For millions of people who self identify as Christians, Pentecost Sunday is here. I am compelled to write about what Pentecost means to me and the potential we have to find a deeper meaning that could offer us a breath of new life, and access to the full power of the Holy Spirit active in daily life.
After almost 30 years as a seeker of truth and a student of the Bible and Theology, I consciously choose to self identify as Christian. However, I have come to a new awareness of the power and potential I have to do good and to cause harm. Life is complex and we all have multiple identifies. we play multiple roles and we have allegiance at times to conflicting values and roles. I write mostly as a mother and a grandmother for I FEEL the weight of this burden we carry, the labor has been long and the pains increasingly difficult to bear. For brief moments, I have lost sight of the world that is being born within me and within us. There is new life pouring forth from deep within us in response to the deepest longing of our Souls for connection.
The news this morning, tells of riot gear clad police in Cleveland Ohio responding to protests over yet another acquittal of a police officer who has taken the life of in this instance, two unarmed people. The class divide in America is widening and the mean spiritedness around issues of race and police brutality is a real threat to our most basic ideal of democracy. Politicians on both sides are already posturing and framing issues in various ways to launch what they hope will be a successful run for the White House.
Not much if anything, of significant value has been accomplished by our elected officials resulting in a wider gap between the middle class and the affluent and an often invisible class of people who live near or beneath the poverty line is increasing. This group that includes the working poor cuts across race, culture, class and religious affiliation. Still, this morning churches across the nation and the world will engage in worship and praise to an all powerful, all wise God through the person of Jesus the Christ.
Is the Gospel of Jesus Christ no longer relevant? Has the life and teachings of Jesus been diminished and rendered impotent in the face of the challenges of modern life? Does Christianity as an organized institutional religion reflect, represent and embody the teachings and the love of Jesus? How is it that most Progressives remain largely silent in the face of right wing distortion of the message of Jesus and the manipulation of the masses through interpretations of scripture meant to be deceptive? Christianity, the bible and Jesus has been used to justify almost every evil the world has known. The dominant culture is fighting to hold onto unearned privilege and unbridled power. Morality is whatever serves the interest of those who seek to dominate and control.
And we Progressives also deal in moral relativism and far too often the good we do is based largely on self interest, ego needs and as a way of masking shame and guilt about a system that simply does not work for most people. Cowardice is an attribute that fairly represents the actions or inactions of both parties.
What is the "good news" of the Gospel that the minister will proclaim today from thousands of pulpits to congregants, many female, some elderly who continue to suffer under the oppressive regime here in our own country? One would think that the gross inequity of wealth experienced by many since 2008 would have created a greater awareness and a sensitivity to the plight of Immigrants who serve us as the new underclass and the millions of working poor who daily have to choose between food and medicine. Still the right wing, moral majority fight with all their might to repeal ObamaCare. Millions are appropriated for war, entitlements are given to big corporations and leniency extended to corporate criminals while the elderly and veterans live in the streets dehumanized and criminalized.
We must wake up and act with courage to admit that the teachings of Jesus cannot be reconciled with the story about Jesus. Pentecost Sunday offers us the vibrant, alive, relevant and transformative power of the Holy Spirit in service to every aspect of daily life. We have a crises of leadership and I write in hopes that someone who has been touched by the resurrected Christ and transformed by the good news of the Gospel will join with other voices to proclaim that we Christians have indeed "missed" Jesus and we have brought untold suffering to humankind through ignorance and learned powerlessness.
A world of peace, that is based on compassion and kindness can not become a reality until and unless we face head on the unavoidable fact that there is little good news to be found today in the Gospel, rather the core teachings of Christianity has become the main impediment to the establishment of Heaven on Earth or a world where peace abounds.
There is an urgent and persistent call to action to all who love Jesus to lead us out of this present darkness and despair into the light of understanding and greater self awareness. Our prayers to God cannot be answered because we who pray, are the very ones that have barred the door leading to the ageless wisdom and traditions that Jesus knew and taught and that form the foundation of all religions and faith traditions.
