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Christmas Companion for Wednesday, December 25th, 2013

“In the beginning was the Word,
and the Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came to be through him,
and without him nothing came to be.
What came to be through him was life,
and this life was the light of the human race;
the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness has not overcome it.”  – John 1. 1 – 5

Merry Christmas.  And thank you for accompanying me on this Advent Journey. I trust you have been blessed through my words and sharing.

I just returned from a walk at dusk. The woods were silent, muffled by the fresh snow. I looked westward and delighted in the subtle ruby-red fading through the forest. I gave thanks in my heart for what has been shared and discovered.

May our Advent preparations bear deep fruit through our silent listening during the next 13 days of Christmas. Let us see what emerges at Epiphany, January 6th.

Only Love, In Christ,

Peter Traben Haas

© 2013 ContemplativeChristians.com. All Rights Reserved.

Daily Advent Companion for Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24th, 2013

“When King David was settled in his palace,
and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
he said to Nathan the prophet,
“Here I am living in a house of cedar,
while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
“Go, do whatever you have in mind,
for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
“Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD:
Should you build me a house to dwell in?”   – 2 Samuel 7. 1 – 5

Christ’s infancy does not console the Empire or its Regents. The Big God taking a little life is a curious narrative for America and the powers that be on planet earth. We don’t like loosing, much less anything having to do with humility or decrease. And so it’s a curious thing that our culture stops for a moment to celebrate something it really doesn’t put into practice. Nevertheless, tonight we follow for the stars and remember:

Mary’s powerless made full through consent.

Joseph’s embarrassment made public through trust.

Shepherds simple joy made universal through song.

Wisemen’s seeking made evident through intuitive soaked knowledge.

Long ago, the Spirit breathed life into humankind, formed from the everlasting desire of the earth, rising up into consciousness.  And then it happened again in Mary, birthing forth the Christ, the union of human and with divine.

It’s not just about what happened that created the Being Jesus long ago, it is what happened so that it can continue to happen to and within you right now.  That is a reason to light your candles and celebrate.

Merry Christmas. Open the present that is truly transforming, hiding in plain sight all along: the invitation to deeper relationship and union with God. This is the Christ Way. Do you dare seek to follow? Perhaps the Way would disrupt your religious holiday a bit too much? It’s probably easier just to keep it in the past, and preserve the nativity like an annual museum, and sing the songs once a year as if it were just a children’s story.

But then again, wise ones still seek Wisdom, across deserts and darkness to find and cherish one crumb of Living Truth.

Keep going.

© 2013 ContemplativeChristians.com. All Rights Reserved.

Daily Advent Companion for Monday, December 23rd, 2013

“When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”  – Luke 1. 57 – 60

The Advent journey is soon approaching its destination. What began with announcement of two forthcoming births, John to Elizabeth and Jesus to Mary, now reaches its fulfillment. Here, two days prior to December 25th, the lectionary announces the birth of the one who would be called John the Baptist, forerunner to the Christ.

Theologically, John is the transitional figure linking the covenant of Abraham and the role of the Jewish Prophets with the new covenant through the Gospel and the role of Jesus as the Son of God.

Spiritually, John is demonstrating the fullness of the prophetic monotheistic revelation, and also pointing to its continued flowering. It’s fullness is about to burst forth in flower as the Rose of Sharon. John’s life and ministry is announcing that soon, the knowledge of God will be expanded, enriched, deepened beyond the dimensions of Law and Prophets and the Revelation of the I AM Creator Covenanting God. Soon the Revelation will expand into the Mystery of the Christ Event which is the spiritual evolution of our human capacity to understand and experience the Divine Nature of God as a Being in Relationship – the Triune God. The revelation of the Christ is the revelation of the Trinity.

John represents a graduation moment, symbolized by the severing of his head. The prior way is now superseded by something new. They’re not disconnected, as the analogy might suggest, but deeply interconnected, the later Jesus emerging forth from the former John.

It is important to feel into the developmental unfolding of divine revelation, and to recognize the larger scale of time involved. In the case of human development, 80 or so years leads us to the final transition in the form of death. In the case of spiritual development, millennia unfolded leading humankind to the transition from the Law giver God to the Christ Event.

The development has continued since then, leading us to this present moment and the unfolding, emerging work of the Spirit birthing deepened understanding of our participation in the story and the invitation for humankind to be transformed into love by the Holy Spirit through spiritual practices such as the Jesus Prayer or Centering Prayer.

Here are three biblical foundations that reveal a developmental understanding of the process of revelation moving from Creation to the manifestation of the Christ, to the consummation of the Spirit.

