The Weekly Word

Sermon July 21st, Gospel reading Matthew 11: 2-15

Today is the last Sunday of celebrating John the Baptist this year. The compelling presence of John lingers in his mysterious call to change our heart and mind, change our consciousness. Nearly 2000 years have passed, but the urgency resonates as much today as to the crowds who gathered around him then.

What did he mean with changing consciousness? What form of consciousness would we change? How do we change our consciousness in a healthy way?

We can recognize three levels of consciousness:

  • There is consciousness in the body, but limited, and it has evolved over aeons through the working of higher consciousnesses and beings.
  • There is consciousness in the soul, with all the pleasure and pain, the memories, the feelings and thoughts and impulses. Based on the foundation of the body, the soul experiences so much! The life power of the soul is movement, going from one sensation to another.
  • And cradled in the foundation of body and soul, the spirit—while awake—is a centre of conscious thoughts, concepts, ideas… thoughts that relate to us, interpret our experiences, great moral truths, but also abstract concepts and shadowy ideas. Our spirit swings between waking consciousness and sleeping unconsciousness, with a transitional consciousness in dreaming.

Consciousness may be the awareness of many perceptions and experiences, but ultimately consciousness turns out to be more the vessel that holds the content of what we think and feel and want. Our consciousness is actually a cup or even a chalice that holds something. The chalice is not the same as the wine! But the cup of consciousness must be sound, for we can see that a leaky cup will not hold content.

So we can help the chalice of our heart and mind become stronger and have integrity. We can, for example, create sacred moments of stillness in that constantly moving inner life. We can raise our heart and mind to the light. We can choose the content of a prayer or meditation. We can honour our consciousness in the way we tend it, and our consciousness may become healthier. But have we changed our consciousness?

Our consciousness is more than a cup that remains a cup, no matter what we pour into it. Our consciousness is changed by what—and how—we fill it! And all this leads us back to the wonder of what John the Baptiser did to prepare the way for the Lord. He baptised to initiate consciousness of what needed to change in each individual.

Today, too, the change in our hearts and minds, in our consciousness, to which we can full-heartedly say ‘yes’, leads us not to heights of joy but to the depths of intense longing. Striving for a change of consciousness leads to a miserable awareness of our incompleteness, our weaknesses, straying, unworthiness. But in the depths of our despair we come to the same threshold as John’s baptism opened up—we discover we are flawed, indeed sinful. BUT WE ARE REAL! And in the darkness of self-consciousness, the light shines on the missing part of our incomplete being, safe in the hands of Christ.

Contemplation by Rev. Susan Locey