All biblical references are taken from www.BibleGateway.com New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Every attempt has been made to ask for permission to post all material with copyright or provide a link to a website where a full version can be read. Most of the quotations below are not governed by copyright. If you notice any breach of copyright in the texts below please tell me and I will rectify the matter. Good reading!!
- I ASKED GOD.
- LETTER FROM CANON HENRY SCOTT HOLLAND (1847-1918) ON DEATH.
- BIBLE, 1. CORINTHIANS, 2, 9.
- BIBLE, 1, CORINTHIANS, 13, 4-7.
- BIBLE, MATTHEW, 28, 20.
- BIBLE, LUKE 11, 9-10.
- BIBLE, MATTHEW, 25, 40.
- BIBLE, MATTHEW, 11, 28-29.
- BIBLE, ROMANS, 12, 17-21.
- BIBLE, PHILIPPIANS, 4, 8.
- BIBLE, JOHN 14, 1-3.
- DEATH MARKS THE BEGINNING OF A GREAT ADVENTURE EXPERIENCING…. by John Polkinghorne, President of Queen’s College, Cambridge.
- OUR BIRTH IS BUT A SLEEP AND A FORGETTING; Wordsworth. Ode on Intimations of Immortality, from Recollections of Early Childhood.
- BIBLE. GALATIANS 6:7.
- REMEMBRANCE DAY PEACE SONG by Lindy Garbutt.
- A STRANGE DREAM – OR – A MESSAGE FROM HEAVEN? by Paul Gregory.
- UNTIL ONE HAS LOVED AN ANIMAL… Anatole France.
- TO KEEP THE BODY IN GOOD HEALTH. Buddha.
- DON’T BE RECKLESS WITH OTHER PEOPLE’S HEARTS. Mary Schmich.
- THE SUN SHINES AND WARMS AND LIGHTS US. Ralpho Waldo Emerson.
- CHRIST CHANGES EVERYTHING. Anon.
- THE GOSPEL OF MARY MAGDALENE translated by Leloup (2002).
- SUNDAY 10 FEBRUARY 2013. INTERCESSIONS. Sunday next before Lent by Pam Baxter. Taken from New Daylight http://www.biblereadingnotes.org.uk/new-daylight/, published by BRF, used by kind permission.
- SUNDAY 23 JUNE 2013. Prayers for Sunday led by Hilary Clegg.
- 11/11 REMEMBRANCE DAY POEM by Jan Walker.
- DON’T DENY ME by Helen Lowe reproduced here with kind permission.
- ME to ME by Helen Lowe reproduced here with kind permission.
- WHAT THE BIBLE REALLY SAYS by Paul Gregory.
- THE LORD’S PRAYER IN ARAMAIC by Neil Douglas-Klotz.
Go placidly amid the noise and haste and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexacious to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career. However humble: it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is: many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars: you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be and whatever your labours and aspirations; in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy. Author unknown.
I Asked God.
I asked God for strength that I might achieve, I was made weak to humbly obey, I asked for health, that I might do greater things, I was given infirmity that I might do better things, I asked for riches, that I might be happy, I was given poverty that I might be wise, I asked for power that I might have the praise of men, I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God, I asked for all things that I might enjoy life, I was given life, that I might enjoy all things, I got nothing that I asked for but everything I had hoped for. Almost despite myself, my unspoken prayers were answered. I am among all men most richly blessed. Author unknown.
Letter from Canon Henry Scott Holland (1847-1918) on death.
Click the link below to read this moving poem.
Bible, 1. Corinthians, 2, 9.
Heaven. “Eye hath not seen,nor ear heard neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.”
Bible, 1, Corinthians, 13, 4-7.
Love is patient; love is kind and envies no-one. Love is never boastful, nor conceited, nor rude; never selfish, not quick to take offence. Love keeps no score of wrongs; does not gloat over other men’s sins, but delights in the truth. There is nothing love cannot face; there is no limit to its faith and its endurance.
Bible, Matthew, 28, 20.
Jesus said “And be assured, I am with you always, to the end of time”.
Bible, Luke 11, 9-10.
Jesus said: “And so I tell you, ask and it will be given you, search and you will find, knock and the door will be opened to you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find and the door opened to the man who knocks”.
Bible, Matthew, 25, 40.
Jesus said: “I tell you this: anything you did for one of my brothers here, however humble, you did for me”.
Bible, Matthew, 11, 28-29.
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.
Bible, Romans, 12, 17-21.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but over-come evil with good.
Bible, Philippians, 4, 8.
“And now, my friends, all that is true, all that is noble, all that is just and pure, all that is lovable and gracious, whatever is excellent and admirable – fill all your thoughts with these things”.
Bible, John 14, 1-3.
Jesus said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am”.
Click below to see what Dr. John Polkinghorne is quoted as saying.
Wordsworth. Ode on Intimations of Immortality, from Recollections of Early Childhood. Click the link below and scroll down to line 59 to 63 to read this part of the poem. http://www.bartleby.com/101/536.html
In this life, we are not material beings on a spiritual journey, but we are spiritual beings on a material journey. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap.
