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A sermon on Reichelt and Christfulness

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

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 10th 2018 (board meeting).

Cantonese version at the bottom

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 孝 (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.

Sermon from a board meeting at TFS by rev. Ole Skjerbæk Madsen in Cantonese

各位主內弟兄姊妹好,

我想今天在座許多位都深愛著這吹送道風、就是上帝道成肉身之道的山。在入口拱門之前,道光台轉角處,你也能常感受這風。

我們有著艾香德和道風山先哲前賢的偉大遺產。這包括靈性和物質上的遺產。建築物、墳場和這大自然,都是這遺產的重要部分;而維護建築和斜坡就是守護這遺產。這物質遺產指向靈性遺產,就是有關不同信仰或靈性傳統之人的對話和真誠交談,以及不帶批判並本色化地分享福音,然而仍清晰明確地聚焦於與耶穌基督的關係。艾香德曾努力尋索與他者於信仰和靈性操練上的接觸點,道風山見證著他要以他們不陌生的方式分享福音的心志;他們應該感到自在,從而在自己的傳統和靈性背景中找到真道和世界的光的痕跡。但在他們的真誠對談之間,基督並非隱而不說之事,因為艾香德總是指向基督。正如田樂道(Notto R. Thelle)所寫:

「他對在基督教與其他宗教之間劃界不感興趣,但很關注中心;在那裡,基督,那永恆的道,正把所有人都吸引向自己。」

當艾香德用「道」翻譯約翰福音的邏各斯(Logos),並誠心信靠圓滿妙道,這並非要引誘佛教和道教僧侶今入基督教的偽裝。他真誠向信耶穌基督,那成了肉身的道。讓我再一次引用田樂道:

「深信基督作為那成了肉身的永恆之道,艾香德確信,最終,基督對東方追求真理的精神,不會是一種冒犯或一個陌生過客。基督是他們一直在尋找的中心,是一直把他們引向真理的那一位。艾香德特別寫到其中一位曾『從內在』遇到基督的人,說他與基督的相遇是『與朋友相遇。他的靈魂充滿了深深欣賞的喜悅。』一個真正的尋求者會辨認出基督是他們一直在尋索的道。」

今天的經文談到我們作為基督徒能與眾聖徒在光明中同得基業,因為耶穌從罪惡的權勢中拯救了我們。耶穌是這世界拯救的光,或更確切地說──在約翰福音的亮光中:上帝的邏各斯或道,就是在耶穌基督裡頭世界的光,因為道成了肉身。「生命在他裏頭,這生命就是人的光。光照在黑暗裏,黑暗卻不接受光。」

那太初之道是不可言說而且超越理解的。道不可被掌握,因為上帝是「自有永有的」,除上帝以外並沒有其他使上帝存在的因。上帝是不依賴其他條件的存有,而我們的存有是依賴條件的存在;我們的存在有其因;我們是被造的。

但上帝並非未知的;那太初之道透過持續的創造行動彰顯自己。萬物是藉著他造的;凡被造的,沒有一樣不是藉著他造的。上帝藉著道創造世界,那道就是上帝不可言表的表述,因此我們稱他為上帝的兒子。當道在耶穌基督裡成為人身,在他裡面有些事我們還是不能掌握,「他在世界,世界也是藉著他造的,世界卻不認識他。」(約1:10)然而那太初之道和那彰顯和創造的道,在耶穌基督裡頭有一張人類的臉孔。在耶穌裡,上帝對我們並不陌生。祂邀請我們進入個人關係。

在那成身之道的人性裡,我們找到自己的本性。相信他,我們的本性得以回復。我們發現我們是按照上帝的形象而造的。耶穌呼召我們做世上的光,因為他就是世上的光。

我被邀請到這吹送道風的山上當牧師,介紹「基督滿全」(Christfulness)的概念和靈修操練。基督滿全的其中一各向度是實踐和經驗「基督在我裡面」。這指的是上帝或基督在我裡面的形象;這是說基督在我裡面長成,在我存在的中心,在我裡面形成;我是藉著道形成的。我的本性隨道而行,是在我裡面反映出的道。這是怎樣發生的呢?上帝藉著道,那創造世界和成為人身的道,模塑我並在我的內在反映出上帝。

我們受造以反映出上帝創造的光,上帝就能在我們裡面認出自己,我們的同胞也能從我們身上發出的光,作為上帝的反映,認識上帝。「你們是世上的光。」

基督滿全其中一個靈修練習是聆聽上帝的聲音。每當我默想聖經,我常常會把從聆聽上主所得的領受寫在筆記上──特別是一些值得與人分享的事情;為了避免誤會那些領受是否我百分之百從上主領受所得,我通常稱之為默示(inspirations),正如保羅所說,所有這些啟示都要察驗。當我默想有關耶穌作為好牧人的經文時,我領受了這默示:

你已見過那真光。我已觸碰你的心,讓它活過來。我已向你顯示我的心和父親的愛。我稱你作我的兄弟和姐妹,因為你就是。

你第一次看見那光,就像墮入愛河般,或感覺欣喜若狂。你憧憬那經驗。在這裡真好。但那光照在黑暗裡要達到它的目的。我的光在十字架上照得最清晰,正如我與那受苦的人類禱告說:

我的上帝,我的上帝,你為甚麼離棄我?在那服事的愛(serving love)最大之處,那光照得最亮。在這樣的一天,一個犯人會同我在樂園裡;在這樣的一天,罪人會得到寬恕和新的生命。

這光是你曾見過的,這光在你裡面,要被帶入世界。這比與我墮入愛河更好。這比在上帝臨在中欣喜若狂的幸福感覺更好。在你裡面照得最亮的光比這更好。若你只渴望被愛和幸福的感覺,你的光將變得黯淡。當我觸碰你的心,我定意要喚醒在你裡面的上帝形象。你在我的生命中看見上帝的形象。若上帝的形象在你身上清晰可見,你將要跟隨我。這是那服事的愛,就是我在你裡面的光。

我差遣你進入世界,即使置身於許多人之中,你都將會常感到孤單。你可能會覺得上帝似乎不在。但我藉著信在你心裡活著。當你在世上透過愛的行動、臨在和意識服事其他人時,這就是為你的同胞而做的善事──你的生命將顯得與我緊密連結,就是住在我的光裡面一樣。

在這山上服事是一種福氣,而當我們守護道風山的靈性和物質遺產時,我們是向道風山的先哲前賢盡孝。我們會以感恩的心守護他們的遺產,因此我們會一起繼續尋索與他者於信仰和靈性上的接觸點,並尋求在他們生命中道的表述、靈性操練和世界觀;我們也渴望在我們遇見的人身上找到上帝的形象。而且,我們知道我們會因此而改變,而道風山將變成忠於那託付於我們的遺產的樣式。

誠心信靠,無上主宰,創造諸有,萬德慈父。

誠心信靠,贖罪基督,領我歸父,圓滿妙道。

誠心信靠,充滿宇宙,隨機應感,清淨聖靈,阿們。

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