Received by: Dr Samuels.
The question of holidays to be observed by the Church of the New Birth is not one of instituting new festival days, but of clarifying the significance of those we do possess and reinterpreting in the light of the Divine Love, those we wish to retain for celebration. There is also a question of dates, upon which I propose to express my thoughts and desires.
Four major Hebrew holidays take place in the month of Tishri, (September-October) the beginning of the civil New Year; Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Simhot Torah, and that is the reason I have decided to begin my sermons on the holidays with your Autumn Season. The Rosh Hashanah was observed from antiquity, as seen by Exodus, Chapter 23, verses 16-33, with gladness of heart and a feast, in that a New Year had been bestowed upon man, by the grace of God, the creator of the Universe. The comings and goings of the months and the seasons could never be viewed by the Jews as a mere physical event; the hand of God was behind, and represented, the moving force in the succession of days. After the Yom Kippur, which I shall treat in detail at the end, came Sukkot, or Tabernacles, or even the Feast of Booths, as it was also called, making its advent in your late September or early October, and representing the in-gathering of the harvest, especially the oil and wine, so that the Jews rejoiced in the assurance of God's bounty and the shelter He provided against the days of the more inclement season to come.
The Repentance of Yom Kippur and John, for the Hebrew, the annual fast day and day of expiation for the sins of the Hebrew Nation, took place on Yom Kippur, when priests offered sacrifices as an atonement for himself, the priesthood and all the people. On the 10th day of the seventh sacred month, or first civil month, and 5 days before the Feast of Tabernacles, Israel celebrated its reconciliation with God. (Leviticus, Chapter 16, verses 23-26 and 32, and Numbers, Chapter 29, verses 7-11). All work was forbidden and the entire nation was required to observe a strict fast.
On this day the high priest laid aside his official robes and put on the simple white garment of a priest. He sacrificed a bullock as sin-offering for himself and the priesthood, and a he-goat as the sin-offering for the people, in each case sprinkling some blood from the Kapporah, or propitiatory, on it and on the ground before the Altar. Then the high priest took the he-goat for Azazel, laid both hands on its head, and pronounced upon it all the transgressions of Israel. Thus laden with the sins of the nation, it was driven into the desert. The people also gave a ram as a burnt offering. (Leviticus, Chapter 16, verses 8-10-16). On this day is recited the Yiskor (Hebrew, "he shall remember"), the memorial prayer for the dead in the synogagues.
Although this day is not mentioned by name in the New Testament and is implied once in Acts, Chapter 27, verse 9 simply as "the fast" yet the writer of Hebrews, supposed to be Paul, saw in its ritual analogies to the Christ's redemption, as the doctrine developed later towards the end of the first century.
According to this writer, this holiday was considered a type of atonement accomplished by the Messiah for the sins of the whole World. (Hebrews, Chapter 9, verses 7-10). The high priest of the Old Testament who entered into the Holy of Holies with the blood of sin offerings, is a vague type of the Christ, who by the supposed virtue of his own shed blood entered the Holy of Holies of Heaven to present to His Father his blood as the price of redemption of mankind. (Hebrews, Chapter 9, verse 12) . The high priest had to atone year after year for his own sins as well as for those of the entire nation, but the Christ, as the so-called high priest of the New Testament, has effected atonement, not for himself, but for mankind, forever (Hebrews, Chapter 9, verse 11). Furthermore, declared the writer, the flesh of the sin offering was burned outside the city and thus the Messiah also suffered outside the gate of Jerusalem.
I can only say that it is repugnant to find statements that the blood of a human being, regardless of his piety or soul condition could be viewed as being presented in the purely spiritual sphere of God's Heavenly Abode, and to God Himself, as the price which God demanded to redeem the souls of men on earth and in the Spirit World from their transgressions, instead of having these souls turn to God and seek the Father's Love as the help in transforming these souls from evil and hatred to new souls filled with kindness and love. You may rest assured that Hebrews was not written by Paul, who had entered the Spirit World many years before this epistle had been written, but by a Greek supporter of the Hellenistic turn Christianity had taken after Titus' destruction of Jerusalem.
