This was our church’s first year “adopt(ing) a family” from Bethany House Services to provide gifts and needed items. Thanks to all who were able to participate, purchase, wrap and label gifts, and transport them, and to the kids from church posing for pictures in the warehouse receiving area.
Items purchased included silverware, shoes, gift cards, clothes and toys to bring smiles to two little ones and their mom; a family experiencing homelessness. We hope they have a Merry Christmas and feel the love we wrapped into each present.
When the oppressor falls, are we free? When wars cease, are we at peace? Superficially maybe, but at a deeper level not necessarily. History shows one oppressor arising after the fall of another. Every truce, every armistice is no more than a pause before the outbreak of new hostilities. By contrast, heaven’s peace, the peace we wait for during Advent, the peace Swedenborg describes, is just that: the life of Heaven flowing into us.
Join us this Sunday, (Dec 5, 2021, at 11:00 am-worship, 10:30 am- fellowship) as we ask what it means to be truly at peace, within ourselves and with each other.
Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mitchell
Zoom link will be emailed to church members and their contacts.
We will be exploring the following readings:
Scriptures: Psalm 85 Luke 2:8-14
Swedenborg: “Peace” … is the inmost, and hence the universally reigning thing, in each and all things in heaven. For peace in heaven is like spring on earth, or like the dawn, which does not affect us by particular visible things, but by a universal beauty that flows into everything that is perceived, and fills not only the perception itself with this beauty but also the particular objects. At the present day scarcely anyone knows the meaning of “peace” when mentioned in the Word, as in the benediction, “The Lord lift up His face upon you, and bring you peace” (Num. 6:26); and in other places. Almost everyone believes peace to be security from enemies, and also tranquility at home and among companions. Such peace is not meant in this passage, but a peace which immeasurably transcends it – the heavenly peace just now spoken of. This peace can be bestowed on no one unless someone who is led by the Lord and is in the Lord, that is, in heaven where the Lord is all in all. For heavenly peace flows in when the obsessions (cupiditates) arising from the love of self and the love of the world are taken away.
[AC 5662, excerpts, adapted from the Potts translation]
Thank you to the Swedenborgian Church of North America for their recent email with the following text from Emanuel Swedenborg:
For everything that flows from the Lord… is freely given. The Lord does, it is true, demand humility, worship, thanksgiving, and much else from a person, which seem like repayment, so that His gifts do not seem to be free. But the Lord does not demand those things for His own sake, for the Divine derives no glory at all from a person’s humility, worship, or thanksgiving. It is utterly inconceivable that any self-love should exist within the Divine, causing Him to require such actions for His own sake. Rather, they are required for humankind’s own sake, for if someone possesses humility they are able to accept good from the Lord, since in that case they have been parted from self-love and its evils which stand in the way of their accepting it. Therefore the Lord desires a state of humility in a person for that person’s sake, because the Lord can flow in with heavenly good when that state exists in them. The same applies to worship and thanksgiving.
We are grateful to have been able to share a virtual/in-person hybrid church service on Sunday, the 21st of November, 2021. Our congregants had either received the Covid vaccine, or had had Covid previously. We prayed and sang together, and listened to a sermon by our local minister, Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly. We were joined by our friends near and far over zoom. We even had Sunday School where the kids brainstormed ideas of subjects they’d like to study in future weeks. Below are the sermon notes from Rev. Connelly. The readings are referenced.
“Blessed Thanksgiving for All Things,” Sermon notes by Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly
Psalm 47:1 to 2, 5 to 9
Oh clap your hands everyone together express your joy adore the Lord on high.
Joel 2:21 to 24 to 26
The threshing floors are filled with autumn green because I had and rejoice in your God.
Matthew 6:25 to 33
Your life is full of abundant blessings. There is nothing to worry about. Worrying gets you nothing. It is merely negative meditation. Let it go…
The flowers of nature grow abundantly and naturally as God has ordered. So too you will grow into the fullness of your being.
