack on who you are. So much suffering in the world comes as a result of guarding your “self” against outside attack. So many wars begin because religions guard their names for God against outside attack.

One of the Hebrew names for God is Y-H-V-H....four consonants that are impossible to pronounce together. In Hebrew, it comes from the root word “to be.” God was introduced to Moses in Exodus 3 as Y-H-V-H, often translated as “I am what I am and always will be.” Y-H-V-H seems to be a combination of the past, present and future tense of the verb “to be”. So it might be more accurate to think of Y-H-V-H as eternally in process or “never-ending becoming,” manifesting as infinite possibilities in every moment. It's tough to get your mind around that concept. Even the ancient Hebrews felt the need to make name for God pronounceable by integrating the vowels of Adonai...another name for God...with the 4 consonants...which is our word for Jehovah. The concept of something that is unnameable is difficult for cultures that are defined by its language.

The New Testament picks up the same notion of eternal becoming. In John’s gospel, Jesus is recorded as identifying himself with a series of “I am” statements. Each one says something about a temporary role. For example “I am the shepherd” indicated his role as a rabbi…a pastor and teacher. But then, at other times Jesus was an indignant activist, like when he cleared the temple of financiers. Jesus manifested in whatever role seemed most appropriate at the time…healer, provider, intercessor, and ultimately sacrifice or Savior. However the “I am” refers back to the unnamable essence of eternal becoming. “I am” is Jesus’ awareness of a consciousness beyond his roles and ideas. In this sense, Jesus realized his divinity because he experienced himself both in particular time bound roles, but also in his connection with the very flow and essence of life.

Do you remember the famous line from the cartoon character, Popeye? When people tried to pigeonhole the spinach munching marvel with insults, he replied nonchalantly, "No matter what ya calls me, I am what I am an' tha's ALL that I yam!"

I love reading the words of our gospel text—especially the message from God directly to Jesus. The Message translation of the Bible says is this way. “The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God's Spirit - it looked like a dove - descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: "This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life."

Wow! Can you imagine hearing those wonderful words? We all enjoy being bragged on once in a while. My mother is probably my biggest fan and supporter of everything I’ve done in life. In fact, sometimes she really embarrasses me when I introduce her to a group of my friends or people in my congregation. “That’s my son!” I’ve heard her exclaim. “I powdered his behind when he was just a baby!” That’s the comment that usually gets the loudest laugh and turns my face the reddest shade you’d think I was a Maine Lobster. Ah yes, mothers do that sometimes. But I think that’s all of our responsibility in this life. Don’t you? I mean how else are we to express our praise and pride for the people we love but by bragging on them just a bit? Those moments make me think of how I believe God thinks of us. God is like the parent or guardian who is essentially proud of us. The same God that called Jesus, “Beloved” also calls us “Beloved.”

How do you respond when people aren’t so loving…and call you names or criticize you? The next time someone accuses you of being na├»ve or irrational or whatever insult it is, try responding the same way Jesus did when he was asked if he was the Messiah…the new king of Israel at his trial. Simply respond, “So you say.” Or maybe try out the wonderful line, “Thanks for noticing.” Maybe you could just say this in your own mind, to remind yourself that no matter what anyone says you are more than your roles, you are more than your successes or mistakes, you are more than your personality. You are “I am."


Take your roles and personas seriously. They are important. That’s how you get things done. Practice noticing the various roles you take on in a day, and some roles that are put on you by other people. With this increased awareness, you will begin to hold them only loosely as changing functions, but not your essence. You are so much more than your roles and personality. It is a liberating experience when you begin to understand that you don’t live life…life lives you. There is much power when you stop taking your life so personally.

Anais Nin, a Cuban-French author who published her personal journals about her life experiences spanning 60 years said, “You don’t see things as they are. You see things as you are.” I suspect this holds true for your portrait of God also. Humans tend not to see God as God is. We tend to see God as we are. Now relate this notion to your portrait of others around you. Do you see them as their roles or personas, or do you occasionally glimpse beyond their outer shell to the beauty of their eternal becoming?

Rabbi Rami Shapiro offers a wonderful spiritual practice. He says that when Y-H-V-H is written vertically in Hebrew, it looks like a stick-figure drawing of a human being. Rami suggests that you “visualize the Name of God as the physical body of any person you meet: the Yod is the head, the Hey is the shoulders and arms, the Vav is the torso, and the final Hey is the pelvis and legs.”

