Reaching Out in Mind Body & Spirit, From A speech held in Sheffield, England, 25 April 2009

The Story
My first contact with people engaged in new religious movements (NRM), so-called cults and new spiritualities (NS) goes back to the early 1970s. The NRM and the experimentation with spiritual practices opened many people to the spiritual dimension of life, but the people I met at that time and up to the 1980s had bad experiences – psychological disorder or the felt influence and torment from demons. I had to deal with these experiences as I became somehow conceived of as one of very few exorcists in the Danish Lutheran Church (even though I do not myself think I have special charismas for the ministry of deliverance).

Thus my image of the new spiritualities was very negative, and I warned against the possibility of being tricked by demons through association with the new religious and spiritual practices. At the same time I saw the NRM and the spiritual experimentation as a mirror of the shortcomings of the Church – a lack of spiritual guidance, intimate fellowship, spiritual practices, and a healing ministry. The gurus of NRM pointed to a lack of authentic leaders and authentic gospel sharing. I advocated the use of the Eastern orthodox Jesus Prayer as an antidote to TM and other eastern meditation practices, saying that the name of Jesus contained the pure sound of creation rather than AUM, and that the invocation of His name was a sound Mantra. Furthermore the Jesus Prayer combined prayer, breathing and centring in the heart. Breathing in: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, and breathing out: Have mercy upon me, a sinner!

In 1985 the New Age movement had its breakthrough in Denmark with the first Body Mind Spirit fair in Copenhagen with 15.000 persons attending. [In various booths alternative healing, reflexology, acupuncture, alternative medicine, yoga, eastern meditation, neo-theosophical groups, re-incarnation therapy, crystals, channelling, clairvoyance and other expressions of an alternative life style and spirituality were presented.] The atmosphere was one of revival – although not with Jesus Christ in the centre. I was terrified. How many more people would not now be spiritually misled or psychologically hurt? And yet I had to ask myself, why was not the Church there at the marketplace as Saint Paul at Areopagos?

The following year two Lutheran congregations got our own booth at the Body Mind Spirit fair. The organizers were reluctant to admit us because of the anti-cult movement, but our parish church had for a year had communion services with the prayer for healing, and we were accepted as some kind of alternative healing. I had also been very honest with the organizers, that our presence might be felt as hurting to some exhibitioners, and that we also felt it hurtful just to be seen at as belonging to the outdated age of Pisces. We handed out about 5000 pamphlets titled “Jesus conveys the new age to us”. We were quite fearful crossing the threshold into “enemy” territory, but were yet confident because groups of Christians from different denominations prayed for us. We were at the fair as propagandists and thus we had confrontation instead of dialogue, and almost no one got to know Jesus as the conveyer of the new age and the new life. Most of the discussions centred around the question of reincarnation versus resurrection. The only positive outcome was a personal friendship with two leading figures from the neo-spiritual milieu.

In 1988 we once more had a booth at the Body Mind Spirit fair. This time we were 4 congregations. We had learned from the previous fair not to present ourselves in opposition to the other exhibitioners, but just to be ourselves, presenting our own spiritual practice. We invited the guests to participate in different forms of devotion, e.g. reading of scripture followed by a short reflection and prayer, a time of charismatic praise songs, a midday prayer sung in Gregorian chant, and an introduction to the Eastern Orthodox prayer of Jesus.  This time the booth seemed relevant, and in the period following the fair new agers began to participate in Church services in my parish. This created new challenges, especially in the field of pastoral care.

I more and more experienced a conflict between acknowledging a sincere spiritual quest and process in the NS milieu and my dogmatic way of handling the counselling situation. E.g. I might admonish a confident telling of how a recalled earlier incarnation changed his life to renounce his belief in reincarnation if the counselling should proceed. Or, new agers might misunderstand my message as I explained the atoning death of Jesus on the cross – seeing it as a cruel image of God and as an unethical doctrine hindering people to take responsibility for their own lives because of trusting God for forgiveness for the sake of Christ’s sacrifice. What most of all brought the conflict to a braking point was the friendship with one of the trendsetters in the NS milieu, a leading figure in a neo-theosophical group. He was expelled from his movement. No people of the NS milieu seemed to care, but the local charismatic Free Church prayed for him, and he accepted my invitation to talk through his situation. He now wanted to work solely under the Mater Jesus. I rejoiced. But after some time his wife began having communications from the Sirius System – and Jesus did not any longer was his main focus.

