We all have a handful of stories about ourselves that put our lives in order. These stories include our family history, our national roots, our education and jobs, our significant relationships, positive experiences, and negative traumas. These elements strung together to make up most of our personal story. The narrative frames us; it gives us context, meaning, direction and purpose. The tale we tell answers questions: who are we? From where did we come? Where are we going? What are we doing here, and why?
Religion claims to help answer such questions and place our smaller personal stories into a larger cosmic narrative. The Christian story about God, life, death, humanity, our journey experiences has not been very compelling to the modern listener for a long time. But it can be, and at Saint Andrew’s, we try to tell it beautifully, so it really works. We call this the Essential Story; you are invited to listen in.
the short form
All things came from One Source. The Source is sometimes called God, Allah, the Void, or the Great Spirit – or other names.
God’s love, like wine filled to the brim of a glass, spilled out while the divine father and son were sipping, laughing, and whirling about in wild circle dance. That overflow of divine love was the beginning of the universe. From that overflow of joy came life, and that life has continued to explode outward and evolve from the beginning of time.
Spirits came into existence – those non-material beings which populate dimensions unseen by the physical senses. Material existence evolved from sub-atomic particles to quiet still minerals, then to plants that turned toward the sunlight. Life grew in complexity to animals that move freely and have the beginnings of an inner-life to humans’ ordinary self-consciousness. Finally, there were awakened humans who have God-consciousness. ALL of this infinity of life has its origin as an emanation of love from the one Source.
Implanted in each created thing (visible or invisible), God left a divine birthmark – God’s DNA is in everything, and all creation has some soul.
The whole Chain of Being is a beautiful divine parade of ‘Love in Form.’ Spiritual masters of all Traditions speak of this multi-dimensional, spiritual and material – reality. And they tell us of our potential: to know our divine spirit, to participate as grand human-divine beings in this short but beautiful sacred life. Each generation must remember their sacred origins as they walk this earth – each age makes its unique version of heaven on earth.
We have mostly been forgetful, ignorant, and blind to our spiritual center and identified ourselves only with our material side. We live in Flatland and have forgotten our spiritual DNA… we’ve lost sight of our divine birthmark. But as we recover, remember, and experience our depths – we become genuinely glorious dazzling creatures. This is excellent news – for the world is horrendously suffering as humans live in amnesia of their True Self. This is why we create a world of darkness, scarcity, and fear – destroying the planet and each other, creating hell on earth, not heaven.
It turns out that to be fully human requires effort. We are born with divine potential, but it must be developed and evolved. When the spiritual work progresses, we start to operate on a new awareness level; then, a fundamental paradigm shift can happen. The soul gradually turns to the Light; the sons and daughters of God are born into this world like a second birth. Whereas before, they lived more like animals with highly developed egos, and now they can life as divinehumans.
Our final destiny is to become consistently conscious of our essential spiritual nature, live now in union with God. Then as sure as water flows downhill, we will express the divine goodness and beauty in the world of form. We will build societies of justice for the poor, openness to the stranger, non-violence for all, and live sustainably with the planet.
But how do we get from who we are – to who we can be? Is there any person to help or a road map for indeed we are lost on our own? Many guides can take us there. But we have heard, in particular, the calling of Jesus to follow him to the kingdom of God. He is a revelation to the world of a person who is Spirit-filled and God-Conscious, the prototype, the pioneer, and the firstborn of the new world order. Someone had to be the first, but then others must follow, or nothing lasting happens.
Following his teachings, life, and on-going Presence to help – we too can become Spirit People – like him. The students will become like the teacher. In his day, the Roman occupiers and their aristocratic Jewish collaborators were not ready to hear such good news of a new kingdom. They predictably lashed out to defend their power and the status quo of the empire. Jesus faithfully continued to live, teach, and heal until he gave his life for God’s mission to recreate the world. He died to show us: what we could become, how to be transformed, and what the new world could be. He will always be beloved to us, for he has given us a chance at a new life.
Coming to know ourselves as Beings already rooted in union with God is what atonement is all about. Discovering the spiritual dimension is not easy, though. On this journey, we will know testing, failures, and challenges coming from many directions. The gravitational pull of the old world will come from within us, from the society around us, and from the spirit world ‘above’ us. Every great story has a hero who will take a chance on a journey of transformation, and in this story, after Jesus, you are that hero.
As you know, Jesus’ biological body came to an end – violently- executed as an insurrectionist against the Roman Empire. Our lives, too, will come to an end – one way or another, and somewhere along the hero’s journey.
But our Guide revealed to us that life is eternal – cannot end only be changed. Jesus passed through death into a new form of existence. Jesus shows the journey back to the Source and gives us wisdom about social justice in this life. When our bodies – take their last breath – we will follow Jesus to our next adventure.
Now be prepared and warned – even when humanity has come to a significant wholeness level: existence on this planet will not be a fanciful utopia. God-conscious people will still face the same gauntlet of living in a dynamic, active world, with mortal bodies that can be injured and breakdown. And un-transformed people will probably dominate our cultures for the foreseeable future.
Those challenges will not be wasted but used to intensify our spiritual awakening. We will be given endurance, courage, patience, joy, and yes, the peace that passes rational understanding.
In the long run, like mustard seed weeds taking over a field, peoples and nations as a whole will also find their way forward to a brighter future. A critical mass of transformed people will need to gather together and live from the inside out. This evolution may take a long time. Remember how dinosaurs ruled long after tiny mammals first appeared.
The Kingdom of God on earth may take a long time. After 2000 years, Christianity is only in its infancy – it’s barely started. That’s because Jesus’ message of transformation became lost and diluted. Among Jesus’ disciples – some did not understand it very well to begin with, and some quickly regressed once he had left. Over time the avalanche of culture overtook his radical vision of union with God now and the Kingdom of God on earth.
But the path and the vision are set before us. The world will be re-created, mirroring the likeness of God’s divine love. (Now, it reflects the likeness of our fearful egos.) The creation will be born again as soon as people are born again. It’s scary to imagine how important we are, but God will do this through us and not without us. ‘Christ within you is the hope of glory.’
Coming from God and ultimately returning to God is the Alpha and Omega of the created cosmos. It is our destiny as well. You are not only part of what God is doing in the universe but also essential and integral to its unfolding. I don’t know if this story is exactly right in every detail, but I believe a lot of it is true. You are invited to take the hero’s journey and give your all for the Kingdom of God on earth before you return to the Source.