Introduction to Year Three ~The Truth Is In Us as ‘The Seven Churches’

18 Jun

Introduction

It is appropriate that Reflections Book Three: The Truth Is In Us As ‘The Seven Churches’ starts off with the Reflection message for Ash Wednesday 2011.  I hadn’t planned that the first three Reflections volumes would start with Ash Wednesday.  As I reviewed all of my Reflections compiled together and tried to figure out where to break them into separate books, I tried very hard not to see the break at Ash Wednesday.  My own spirit of optimism still does not want to go looking for how we humans are nothing but dust and ashes, and to dust and ashes we will return; and remembering how the priest makes the sign of the cross on the individual’s forehead out of the ashes from the burned palm fronds made from the palms of Palm Sunday the year before.  But the unmistakable rhythm and cycle of the message of each book turned out to be the liturgical rhythm of the institutional Church without me doing anything.  In the end, instead of the sign of the cross being made over an individual, the Holy Spirit was making a spiritual sign of the cross over the Church as Institution.

The tone of Book Three is different than in Books One and Two.  Where in Book One the Reflections shared more in the line of inward metamorphosis, Book Two addressed the internal (and infernal) noise of the collective community in society called Church.  As the Holy Spirit is doing the leading and not my own willfulness, I can testify that the tone in Book Three is firm and directly addresses the archetypal Seven Churches from Revelation Chapters 2 and 3.  I had not started out with that intention, but was following God’s instructions to me when He called me with these two directives: to “Worship Him” and to “Share the Journey.”  It wasn’t until I started to look back over the compilation of all my Reflections that I “saw” how the Holy Spirit had been working in the divine Flow of the spiritual learning curve.  The rhythm unfolded the same as before with simplicity, confidence, trust, hope, joy.  These are the qualities and divine Flow of the Holy Spirit and She uses them to bear witness, as John calls the Spirit a witness in 1 John 5:6-9.  In the epistle of 1 John the Spirit is the witness to the Truth that Jesus is the Christ.  In these Reflections, or a type of epistle to the Church if you will, the Spirit is witness to the Truth of God’s passion to reconcile the Church to Himself.  The Spirit is in God’s living Word, which we experience in our bodies, with our minds, and in our spirits; everything that makes up our whole being.  The Holy Spirit does the soul surgery to make things right among the parts that make up our being:

Heb 4:12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

As week after week rolled on, I realized with clearer awe that God was holding the ‘Seven Churches’ accountable.  I was the mouthpiece to do it, much to my amazement (and objection.)  I am an introvert, and felt totally and completely not up to this task. (cf Isaiah 6:5)  When God the Burning Bush called me, I thought He had the wrong person.  But I couldn’t argue with the fact that God was my passion.  Prayer and writing are my passions.  So I kept praying and writing.  “Worship God; Share the Journey.”  Those had been God’s directives to me with my calling.  Since Reflections Book Four is still being written, because it is a journey, a living tapestry, and I daily ask God what He wants to say through the Reflections to the Church, I don’t know yet what the journey will reveal.  I suspect that the Holy Spirit will show us how to actually be an integral Church, since integration follows fracture, and certainly the Church-as-Institution has become terribly fractured.  It does take time to heal.  However, it does not take as long to heal when the group is healing together and not in segregation, isolationism, and Cover-Your-Assets-(CYA)-mode.  In addition to integration at the corporate level, it is also met at the individual level.  Therefore I suppose the fourth book would be along the lines of how the Truth is in us collectively.  I am also very cognizant of what John wrote at the end of the Gospel of John:

“Jesus also did many other things. What if every one of them were written down? I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.” (John 21: 25)

Every one of us is a masterpiece being written and interwoven into God’s tapestry of history as it unfolds.  We do not live as isolates to ourselves.  The Truth really is in us collectively, and not just individually.

I am also cognizant of what John wrote in Revelation 20:

 12 I saw the dead, great and small, standing in front of the throne. Books were opened. Then another book was opened. It was the Book of Life. The dead were judged by what they had done. The things they had done were written in the books.