These conflicts resulted in a spiritual crisis and made me cry to Jesus for the guidance of the Spirit in meeting spiritual seekers. This was in the summer 1974. I felt it as if Jesus talked to me in my heart and mind, and told me to start a series of devotional meetings under the name of “In the Master’s Light” (IML) – and not only that: every detail of the services, of its announcement in New Age magazines and milieus, and of at which premises to conduct the services. I said to Jesus that it was no problem to arrange meetings, but how to make the gospel understood? He promised me a message from Him to every teaching theme of these evenings – as a kind of prophetic reflection of a scriptural passage. We were to call this “the direct speech of the Master”; later on we have called it “inspirations”. We were also to invite people for the healing of the heart in their relationship to God, their own self and their surroundings (friends, relatives etc.).

The IML-services started May 1995 and has since spread to several places in Denmark, and IML has developed into a broader ministry with the aim of being a fellowship of Jesus’ disciples in the new spiritual milieu. IML has formed different kinds of worship services, invited to retreats and meditation in the city, created different discipleship courses, conducted workshops in holistic and neo-spiritual fairs, festivals and settings. Every year IML is present at two big and 2 – 3 small alternative fairs (health and new life style, Body Mind Spirit, Mystical fair) praying with about 500 guests or co-exhibitioners at each of the bigger fairs and 1-200 at each of the smaller ones. IML is also working in Oslo, Norway with booth ministry and follow up, and at fairs in two or three other Norwegian towns. In 2006 IML started up in Southern Sweden, also with booth ministry and follow up.

Since 2000 I have been a mission pastor in the Scandinavian mission society Areopagos after 24 years as a parish pastor.

What I have learned in this process is the need to move from a defensive or even hostile attitude to neo-spiritual seekers and practitioners to dialogue and presence in the milieu, if the Gospel should be heard and the Christian fellowship be inculturated.

Progression and insights of IML

The IML classic service
IML started with devotional meetings in non-church premises. Yet before starting the meetings we were preparing ourselves for 8 months, praying for the project, learning Christian meditation, talking about dialoguing and sharing experiences instead of discussions, finding possible themes of a personal prayer ministry with participants in the meetings. We wanted to be very clear about the fact these were Christian gatherings, but also be equally clear that we were fellow seekers with those venturing out on a spiritual quest and that we shared the same hopes, concerns and longings as many people in the NS.

Following some opening Taizé songs we have an invocation and proclamation:

Jesus, King of Righteousness,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Send us your light and your truth!

Jesus, Light of the World,
Son of God and Son of Man!
We desire to sit at your feet
And to receive your word in our heart and mind!

Jesus, King of Righteousness,
Son of God and Son of Man!
Send us your light and your truth!

An introduction followed explaining what is meant by gathering in the Light of the Master and leading up to a time of meditation, focusing on breathing in and out, being filled with light and giving up inner darkness, eventually using the Jesus Prayer or meditation on a verse from the Bible. The first year we had words from the gospel of John, the second year the Beatitudes, then followed the Lord’s Prayer... .... The meditation ended with a verse from the Hymnbook.

Then followed a short sermon including an inspiration, a kind prophetic exposition of the scripture. In the first years this was followed by some instrumental music during which people would sit with their own reflections, prayers or meditations or they would receive a prayer for the healing of the heart. There were some weeping, some laughing, some being slain in the Spirit, most just quietly receiving the parental love of God.  Little by little this has changed; the personal prayer ministry to people is postponed till after the meeting; instead we conduct a guided meditation after the sermon. The sermon is not any longer just a one way talk but often opens to a dialogue between the participants.

The Guided meditation is followed by a prayer time for the healing of the world, first focussing on a specific place in need of God’s healing work, and then the prayer is extended to the human race and lastly to Nature. The wording reflects the great invocation of theosophy: “Let the love of God in the Master Jesus stream forth, and let the Light descend on our planet Earth and all of her living creatures, and may it seal the door where destruction and the powers of darkness dwell.

At most places we conclude the meeting with the Eucharist and a Hymn.