Sung to the tune of Help by the Beatles. Sunday 8thNov 09. (First verse spoken). Peace! We all want peace Lord Peace! Not just short term peace Lord Peace! But forever peace Lord Peace! Each generation knows of fighting and of wars. This is not our wish Lord. Can’t believe it can be Yours. Help us to find a way for man to live in love. Show us how to co-exist with guidance from above. Chorus Peace would mean all faiths respecting others Black skin, white skin, Asians will be brothers. Wars will end the whole world will recover Won’t You please, please Bring peace? Every time a new war starts so many lives are lost But without Your Glory as You hung upon the cross. Must world affairs be sorted using bombs and guns? Why not long discussions till a victory is won? Peace would mean all faiths respecting others Black skin, white skin, Asians will be brothers Wars will end the whole world will recover. Won’t you please, please Bring peace, bring peace, bring pe-e-eace oooh
Since the deaths of my father-in-law, and a dear lady, a friend at St. Chad’s Church, I have wondered whether either of them might send a message indicating that they are alright, as I’ve read can happen with people bereaved. As time passed and nothing happened I began to give up; but when the dream occurred in the night of Tuesday 14 February 2006 it was half expected. It was a dream but very much revelatory; nothing like I have ever experienced before. It was stunning; earth-shattering in impact; not confused like dreams often can be. I was lying down in heaven surrounded by people eating. I thought at first they were eating me, but on reflection they could not have been as I was not being diminished or consumed. In the distance there was an extremely bright light, like the sun but it not only shone with light, but also love, happiness and comfort. I felt such extreme joy I could scarcely cope with it. There was laughter and gaiety, but when people spoke, I heard them in my mind. Then first the still image of my friend appeared then that of my father-in-law. I was told, that they were O.K. How is this possible; why is this possible, I queried. The answer came that it is one’s good deeds in life (doing something for other people) that are rewarded in heaven more than a thousand fold, whilst misdeeds and crimes in life have a double disadvantage. First of all they are a waste of precious time that could have been used for good in life and secondly, they are not rewarded again in heaven, as are good deeds. Both my friend and my father-in-law were now enjoying the fruits of what they had sown in life. They were now enjoying the treasures in heaven that they had amassed during in their lifetime, came the sure logical explanation. I was aware of souls floating in the dimming light, darkness and cold stretching out a long way behind me. These were not happy but reflecting on where they had placed themselves in relation to God in the after-life by their crimes and misdeeds in life. The worse the crimes and unrepentance, the further out in the pitch black they were. This was a hell of their own creation. Again this was a clear insight and felt immediately in mind. No one spoke. I was told to pass on messages to my father, mother and brother, (who do have religious beliefs but do not attend church regularly,) because each have done so much for others, through their teaching careers and for my mother, through her selfless devotion to raising her family, that none of them should worry about their place in heaven when their time comes. This was very strongly felt and so too was the responsibility for passing on these messages. At one point the people around me were pondering how to motivate young men to take a full part in life and my mother who was there surprisingly, created a surge of happy emotion and hilarity when she suggested they be encouraged to make babies. The pleasure felt through out the dream was so extreme it was bordering on pain and as I emerged into consciousness I found myself crying. My wife beside me in bed, shook me and asked if I was alright. My tears were of joy not anguish; it was an overwhelming joy that told of every little kindness we give to others, contributing and weighed in the balance, at the end of our lives. It was reminiscent of the story of the ‘widow’s mite’ in the bible. It was a very small amount and all that she could afford to give, but it counted even so. Life is a preparation for death and and after-life , I was left in no doubt. I could now readily recognise people around me and in the news who were wasting their lives on wholly selfish endeavours or worse, that generated nothing of value for eternity. I learned that it is not money or the acquisition of it that is wrong but what one does with it. The rich are in danger, as with wealth comes the responsibility to do something with it that is beneficial to others. I understood in an instant that the only treasures we take to heaven are our deeds and the character we have built for ourselves. At the end of my dream I knew I had been allowed a glimpse into the here-after and afforded a great privilege indeed. I am only an ordinary person, so why have I been so honoured? “Why? Because you looked, because you sought after this knowledge; because you inquired.” , came the answer. That was the reason. Continually I felt intense joy throughout the dream; so intense it was beyond comprehension. The Light of God was ever present bathing the joy with a warm love of protection and belonging. I now understood that the spread of the Gospel by the disciples and St. Paul in particular, was undertaken because of a huge irresistible urge they had to tell others, everyone, this wonderful truth that God exists; that life beyond death exists. The similarity to biblical stories is apparent and shows that such experiences are possible even now for ordinary people. A profound realisation has occurred to me; if God responded to my concerns with this dream visitation, then He did hear me. God does follow one’s every thought and knows one’s every need. In fact the two people outside my family, I have told about this dream, both described having similar experiences following bereavement. It was my mother who suggested I put this story in the parish magazine. It would be interesting to hear from anyone else who has a similar tale to tell. Recently I met an acquaintance, a Muslim women of Asian descent, and told her my story. She too replied that she had had two similar dreams following bereavement. This dream has been life-changing for me. It is a marvellous revelation; something I’ve sought for a long time. And now I am certain of the answer. I now understand my life better. Getting ill closed off one avenue through life and resulted in following another. It seems to be saying that whatever happens to you, good or ill, learn from the experiences because all of them can lead to opportunities to do good and build your own character. This new certainty allows one to wake each morning, fresh in the knowledge of God’s creative genius in designing the universe and one’s part in it. The more complete science becomes – the greater the wonder. It is true: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love, and be loved in return”. From the film Moulin Rouge. Paul Gregory. Email: firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in St. Chad’s Church Magazine June 2006
is a quotation by Anatole France. Click the link below to read it. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/4432-until-one-has-loved-an-animal-a-part-of-one-s
This is a Buddhist quotation and the full version can be found by clicking the link below http://thinkexist.com/quotation/to_keep_the_body_in_good_health_is_a_duty/147336.html
Don’t put up with …………………… This is a quotation by Mary Schmich. Click the link below to read it in full. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/158856-don-t-be-reckless-with-other-people-s-hearts-and-don-t-put
This is a quotation by Ralpho Waldo Emerson. Click the link to read it in full. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/472078-the-sun-shines-and-warms-and-lights-us-and-we
Christ, Christ changes everything, hands and faces, Earth and sky.
Christ, Christ changes everything, How we live and how we die.
Christ, our changeless Lord and King, Loving Saviour, friend and brother – Yes, Christ, Christ changes everything, how I tremble at his name, Nothing in the world will ever be the same.
Christ, Christ changes everything, days are richer, Words mean more;
Christ, Christ changes everything, all our Pain for us he bore.