  • “Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”   – Genesis 2.7

The creation moment. The beginning of the human journey and conscious relationship with God.

  • “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Logos was with God in the beginning. Through the Logos all things were made; without the Logos  nothing was made that has been made…14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”  -  John 1.1 – 2, 14

The Christ Event. The inauguration of the divine journey uniting itself with the human journey.

  • “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tonguesas the Spirit enabled them.”  – Acts 2. 1 – 4

The Spirit Event. The unleashing of the possibility of our continued participation with the Divine nature transforming us into Spirit-temples and little Christs, where the union of the divine and human natures can continue by grace.

Combined these three passages are the DNA of what was undergirding the births of John and Jesus.

 

© 2013 ContemplativeChristians.com. All Rights Reserved.

Daily Advent Companion for Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”   – Matthew 1.22 – 23

I’ve been reading David Abram’s modern classic The Spell of the Sensuous this advent. It’s equally philosophical and poetic; a shearing of ice melt from an intellectual heart burning with passion for the gift of human embodiment and the biological miracle that is planet earth. Abram is helping enchant my mind again with hope for the future of our earth community and a widespread rediscovery of our interconnectedness as living beings in communion with all dimensions of the biosphere we find ourselves in.

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, I can feel the spell of the sensuous approaching through our liturgical celebration of the incarnation by means of a virgin mother.

Mary is the womb of the union of our human nature with the divine.

Earth is our mother too. Whereas mother earth is the union of the Logos divine nature with biological and ecological reality, mother Mary is the location where the union of the Logos divine nature creates and communes in love with a unique and particular human nature. The union that occurs is the What, the Christ. Jesus is the Who and the Where.

We don’t worship mother Earth or mother Mary. We reverence them. Why? Because while the rocks and trees, the soil and seas are not the sons and daughters of God, they are vibrating with the divine Logos and charged with grandeur at the depths of their particles. Indeed the All and Everything of the Universe and its embodiments in the form of planets and beings, known and unknown, are the mirror revealing the created vibrancy of divine love. Creation reflects the Creator.

The universe and our beloved planet and all celestial, terrestrial, subterranean or oceanic bios hosted here are Logos infused, sourced and sustained, but they are not the incarnation. They are the creation. The earth is not the son of God. It is the temple in which the son of God can come to be through one of its daughters, whom we reverence as Mother Mary.

The creation is filled with divine manifestations, but the creation is not the same intensity as the divine revelation that is the Christ, which is the  union of divine nature with a unique human nature in the being Jesus.

Without the miracle of the sensuous union of human and divine in a unique being, we would only know the romance and terror of Nature. We would know that the heavens and earth are indeed manifesting the glory of God. Perhaps even mirroring the message of the incarnation (the Sirius star of Bethlehem rising in the three kings of Orion’s belt on December 25th). But we would not know or have a means to become participants with that divine nature and be transformed into and by its warmth and glory.

With the miracle of the sensuous union of human and divine in the unique being Jesus, we have an evolutionary movement deeper, fuller and forward into the creative energy of love bearing the first-fruit pattern for a new, living and breathing species born from above into not just biological life, but also into what can best be described as harmonious-abundant-wisdom-life-now as co-heirs with Christ.

These are the final days of Advent. Sink deeply into the silent space and listen for the echo of the Christ-revelation in your life calling you into a deeper Yes; into a fuller surrender to be the continuing body of Christ and a participant in the ongoing incarnation.

Rest in the womb of divine love raising you up  again and again from your failures and frustrations to be crowned with the raiment of humility, reborn through the pain as a gentle child becoming love with a large family dedicated to the praise and adoration not only of the Living Master Jesus the Christ, but also to the journey of transformation he initiated when he queried: will you follow me?

© 2013 ContemplativeChristians.com. All Rights Reserved.

Daily Advent Companion for Saturday, December 21st, 2013

“Our soul waits for the Lord.”  – Psalms 33.20

Today is the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. For the Northern Hemisphere this is a time of diffuse light: background grey sky to the black bare forest, with hints of deep blue at the horizon, all offset by the winter white snow cover. And hues of dark green evergreen. The birch trees are of special meaning to me, as they in stands speak to my soul more than most trees. I remember their shimmering golden leaves surrendering to the wind  just two months ago; now they stand like huddled, clacking bones pointing straight to the sky. Wintertime can be so painfully beautiful.

