Sermon by rev. Ole Skjerbæk Madsen at TFS Foundation Retreat, March 10th 2018 (board meeting).

For the time being Tao Fong Shan Christian Center is promoting the concept and praxis of Christfulness. CFN is very much in line with the vision of Ta Fong Shan and the founders of this spiritual center. I was invited to conduct an Eucharistic service for the members of the board of TFS Foundation. The sermon gives you an idea of the setting in which CFN is transmitted in Hong Kong. There is an English as well as Cantonese version og the sermon. Blessings, Ole Skjerbæk Madsen

Sermon by rev. Ole Skjerbæk Madsen at TFS Foundation Retreat March 10th2018 (board meeting).

Link to the Cantonese version

Dear sisters and brothers in Christ Jesus,

I think many of us gathering here today has fallen in love with this mountain where the wind of the God’s incarnate Tao is blowing. You often sense the wind as you round the corner at Dao Guang Tai before entering the archway.

We have a great legacy from Karl Ludvig Reichelt and the founders of TFS. This legacy is both spiritual and material.

The buildings, the Church yard, the nature are important parts of this legacy and working with the maintenance of the buildings and securing the slopes is guarding this legacy. The material legacy points to the spiritual legacy which is about dialogue and honest conversation between people adhering to different traditions of faith and spirituality and for a contextual sharing of the Gospel in a non-judgmental way, yet still with a lucid and clear focus on the living relationship with Jesus Christ. Reichelt was looking for points of contact in the faith and spiritual practice of the other, and TFS witnesses to his concern to share the gospel with them in a way and in forms that would not be strange to them; they should feel at home and thus finding the traces of the true Tao and Light of the world in their own tradition and spiritual background. Yet in the honest conversation with the other, Christ was not a hidden agenda, because he would always point to him. As Notto R. Thelle writes,“He was not interested in the lines of demarcation between Christianity and other faiths, but was concerned about the centre, where Christ, the eternal Logos, was drawing all people to himself.”

When he was using the translation Tao for Logos in the Gospel of John and took refuge in The perfect and mysterious Tao this was no camouflage aiming at luring Buddhist and Taoist monks into the fold of Christianity. He earnestly believed in Jesus Christ, the Tao who had become flesh. May I once more quote Notto R. Thelle:

“With his profound faith in Christ as the incarnation of the eternal Logos or Tao, Reichelt was convinced that, ultimately, Christ would not be an offense or a stranger to the truth-seeking spirits of the East. He was the centre they had been seeking all the time, the One who had been drawing them toward truth. It is characteristic that he wrote about one of those who had met Christ “from within,” stating that his encounter with Christ was an “encounter with a friend. A deep joy of recognition filled his soul.”  The true seekers would re-cognize Christ as the Tao they had been searching for all the time.”

Today’s scripture speaks about us as Christians to share the lot of the saints in light, because Jesus saved us from the power of darkness. Jesus is the saving light of the world, or rather – in the light of the Prologue of John’s Gospel: The Logos or Tao of God is the light of the world in Jesus Christ, because the Tao became flesh. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”

The great original Tao is inexpressible and beyond all understanding. Tao can’t be grasped, because God is “I AM THAT I AM”. There is no other cause for God’s being or existence than God. God’s being is an unconditioned being, whereas our being is a conditioned existence; there’s a cause for our being; we are created.

But God is not unknown; the great original Tao manifests itself or himself through the ongoing act of creation. Through Tao all things were made; without Tao nothing was made that has been made. The Tao through whom God created the world is the inexpressible expression of God’s being, and as such we speak of him as the Son of God. When Tao became flesh in Jesus Christ, there still is something in him we can’t grasp: ”He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him.” (John 1:10). Yet the great original Tao and the manifesting and creating Tao has a human face in Jesus Christ. In Jesus God is no stranger to us. He invites us into a personal relationship.

In the human nature of the incarnate Tao we find our original nature. Believing in him the original nature is restored to us. We realize that we are created in the image of God. Jesus calls us to be the light of the world as he is the light of the world.

I’ve been invited to be a pastor on this mountain, where the Spirit of the Tao made flesh is blowing, to introduce the concept and spiritual practices of Christfulness. One of the aspects of Christfulness is the realisation and experience of “Christ in me”.  This refers to the image of God or Christ in me; it says that Christ grows in me, in the very centre of my being, and takes form in me; I am Tao-formed. My original nature is to follow the way, the Tao which is mirrored in me. This can happen when my inner being reflects God in God’s approach to me in the Tao, who created the world and was made flesh.

We are created to reflect the creative light of God, so God can recognize God self in us, and so our fellow beings can know God by the light which shines from us, as a reflection of God. ”You are the light of the world.”

One of the spiritual practices in Christfulness is listening to the voice of God. I often write in a notebook, what I receive listening to God when meditating on the Bible – especially if it’s something which shall be shared with others; I call these texts for inspirations in order to avoid the misunderstanding that I should in some way be a 100% pure channel for God, for, as Paul says, all such revelations must be tried and tested. When I meditated on the light revealed at the transfiguration of our Lord on mount Tabor, I was given this inspiration:

You have seen the true Light. I’ve touched your hearts and made them alive. I’ve shown unto you mine and the Father’s love. I call you my brothers and sisters, because this is what you are.

The first time you saw the Light, it was as if you had fallen in love or it felt like rapture. And you long for that experience. How good it is to be here. But the Light shines into the darkness to fulfill its purpose. My Light shone most clearly on the cross, as I with the suffering humankind prayed:

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? ”The light shines brightest, where the serving Love is greatest. On such a day a criminal will be with me in Paradise, and on such a day sinners will find forgiveness and a new life.

This is the Light you have seen, and which in you shall be brought to the world. This is more than falling in love with me. It is more than the ecstatic bliss in God’s presence. The brightest light in you is more than this. If you only aspire being in love and experience bliss, your light will darken. When I touched your heart, I meant to awaken God’s image in you. You see God’s image in my life. You’ll have to follow me, if the image of God shall be clearly seen in you. It is the serving love, which is my Light in you.

I send you into the world, and often you’ll feel left on your own and feel alone even among many people. You may experience an absence of God. But I live by faith in your hearts. And as you serve others in the world in deeds, presence and loving awareness, this is where it’s good to be for your fellow beings – and your own life will reveal itself as closely linked, yea at home in my Light.

It’s a privilege to serve at this mountain, and when we guard the spiritual as well as material legacy of TFS we are fulfilling our filial piety  (hau / xiào) to the founders of Tao Fong Shan. We’ll guard their legacy, in gratitude, and together we will thus continue in looking for points of contact in meeting the religiously and spiritual other and looking for the expressions of Tao in their life, spiritual practices and world view; and we’ll aspire to be looking for the image of God in the persons we meet. And we know that we will change following this way, and that Tao Fong Shan will change to be faithful to the legacy entrusted to us.

With all my heart I take refuge

In God Most High, Who created all things,

The merciful Father, source of all goodness.

 

With all my heart I take refuge

In Christ, the Redeemer from sin,

Who restores my true nature,

The perfect and mysterious Word.

 

With all my heart I take refuge

In the One who embraces the universe,

Who at all times and in all places

Responds to our needs,

The pure and tranquil Holy Spirit.

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