Christ will turn your world around And that world will last for ever – Yes,
Christ, Christ changes everything, God’s great glory to proclaim.
Nothing in the world will ever be the same.
Sent into the world we go with his peace and in his name;
Share his love with everyone, for this reason Jesus came;
Called by God to worship him, in Christ’s name we serve and Follow – Yes Christ,
Christ changes everyone, live forever in his flame. Christ will never never let us be the
same. Christ will never never let us be the same. Anon.
A review by Paul Gregory of the book by Leloup, J.Y. (2002). The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. Inner Traditions. Rochester. Vermont. The reviewer’s additional notes are in italics. I, the reviewer of this book, have always wondered why Mary Magdalene’s Gospel was never included in the New Testament. So I decided to read the book by Leloup (2002) to see if I could discover any possible reasons. I thought that if reasons could be found, they would be very subtle and esoteric; but they were not. There are some obvious hypotheses for which evidence accrues as you progress through the book. Read on and discover them for yourself. The wisdom in Mary Magdalene’s Gospel is breath-taking in its insight. It is one of the most illuminating books I have ever read. However, first I searched the internet for some background information.
The early Christians quickly developed four criteria for accepting a book as Scripture. First, it must have been written by an apostle or based on his eyewitness testimony. Second, the book must possess merit and authority in its use. For instance, The First Gospel of the Infancy of Jesus Christ tells of a man who is changed into a mule by a bewitching spell but converted back to manhood when the infant Christ is put on his back for a ride (7:5-27). In the same book, the boy Jesus causes clay birds and animals to come to life (ch. 15), stretches a throne his father had made too small (ch. 16), and takes the lives of boys who oppose him (19.19-24). It was easy to dismiss such fiction. Third, a book must come to be accepted by the entire church, not just a single congregation or area. And fourthly, a book must be approved by the decision of the larger church, not just a few advocates. Here is how this process unfolded.
In the first century, a number of books were soon produced in response to the ministry of Jesus. Less reputable books began to appear as well. However, by the mid-second century only Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were accepted universally by the church.
The other “gospels” simply did not meet the four criteria for acceptance set out above. Note that this process was completed two centuries before Constantine. For example, in AD 115 Ignatius referred to the four gospels of our New Testament as “the gospel”; in AD 170, Tatian made a “harmony of the gospels” using only these four; around AD 180, Irenaeus referred to the four gospels as firmly established in the church. (Source: Missing Books of the Bible– where are they? by James Denison, Ph.D. , Senior Pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas, Texas, on the website: http://www.thetruthaboutdavinci.com/missing-books-of-the-bible.html )
In 325 A.D., the Roman Emperor Constantine 1st called a meeting of representatives from various local congregations in an attempt to attain consensus on a number of issues of the day. The resulting Council of Nicea and the Creed of Nicea set the precedent for a number of subsequent “ecumenical councils” or “synods” of “bishops” to create “doctrinal orthodoxy”. This represented a departure from the New Testament pattern of local congregational autonomy and was representative of the digression that would eventually result in the appointing of Boniface III as the first universal bishop (the “pope”) in 607 A.D. Early councils that addressed the canon of the New Testament included the Synod of Hippo in 393 A.D. and Councils of Carthage in 397 and 419. These councils simply recognized or acknowledged those books that had already obtained prominence from usage among the various early Christian communities. www.biblequestions.org/archives/BQAR500.htm .
FOREWORD (by Jacob Needleman, Dept. of Philosophy, San Francisco State University, USA.) The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was discovered in Cairo in 1896. In 1946 at Nag Hammadi, in Egypt the Gnostic Gospels were found – the most famous of which being The Gospel of Thomas.
PREFACE. David Tresemer, Ph.D., and Laura-Lea Cannon. Gnostic gospels are those rejected by the Roman Catholic Church. Knowledge of Mary Magdalene comes from the New Testament and the Gnostic Gospels. There is a profound spiritual truth embodied by Mary Magdalene and her unique relationship with Jesus that has been edited out for the last two thousand years. Pope Gregory in 591 CE (CE meaning Common Era is the same as AD Anno Domini) said that Mary Magdalene was the prostitute in Luke Chapter 7. The original Mary Magdalene scroll found in 1896 was in the Coptic language which had been translated from Greek. The Coptic version of Luke Chapter 7 uses the word ‘sinner’ (taken to mean ‘prostitute’) – and was translated from the Greek word ‘harmartolos’ which means ‘breaking Jewish law; not paying taxes’ but not prostitute. The Roman Catholic Church repeated Pope Gregory’s label admitting it to be an error.
INTRODUCTION. The Nag Hammadi Gospels were discovered at the place of that name in Upper Egypt in 1945 and were written by disciples of Jesus; namely Philip, Peter, Bartholomew and Thomas. Apostle John says that Mary Magdalene is the founder of Christianity. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is written in Sahidic Coptic. The 1896 version is a copy of a fragment in Greek from Oxyrhynchus . (The Oxyrhynchus Papyri are a very numerous group of manuscripts discovered by archaeologists including Bernard Pyne Grenfell and Arthur Surridge Hunt at an ancient rubbish dump near Oxyrhynchus in Egypt. See more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxyrhynchus_Papyri ) The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is a four fold image of man in the universe only now being fully understood. Mary Magdalene replaced Jesus and explained his words to the rest of the disciples. She had special revelations.
What follows are notes, I the reviewer, made whilst reading this book. Leloup, the author and translator says that Mary Magdalene was a sister to Martha and Lazarus. The Gospel of Philip says that Jesus loved Mary Magdalene and often kissed her on the lips. In Jewish tradition an unmarried man is incomplete, disobedient to God, not allowed to teach in the synagogue or become a priest. Jesus loved and welcomed women, sinners and the weak. All of these were rejected by the Essenes, Pharisees, Saducees and Jewish zealots of the time. So Jesus’s attitude to women was very unusual for the time. The Gospels of Mary, Philip and John show Jesus is capable of intimacy with a woman and therefore all humanity is redeemed including sexuality. The miracle of the wedding at Cana can be viewed as the transformation of mutual ignorance by the Word into a loving friendship that is sweeter and better tasting than the passion of infatuation. Women at the time were not allowed to read the Torah, the Jewish holy book; so a woman like Mary Magdalene speaking to the disciples after the resurrection would have really irritated them.
