For while gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
your all-powerful Word leaped down from heaven,
from the royal throne, into the midst of a land that was doomed,
a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command.
Wisdom of Solomon 18 . 14, 15
Dear Brothers in Christ, O Sapientia, December 17, 2018
Greetings in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ :
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts;
let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly. Colossians 3 . 15, 16
In the annual celebration of the birth of the Son of the living God
in the weakness and temporality of our mortal flesh,
and throughout the season of his Nativity,
may the Lord our God increase in us both the knowledge of his great love
and of the riches revealed in the birth of his divine Son.
I extend to you the challenge the I have received from the study of the works of the great Rhineland Dominican mystic and preacher Meister Eckhart of Hocheim.
I rely here on his great cycle of 4 Christmas Sermons on the Ewigegeburt, the eternal birth, to be experienced in the silent depth of the awakened soul of the believer. These are to be found in Predigt 101 – 104 readily available in fine modern translations.
The Master challenges us to consider the great reality lying hidden beyond our Christmas celebrations, urges us to go beyond Matthew and Luke’s charming scenes and even John’s profound understanding in order that we might open our minds and hearts
to the concept of the eternal birth of the Son of God in three distinct way, God’s birth as Son, our own birth in the Godhead and our birth as sons and daughters of God.
The celebration of the Incarnation urges us to expand our limited concept of human birth, to open it outward in such a way as to permit God to open toward us as love. That is, I believe, to celebrate the concept of birth and thus of life itself as a divine gift. Eckhart created for us his own unique terminology for this process, the German word Durchbruch, that is, breakthrough. He urges us to re-think our restrictive interpretations of the temporality and individuality of our human nature by opening them out to God, by breaking through the protective definitions that we have received and externalized as barriers that prevent us from experiencing the outflow of divine grace which must return to its source, by living to the full the divine potential of the imago Dei gifted us in birth, living it from the bullitio, the bubbling of God that is the source of all that is, and his creative acts that bubble over, ebullitio, as creation. These two values, outflow and inflow or return form the natural dialectic between Divinity and creation, an interaction of heaven descending Grace and the upward return of faith and hope. Yet how often do we react with a certain rigidity, with a calculated resistance that forms an unfortunate barrier between us and God? A barrier that dulls our senses to His indwelling and transformative presence that is alone the source of the peace promised by the Christmas angels.
I issue to myself as a Christmas gift and I extend to you my brothers this very challenge, the graced opportunity to turn our lives around by becoming open to a breakthrough experience, by daring to release the grasping control of the ego and to undertake the Exodus journey of formation through the desert wastes of this world towards the promised land of the Father, the unfolding kingdom being revealed in our midst. I urge you to make this renewal of your ministry and indeed your whole life your gift to the Child resting in the lowly manger of the Bethlehem stable. If we are to effective leaders of the people, true shepherds of the divine flock, and spiritual masters drawing potential believers into relationship with our God, we too must accept the risk of faith by opening ourselves to the firey Spirit that in filling our hearts and minds will consume but will not destroy. Surely, said the prophet, Isaiah 12 . 2 “God is my salvation! I will trust and will not be afraid, for the LORD GOD is my strength and my might; He has become my salvation. Let us then with joy draw water from the wells of salvation and say in that day ‘ Sing praises to the LORD, for He has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in the midst of you is the Holy One of Israel.“‘
+++ Patriarch Coadjutor Dr. David Smith, DD,
on behalf of The Patriarch and The Holy Synod of The Anglocatholic Church