Welcome to my blog---an eyes-open, no-holds-barred exploration of Western and Eastern spirituality, mindfulness, philosophy and literature. A member of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, I lectured at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry to mental health workers for 14 years and at the University of Technology, Sydney to law students for 16 years. My interests include metaphysics, the psychology of religion, transformative ritual, mythology and addiction recovery.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
THE PRESENCE AND POWER OF ETERNITY
'For thus saith the high and
lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell
in the high and holy place …' Isaiah 57:15 (KJV).
There was once an Australian soldier and evangelist John G Ridley MC who preached a sermon titled ‘Echoes of Eternity’.
Actually, he preached more-or-less that same sermon more than once, and perhaps many times. A copy of
an audio file of one taped version of the sermon, preached by Ridley in his later years, can be found here. Ridley was a dynamic and
powerful preacher. He painted the most wonderfully evocative word pictures ...
… Eternity … This word is a solitary word, wonderful word, just like a
great mountain peak standing up and leaping above all its fellows and casting a
kind of glorious shadow over the whole mountain range, an Everest of scripture,
snowcapped in the purity of God. Eternity! Eternity! … Eternity. What a remarkable,
uplifted, glorified word! Once uttered, because there is only one eternity, and
the eternal God is in command of it. I seem to hear it coming out of the past
like a distant sound of thunder, bursting with a clap in the present, and
rolling on with mumblings and rumblings into the unknown future. Eternity.
Eternity. How can you preach on eternity? Yet, if a preacher does not touch on eternity, he’s missing the great mountain ridge and glorious throne that God
has given us in this verse, who inhabited Eternity. … [We] are travellers to eternity.
... Eternity, Eternity, I wish I could sound or shout that word to everyone in
the streets of Sydney. You’ve got to meet it. Where will you spend Eternity?
When John Ridley preached this
sermon in Sydney, New South Wales on what was perhaps the first occasion—this was way back in 1932—a man named Arthur Stace
(pictured), who had been a soldier himself and who was a reformed alcoholic who had been converted to Christianity
a couple of years earlier, was so moved by Ridley’s words that he went
outside the church building and wrote the word ‘Eternity’ in beautiful
copperplate writing with chalk on the footpath. He continued to do that on
the footpaths of Sydney and even beyond Sydney and the State of New South Wales for about 35
years—some 500,000 times.
Now, Ridley and Stace had their own
evangelical understanding of the word ‘eternity’. By the way, that word appears
just once in the King James Version of the Bible, and it is in the verse set
The Sydney Harbour Bridge lit up with the word ‘Eternity’.
What is eternity? Well, as I see
it, we are in eternity now. We are immersed in eternity. We live, move and have
our be-ing-ness in eternity. Eternity is not a ‘thing’ we enter into at death.
No. Eternity is now. Everything is contained within eternity, that is, the
eternal now. All duration – or time – is total and complete in the now. There
is an eternal quality about the now. It is forever
new. The present moment has its unfolding in the eternal now for it is nothing
other than that which presents itself before us in and as the now, which embraces
past, present and future. It is in the eternal now that we have our presence.
For me, God is the eternal now—omnipresence.
There is only one eternity, one eternal now and it is both the medium in which
all things have their be-ing-ness as well as Be-ing or omnipresence itself.
You may or may not share my
understanding of the word eternity. That is your prerogative. The important
thing is not to wait until you die in order to experience its tremendous presence