You are engaging with none other Y-H-V-H in the flesh. Your partner, child, friend, colleague, enemy is eternally becoming just as you are eternally becoming. Appreciate the roles, just don’t get stuck on them as unchanging and personal. Remember, they are there not to reflect who you are…but to teach you who you are becoming. Amen! (Excerpts from Ian Lawton’s presentation, “Lesson Two: Where Do You See God” - www.christ-community.net ).

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Time to Wake UP!

* Read John 1:1-9 then watch this hilarious video!
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Let me tell you a familiar story...after all, it’s still Christmas.

One day in the past there was a baby that was given to unlikely and unsuspecting parents. Yet this unseemingly super-human being descended to earth from another place…some called it the heavens…by miraculous means. Upon arriving, he grew up as a precocious child with unusual gifts and was a source of consternation and anxiety for his human parents. He was intelligent beyond his years, and amazed everyone he encountered. Eventually, his legacy…or his mission to earth was revealed to him in the form of a luminous object, which he was apparently not able to utilize until he reaches the age of manhood - say about thirty years of age. To perform the rites of initiation, he had to enter a desert-ed place in order to ponder his role and his real identity. He subsequently launched his career as a hero to some, and an outlaw to others in a large, urban center. He became the defender of the weak, friend of the victimized and scourge of the self-righteous. His identity in the everyday world, however, had to be hidden, and so he is disguised as a mild-mannered everyday citizen.

You know the story right? Of course you do…we are talking about Superman. He came from Kryptonite and was delivered to a poor elderly couple. Once he entered adolescence it was apparent that he possessed some very unique gifts and they marveled at his abilities. He soon learned his mission to earth when he discovered an illuminating crystal that revealed his true identity. He then traveled to a desolate place in the North Pole where he was tested. Once he returned he moved to the big city disguised as a mild mannered reporter. He fights crime, is the defender of the weak, friend of the victimized and scourge of the self-righteous. He is hunted down, imprisoned in a prison of kryptonite, and left to die. Yet he defeated his arch enemies and rose again. Sound familiar?

In fact, the only difference between the mythic story of Superman and the story of Jesus is the presence of a love interest…Lois Lane. Well, at least we don’t know for sure if there was such a person known to Jesus. Interesting…huh? Why it’s the same idea at the base of the myth of the American west.
The good cowboy rides into a town beleaguered by villains, has a shoot-out with these perpetrators of evil, rescues those who are unable to rescue themselves, and then rides off into the sunset. The Lone Ranger was the original version of this myth. You television and movie buffs can probably name any number of replicas of this same plot line. And, of course, when the old West was no longer 'cool' as the setting for modern audiences, Captain Kirk and his crew came along to save, not just the world, but the whole darn universe.

And what is the common thread, the identical plot line running through all of these well-known myths? It is that of the extra-terrestrial, external redeemer who comes to us from somewhere else and does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is the same master idea behind John's prologue to his gospel and much of Christian theology: Jesus is the true teacher sent by God from heaven to a human world "below", whose mission is to go back to reclaim the glory that he had with God from the beginning, once he has accomplished his mission. He comes into the world as its light to rescue anyone who believes in him from being in the dark. The hero in this plot comes from beyond and belongs somewhere else. He is not one of us really. He is qualitatively different. Moreover, the way this plot-line works, humanity is basically flawed and cannot help itself.

The Jesus we find in the Gospel of John is not the Jesus we find in Matthew, Mark and Luke. John's Jesus does not speak in parables and witticisms to shock his listeners. He speaks in long, often boring monologues. This Jesus is not the one who seems to agonize over his mission, but the one who accepts it with seemingly super-human resolve. This Jesus is the one who always seems to be in control and to have advance knowledge of what lies ahead. When we read John, we are not reading a portrait of the historical Jesus so much as a church document designed to persuade and impress. It is theology, not history. A scholarly argument, not a documentary. John had one purpose in writing what he did and that was to convince people of who Jesus was. We also must remember that the people he was writing to tended to believe that saviours came from somewhere else and that they were different from everybody else. And that is, by and large, what we get in John: a hero who came from heaven. It is one of the founding myths upon which human civilization is built.

And it’s the same story that Christians have told the world. Why it’s become the greatest holiday in all of the world. Christians have said, for the most part, that Jesus came from somewhere else and belonged somewhere else and was able to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The question, not just for those who study the Bible, but for serious-thinking Christians is not just whether this was who Jesus really was but whether this superhero Jesus is the one we really need.