The history of organized religion in general and Christianity and the bible in particular have been used to control the masses. Today, if we are willing to know what we know and see what is right before our eyes it becomes clear that our Western Worldview and our perception has been shaped by the dogma and doctrine inherent in institutionalized Christianity whether we identify as Christians or not. There are few exceptions, those who live fully conscious.
Even a very brief study of the life and teachings of Jesus reveals a radical departure from his Jewish roots and the teachings he imparted while on earth. Most especially the teachings on forgiveness are still seen as radical to our 21st century mindset, can you imagine how radical it was to the world in which he lived and taught?
One simply cannot reconcile the god of judgement, wrath, vengeance, that takes land from one people to give to another group of people, with the loving presence within all of us that Jesus called the Father. Jesus' prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane St John 17:21 "Father May they be One" is the core and most fundamental truth of his entire life and his teachings. Jesus understood and was able to embody the truth that all humanity is One with the Creative Principle and Living Presence from which all life manifests, is sustained and evolves.
In direct opposition to the Oneness that Jesus taught and lived, the dogma and doctrine of Christianity creates an elite group of people who accept Jesus as Savior and are therefore assured of an eternity in Heaven. This elitism and ideology that infers status of "specialness" on one group over and above all other groups is irreconcilable with the core of Jesus life and teachings. It perpetuates the us vs them rationale and allows evil to persist under the guise of religion.
If we were to fully understand the impact of these false and erroneous teachings on our world,and act with courage, we could create a major shift in consciousness that would serve to Lift all of Humanity from ignorance, fear, despair and all thoughts of separation.
Someone has to have the courage and clarity to say that the self understanding of the Jewish people of themselves as the only chosen people of God has resulted in the long and painful history of their people. Someone has to have the audacity to ask "how is this working for us?" Blindly and unconsciously millions of Christians and non Christians support the occupation of Palestine and the millions of dollars the U.S. gives in support of Israel yearly.
Leaders are needed now more than ever who will speak the truth based upon a real and intimate relationship with the power and presence of God within them. Our lives must demonstrate that we have understood and follow the teachings of Christ as the "Way Shower". Christianity as we have known it MUST be transcended to include the age less wisdom that Jesus knew, embraced and taught. The way forward for our world is a Universal Spirituality that is alive, vibrant, transformative, inclusive and acted out in every aspect of daily living.
A most grave error in the theology of orthodoxy is the emphasis on some time and place in the future that salvation is promised. In Light of the evolved understanding of science, quantum physics and consciousness we can see how this is in opposition to life which can only be experienced in the here now. Eternity is now. Pentecost Sunday offers us a chance to be born anew and to see with new eyes and hear with new ears the Word from God to our generation. This new way of seeing and an expanded awareness would perhaps offer us insight to what the Bible is and what the Bible is not. Can it be possible that by taking the bible literally we have diminished the power of the hidden and the secret wisdom contained therein?
The acceptance of all scripture as the inerrant word of God is a gross error and one for which humanity has paid a heavy price. Our understanding and comprehension of the many scriptures contained with the bible is based on teachings and on our own level of conscious awareness. A focused and clear intention from a heart desire to know truth must precede the wisdom offered to us through scripture and other ancient texts. The bible is ink on a page until and unless we embody the meaning and live the truth of the scriptures thereby revealing the power and relevance for our time.
Because, Orthodox Christianity was formed without an appreciation or understanding of age less wisdom resulting in the exclusion of the deeper truths and inner processes of spiritual growth we have a faulty and incomplete worldview that simply lacks the power and the relevance for radical change in the direction of love, justice and compassion.
We are literally looking through a lens that is based on previous teachings, past experiences of those who have gone before us and our own cultural and racial bias.
We have outgrown such simplistic and idealistic world views and the challenge of our generation is to seek and find that which we call God in every aspect of life. We are in dire need of a new and revised map of reality. We are limited by our own beliefs and our perceptions about reality. Science, Quantum Physics, Anthropology, Biology, Economics and Psychology all offer us much as we do the tedious work of reweaving, re thinking and re forming the many streams of thought that have made our conscious evolution possible.