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene is witness to a mode of understanding often overlooked by the masculine mind; that is a prophetic or visionary knowledge involving the feminine principle known sometimes as the angelic or Eastern dimension of human knowledge. Between immaterial spirits and material bodies is the ‘imaginal’ or creative imagination through which one comes to the Divine; through which one can behold the resurrection.
Mary Magdalene takes her sensory perception of Jesus and through her ‘creative imagination’ imbues all this with a powerful presence which she can never lose. She creates the divine Beloved. (In the book ‘The Other World’ the author (Pauchard 1987) purports to send back messages from heaven after he has died, to his Christian spiritualist group and describes how people in heaven have to create their own environment in which to live, by using their imagination).
Mary Magdalene says that humans are responsible for the world as it is, because they have created it. We have to ‘imagine’ the world we want in order to create it.
The first six pages of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene manuscript were missing so the translation starts with p7. Summarizing some of the points, it describes Jesus talking to Mary: Jesus told Mary Magdalene that the treasure lies in the ‘nous’, the angel of the soul; the imaginal; the creative imagination. Mary Magdalene told the disciples that the soul on death ascends through many ‘climates’ approaching wisdom – but subject to many questions. Peter is reported as not willing to listen to a woman. Levi, another disciple rebukes Peter for this.
LELOUP’S COMMENTARY. P7 line 7 etc. Concerning these lines of The Gospel of Mary Magdalene saying ‘all that is composed will decompose …’., Leloup says ‘Here Jesus has something fundamental to say about the nature of the world. Humans need saving from their ignorance and their forgetfulness of God. Salvation is the knowledge of the truth that will free us. One truth is the impermanence of all things including the universe. These ideas are very resonant of contemporary thinking. The point Jesus is reported to be making is to expect change – don’t be overly attached to anything’.
(In a recent TV programme Professor Brian Cox said of the universe, that over the next trillion years all of the stars would burn out leaving a universe empty except for the radiation left by disintegrating atoms. When the Steady State Theory of the universe was propounded during the 1960s, astronomers would not have understood p7 line7 etc. but they would now).
In Mary Magdalene’s gospel Jesus says ‘matter returns to the origins of matter’. i.e. to God. He continues saying that people should be open and listening with a wakeful creative imagination – ready to understand.
In p7 line 13 Peter asks Jesus ‘What is the sin of the world?’ Jesus answers saying ‘there is no sin. It is you who make sin exist’. Therefore neither the body nor sexuality is sinful. It is a sickly imagination that creates sin. Sin comes from acting according to the habits of our corrupted nature. Also with no law there is no sin. Obviously some basic laws are required but once internalized by adults it is no longer a barrier to the inspirations of the Spirit. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans and The Gospel of Mary Magdalene both have similar themes concerning living to God’s law in freedom from cultural laws and traditions. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene says Jesus came to help us become free of ignorance and corruption. He tells us to be open; to let God enter. Humans feel a lack of Being. Filling this lack can cause sin. Mary Magdalene says that Jesus is the incarnation of Good (i.e. the triad of goodness, truth and beauty). Good is the gateway to Being. Being can only manifest itself in a heart, body and mind that are free of all presumption; open; and it re-unites the elements of your nature with its roots; the Source; God.
Further on p7 of the manuscript, Mary Magdalene’s Gospel reports Jesus saying that sickness, suffering and death are consequences of our acts. There is no evil in the world or in humanity. Evil or sin is in ourselves. Don’t blame others. (This relates to the psychology of locus of control. It suggests that if we believe that we have control over much of what happens to us, this is internal locus of control. However, if we believe much of what happens to us is beyond our control, this is an external locus of control. It is healthier to have mostly internal locus of control with some external). To avoid it (the sickness, suffering and death) we must transform ourselves; a personal responsibility (internal locus of control). (In The Gospel of Mary Magdalene are the seeds of modern astrophysics and psychology (in particular positive psychology, locus of control and CBT – cognitive behavioural therapy. The disappearance of this gospel may have delayed the development of human knowledge by nearly 2000 years).
The Gospel of Mary Magdalene reports Jesus as saying that man and woman complement each other and are one. So in sickness don’t blame anyone, not even yourself, but observe, be attentive; see what can be done to transform yourself. Look at what we do, in work, relationships and lifestyle that moves us away from Being. Regarding death The Gospel of Mary Magdalene says that which we call ‘death’ is the expression of a disordered intellect that identifies ‘self’ as a mortal body only and not spiritual. Ask yourself – do your thoughts and behaviour take you closer to Being or further away. Use your intelligence and imagination to find a path to Being; to God.
P8 line 1 says:‘Attachment to matter gives rise to passion against nature….’etc. Matter means people, wife, husband, country, ideologies, beliefs etc. Look on all these people, women, beautiful objects etc. with love but not attachment or desire to own, is to see them more clearly. Their gift then appears. Everything is given to us. We are created to be ‘with’ all not to ‘own’ all. We do not even possess our own bodies, thoughts or our own lives. Ownership is an illusion. Jesus said ‘Be in harmony with everyone and everything; not in a relationship of power and dependence; be in a loving relationship with what is. Be harmonized with yourself first’. (This could have been written yesterday). If you are out of balance; no inner peace; acknowledge this instead of indulging it. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene indicates that Jesus says ‘Peace be with you’. It is the peace that comes of the ever presence of Being. It is a seed that we allow to grow into a Presence, a blessing which results in deep happiness and peace of mind. When lost, this peace can only be found within yourself – don’t search anywhere else; i.e in reason, explanations, food, alcohol, drugs etc. I.e. the Son of Man dwells within you . Beware of false panaceas that others offer. Virgin apparitions say ‘Experience Being not doing; renew the art of giving and receiving instead of producing and exploiting. Our purpose on Earth is to meet each other to learn to love one another.’