This basic plot line of the redeemer from beyond who comes to save us from without has led to tragic consequences for the human race. If we are basically powerless to overcome the forces of evil both within and without, then we will always need someone else to take responsibility for what happens. It is that same attitude that convinced Christian missionaries to compel other people to submit to baptism. After all, "we" came from a superior world and "we" knew what was best for them! It is that same attitude that leads to the kind of bankrupt religion, morality and politics we know all too well. The average person, you and I, are really just pawns in the cosmic drama being played out for us. We do not need to get involved, nor assume responsibility for our lives or for anything else because the powers above us are going to do it for us. It is the plot that makes for spectator religion and impotent Christians; people who become tranquilized by their faith for a God who will do it all for them. When we have become convinced that we have been absolved of all accountability for the way the world is and the way it could be, what is there left for us to do? Just hold tight and pray that we make it until the end?

It's just that the Jesus of history, as far as we can guess, seems to have seen God in a very different way. Not the experience of God breaking into life from the outside but the experience of God breaking out of life from the inside. The worst thing that happened to Jesus, even worst then his crucifixion was when Rome shifted from persecuting Christianity to institutionalizing it as the official state religion under Constantine in the fourth century. From that time, Roman Christianity (both the Catholic and Protestant branches) has always been the predominant form of Christianity, and it has often brutally suppressed any alternate understandings of Christianity, including Gnosticism.

Roman Christianity is based on the authority of creeds, the inerrancy of the Bible and a personal salvation system through the death of Jesus. The church holds the keys to absolute truth and carries God’s authority. However, this wasn’t the only form of Christianity current in the first centuries after the life of Jesus. The Gnostics believed that Jesus’ life and death was an allegory for universal consciousness. He represented what every person must go through, dying to self and rising to a new awareness in the here and now. The Greek word that is commonly translated as “resurrect” is just as accurately translated as “awaken”.

There is solid evidence that Gnostic Christianity was the original and most pure form of Christianity. Christianity began with little interest in dogmatic beliefs, and more interest in the experience of self awareness. Roman Christianity was a later shift into rigid beliefs systems. Jesus’ life and death was a model for universal awakening, and the primary interest of early Christianity was to share Christ Consciousness, for people to realize the kingdom within, and to create a new earth of awakened human beings.

As we begin this sermon series using the book, “A New Earth” to inform us, I acknowledge that some Christians feel a profound clash between the spirituality of Tolle and their religious heritage. Here is the liberating truth. You can unite the spirituality of Tolle with your Christian heritage. In the process you can rid yourself of many limiting, literal interpretations of the Bible, you can discover amazing inner awareness, and you can open yourself to the essence of Christ Consciousness. This series will offer a way for you to unite the message of A New Earth with the original message of Christianity.

Jesus acted as a mirror to his disciples. He modeled union with God. At one point, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” He did this to illustrate that people were locked in a number of ideas about his identity. Jesus was the persona they needed him to be; a mighty victor, a compassionate savior, a superhero. Then he brought the question closer to home, asking them, “Who do you say that I am?” Now he was urging them beyond personas and roles to engage in the moment with him. The answer came, “You are the Christ, the Son of God”.

Ask yourself the question, “Who are you?” You too have all sorts of roles and personas. They are valid and important. Embody them fully. However, remember that they are bound by time and space. Your true essence could never be captured by an occupation, a gender, a religion or a personality type. Your true essence is beyond words and description. You are nothing less than a Christ, a child of God, an expression of universal love in this moment. You are the Word of God made flesh. Within you is the light that shines in darkness. It’s time to wake up and learn how to shine that light brighter and brighter.

The following affirmations will guide our search together:

1. The nature of Nature is to transform
2. Crises precedes transformation and problems are evolutionary drivers
3. Nature creates new whole systems out of separate parts (Synergy)
4. Nature creates evolutionary jumps through greater synergy and cooperation
5. Evolutionary advances; democracy, science, technology
6. Awareness of our capacities for conscious evolution is the key revelation of the 21st Century
7. Metaphor of the butterfly metamorphosis – in the birthing process the imaginal cells holding the image of the butterfly to come are expelled by it’s the immune system. Ultimately these cells multiply and overtake the caterpillar. Humanity has killed off its imaginal cells (JFK, MLK, Gandhi, Jesus) but they are proliferating and will eventually overtake it.

(Excerpts from Barry J. Robinson’s sermon “A Jesus With a Different Plot” for January 5, 2003 – www.fernstone.org), Ian Lawton’s presentation, “Lesson One: Christianity and A New Earth” - www.christ-community.net, and Barbara Marx Hubbard's documentary, "Humanity Ascending" - www.humanityascending.com).