Up until now the Church-as-Institution has been “the walking dead;” great and small standing in front of God’s throne.  The Church-as-Institution has already been judged by what she has done and left undone and it has all been written down somewhere.  It’s done.  Finis.  “He has done it!” as the psalmist says in Psalm 22:31.  Omega’s at the bottom of the loop and Alpha’s at the top.  New Life comes through forgiveness.  Christ already paid the price.  The Church has already been forgiven.  At this point she’s only judging herself.  If the self-flagellation continues, then I suppose we’ll need to ask the Buddhists to come over and teach us how to be kind to ourselves, which wouldn’t be a bad thing to learn anyway!  So come on over!  All religions, please come!!  We Christians aren’t the only ones who have a corner on being God’s children.  And, since I’m on the subject; on behalf of Christianity, I deeply and humbly ask your forgiveness for the way we Christians have treated you, each other, and God.  St Paul was a devout Jew who was converted to Christianity by a miraculous, blinding encounter with Christ (Acts 9).  I mean, really, what does one do when accosted by God’s love??  In the Book of Romans, Paul says,

“Since their [the Jews’] rejection meant the reconciliation of the world, do you know what their admission will mean?” Nothing less than resurrection from the dead!” (Rom 11:15 JB)

The same is true for the Christians.  Surly all of us are being “resurrected” from being spiritually “dead.”  Institutions are just structures, like scaffolding.  There are Jewish structures and Christian structures, Muslim and Buddhist structures; political and social structures, financial and educational structures, and so on…  By their intrinsic nature scaffolding cannot create life, breathe brand new life, or “be” the life.  They can only support life.  The people on the scaffolding can breathe life, but the structures cannot.  The structures can only self-perpetuate and stabilize the life they already have.  They can use fear tactics to regulate, dominate, and/or be a surrogate.  But institutions cannot be the “real deal” because they were never meant for that purpose.  They are structures only.  This is true of any institution, and not just the Church or the Jews, but any formalized religion or institution.  Therefore it is inevitable that any time anyone arrives on the scene with a love message, the ruling party of “They” want to kill the messenger, because love is a threat to their power.

Psalm 118:22 says: 

“It was the stone rejected by the builders that proved to be the cornerstone.”

The root word of “reject” means “to throw out; abandon, to leave in a troubled state; something thrown down as presented to the mind.”  Look at some examples: project, subject, interject, eject, conjecture, dejection, abject, object, objection, objectify, … All these words throw around some kind of judgment attachment.  Since New Life is a threat to any institution regardless of religion or creed, it is inevitable that the Good News would be rejected by the Institution, along with the one bearing the Good News.  The blessing is that it doesn’t matter because God knows His children from the inside out and loves us anyway.  It’s not about us rejecting Him or each other.  The message is that He has not rejected us!  Therefore, in the Spirit of reconciliation, I offer to you The Reflections, Book Three: The Truth Is In Us as the ‘Seven Churches’ (aka The Church as Institution).  Church, be reconciled and healed.  Accept the gift.  There is more loving work to be done.  Just because the Church as Institution has behaved as every other institution ever has, doesn’t mean we don’t reflect our inner Light.  Some people just don’t know the Source of the Light; even Christians.  Some people know the Source and others just feed off of it.  That’s ok for awhile as long as it’s not life-sucking and vampiric.  As a pastor said in a sermon, “We are not meant to be floodlights.  We are candlelight.  Candlelights glow and provide light to the room.  It is soft, gentle, and warm light.  Floodlights are bright, fierce, and intimidating.  Besides, when floodlights burn out, they must be thrown away.  They cannot share their light, their source, with one another and thereby propagate themselves.  We are like candlelight to the world.  How we reflect that and share it depends on our relationship with God.”  And in fact, Christ did say in Rev 1:20 that we are lampstands:

20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

We’re just reflecting; hence, the Reflections.  With this said, I share the journey with you.

Godspeed,

Kathryn Hauser

September 2011

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