P8 line 23 ‘ Walk forth and announce the gospel of the Kingdom’. Leloup points out that the Beatitudes might be better translated as ‘walk forth’ instead of ‘blessed are….’ ‘Walk forth’ is saying be active in pushing ahead through tribulations.
P9 line 1 and line 2 ‘Impose no law other than that which I have witnessed’ means that Christ’s teachings are the law and a way of living.
P9 line 5 to 11 ‘Having said all this, he departed…..’ shows that the disciples do not have inner peace yet. They fear the persecution that Jesus suffered. Hence Jesus saying ‘blessed are those who are persecuted for justice’s sake’.
P9 lines 11 to 15. Mary Magdalene encourages the male disciples to do as Jesus taught them and prepared them for. He would be with them all; and to be anthropos (namely to be fully human, with all the masculine and feminine qualities). She is stronger than them. Jews at this time were not allowed to visit or associate with Gentiles. The disciples in The Gospel of Mary Magdalene are shown not to be ready to go out amongst the Gentiles to spread the gospel yet. Mary Magdalene is their backbone. Through-out The Gospel of Mary Magdalene it is acknowledged that a disoriented spirit causes illness in body and mind. (This is only being recognised in this decade in psychology and psychiatry).
P9 lines 16 to17. ‘Instead let us praise his greatness’. Here Mary Magdalene tells the disciples with their fear and dissension to restore what really matters by praising and worshipping God’s greatness. (This is necessary each week, after a time of working and living, in order to reconnect to the essentials for life). i.e. leave the egocentric and return to the theocentric. The ancients said the worst sin is ingratitude, which is forgetting the greatness, beauty, truth and goodness of God who is constantly creating us. P9 line 18 ‘He is calling us to become fully human’ (namely anthropos which means having both male and female qualities which we all have, but they need to be developed – like an acorn has all the characteristics to be an oak tree but not yet). In the Gospel of Thomas (a Gnostic Gospel; meaning that it is not in the bible) Simon Peter says to Jesus ‘let Mary leave us, for women are not fit for the Life’. Jesus answers saying, ‘See I have been guiding her so as to make her into a human (anthropos; a Greek word). She too will become a living breath, like you. Any woman who becomes a human (anthropos) will enter the Kingdom of God’.
(No wonder The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and that of Thomas have been omitted from the bible. It would appear that their absence makes it easier to have an all-male clergy and hierarchy. These gospels are relevant to today’s debate about women becoming bishops in the Church of England and priests in the Roman Catholic Church)
P10 lines 1 to 6. Peter said to Mary ‘Sister, we know that the Teacher (Jesus) loved you differently from other women. Tell us whatever you remember of the words he told you’. Some scholars say that there are three different women in the gospels, Mary the sinner, Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene. Some think that they are one woman at three different stages of evolution. Mary Magdalene has a brother Lazarus. There are 7 images or feminine archetypes of Mary Magdalene in the canonical gospels (those in the bible) i.e. possibly the 7 deadly sins of gluttony, fornication, covetousness, sadness, anger, vainglory and pride. These relate to the 7 demons expelled from Mary Magdalene by Jesus. These demons were never actually named, but negative and destructive thoughts were cited as possibilities by one writer, Evagrius Ponticus. Such thoughts would destroy the orientation of the nous and its relationship with the Pneuma. In other words, they act to obstruct peace, contemplation and the Presence of the Son seeking to establish itself in the person. Following this, Mary Magdalene develops contemplation and compassion leading towards the visionary gift for seeing the death of Jesus. Much more about Mary Magdalene is in the Gospels of Thomas and Philip. The Gospel of Philip says that Mary Magdalene and Jesus were very close emotionally. After Christ dies, Peter treats Mary Magdalene with deference realising that she has been given teachings that the men were not ready to hear; that she had gone further down the path to becoming fully human (anthropos) than they had.
P10 line 7-16. Mary said to them that she has had a vision of the Teacher, who replied ‘You are blessed, for the sight of me does not disturb you’.
16 There where is the nous, lies the treasure. Mary Magdalene tells the disciples about what they haven’t hear by describing a vision. Early Christians felt that seeing was more enlightened than hearing. It is God who makes us see. Vision of the divine light is the same as science. Science opens the eye of the soul.
P 10 line 16 is quoted by other Christian writers indicating that The Gospel of Mary Magdalene was circulating widely in the first centuries of Christianity. The ‘nous’ is not mentioned by Luke or the Gospel of Matthew, which substitute ‘heart’ for ‘nous’ and change the tense from present to future. E.g. ‘For where the treasure is, there your heart will be also.’ In The Gospel of Mary Magdalene the ultimate state is to be in union with God when the nous contains the treasure i.e. the Presence of the Son of Man; i.e. we become what we love; my desire for Being is Being itself; as Meister Eckhart said, ‘the eye with which I see God is that with which he sees me’; and this is described more eruditely than in The Gospels of Luke or Matthew.
P 10 line 17 -25. Here Jesus says we see him not through the soul (psyche) or the Spirit (Pneuma) – but the nous between the two. Jesus is within us. The canonical gospels in the bible are intellectually inferior to The Gospel of Mary Magdalene on the question of how we see the resurrection of Christ. The nature of reality itself is involved. Mary Magdalene is asking about when she saw Christ resurrected; how was she seeing him. Other disciples are taken aback by the audacity of the question.
(We are not separate from God. The nous is shared ground with God. The Divine Matrix recently published by Gregg Braden, a NASA scientist, describes God occupying the space in all atoms between the nucleus and the electrons).