My wife and I took a walk at dusk into the forest this evening. It’s a nearby nature preserve with a lake. Rolling hills nestle the waters, now frozen and covered as with a blanket of snow. The wind silenced all other sounds. Just the crunch of my boots breaking through the thin layer of ice crusted over the snow. I sank in gently, about two inches with each step. I wanted to light a fire in celebration of the Solstice, but I discovered that I had forgotten my lighter, my flame. So, a simple prayer would do. We stood in the field, looking south west unable to see the sunset through the heavy grey cloud cover. I put my hands to my heart, bowed to the Great Sun, and gave thanks for the circuit of life we had completed since last year’s Winter Solstice. For me, the Solstice marks my journey around the sun through the seasons, each so distinct, beautiful and fierce in their own way. My words gave way to the howling space.

Advent is a waiting season. Waiting for more of humankind to say Yes to their turning toward the Light of Christ; to the warmth of wisdom and the embodiment of the love of Jesus. I’m cautious about my feelings about our waiting, because in some sense God is implicated in the waiting. The longer we wait for the Kingdom of God to come on earth as it is in heaven, the longer suffering, sickness and unevolved human behavior seems to continue. Questions arise: Why not just speed things up God and be done with it? It would surely save a lot of trouble for all of us. And then I remember that there is a scale to everything. A day for me is a week for my cat. A day for me is a millisecond  for God, perhaps. A year for earth is a day for the Sun. A lifetime for a dog is a decade for a human. A lifetime for a human, 80 years or so, is 80 million years for a planet. Scale. It’s all around us and it helps clarify the relativity of time and bring into perspective an appropriate humility for our particular human life.

From our perspective, time is marked by the seasons. But Spirit moves through millennia of unknown vastness, time and beyond time. This gentle humbling is what I feel on the edge of winter staring at the horizon of grey turning deep blue through the birch stand. Silence absorbs me and with my ancient kindreds, I feel my breath turn to steam and watch the puff form in the air as I speak my songs to the Sun and Moon and Stars and Earth, and lift my prayers to the Mystery from which we all come. On the edge of darkness, not knowing if the Light will return, what else can I do but wait for the gift to be given, since I can’t make anything happen by myself.

And the Word crunches through the crusty layer of my being, pressing downward into the depths inches at a time. Somewhere underneath it all a seed takes root, waiting beneath the weight of time to be born again and again upward into the Light.

© 2013 ContemplativeChristians.com. All Rights Reserved.

Daily Advent Companion for Friday, December 20th, 2013

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his Kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.”  – Luke . 31 – 35

I’ll never forget the feeling of absolute awe the first time I saw a picture of our solar system nestled in our regional galaxy nestled within the expanding universe. I had the same sense of awe the first time I saw a timeline picture of life in the womb from conception to birth.

We are nesting beings in a nested universe: Consciousness is nested in matter. Cells are nested in organs. Organs are nested in bodies. Bodies are nested on planet earth. Planet earth is nested in the solar system. Our solar system is nested in the universe and our universe is nested in the love of God. We exist in a nested, developmental holiarchy – parts within whole; notes within a  symphony, all unfolding into the music of the spheres. Such concepts help us understand the developmental flow of revelation unfolding in the storyline of holy scripture.

The creation, the journey of Abraham and Sarah, the teachings of Moses, the prayers of David, the announcements of the prophets are all a nest for the emergence of the Christ. The Christmas story does not begin with Mary. It continues with Mary. It crescendos with Mary. As Mary is nested within the unfolding covenant love of God, so too Mary becomes the nest of the divine evolution of humankind. Mary plays a further nesting role for the continuation of the divine love. She embodies the nest, and then releases the grace to see where it might go. From womb to tomb, the Christ is nested until released back into divine love itself at the ascension, where it seems the cosmos resumes its nesting role again receiving Christ into itself until Christ is all in all.

Now, by the Spirit we too become continuing nests for the living Christ; temples of Spirit. Paradoxically, so too is Christ our nest. For we are now “in Christ,” in whom we live and move and have our being. Furthermore, at its best, the church and its Eucharist is meant to be the nest of our further spiritual unfolding. The Host is our nest of presence and in devotion and surrender we become the nest for the Host.

In the end, the cosmos, will be transformed by the Ascension event. Matter, through the event of the Eucharist, is a spiritualized nest holding us as we grow. Whether we realize it or not, at this moment we exist as nested beings. That we are nested is sheer grace; the grace of ultimate reality. The grace that something Is, versus that nothing is. We exist in the Creation, and the Creation holds us as we become more consciously aware of this beautiful interrelationship nested for the sole purpose that Christ might be the firstborn of a large, nested holy family.