Participating in fairs and Holistic and Neo-Theosophical grassroots, events and associations
Starting the IML meetings in 1995 gave us the need again to be part of the Body Mind Spirit fairs. It was scoops that we had the bishop of Copenhagen share his experience of classical hymns as a spiritual practice in the booth – not because of what he said as much as of the signal it gave, that spiritual longing and experimentation were not just a fringe phenomenon, but to be taken serious. People flocked at the booth and blocked the passage for ten meters in the two gangways leading to the booth. The first two years at the fair as IML we had short presentations of the gospel and of spiritual practices alternating with a prayer ministry to guests, but the prayer ministry has been such a success also with the co-exhibitioners that it takes all of our time together with deep conversations, and even confessions and the beginnings of spiritual direction.

Our seminars, workshops and devotional meetings, even Communion services, at fairs are generally well received – especially those on Tarot, Kabbalah and Christian spirituality or mysticism, e.g. a two hour long tarot meditation concert, where participants draw cards and musicians played them oan I commented them.

The booth ministry has continued to other events and festivals. For the first time in 10 years I am not conducting workshops at Holistic Summer Festival, but Christian themes are still offered. The most successful workshops has been on the healings of Jesus and the healing ministry of the Church, and doing creational worships walking through the forest, listening the trees, letting nature speak to the heart, building an altar and sharing in the Eucharist as we will do later on this morning. Participants in the creational worship have counted shamans and eco-spiritualists, and their reaction have been that this gave them words and expressions which they would use for example in their healing garden.

For several years I have taught at the esoteric section of a neo-theosophical movement, because their leader knows that without the example of Jesus they will miss the quality of humility in their spiritual formation. I have taught on following Jesus, discipleship in the Gospel of John, the concerns of the early church and the ecumenical synods. I have found that the best opening to sharing the Gospel and the teachings of the Church is to conduct a guided meditation on a central story of the life of Jesus.

Even the difficulty in explaining the death of Jesus and that he bears the pains and sins of our life is helped by guiding a meditation in which they experience what Jesus does instead of being told in a dogmatic way. I ask people to follow Jesus through the town to Golgotha, seeing how he is crucified, feeling his pains and suffering. I ask them to keep their image of Jesus hanging on the cross in their mind or heart, and then to ask themselves what is my greatest pain just now. I ask them to form a bowl mentally or with their hands and to put their pain in it, lift is up to let go of it breathing out. Then they experience the earth quake and the solar eclipse and hear some of Jesus’ words on the cross. I ask them to see how Jesus gives up the Spirit into their empty bowl and invite them to take the bowl towards their heart and receive the Holy Spirit from the cross, and then just in the following silent time see what the Spirit is doing in them. After the meditation we can share what Jesus did to us.

The Achilles heel of booth ministry is the follow up – or rather we have a tendency not to be satisfied with the ministry if we do not see people in Church afterwards. I am not sure if that is the definitive measure of success. May be we should see the Christian presence at fairs as the presence of the Body of Christ; this is Church! I have a more frequent contact in soul care and confession with many of the guests and co-exhibitioners with whom I pray and converse than with some of the regular church goers. Those we minister to a fairs may have chosen a more solitary/lonesome road of discipleship; to them the Christian presence at fairs and festivals open up to that network which is the Body of Christ; they relate to the Church as it is presence, while the congregational life of the Church and the Church as an institution is not felt by them as an option.

And yet there is a need to invite to different courses to introduce the spiritual seeker and those cautiously approaching the Church to the central insights and spiritual practices of Christian faith. Some find the Alpha courses are a help. IML has also tried different approaches; for the first five years we had a course called “A brand New Life” which was a modified and adapted version of the Catholic Charismatic Life in the Spirit Courses, we have tried a course in Esoteric Christianity for here years. The most successful course until now is based on the “Pearls of Life” or “The Wreath of Christ”, a Lutheran version of the rosary. We use the wreath as a means of introduction into Christian spirituality. You may find something on or google for Pearls of Life.

As something new we arrange our own IML summer camp this year.

Light & grail servants; trios (triangles); serving the planet, nature and humankind
Sometimes we have felt that participants in our meetings followed a revolving door principle, while others just turned up occasionally when they felt the need. As a matter of fact the meetings have not become that mass movement as we had hoped for in the beginning.

