Virtual Sunday Sermon, Jan 29, 2017

There is no physical church service today at our Glendale home.

The sermon and video links below are for your enjoyment and reflection.  It was the intended service for today and we thank Sue for preparing it for us.


What’s in a Name?
New Church of Montgomery, January 29, 2017
Celebration of 329th Birthday of Emanuel Swedenborg
Sermon Giver & Worship Leader: Sue Marie Kern

Hi, my name is Sue Marie Kern. Sue is short for Susan, but I prefer to use Sue. The name Susan means lilies of the field, Sue means trusting, and Marie means exalted.

In today’s society, we probably don’t pay much attention to what a name really means; we just name our children because we like a name or it sounds good to us. However, in the Bible, names always mean something. For example, Jacob means deceiver. His actions as depicted in the stories about him reflect this characteristic.

The parents in the Bible name their children after an event or as a reflection of how their children’s lives were going to be lived out. Israel’s twelve sons were named in this way. Jacob’s name was later changed by God to Israel (Genesis 32:28), meaning to struggle with God, which is what the children of Israel did throughout their Biblical history. God also changed Abram’s name to Abraham (Genesis 17:5). Abram means exalted father, and Abraham means father of many. Swedenborg explains that the reason for this renaming was for the sake of the “h” sound, such as is in His most holy Name YeHoVaH. This new name signifies God Himself because Abraham is representing God’s quality of acting as our Heavenly Father in these stories.

In Isaiah 62:2, it is says, “… you will be called by a new name,” which means that one will become a different person as a result of being regenerated. Swedenborg also informs us that in ancient times parents named their children in the hopes that they would accomplish what their name meant and thus live by those qualities, thereby fulfilling their life’s purpose, of which their parents had a perception. This was the reason for giving them a certain name.

It is because of the significance of a person’s name that in the Ten Commandments, where we are told not to take God’s Name in vain, that what is meant is not to disrespect His quality or essence by treating It disdainfully. This also includes everything that involves the worship of Him.

In Arcana Coelestia (aka Secrets of Heaven), we read, “… since names signify the essential quality of a person, a name completely encompasses every quality in its entirety within that person. For in heaven no attention is paid to a name, but when anyone is referred to by name, or when a name is used, a mental image of a person’s true nature arises, that is, an idea of all that person’s [true] nature encompasses. This is why a name in the Word signifies essential quality.” (A.C. 2009)

Also, in the Lord’s Prayer in the phrase “…hallowed be Thy Name,” the name has nothing to do with the actual Name of God, but rather, His essential character which has everything to do with all things that belong to Love and Faith. Since these things are Holy, His Kingdom comes and His Will is done as it is in heaven when these are supported and acknowledged as being Holy.

So, merely mentioning one of God’s names is nothing but a verbal expression and is meaningless unless both the person saying it and the one hearing it thinks of the essential qualities of what the Name implies when they hear it mentioned. We automatically do this with each other when another’s name is mentioned, for we immediately think of that person’s qualities and character and whether they are pleasing or not.

The fact that merely using the Lord’s Name is of no avail, such as uttering it as though it had some magical quality, is clearly stated by the Lord Himself in Matthew: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord didn’t we prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:21-23) So when we hear one of God’s Names: Jesus, Immanuel, El Shaddai, Alah, Christ, Ahura Mazda, Ancient of Days, Great Spirit, Jehovah, it has little effect on us unless we thereby think of His essential nature, aspect, or quality; strive to allow Him to assimilate it into our lives; and, thereby show that honor and gratitude which a creature should show to one’s Creator.

As we hear in the posted videos (see links below), Swedenborg’s original family name was Svedberg. When his father, Jesper, became the Bishop of Scara, which included elevation to the rank of nobleman, the family name was changed to Swedenborg. Swedenborg’s first name, Emanuel, means God with us.

Do you know what your names mean? How do your names reflect who you are, or who you aspire to be?

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father, Giver of all good gifts and graces, You promised that where two or three are gathered together in Your Name, You will be in the midst of us. Today, we assemble in Your Name (in person and virtually) and most humbly beseech You to guide us in Your paths of Righteousness for Your Name’s sake that we may know and serve You, and that all our doings may tend toward Your Glory and the salvation of our souls. In Your Most Holy Name, we pray. Amen.

Happy Birthday, Emanuel!

For Today: Enjoy some cake, cupcakes, or other favorite dessert in celebration of Emanuel and you and who God named you to be!

Videos about Emanuel Swedenborg’s Life:

Emanuel Swedenborg, Childhood Emanuel Swedenborg, Scientist
Emanuel Swedenborg, Revelator
Who Was Swedenborg? What Should I Read? starters/#wws

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