My interest in the Yom Kippur is not, therefore, in the sacrifice of animals as a means of expiating individual or national sins, and certainly less in the church interpretation, which is abhorrent to me, making of me a perpetual victim in a bloody ritual, one which I wish now to most emphatically repudiate as I have in the past in my messages through Mr. Padgett; nor am I interested in any rite or ceremony which purports to effect conciliation between God and man, but let me repeat that my interest in the Yom Kippur lies in my concern for the state of man's mind and heart which turns him from sins and transgressions to seek God and righteousness through repentance and the exercise of the natural love, as found among Jews and present day Christians, as well as all people; or better yet, through the outpouring of the Father's Love upon those who may seek it in earnest prayer.
The Jews in their Temple and Synagogues on this day beat their breasts in their liturgy, confessing to evils which they had done or may have done during the year and pleaded with God to grant them forgiveness from their sins as, contrite with the knowledge of their transgressions, they endeavored not to repeat these evils because they knew they were evils and an accusation before the throne of their righteous God. The more pious ones studied the Torah and the prophets, and developed sects emphasizing repentance and purity from sin. And when John the Baptist appeared on the scene in Palestine, his mission consisted in a call to repentance, a turning from sin in heart and mind, to make the soul the more disposed to seek the new covenant of the Father's Love, which would be made available to mankind with my coming. The Christians of the early church were very much aware of John the Baptist's importance as the Herald of the New Birth, turning mankind to a repentance for true redemption and they observed three holidays in his honor; his nativity, June 24th, the beheading, August 29th, and Conception of the Precursor, September 24th. In view of his mission, announcing that the Kingdom, or the New Birth, was at hand, and also his steadfastness in carrying out the Father's Will, I cannot conceive of a holiday for our Church of the New Birth without including one which gives due recognition to John the Baptist as part of God's plan in the realization of the Divine Love for mankind. And since the last of his holidays is also in Tishri, and close to the Hebrew Day of Atonement, I should like to proclaim a holiday in this month which combines both the Yom Kippur and John's precursorship; namely the last Saturday in September.
This festival need not be a fast, for I am not returning to the Hebrew dispensation, but should be a time dedicated to thankfulness that God, ever loving and merciful to His creatures, provided a day of atonement to re-orientate the soul away from the transient things of the flesh and that happiness in the Spirit World, the permanent abode of the soul, lies in a purified soul for a home in Paradise as the Hebrews knew it, and a Divine Soul, filled with God's Love, in a home in the Celestial Heavens, of which I am the Master.
Now in reviewing the cycle of holidays in Tishri, and comparing the Hebrew and Christian attitudes, I find that, while the New Year's Day of your calendar is civil and based on the Roman two-headed Janus, (looking back and forward) there is no feeling of a religious nature attached to it; no feeling that, through cosmic development and change, God is the prime mover of the event. This represents a stirring in the heart of the Hebrew, especially in his own land, Israel, and a longing on the part of those of the diaspora, but this does not extend to Gentile lands or people, who may feel the love of their land in a quite different way, and I would not, therefore, wish to impose upon them what would be in effect an alien attitude, and I am therefore eliminating the Rosh Hashanah from the list of holidays to be observed by the Church of the New Birth, and this shall also include the Tabernacles, on virtually the same considerations, as well as the festival of Purim in February, as nationalistic only and pertaining to the limited area of -the Hebrew historical scene.
As for the Simhat Torah, or Rejoicing in the Law (23rd of Tishri, September-October), I also feel that observances of this purely Hebrew Festival can hardly be considered appropriate to peoples whose religious feelings stem from sources entirely distinct from the Hebrew, and who simply take for granted the Books of the Bible dealing with the laws governing human conduct-they consider this an accomplished legacy, and cannot be moved by a fact of which they were riot a part; on the other hand, the Jews witnessed the formation, development and perfection of these books from the Ten Commandments, experienced in actual life, from trial and error, to spiritual growth and insight, the slow and painful progress of the Pentateuch, steeped in the life-blood, culture and civilization of the people down to Deuteronomy, the Reform of Josiah and Jeremiah's love for this humanitarian work. Observance of this holiday event must be emotional, a rejoicing-and I fail to see how an intellectual, and indeed, respectful, approach to this holiday can do justice either to our Gentile members, and they will far outnumber the Jews, or to the holiday itself. I would suggest that one evening a week, when convenient, be set aside to study the Hebraic laws, not for any doctrinal reason, but to understand the humanistic spirit of the Hebrews, for whom reverence for life as a God-given gift, and social and individual justice, were the essence of our religious insight.
Jesus of the Bible and Master of the Celestial Heavens
Editors Note. The influence of the medium is obvious on these messages, and this has been confirmed in this message.