To help creating a dedicated involvement in IML we created two courses aiming at serving the healing of the Earth, nature and humanity. The intention also was to express a common concern with new agers, theosophist, eco-spiritualists and wiccans and others; we too long for the brother- sisterhood of humankind, we too share in the suffering ecological environment and the exploitation of nature and long for the healing and sanctification of creation. Using a term known in the neo-theosophical groups we invite for an introduction course in Light Service / Ministry with these themes: Prayer and meditation; Nature as a book of revelation, natural magic and the human responsibility for nature; Light Ministry in a Christian tradition and perspective. The course leads to an initiation of becoming a Light Servant. As such he/she takes upon himself/herself the obligation to pray once a day for the healing of the Earth, nature and human kind and to participate at least once a month in a discipleship gathering. The Light Servants are encouraged to become part of a trio sharing this obligation, and to support financially Christian or humanitarian work.

The Light Servants may take another course to become Grail Servants. The first weekend of this course introduces the participants to the Rosary, the Liturgy of Hours, Baptism, sanctification and charismatic gifts. The second weekend introduces Jesus’ teaching on discipleship, Holy Communion (Eucharist), the Heart of Jesus Mysticism. The initiation as Grail Servant oblige the servant to pray twice a day, to be part of a trio, take up specific duties at IML meetings or discipleship commitments as well as the obligations of the light servants.

Much of the work of Light & Grail Servants is carried out in trios; we understand the trios as cells in the Body of Christ, and we want as Christians to share the longings of those involved in the theophical Triangles & Good Will. Each day the members of a trio unites spiritually and mentally with his/her group members, pray for them, dedicate oneself to the Light ministry, meditate on and evoke the light of the Spirit, the love of Christ and the will of God, asking it to fill the trio, flow over into the network and further on into the world. We imagine Jesus in the centre of the trio and as the focus of the network and that he will manifest himself through his body for the healing of the world, for peace and right human relations. We then concentrate on the specific area for which we have agreed to pray. We listen for any inspiration from the Holy Spirit and pray the prayer of discipleship:

God, You who are “I AM”!
I recognise the working of Your Spirit in the longing of humans for the peace of Your Kingdom,
and in their longing for Truth, Beauty and Goodness.
I recognise the presence of Your servant love in men of good will
and in everyone who dedicate themselves to walk the way of discipleship.
May the power of Your Holy Spirit flow in us and guide us
to the recognition of all Truth and into practical service.
May Your Word made flesh, Jesus Christ, inspire us to servant love
as co-workers of the Kingdom of God.
May I find my place in Your one work for the restoration of the Earth and the human race
- in a humble spirit, in purity, truth, and love.

Christian Light Work is also practised through two kinds of creation liturgy, i.e. The Full Moon service and the celebration of the eight Sabbaths or seasons. They represent a Christian attempt to create liturgies, which express the common concern with NS for the Earth and the human race on the basis of our own spiritual and liturgical tradition. On days with full moon many NS adherents, especially theosophical and neo-theosophical groups, meet to invoke the light of the Hierarchy, the spiritual world, the Sun-Logos, or the Universe and thus open themselves to be channels of this light to the world, evoking an answer from the Universe, the Sun-Logos etc. In the Christian service we call upon God as we know God in Jesus Christ, acknowledging Jesus Christ as the light of the world, and asking that we in him, mirroring his light may ourselves become lights of the world. The order of the service is quite simple. It opens with a ceremony of lighting candles remembering Jesus is the Light of the world and his calling the disciples to be lights of the world. This is followed by prayer for the unity of all disciples of Jesus and men of good will and an invocation of God for the healing light of Jesus Christ. Then a time of meditation on the theme and scripture of the day follows to integrate God’s gifts and blessings. The service concludes in the healing prayer for Earth, nature and humankind. – On our home page we announce the coming full moon a week in advance offering a verse from the bible, a seed thought and a tarot trump image for meditation and giving a link for the download of the ritual of the full moon service in small groups. Since we started this practice less than 10 months ago more than 200 persons have downloaded the ritual.

The full moon service is one step in assimilating a neo-spiritual practice of ritual following the cycles of nature in a creative way giving the nature related spirituality a Christian interpretation. IML is also celebrating the so-called 8 Sabbaths, which are celebrated in Wicca as well as other neo-pagan groups. You will get an idea of the seasonal service when we have a short communion service in the next session this morning. These nature related services will reveal to spiritual seekers that Christians are concerned with the healing of nature and humanity, and that we are engaged in channelling the Light of God to our fellow-creatures in a practice of invocation and evocation, to use the theosophical vocabulary.

