Whoville

18 Jun

Kathryn Hauser’s Reflection for 3 Advent 11 Dec 2011

“Whoville”

The question “Who are you?” comes up twice in the gospel lesson for today.  (John 1:19, 22) The Pharisees in Jerusalem had sent a posse to John the Baptist to clarify who he was.  “WHO” is always the first question on the roster when we’re trying to get to know someone.  In the divine order of things, we have to get the “who” right, before we can deal with the “what.” All of us have been learning this lesson the hard way, as we each have wrestled with it individually and personally.  Then this lesson further branched out into church groups, then out to synods and denominations, and finally to non-denominational churches and the uncommitted.  We’ve all been trying to peg the “who,” both in understanding of God and the Churches trying to understand me and my calling.  I cannot confirm, but I suspect that I have not heard back from any publishers or literary agents (and I have three books of Reflections ready and waiting to be published, but am still relegated to more silence) probably because they, too, are each wrestling with my “who,” just as the Churches have been wrestling with it all along.  Thankfully I am not in control.  The Holy Spirit is.  “Whoville” is the turf of the Holy Spirit.  That’s character stuff. 

The backstory is that one year ago on 3 Advent [!], 12 December 2010, I wrote the Reflection called “More Than A Prophet.”  It created quite a stir among the Church.  I immediately attempted to reconcile, but was ignored.  The fallout led to God telling me to leave my home church. Revelation 3:16 was the impetus in God telling me to leave. 

Rev 3:16So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.

Over the course of the ensuing year, God led me into engagement with all the archetypal ‘Seven Churches’ from the Book of Revelation (although I did not know it at the time.  I was just following where God led in a series of spiritual loops of forgiveness, trusting Him, and obeying His leadership.)  Now it would appear that we are all coming full circle where God is giving us all an opportunity for the ‘Seven Churches’ to reconcile, not just with me but with God and each other.  The Alpha and Omega loop is still active.  The snag in the fabric of reconciliation, however, is still over this issue of the word “mystic.”  I believe the feelings stirred up around the word “mystic” still create one of the greatest of all universal institutional fears, and what unleashed each of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse on the timeline throughout the ages.  We don’t have to worry though, God’s in control.  Recently I was joking with my best friend when she brought up the Four Horsemen, and I said, “We don’t have to worry.  They’re already back in the barn and I gave ‘em carrots.  No worries.”  But, really, what drove them out of the barn in the first place after Christ opened the seals? (ref Rev 6)  I am convinced it is due to the baggage surrounding the word Mysticism.  Whenever humanity has gotten into the darkest spiritual spots, God has intervened with mystics to remind His people of Who He is and Whose we are.  Throughout history mystic hermits (also called anchorites) have served to stabilize societies at pivotal transition points in eras, as people got used to moving from one framework of perceiving the world to the new perspective. 

We first know about mystic hermits from the Old Testament Prophets. Elijah and Elisha were hermits.  So was John the Baptist.  Even Jesus led the hermitic life when He retired to the hills to pray.  Within His being He was a mystic.  I, myself, experienced a mystical marriage in Him.  Solitude is necessary “to be still and know God.” (Ps 46:10) We have to listen before taking action.  In our society today, the spirit of LOUD is on such a rampage, that solitude and sanctuary are exceptionally rare gifts, and I, personally, have yet to find either solitude or sanctuary.  God is not hard of hearing, we are.

The word “Mystic” has been consistently a flashpoint for us humans, instilling in us both wonder and terror.  Last week in my Reflection entitled “Holy Fire,” I quoted from the Kabbalah, which is a book on Jewish mysticism from the Middle Ages.  A caring friend voiced concern, because she understood it to be “cultish.”  The blessing for me was that since I was raised in the mainline churches, I wasn’t told the Kabbalah was cultish, so I didn’t approach it with a preconception.  Nor did I discern evil when I picked up the book.  My internal spiritual hard-wiring is over-the-top hypersensitive to the spiritual realm and these kinds of things.  That seems to be one of the job descriptions of a mystic, of which I am one, as was Jesus as well.  When the Kabbalah talked about multiplicity, I saw God in the multiplicity.  When it talked about polarities to find equanimity, I saw God in the description, because this, too, was my experience.  I didn’t see the Kabbalah as a source to replace the Bible.  For me, it merely validated what the Bible has already said using different language of the day.  I didn’t read the Kabbalah to replace the Source, but to augment my understanding of my own experience.  I looked up the word “cult” to try and understand how this fit into the general frame of thinking.

Cult

1. a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.