ES: AC (Elliott,) n. 10655
We are thankful that the divine human has been raised, thus saving human beings from evil. There is much to be thankful for.<TBTG>
“ Blessed Thanksgiving for All Things“
As our Thanksgiving holiday approaches, we are celebrating a harvest feast together today. Together, in person for the first time in a very long time. Hallelujah we are grateful! Let us look at different sorts of blessed Thanksgiving.
1. during the first year of a child’s life, from loving conception through gestation and burst. A new child is born and comes to us as a miracle. Thanks be to God.
2. During the learning years we develop skills, expand awareness, and have experiences that mature us into full adults. Thanks be to God.
3. As we age, get gray hair, creaky knees, and disabled parking permit, we are grateful for the abilities that do remain. Thanks be to God.
4. As we embrace worlds of many different languages lands and cultures and opportunities to travel across the states and abroad. Thanks be to God
5. As we prepare to share in this delicious and bountiful Thanksgiving harvest feast. We are so grateful for each other’s contributions. Thanks be to God.
6. As we anticipate our first snowfall in the coming of winter, we are grateful for warm clothes, mittens, coats, hats, boots, and people who shovel snow for us. Thanks be to God.
7. As the season of Christmas and baby Jesus’ birth come near, once again we celebrate a newborn child, and the coming new year. He is blessed and born. Thanks be to God.
8. For everyone of our blessings including both gifts and challenges, may we be abundantly grateful. Amen.
The image of living on the earth in harmony with creation and therefore the Creator, is a helpful image for me… Each day we are given is for Thanksgiving for the earth. We are to enjoy it and share it in service of others. This is the way to grow in unity and harmony… It allows for diversity within the unity of the Creator… There are many teachings in the aboriginal North American nations that use the symbol of the circle. It is the symbol for the inclusive caring community, where individuals are respected and interdependence is recognized. In the wider perspective it symbolizes the natural order of creation in which human beings are part of the whole circle of life. Aboriginal spiritual teachers speak of the reestablishment of the balance between human beings and the whole of creation, as a mending of the hoop.
James Treat, Native and Christian: Indigenous Voices on Religious Identity in the United States and Canada (New York: Routledge, 1996), 54-55.
Catch up on last weekend’s New Church of Montgomery worship service with Guest Minister, Catherine Lauber, Mdiv, MA, RP. The title of the service is “Holy City of Our Minds” and the title of the Sermon is “This Illness Does Not Lead to Death,” with the emphasis on looking at what tools we have at our disposal that can use in the midst of chaos. If you want to go directly to the sermon, click: https://youtu.be/oIg6eQxSdo8&t=17m44s
Make plans to attend church virtually this Sunday, 11/7/21, with the New Church of Montgomery and Guest Minister Rev. Catherine Lauber of Ontario. Rev. Lauber is a Registered Psychotherapist at Marigold Whole Life Counseling in Cambridge, ON.
Service Theme: The Holy City of Our Minds.
Last week Rev. Rich Tafel spoke about the purpose of chaos as part of our spiritual evolution process. I would like to follow that with some thoughts on ways to move through the chaos and highlight one of the tools that Swedenborg offers us to help us along the way.
If you missed our Sunday service with Guest Minister, Rev. Rich L. Tafel of the D.C. Church of the Holy City, you can click the video above to watch/listen to the YouTube presentation. Click https://youtu.be/x4TOkqucm_A &t=13m57s to take you directly to the sermon, followed by a discussion.
The most common question people ask me lately is, “Where is all of this chaos headed?” While I can’t predict the future, our spiritual tradition does give us some unique insights into making sense of the current state of chaos and the possibility of what might be coming next.
Sunday, (10/31/21) I’ll talk about one of our tradition‘s unique teachings concerning spiritual evolution. I hope what I share offers some peace of mind as we all navigate increasingly chaotic times.
~Rev. Rich L. Tafel
This Sunday, October 31, 2021, Guest Minister, Rev. Rich L. Tafel will lead our zoom worship service at 11 am. Zoom link will be emailed to church members and their contacts.