22 Oct 2017
What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

15 Oct 2017
This Too Shall Pass

8 Oct 2017
The Simple Truth: Head, Heart and Hands

1 Oct 2017
Humility – Staying close to the ground

2 Jul 2017
Welcoming the Silence

25 Jun 2017
Always Uniting…

18 Jun 2017
Are you ready for harvest?

11 Jun 2017
Don’t Blame it on the Snake

4 Jun 2017
Words Beyond Words: Breath Beyond Breath

28 May 2017
Seeing with new eyes

14 May 2017
Grace, Gracious and Graceful

30 Apr 2017
A Time for war and a time for peace

23 Apr 2017
Faithful Doubting

16 Apr 2017
God became human so that we could become divine!

12 Mar 2017
Wind of the Spirit

12 Feb 2017
From the Mountainside: The Impossible Dream?

22 Jan 2017
Grounding our Life and Faith

25 Dec 2016
That Humanity should become Divine

11 Dec 2016
Joy is for Everyone

4 Dec 2016
The Mingling of Water and Spirit

27 Nov 2016
Living Fully in the Present Moment

16 Oct 2016
Persistence and Justice

9 Oct 2016
Gratitude and Thankfulness

2 Oct 2016
Standing in the Tragic Gap

25 Sep 2016
Rich Man, Poor Man

4 Sep 2016
The Gift of Freedom

21 Aug 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

14 Aug 2016
We all need wise words to live by

31 Jul 2016
When Less is More

24 Jul 2016
Developing Healthy Relationships

17 Jul 2016
Died Wise

10 Jul 2016
Meeting Strangers on the Road

3 Jul 2016
On the Road Again

29 May 2016
Faith is the Answer

22 May 2016
The Way of Wisdom

15 May 2016
Icons and Stained Glass Windows – Inner light

8 May 2016
Unity and Oneness

1 May 2016
A Hidden Wholeness

24 Apr 2016
Lest we forget: What?

17 Apr 2016
God became human so that we could become divine!

3 Apr 2016
Thank God for St Thomas!

27 Mar 2016
Living life’s great contradictions

20 Mar 2016
Message of Peace

13 Mar 2016
Living Fully, Loving Wastefully

6 Mar 2016
Come Home, all is forgiven

28 Feb 2016
Simply, leave it alone

21 Feb 2016
Why do we “kill” our prophets?

7 Feb 2016
Keeping your Head in the Clouds

Sermons

Seeing with new eyes

28 May, 2017 Easter 7 By Rev Dr Christopher Page


"The Word of God became human so that we may learn from a man how all humanity may become God."
Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)

 

Introduction
It goes without saying that the human mind is quite remarkable. It is able to connect the past with the present and also with the future. But of course we can only do that in the mind. The past, for example, does not actually exist. It exists in the present in the mind as memory. The future certainly does not exist. It has not happened yet. But we still project many of our thoughts, dreams, aspirations, fears and wishes into the future. The future only exists through our imagination. In fact, we can imagine any future we like. But we know that it may or may not come about.

The only moment that exists in reality is the present moment…. Oops, what I said just became the past. Do you now have in your memory what I said 3 minutes ago? Well, perhaps if you were listening you may have. But I also know that if I was to ask you what I said 3 minutes ago you would give me different versions of what was said. There would probably be a common thread, but the nuances would be different. Most probably because of your experiences of life. What has happened to us in the past influences what we experience in the present.

I thought about this on the retreat I led two weeks ago. I pondered the idea that the only “real” thing we have totally in the present moment is our bodies. Our bodies can’t be in the past and they can’t be in the future, they can only be in the now – the present moment. Now the remarkable thing is that our bodies are the repository of all our memories, imaginations, sensations, feelings, thoughts and so much more. So much of modern thought, and particularly the field of mindfulness and psychology, emphasises that the way to a fulfilling life is to live in the present moment.

But that of course does not mean we forget our history, what we have experienced. Nor do we have no thought for tomorrow. It means we live in the now, formed and shaped by the past; and while in the present moment, consider what is of value for us in the future. I have a brief mantra that I use most days. Sometimes it works, other times it doesn’t. I say to myself, “I only have one thing to do today… and when I finish that, I will have only one thing to do today. And when I finish that….." and so on. I find it unshackles me from the tyranny of being overwhelmed with what must be done in the present.

Seeing the past with new eyes
The author of the gospel of Luke “remembered” the words from the Hebrew Scriptures and with new eyes saw many of the writings of Moses, the prophets and the psalms relating to Jesus of Nazareth as Israel’s Messiah:

Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, "It is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem."

I would suggest that there is almost a mystical quality in these words and something that is fundamental to Christian and religious faith. To open our minds is to see with new eyes. It is to re-evaluate our past experiences and ways of looking at the world. And even to reframe the past. The great shift that came in the first century with the followers of Jesus was to cast the Messiah as a suffering servant and not a military conqueror.

Sadly, it didn’t take long before the cross of Christ was leading the Roman armies into battle. But for a short time the eyes and minds of the followers of Jesus were open to the suffering servant of Isaiah - the prince of peace - as the one who would bring a new way toward peace.

Seeing the present with new eyes
If their eyes were to be opened and their minds reframed to see new possibilities for this world, then it must come from the power of the Spirit of hope, joy, love, faith and community.

And Jesus said, you have seen things that have changed you. But don’t just rush off in every direction. Stay and wait until you are wrapped in the power that comes only from God. Bow your heads and let me say a blessing for you before I leave.

One of my criticisms of the church today is that there is an unwillingness to wait; to reflect; to contemplate; to ponder. Dare I say to pray? An unwillingness to simply be. Does it really matter if we are led by the Spirit or is it better to just get things done? Can we sit in the present and begin to re-evaluate with new eyes and open minds where we have been and where we are going?

May I say something strong and from my heart? I think we are blinded in the western church and can’t see with new eyes because we are so frantic about survival and preserving the past and bringing it into the present. The past does not exist except in our memory.

Seeing the future with new eyes
There is an old Buddhist saying that goes something like this, “Don’t just do something, sit there.” The centre of the Christian faith, and I suspect any faith, is the heart. Yes, we need a good dose of mind, thought and reason. It was Theophan the Recluse, the 19th Century Russian monk, who said:

To pray is to descend with the mind into the heart, and there to stand before the face of the Lord, ever-present, all seeing, within you.

That really is a remarkable statement. It incorporates in a simple sentence the value of the mind and intellect and the centrality of the heart; and that it is within me; within you; within us that we meet the all-seeing One, Creator, Divine presence. To stay briefly with another mystic, the 13th century German monk Meister Eckhart: “The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

The eye that sees the future is only the eye of God. The rest is just planning and good luck. Those early disciples had no idea what the future held for them. Perhaps in the years ahead a few did. But only those who followed the pathway of the heart. But from Luke’s story we know that they saw that the way to the future was to live fully in the present.

While Jesus was still blessing them, he withdrew and was carried into the beyond. But his followers remained and they worshipped him, then went home to Jerusalem celebrating with joy and thankful to God.

They had new eyes to see and open minds to live in the moment and to be led into the future.

 

#################

 

From Meister Eckhart
A human being has so many skins inside, covering the depths of the heart. We know so many things, but we don't know ourselves! Why, thirty or forty skins or hides, as thick and hard as an ox's or bear's, cover the soul. Go into your own ground and learn to know yourself there.

Keep up to date with the latest Toorak Uniting news