2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.

3. the object of such devotion.

4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.

Then I held up each point in the definition next to my internal sense of Kabbalah.  I knew I was not making a rite or ceremony out of my reading.  I was not venerating a person, ideal or thing; nor was I a groupie following other admirers doing the same.  I was not making the Kabbalah an idol of devotion.  I was not part of a group or sect that was bound together by venerating the Kabbalah (or anything else.)  From experience, I know that anything at all can be made into an idol.  Fear of making something into an idol can also be so strong, that the fear itself can become a type of idol.  I came up against this fear in 2009-10 with my Discernment Committee, which turned out to be a Grand Inquisition over my calling.  In the end my Committee agreed that I am called, but didn’t know what to call me.  The very first question on our very first meeting was, “What is mysticism?”  Everybody knew that I had had a mystical marriage in Christ.  That was Ground Zero.  Now we had to define the terms.  It would have been simple if we could have kept it in our heads, but our hearts got involved, just like with marriage.  I kept saying, “But this is the Year of the Lord’s Favor!” (Is 61:2) and the Committee couldn’t “hear” what I said.  The energy became so toxic that I had to leave in January 2011.  That was prophetic, because it really did end up fulfilling Rev 3:16.  The act of leaving ended up leading me to the other archetypal Churches from Revelation.  Now it is my prayer that ALL the Churches would reconcile.  That is my constant longing and prayer.

Since the purpose of these Reflections is not only reflecting all of our journeys together, but also God’s engagement of the journey with us, I ask you, Gentle Reader, to please pray for the leaders of the archetypal ‘Seven Churches’ and the reconciliation of the Church.  This last week I sent to three pastors a roster of contact information of twelve specific leaders I have attempted to engage within the ‘Seven Churches.’  In other words: There are Seven Church archetypes; within those ‘Seven Churches’ a dozen leaders have been personally engaged by me (or at least attempted to engage even if only via prayer after the initial temporal contact), and of those dozen leaders, three now have the opportunity to see their own gifts and use them in the process of reconciliation of all.  O that peace would begin with them and between them!  Just because I can “see” them as the “three wise men” doesn’t mean they can see themselves as the three wise men to lead us in the process of reconciliation.  So please pray with me for them.  They are the ones leading, but must be still to “hear” God first. 

In the storybook, Horton Hears a Who,[1] someone (a child if I remember correctly) finally “heard” Whoville’s cries and thereby validated Horton’s claim of having a relationship with this mysterious kingdom on a speck of dust.  Our society has been shouting like Whoville trying to break the sound barrier.  It is the world itself that is cranking up the noise volume as she screams: “God, do You hear me?!”  God answers back, “I’m not the One Who’s hard of hearing.”  The Church herself can disrupt the screaming match, instead of contributing to it, by being still and anchoring in God Himself.  She can also bring this quiet stillness into community.  However, the more the Church adds to the noise, the more her guilt amplifies from not doing what God has already asked her to do.  So please pray for a gentle spirit of forgiveness, wise action, courage to do it, and peaceful equanimity to fill and blanket everyone.  And please pray that someone will regularly fill me in on their progress.  Progress is a process.  (Remember Pilgrim’s Progress?[2])

Reconciliation begins with confession:

John 1:20 He [John the Baptist] confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”

1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”

The Church is a confessional body.  We humans must talk things out.  Confession often begins with admitting what we are not.  John the B knew who he was NOT.  That’s the first step in integration.  We have to sort through our “not’s” in order to get to our authentic Selves and who we ARE within our beings.  “No” is a holy word.  The Pharisees had sent a priestly posse from Jerusalem to ask John who he was.  John was clear.  He told them He was NOT the Messiah.  (That job description went to Jesus.  Christ delivered all of us from bondage.)  John told them he was NOT Elijah.  (Elijah gave us the picture of order out of chaos and hope out of despair, showing us in his very life and personhood what that life was like, and he gave us a future picture as well in his dramatic exit off the earth by chariots and horses of fire and he did not die. (2 Kings 2:11-12)  God can have such a dramatic flare!)  John told them he was NOT “the Prophet.”  Hold that thought…

Travel back in time with me.  I had already tried a year ago immediately following the rift caused by my Reflection “More Than A Prophet” to make amends, but I was ignored.  Now the spirit of fear had a year to brood, grow, and infect further among all the churches, and I was not the one carrying the fear virus, but instead met it everywhere I went.  (A rather tiring space for me to be in; always running into fear and apathy, when all I have been seeking is peace.)  In the meantime, I had to learn how to trust in the gifts of my own calling.  My prayer is that the Churches will all start trusting my gifts and my calling.  They’ve been afraid of its mystery and its mysticism.  The only way to break through the fear is to trust God, listen to Him, and know that God is in the process of restoring His Kingdom.  Restoration cannot happen without trust.  John the Baptist paved the way of trust by baptizing with water.