Jesus must be rescued from the Christian Story and God will never be boxed in by human thinking, human limitations and conditions. The good news is that in the realization that our essence is spirit and love we have infinite potential to influence the course of history for the good of all humanity. We are not powerless and we can consciously choose to act with courage and focused intention to re-think and re-imagine a universal spirituality that transcends all dogma and doctrine and one that is inclusive of the ageless wisdom and traditions that inform all religions and faith traditions. The "new" Christian will be representatives of all faiths and no particular faith and will be the embodiment of love, of truth, of spiritual wisdom. Salvation is universal and it is the will of God that we all live out from the awareness that we are all children of one God.
The world is in crises, it is a spiritual crises. The only viable and sustainable solution to the current challenges of our times rest with our ability to bring Spirit into the world of matter with consistency, with a focused intention for the highest good and with selfless service to all of humanity. The activity of the Christ Presence expressed as humanity is transformative and transcendent and shatters all barriers to increased self awareness and self responsibility. God in Action, as us, in us working in every aspect of society as our political leaders, our community leaders, our faith leaders will bring healing to our wounded souls and lift us up out of the despair and uncertainty of this present moment.
For, it is in daily acts that we are transformed by the power of the word that we embody. Living through daily action into the meaning and purpose of our lives results in a deeper understanding of the world and our role in the world. Love becomes possible, not as an emotion, but as a conscious choosing, moment to moment and as a disciplined "will" of a free and individuated Soul that is now served by the ego, fully surrendered to the will and way of Almighty God.
The way forward is to become fully human so that the divinity that is our essence may be revealed. To be fully human we must with courage and clarity face and expose the many lies that support the continued domination of the many by the few. Denial of and avoidance of what is our current situation perpetuates the dis ease that is like a virulent cancer eating away at the fragile threads of community. The way forward is through the dark night of the soul and our individual and collective wilderness experiences. The essence of Jesus teaching was love and forgiveness. Radical yes, a necessary process if we are to co create a world that works for everyone. Starting now, with each individual let us forgive everything and everyone. Let us forgive ourselves. The United States of America is experiencing a major crises and the only way through the chaos of the moment is to forgive. African Americans have a long, difficult and painful history as citizens of our beloved country. STILL, we must forgive. There is a greater purpose and we can only see and live out that purpose through total and complete acts of forgiveness of everyone and everything.
The cries of all civilization for harmony, for balance, for connection and for authentic self expression will only be heard by each of us and all of us individually and collectively. There is no god coming from above to rescue us from the hell we have made here on earth. We must answer the cries of the women, the children, the incarcerated, the hungry, the homeless, the mentally ill and the working poor and elderly. The Gospel is crystal clear about how we are to live out our Christian faith in the world.
The truth is that we are all brothers and sisters of one Creator. No one can love me who does not love themselves first. Herein lies the core of the problems we face and the opportunity for radical transformation. We suffer from alienation from the deepest parts of ourselves and this is in part due to our religious beliefs that separate the holy from the mundane the sacred from the secular.
All of nature reveals the beauty and magnificence of diversity. Diversity is the handprint of a Creator God. From a profound appreciation and honoring of the diversity of nature we can experience the profound unity that infuses all life and holds all of life in a beautiful OneSong. Unity does not mean uniformity or conformity. It is in our diversity that our greatest strength lies. Our human potential can and will only be realized to the extent that we humans learn to celebrate the diversity that we are. The Power of Pentecost Sunday can free us from our self imposed bondage and liberate us from narcissistic self absorption that keeps us focused on our personal salvation and where we will spend eternity to a an expanded awareness of the intricate inter connection of all life and our responsibility to go out into the whole world, sharing the Good News of Christ in us the hope of Glory. Colossians 1:26 May it be so, may it be so this day and always.