All nests: cosmos, earth, womb, manger, cross, tomb, scripture, body, soul, bread and cup. On and on the mystery grows.

© 2013 ContemplativeChristians.com. All Rights Reserved.

Daily Advent Companion for Thursday, December 19th, 2013

“But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.”  – Luke 1.13

The second invitation to “fear  not” in the Christmas story again reminds us of the normal presence of fear in the human experience.

Yet, if there is to be any spiritual development among individuals and the human community, fear will have to be revealed as one of the primary blocks to any continued spiritual evolution. Fear, for all its positive roles in our biological development (such as pumping adrenaline into the neuromuscular system so to run away from an attacking lion), blocks the more advanced intuitive thought that is more expansive than the narrow constrained reactive thought when gripped by the rush of fear. That is one reason why practices such as Centering Prayer or meditation are so useful for nurturing our spiritual growth – they directly and slowly reduce the presence of fear in our system, opening us more to the presence of peace, a primary fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Developmentally, fear is associated with our earlier stages of human development, particularly childhood and adolescence. Yet fear still plays a powerful role in our world, especially around finances. When it comes to fear and finances, it is interesting to remember the story of New York City.  It was founded by the Dutch in 1624, who erected a statue of Saint Nicolas as the outpost’s patron saint. Since New York City has become in many ways the capital of the world, it is easy to see the far-reaching effect of capitalism and fear. If New York City is the economic capital of the world, it follows that the economic system running the world is called capital-ism. As the financial capital of the world, it’s not coincidental that New York City, begun as New Amsterdam, was founded under the patronage of Saint Nicolas. Over the centuries, this idealistic outpost has become the commercial capital of the world. So, in one sense, our culture is built around Saint Nicolas, forerunner to Santa Claus and all that is celebrated as our commercial-christmas.

This commercial-christmas season marks the end of the year. It’s the time of giving, but also the time of year-end bonuses. It is a strange dual impulse of getting and giving, but that presupposes profit, growth and actually having something to give. One might even conclude that the shopping season that is built around commercial-christmas is the primary profit engine of our consumer based economy. Would most companies be profitable without fourth quarter, consumer based spending? Probably not. There is a reason that the symbolic start of the commercial-christmas shopping season is called Black Friday. It ensures companies don’t end the year in the red, which is a blessing for all of us, especially for the most economically vulnerable of us: the minimum wage workers.

Nevertheless, my conclusion about American culture, guided by our capital city of commerce and its commercial-christmas, is that we are still very much an adolescent culture – driven by fears, desires and the hunger for ever novel entertainment. Just as human beings have stages of individual growth, so do cultures, and it seems to me we are just moving into our teens as a civilization. Obviously, not all of us are still adolescent. Nor is every dimension of our culture still adolescent. There are many positive qualities of adolescence, but it is not the ultimate expression of human possibility – just one early stage along the way to fuller maturity. The goal is to transcend the lover levels of human development and integrate that which was good within that level into the new, higher level of development. This is how it is supposed to work on an individual basis, and it is how it can work on a national basis too. But it takes time, and one wonders if we are running out of it?

Growth can’t happen when fear is blocking the way. This is where we begin to see that it is possible there are “powers that be” that seek to keep the culture awash in fear so to keep the economic system going undisturbed to their economic advantage. But such an impulse is driven by fears – the fear of losing, the fear of not having enough, the fear of someone else winning. Underneath greed there is often fear.

What would the world come to if instead of fear driving our needs to buy, get and have, keep, defend and protect, we actually lived by the values of the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5 – 7), giving away and sharing as others have need? Somehow, fear has turned the impulse of Christmas from one of giving to one of getting, and this impulse drives the engine of our adolescent culture. While capitalism may be the best way to spread wealth up and down the social ladder that we have discovered so far, that does not mean it is the fullness of our human potential or the zenith of our spiritual development. I suspect it’s really just a mid-point. Something else is being born through the breakdown of our culture under the untenable weight of everlasting economic growth and profit at the depletion of virtually every natural resource we can mine, grow, take, eat or manufacture into something to be bought and owned.

So, we should listen to the higher being angel as an elder to our adolescence: Do not fear, just pray. Begin with yourself. Let a twice a day meditative prayer practice soak up the conscious and unconscious fear in your system. The more of us in which this fear-soaking is occurring, the more the future development of humankind will come to be among us.

For an excellent and helpful article on the biology of fear, click here.

© 2013 ContemplativeChristians.com. All Rights Reserved.

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