Joined: 17 Nov 2006
|Posted: Wed Feb 24, 2016 8:47 am Post subject: God has changed
|Once upon a long time ago there was a nation of people who lived in slavery. It was a time without hope and a time of suffering. And in their suffering the people remembered the tales and the legends of times when they were free.
Freedom to work for themselves, to travel where they wanted to go, to marry whom they liked, to read their own books, to talk about their own history, but it was all forbidden. They talked of the heroes of old, who had been, the legends who had once led them into days of greatness and days of glory.
After many years the legend was reborn. Out of nowhere came a leader, not a knight in shining armour but a man who had been told this was his destiny. He was reluctant and didn't believe he was the one, but he was. He was given the divine mark.
He had a gift of oratory and he had a divine mission. When he spoke he rekindled that dream of freedom. His words rallied the people. His words inspired them. He talked of a new age, that the old world would be born again. They only needed to act.
It said his message spread like wild wildfire and it spread from mouth to mouth,and from heart to heart, not just brain to brain but heart to heart. His message did inspire them. It united them as one people with a common aspiration and it gave them the strength to break out of that slavery.
He led them to back to their God, and God was the God of their reborn nation.
they did indeed have a new age and it was wonderful, and it should have lasted forever.
But it did not. I suppose the leaderís job was done. He was the man for the moment. Once he had carried them forward he had to leave them on their own.
Where once they were driven by this message that was in every heart, that united them, now things changed. New leaders came. There was a new organisation and there were new rules. Rules that had to be obeyed. It led to differences and disagreements, factions and fighting.
The fire that had been in their hearts slowly went out. They didn't yearn for the old days of slavery, but many did remember the hero who led them out of their slavery.
And difficult times came, time and time again
There were heroes of course, who came in age after age. They by their heroics did inspire. They became legends in their turn. They gave people pride in who they were and the nation they belonged to. But time after time their greatness, their belief in themselves collapsed.
In our Bible stories there were many of them. Moses of course who led the out of Egypt, then Samuel and then David and then Judas Maccebeus.
These were moments of glory amongst times of pain and sadness. Civil wars, battles between neighbouring nations, and then finally conquest by the superpowers, first Assyria, then Greece and then Rome.
In Israel the people became slaves in their own country, allowed to practice their religion but very much under the control of their conquerors and ruled by a puppet king.
And in the country there were many factions, Pharisees and Sadducees in opposition to one another, the scribes and lawyers, the Essenes and the Zealots and communities like Qumran
The sacred temple was full of rich Greeks who thought Judaism a fashionable religion to follow.
Now the Jewish religion had developed a strong mystical vein. They read the stories of Daniel and the writings of Ezekiel and saw them as coded messages or signs of a new age to come.
They wanted the mythical David to return, or Judas Maccabeus and they prayed for the archangel Michael to come too, leading a heavenly host with trumpets and swords. The legends would live again. They would fight as an army of Israel and an army of God. The message would run from heart to heart once more.
Instead it says, out of the desert came Jesus of Nazareth with a new vision. Not a vision of freedom from the Greeks and Romans but a vision of spiritual freedom. Freedom in your own soul. To live under a new law, the law of love your neighbour and love your God.
And our Bible said the message spread from heart to heart. It inspired the people everywhere, but not for long. He was not David and he was not the archangel Michael, so the crowds dispersed and he perished.
But in a long line of heroes he did became a hero. He was seen as a spiritual light in darkness, if only by a few. The message still went from heart to heart, but it was the message of the heart, of religious freedom, spiritual freedom. To be at one with your God.
And it caught fire not in Israel but in the Greek and Roman territories outside. And it spread through the whole world. God became the Christian God of all, God of the whole world
But just as with the hero of old, new leaders came and they came with rules and laws that were intended to keep the new religion safe and alive. It was a wonderful age to be inspired by that new religion. They built great cathedrals to the glory of God and the glory of the Mother of God and the glory of the son of God.
Even then it was beginning to fade.
It brought us into our own age. And we are back to factions and fighting. TS Eliot called the world as it is now The Wasteland. The religion that once sustained and inspired is no longer a great light, it no longer leaps from heart to heart with its message. There are other religions too with other Gods.
The light that was the Christian God of the world diminished.
Blame the world, blame the church, blame the teachings, blame ourselves. As the world expanded, new continents discovered, advances in science, medicine and education, the church clung to its rules and its doctrines, locked itself up in a mediaeval age.
The real world just carried on and went its own way. Instead of trying to understand this progress and explain it as the changing pathway to God, the traditional church tried to suppress all new thought.
And that is where we are today. Numbers falling in all churches, all denominations. My friend in Blackpool still yearns, as many still do, for a new hero, a new age. She talks of the Maitreya, the next Buddha appearing on earth to bring all nations to their senses and herald a lasting age of peace.
So we sit in the Wasteland with the flame of Christianity flickering only dimly, wondering where the message will come from that will leap from heart to heart and inspire a new age.
But yearning for what ? A new leader, a new prophet, a return to the days of cathedrals built to the glory of the Christian God, or are we on the verge of finding a new form of God, a new religion altogether?.
Ours is now a material, scientific world where the value of people is measured not so much by who they are but by what they can buy or consume. In age of individualism they become mere money tokens to profit a multinational economy.
And if people are yearning they are not yearning for this or for the Christian God of the world that came with the cathedrals.
The messages that run from heart are about spiritual things. How to be yourself and not just a counter; how to rediscover lost links to the mythology of long ago; how not to be in the rat race; how we are not lords of the earth but part of it. It is Gaia.
There is yearning for community, real community where people of all ages can meet.
There is a greater sense today that all religions are connected, not so much to each other but to some greater universal goodness, that the world itself is part of a whole cosmos, the whole universe, and there is a purpose in every movement of the stars.
There is no one prophet but there are prophets everywhere. The message that is forming is that the spiritual life is more important than the material life.
If we are on the cusp of anything it is the dawning of a new understanding of God. Not as God of a chosen nation, not as God the father of the whole world but beyond again, as God of the universe in which all things are contained, all religions, all nations, all peoples. And a universe of constant change.
And within it or perhaps all of it is God. God no longer outside but also within, within each one of us.
God is changing as God changed before. A new God from the ashes of the old, in each age.
A transformed God.
To whom should we pray? It is to this nameless formless God who is still the great spirit, who awakens in the heart that sense of holiness, that sacred silence into which, my book says, mere words turn back.
I believe there is still religion, but it is universal, when people share a belief, believe in the power of prayer, believe that worship is connecting with that holy presence that is within all things that change. We can find it within ourselves as a sense of peace and within each other as a fellowship of love.
This is the new God, for a change.