Humans are composed of body (soma), soul (psyche which is involved with feelings and emotions), the spirit (which involves intellect and imagination – the nous) and Spirit (the Holy Spirit or Pneuma) which is not part of the human complex but the Reality that gives life to the other components. Fourfold Humanity. Holy Spirit (Pneuma) Cognition spirit (nous) Affect soul (psyche) Body body (soma). All of this underpins The Gospel of Mary Magdalene. She showed that we can see visions by the grace of the nous. Nous is creative imagination. P 15 lines 1-15. ‘And craving said…’
P 16 lines 8-16. This section describes the soul’s journey to the light. On the way it passes through four ‘Climates’ in which the soul is questioned about what it has done in life. The soul gives many excuses for its behaviour especially ‘ignorance’ all of which are rejected, resulting in the wrath and rebellion of the soul and blaming God. This can lead to discerning the light and the soul’s nous (spirit) can re-join the Holy Spirit. The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and The Gospel of John say there is worldly loveless wisdom that cuts off from the Breath of Life. On the other hand the wisdom of love (Sophia) is limitless and unconditional. It neither enslaves nor possesses what it loves. This happened to Mary Magdalene. Her spirit (nous) has been awakened to the Spirit of God in the way she loves Jesus. She describes the journey of her soul through life.
P 17 lines 1-8. The world of the soul is freed by its opening to the nous-pneuma revealing another world. This is Mary Magdalene’s soul voyage.
P17 line 4 ‘Hence forth I travel toward Repose’. This means the anthropos created in the image of God knows true repose and how to savour, individual being as Being, free of all need to prove ourselves or justify our existence through any sort of accomplishment.
P 17 line 5 ‘where time rests in the Eternity of time’. Eternity here means the absence of time. There is no passage of time and Mary Magdalene experiences it in silence. We cannot know God, only the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, but we can come close to it through silence and repose.
P 17 line 8 ‘For it was in silence that the Teacher spoke to her’. i.e. in wordless communion.
P 17 lines 9-20. Andrew says he doesn’t believe Mary Magdalene when she tells the disciples of the resurrection. Peter is incredulous that Jesus has talked to a woman about such secrets and not the men. He realises it is not their custom to expect to learn anything from women. They are simple Galilean fishermen, uneducated and had to be taught by Jesus through parables. Not so for Mary Magdalene and one or two other disciples. Mary Magdalene discussed the Kingdom of Heaven and the role of Pneuma evolving in the anthropos. With respect to the passage Matthew 13:10-17 concerning ‘those who have will be given more, those who have not, even that which they have will be taken away’ means some people are intellectually open and will be given more whilst those who have closed minds will lose what they have. Access to the Kingdom of God requires: a) the awakening of the nous and b) spiritual senses to access the world between the physical and the divine world. This theme is in the Gospel of Mary Magdalene and those of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The Kingdom refers to the imaginal world. A special sensitivity, love and intelligence must be developed to perceive this world. Without it there is spiritual blindness and deafness. Jesus said that such people’s nous is hard with a closed heart. Some of the disciples may have closed nous. Immediately after the resurrection, the disciples were in grief, afraid, doubting and not keen to accept the Good News from a woman of all people.
(All of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene reveals that God does not micromanage his revelations to mankind. Much has gone wrong for two millennia with regard to men’s respect for women and judging from the first appearance of Christ after the resurrection to Mary Magdalene, cannot have been intended by God in the beginning).
Many early Christian texts refer to Peter’s mistrust of women – including his own daughter who was very beautiful named Petronilla. Peter, like other pious men of the time thanked God in his daily prayers for not having been born ‘an invalid, poor or a woman’. Peter questions whether men must grant women a place of equal respect and authority in the community. Peter was always puzzled by Jesus’s behaviour regarding The Samaritan Woman, The adulteress and Mary Magdalene herself. Levi, the disciple, defends Mary Magdalene against Peter. To be truly spiritual, informed and guided by the Pneuma we must see ourselves as having a soul (mind), body and anthropos to access the nous. The imaginal is the opening of physical space-time into a different and vaster dimension of time and space. It is lack of humility that blocks many from the Kingdom.
P 18 lines 15-21. Anthropos is the goal of our existence. Henri Bergson said that the universe is a ‘machine for making gods (out of people). If we allow Jesus to arise in the heart of us, growing and taking root in us, we will be guided by his Spirit towards our wholeness and fulfilment. We need to love God and our neighbour and allow the Anthropos to grow in us. This is the Good News to be spread. For those who have eyes to see, as well as ears to hear. The world is still being illuminated by the brilliance of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.
P 19 lines 1-3. The discovery of the Gospel of Mary Magdalene after two thousand years might be significant. Some say it is the missing piece fulfilling the Torah and Qur’an; completing the Good News in relation to the third millennium. At one point Leloup questions why The Gospel of Mary Magdalene has not been more widely celebrated and discussed in the mainstream Christian churches since its first translation. Why has it not been included in Christian worship?
Week before Ash Wednesday.
Our Christian Life begins with a step of faith. We explore what it means to follow Jesus. It’s an exciting challenging adventure! Almighty God, you have taught us that your word is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. Help us and all who prayerfully read your word ’to deepen our fellowship with you and with each other through your love.
Lord in your Mercy…..…Hear our prayer.
We pray for the life of the church its leaders for wisdom and prayerfulness, for major issues and debates facing the church; for honesty and fairness.
We pray for our guest Very Rev’d Catherine Ogle and our own church group who will guide us through the weeks ahead; during Lent for Edwina, John, Matthew and Philip that by the love and grace, you will refresh and spiritual guide them and protect their loved ones who offer them love comfort and support.
Lord in your Mercy…….Hear our Prayer.
We pray for all children of this world who are suffering from lack of food and clean water, because of conflict, famine, floods, and health issues.
We Pray, for the needs of the world for the role of the united nations the red cross and other agencies, courage and patience for those negotiating peace.