Pastoral care / soul care
Soul care and spiritual direction as well as a healing ministry including prayer for the sick, inner healing and deliverance of possessed persons are very important if the Gospel shall meet the needs of post modern spiritual seekers and the broader well being culture. The Church has a rich experience and tradition. At every IML meeting a personal prayer ministry is offered to the participants. But many people from the NRM and NS contact IML for counselling, deliverance or the cleansing of their homes from unwelcome spiritual phenomena In our work we have found City retreats with the liturgy of hours and silenc to be a good setting for soul care and spiritual direction.

In the scope of this paper I cannot deal more specifically with this broad field; I will just point to a special subject in the counselling situation and in the dialogue with holistic and neo-spiritual seekers, which is significant to individual holism and the concept of the evolution of the individual soul. How are we to deal with the past life experiences and the belief in reincarnation?

First of all we will have to listen to the story and recognize the experience of the confident/client as important and real, not in the meaning that this is their personal past life, a factual earlier incarnation, but an image of what is going on in their psyche, a process and an indication of what to work with in their present situation (“incarnation”). Painful memories might be clothed or symbolised in these experiences, being a projection into the past of present problems, traumas or hopes. These past life experiences are like meaningful dreams. Some seekers will accept it as an acceptable explanation that the experienced past lives are not their own personal lives, but the lives of others persons which in one way or the other arise from the past through the collective unconscious because of affinity with their own actual situation. Thus the experience of past lives may not be a proof of reincarnation as a fact.

Some confidents do not feel at home in their present life; they feel as if they have come from other planets or solar systems or may be angels or devas that take a series of incarnations in the human world. Others are haunted by guilt, maybe from a severe religious upbringing, but intensified by a heavy karma from earlier incarnations. They feel they have to take responsibility for their own lives, health, and success and seek to find the root of their present misery, illness and misfortune in the karma of past lives. To many of these seekers it seems too easy to expect God to forgive them. It is no help to argue, but the non-judgemental listening to their story, and a prayer reflecting their story and concerns may help them to see the value they have in the eyes of God in their present life and as the person they are, and that the love of God for them as they are – body, soul and spirit – is an eternal love that will keep them in God’s fellowship as the person recognizable from their present life.

My sharing with seekers on the question of reincarnation and why I do not believe in reincarnation is focused on the experience of being loved by God, being God’s precious child, as the unique creature that I am. And yet this is not a satisfactory answer to many seekers who believe in reincarnation, because they do not think a person might become a perfect and self-realized being in one incarnation. Concerning this objection I refer to the fact that we are not alone in the process of sanctification, but part of the body of Christ; in the resurrection, together with all of redeemed mankind, we will be changed and experience the fullness and holiness which was God’s original plan for humankind. In this redeemed mankind we will be recognizable ourselves and yet part of the whole, and we will see that our unique life has been a part of the building up of the body of Christ, and that we together with all the other members of the body by grace have achieved what no one will achieve in his or her one and only lifetime.   

New initiatives
IML has been encouraged by the interest in our home page. We therefore want to make a better use of the internet. It was an eye opener to us when we realised that a copy of a TV-discussion between the heavy metal singer King Diamond and me had been seen on YouTube by up to 100.000 persons. We will in the autumn produce guided meditations, meditation music with images and inspirations for YouTube, hoping that this will connect more people with our work.

How to make the Church change in her relation to NS and spiritual seekers?
IML is not only working within the NS milieu or in the border land between Church and NS. We also aim at helping the church to a new consciousness in meeting with NRM and NS. We advocate a new paradigm as suggested by the Lausanne Issue Group on New religions and New Spiritualities.

We through meetings with pastors and Church members try to make them understand the NS milieu and to help the Church to see how church life with no effort may open up the spiritual longing of today. Much of our experience is now channelled into web based educational material for free downloading. This material is supplemented by back ground articles and a network of consultants. As times passes we hope that congregations will share their experiences with each other on the home age. The home page and the whole project is developed under the official agency of the Danish Lutheran Church for Religious Encounter and Areopagos. I am the one writing most of the educational material.

IML has for a long time been marginalised by the Church generally, but this is changing through the publishing of this material and a joint publishing of an Iona and Celtic inspired song book with a mainstream Lutheran organisation for congregational up building.