John 1:25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

Restoration is like the circumpunct (a circled dot.)  Now picture chariot spokes from the circle leading to the dot.  In my mind, the spokes are the restored ‘Seven Churches’ making one whole unified Church working together to the glory of God with their gifts augmenting each other.  So, with this understanding of restoration, return back to the thought I asked you to hold earlier when John told them he was NOT “the Prophet.”  …[Rhetorical question:] Why did the Pharisees’ envoy specifically include a third person in their list?  They must have had someone in mind.  They must have been expecting a third someone referred to only as “The Prophet,” who is different from the Messiah and Elijah and John the B.  In the sentence context, “you” refers to John the B.  Jesus is the Messiah.  Elijah revealed the picture of restoration.  Jesus also confirmed this:

Mt 17:11 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. 12 But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”

The only thing I can think of is that the mysterious “Prophet” in the listings from John 1:21 and John 1:25 must be referring to the person/mortal (ie, “son of man”) God has called to lead His people through that restoration process.  Now, I’m biased of course, because I take these things personally.  But all the same, the message is the same:

John 1:23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,'” as the prophet Isaiah said.

This is no different from what I have been crying since I was called on Epiphany 2008.  It is true: Christ IS coming back!  Make straight the way of the Lord!  The spokes have to be put back on the wheel so that all are pointing to, and focusing on, Christ the Point in the center of the circumpunct.  If “Whoville” is representative of the Church, then the Church has to get the Who right before we can deal with God’s what.  It is not ok for the Church to remain in the realm of pleading, “God’s Got To DO Something!” when she has already been given clear instruction on what to do.  On this issue, there is no mystery.  Taking action and the clergy getting together to talk as a team does not require great mystic feats.  However, it would seem that the Church is expecting this of me.  I still do not know if anyone is making efforts toward reconciliation.  I have heard nothing, as has been the case with the Church all along this journey.  Even if the Church did not want to deal with me directly, she could share with a liaison to fill me in on the progress of reconciliation.  This would be kind and loving.  This would break the dysfunctional silence where the Church is screaming in the silence on one hand, and the world is screaming in its loudness on the other in a yin/yang dance.  So in closing, I ask again Dear Reader, to please pray.  Since the Church doesn’t know what to call me, she can at least call me “Horton” who “hears” God’s Who.

 

3 Advent                                11 Dec 2011                                                 Gospel: John 1:6-8;19-28

Isaiah 61:1-4, 8-11
61:1 The spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;

61:2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;

61:3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion– to give them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, to display his glory.

61:4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined cities, the devastations of many generations.

61:8 For I the LORD love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

61:9 Their descendants shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge that they are a people whom the LORD has blessed.

61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my whole being shall exult in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

61:11 For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

Psalm 126
126:1 When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.

126:2 Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.”

126:3 The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced.

126:4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb.

126:5 May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy.

126:6 Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.

Luke 1:46b-55
1:46b “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

1:48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

1:49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

1:50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

1:51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

1:52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;

1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,

1:55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
5:16 Rejoice always,

5:17 pray without ceasing,

5:18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

5:19 Do not quench the Spirit.

5:20 Do not despise the words of prophets,

5:21 but test everything; hold fast to what is good;

5:22 abstain from every form of evil.

5:23 May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.

John 1:6-8, 19-28
1:6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.

1:7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.

1:8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light.

1:19 This is the testimony given by John when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”

1:20 He confessed and did not deny it, but confessed, “I am not the Messiah.”

1:21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the prophet?” He answered, “No.”

1:22 Then they said to him, “Who are you? Let us have an answer for those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”

1:23 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,'” as the prophet Isaiah said.

1:24 Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.

1:25 They asked him, “Why then are you baptizing if you are neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the prophet?”

1:26 John answered them, “I baptize with water. Among you stands one whom you do not know,

1:27 the one who is coming after me; I am not worthy to untie the thong of his sandal.”

1:28 This took place in Bethany across the Jordan where John was baptizing.

 

 


[1] Dr Seuss; Horton Hears a Who; Random House Books for Young Readers; (1954).

[2] John Bunyan; Pilgrim’s Progress; published in 1678.

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