For Bill Gates whose organization is striving to eradicate childhood polio in Africa; for our own Malawi children who we support.
Save us lord from getting caught up in squabbles and disputes that bring you and us no credit; give us a heart that is content only when walking close to you in humility and truth.
Lord in your Mercy ……..Hear our Prayer.
We pray for our community and local services; for all those who work at our local hospital; for the chaplaincy team at Good Hope led by Andrew Ball and all who give their time and support. We pray for the children who will be baptised this month into our church family;
for our families, our loved ones, children and grandchildren that they may grow to know you and love you as we know and love you; for those preparing for marriage, Stephen Allman + Karen Field, for their families and friends who will be supporting them on their wedding day; hold them in the palm of your hand and look upon them with favour.
We pray for those on our prayer list in need of our prayers, those with long time illness, those recovering from ill health and those who have requested our prayers.
Lord we thank you for the power of the spirit to support us and hold us whatever we have to do or whatever we are facing. We know that what you do for us you can also do for others so take these our prayers and carry these people closer to you for Jesus sake.
Lord in your mercy……….Hear our prayer;
also those who have recently died and those who recall the Anniversary of a loved one who have given us love and laughter but now with Christ.
Father of all, we pray to you for those whom we love but see no longer.
We hold them in our hearts knowing that you hold them in yours
Grant to them eternal rest, let light perpetual shine upon them.
Accept these our prayers
For the sake of your son,
Our Saviour Jesus Christ
By Pam Baxter. Taken from New Daylight http://www.biblereadingnotes.org.uk/new-daylight/, published by BRF, used by kind permission.
During our prayers of intercession, we will join together in the usual response of: “Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer” Lord Jesus, thank you that we can come to you at any time, and know that you will listen to us. We thank you that you want to be involved in all situations, both great and small.
“Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer”
We thank you for the Queen in this special year of her Coronation, and we pray for William and Kate who are soon to have their first child. May they know your peace and joy.
“Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer”
We ask you to bless and guide our-Bishop and all the ministers who work in your name here in Birmingham. We hold up our own church, St Chad, and ask that you help and strengthen Edwina our vicar, and that you will lead our congregation into learning more of you.
“Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer”
We pray for our local community, that your Holy Spirit will move amongst us and draw people in to share your love.
“Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer”
We lift up our own family members, neighbours and ourselves to you. In a few moments of silence, we bring you their names and needs.
“Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer”
We bring before you all those who are unwell, or are in special need of prayer: May they each receive a special healing touch from you.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer”.
Now we remember those who mourn. We thank you, Lord, for listening to our prayers and leave them in Your loving hands. Amen.
By Hilary Clegg.
Silence in the garden
Silence in the street
Standing to order
Cold and muddy feet.
Eyes front and forward
Minds Cast back
Remembering the fallen
Will and Rob and Jack.
All pride and bluster
Stood their nations host
Till the soil received them
On some foreign coast.
Silence in the gardens
Silence in the streets
Two minutes for a lifetime
By Jan Walker.
I’m knocking on your door so let me in I’m big and bad and as ugly as sin
My name is M E, we haven’t yet met But when our paths cross
You’ll never forget.
I have in my power the ability to break
Your spirit and soul which like the Devil I’ll take.
Night and day I’ll work to make you lame Draw at your strength
Exchange pleasure for pain
I’ll knock your legs from beneath you And mess up your brain.
I am M E
I’m bigger than you know
But try to ignore me and I’ll grow and grow and grow.
By Helen Lowe reproduced here with kind permission.
Imagine being bound from head to foot so tight you can’t breathe, your head hurts,
brain doesn’t function properly anymore,
things you want to say come out wrong,
thoughts go astray, nothing makes sense,
the pain behind your eyes is like walking barefoot on hot cinders, the ache in your heart no one can comprehend.
Muscles twitch, limbs are weak, your whole body shakes and shudders, ears, nose, hands, feet are like ice,
no this illness is not nice,
creeping up on you like moss invades walls,
cuts you open,
makes you vulnerable, sore,
seeping devastation from every pore.
By Helen Lowe reproduced here with kind permission.
The Hidden Gospel. Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus. Neil Douglas-Klotz (2001). Quest Books.
Douglas-Klotz goes back to the original manuscripts on which our western bible is based to try to discover whether we really are reading the actual words of Jesus.
On page 2 under the title of Another World Neil Douglas-Klotz (NDK) suggests that Middle Eastern Languages allow many different interpretations. Western Christian Churches (WCC) till 50 years ago blamed the Jews for the death of Christ – so WCC did not want to explore Jesus’s Jewish language context. WCC texts were in Greek, so scholars did not bother to look at the original Aramaic or Hebrew texts. In the last 25 years this has changed. Jesus and his listeners spoke Palestinian Aramaic, therefore it is now considered sensible to study his sayings in Aramaic.
On page 5 under Texts, the author says that there are no Gospel manuscripts in Palestinian Aramaic. He used the bible of Eastern Christians called The Peshitta written in Western Aramaic called ‘Syriac’. The earliest manuscript of The Peshitta is 4th century AD. The Peshitta is the most ‘Jewish’ of the early New Testament (NT) versions and is the best version to give Jesus’s sayings in the linguistic and cultural context of the Middle Eastern mind-set of Jesus.
NDK also uses the Gospel of Thomas in Coptic, an old Egyptian Language, written using Greek characters. The Gospel of Thomas, which is 1st century AD, is one of the oldest gospel texts. Eight different books about this gospel are at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_20?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+gospel+of+thomas&sprefix=The+gospel+of+thomas%2Caps%2C181
The author reports that there were many different Christian groups in the two hundred years after Jesus and hundreds of different versions of the ‘gospels’. Diversity decreased when Jesus’s words were written down. In 325 AD the Roman Emperor Constantine newly converted to Christianity,said at a meeting at Nicaea in Turkey that he wanted one version of Jesus and the gospels. One million Christians died because of their beliefs after the Nicene Creed. And the Nicaea Council adopted Matthew, Mark Luke and John’s Gospels – then banned the rest according to Douglas-Klotz.
