Peter Fitch continues to ask questions based on John, chapter 1. If Jesus is the perfect blend of humanity and divinity, of Spirit and matter, what does this mean for us? What is it like to be too focused on spirit? What is it like to be too focused on matter? How do we achieve the blend that Jesus modelled for us? Sacraments and Gothic Cathedrals speak of the need to bring the two realms together, as do the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, but the best example is probably a human being submitted to God and flowing with the Spirit in order to bring justice and compassion into his or her surroundings.
Peter Fitch continues the discussion from last week regarding the Gospel of John and the Gospel of Thomas. If both have beautiful and important things to say, is it possible to bring the best points together? Is a synthesis possible? To explore this further, Peter asks everyone to spend a few minutes in silence, thinking about the meaning of John, chapter 1, verse 1. What is meant by “the Word”? Behind it all, there seem to be questions about matter and spirit. How are they married in Jesus, and what should our posture be like? Should we concentrate on spirit, drawing bounds of exclusion with those who don’t share our interest or belief, or should we ignore spirit in our quest to be comfortable and, perhaps, some of the richest part of the human experience?
Peter Fitch retells some of Elaine Pagels story and shows why she values Christianity and, at the same time, finds things within it with which she cannot agree. He wonders if there is a way to bring together a traditional understanding of the Gospel of John with the things that she finds beautiful in the Gospel of Thomas. Is Jesus to be seen as God or as a Jewish teacher who has come to help each of us learn how to develop the image of God in which we all share? Is he, perhaps, both? Either way, Peter thinks there is a value to divergent knowledge and looks for a richer way of understanding than he has had to this point.
Peter Fitch discusses the metaphors that Jesus uses in John, chapter 10. He is the Gate and He is the Good Shepherd. Then Peter focuses on verse 16 where Jesus says that He has other sheep, “not of this fold.” This leads Peter to speculate about who these people might be. One candidate, he thinks, is Rumi, the 13th century Turkish Sufi master, and he reads two brilliant poems, The Great Wagon and Moses and the Shepherd, to illustrate this thought
Peter Fitch wonders how to bring together the teaching of Jesus and St. Paul that we ought to live as though we had no rights while at the same time trying to respond to oppressive systems by advocating for justice. He finds great wisdom in Dr. Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (April, 1963) and also in a recent documentary at Toronto’s Hot Docs Film Festival called Faceless, about the courage of young protestors in Hong Kong.
We began this service by listening to Art Garfunkel singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water” in a concert at Central Park. We finished by listening to Patty Griffin sing “Up to the Mountain”, a song she wrote to honour Dr. King.