There were early Christians in the Persian Empire of Syria, Turkey and Iraq. They spoke Aramaic. They used the Peshitta. Eastern Orthodox Christians broke away from Western Christians after the Nicene Creed. The West ignored them for the next 15 hundred years. Aramaic speaking Christians had bibles in Aramaic at home to read, but Western Christians were not allowed to read the bible. The original Aramaic reveals hidden wisdom which the author invites the reader to engage with.
Ideas of mind, body and spirit as separate come from the Greek translation of the bible but in Aramaic/Hebrew, spirit and body are a continuum not a division. In the West, cosmology is outside; psychology is inner life. The Aramaic/Hebrew, which are semitic languages, see these as united.
In Aramaic/Hebrew/Islam, Allah is unity, the ultimate power. If one Being exists then everything else must be a part of it. (This is maybe why some muslims argue for an Islamic state where all aspects of society are governed by Islam).
The West teaches that God is distant from humanity and nature. We in the West are raised to think religion is separate from politics, science, psychology, art or culture. Jesus and his followers didn’t think like this.
The West sees imagination of the mind as less real than matter. Jesus and Aramaic language see them as equally part of sacred reality.
Jesus says the major factor in successful healing is the person’s confidence or integrity with the Sacred Unity (God) e.g. the healing of the Centurion’s servant.
Salvation for Western Christians = faith in Jesus (excluding nature).
Salvation for Middle-Eastern Christians = “ “ “ + God + nature + humanity. This, according to Douglas-Klotz, is possibly why nature in the West is not respected as much as one would wish.
On p48 with the heading of Finding our Home in the Breath, NDK says that the first step in healing is to realise the only thing we have is breath. The King James Version of the bible (KJV) gives Matthew 5:3. The second beatitude as; “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted”. The Aramaic version would be: “Ripe are those that feel at a loose end, coming apart at the seams; they shall be knitted back together within. Blessed are those in turmoil for they shall be united inside.”
Because this follows the first beatitude KJV Matt 5:3, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs’ is the Kingdom of Heaven”, NDK the author says that this implies that those who are emotionally troubled can realise this as an opportunity to grow more conscious of the Sacred Unity (God) by ‘breathing’ through it. In the Gospel of Thomas, Jesus says “blessed is the person who has struggled. He has found life”(saying 58). (This is a bit like the nun Julian of Norwich saying that being ill can bring you closer to God). Her story can be found at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_3_10?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&fieldkeywords=julian+of+norwich+books&sprefix=julian+of+%2Cstripbooks%2C152&rh=n%3A266239%2Ck%3Ajulian+of+norwich+books
The third beatitude KJV Matt 5:5 “Blessed are the meek; for they shall inherit the earth”.
In Aramaic ‘meek’ means – those who have softened what is rigid – implying a condition inside and outside of us. In Aramaic “inherit” does not mean acquiring property but means receiving strength, power and sustenance. In Aramaic ‘earth’ also refers to all of nature and diversity of beings. So the third beatitude in Aramaic reads, “Ripe are those who soften what is rigid, inside and outside, they shall be open to receive strength and power – their natural inheritance – from nature”.
On p57 NDK says prayer creates space for the Sacred Unity (God). Western culture endeavours, to fill space not create it and to forget that wilderness could be left as sacred space. The image of sacred space as creative goes back to one of the most ancient streams of Middle Eastern spirituality. We take a step towards creating something by leaving the space for it to happen. Holiness is the creation of space – it gives possibilities allowing our hearts to reveal what our next step should be. Western Christianity at one time felt a private experience of the divine was dangerous. Western entertainment fills our mental space with its own images. Jesus only uses ‘holy’ to do with holy breath i.e. the Holy Spirit – not for buildings or objects.
Matt 6:6 The King James version says “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”
An expansion of the above passage, with the nuances available in Aramaic added, provides this rendering:
“When you want to lay yourself open for the divine,
Like a snare that is hollowed out to its depth,
Like a canopy that projects a shadow
From the divine heat and light
Into your soul,
Then go into your inner place,
To that story or symbol that reminds you of the sacred.
Close the doors of your awareness to the public person you think yourself to be.
Pray to the parent of creation with your inner sense,
The outer senses turned within.
Veiling yourself, the mystery may be unveiled through you.
By opening yourself to the flow of the sacred,
Somewhere, resounding in some inner form,
The swell of the divine ocean can move through you.
The breathing life of all reveals itself in the way you live your life.”
In the Aramaic, this passage presents a multi-layered image. We focus on some centre, image, or feeling that presents the sacred (God) to our inner being. If we give our awareness, space, inner and outer, to contemplate this sacred centre, we expand beyond who we think ourselves to be and allow the sacred to manifest through our own being. This is the Aramaic version of Matt 6:6.
In meditation there is a space for the One (God) to speak to us through what happens during the meditation.
P129 Chapter 9. The Perfect and the Good. Completeness and Timing. KJV: Matt 5:48. “Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” This was taken to mean doctrinally pure or right belief.
The Aramaic translation says, “Be fulfilled in all of yourselves, know them until they cease to know themselves, grow with them until they outgrow themselves in a reborn ‘I am’. The knowing, growing parenting of the cosmos, completes itself through you”. The same idea of completeness is in the Gospel of Thomas in Saying 3:4 “when you come to know yourselves, then you will be known and you will realize that you are the children of the living Father. But if you do not come to know yourselves, then you exist in poverty and you are poverty.”
It is noticeable that Middle Eastern Christianity talks of meditation and the earth-end of the soul in a way very different from the West. These are concepts we are only just recovering in the West.
Fulfilment of your purpose in life is your gift back to the cosmos.
Paul Gregory. July 2015.