#MondayMotivation #GetOutside #Cincinnati

From: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/a_scientific_reason_to_stop_and_smell_the_roses

Robert Emmons, perhaps the leading scientific expert on gratitude, writes that gratitude isn’t just about acknowledging the goodness in one’s life but also “recognizing that the source(s) of this goodness lie at least partially outside the self.”

Psychology Professor Nancy Fagley says,

“The challenge in fostering appreciation,” she says, “is that we want to periodically reflect on the positive aspects of our lives, value our friends and family, relish and savor the good times—without the practice of reflection becoming a rote habit or something that is taken for granted.”

She suggests people

“focus on and value what they have, spend time outdoors, and reflect on their blessings and relationships with others.”

A Rose in the Glendale New Church Garden



#MindfulMonday Festival of Gratitude

fishandloves“IT IS TIME FOR THE FEAST”
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly
New Church of Montgomery
Sunday, July 29, 2018

In the reading from 2 Kings [4:42-44] we are told that the Lord gave the people food to eat, and there will be some left over.

In the reading from Psalm 145 [10-18] thanks and blessings are offered to our Lord. The people will receive food in every season. The desires of every living thing will be satisfied. And the Lord is kind in all things. The Lord is kind in all things.

Ephesians 3 [14-21] exhorts that our inner being will be strengthened through the power of the Lord’s Spirit, rooted and grounded in love. Christ in us enables vastly more than we alone are able to do.

The Gospel of John 6 [1-21] tells how, nearing Passover, Jesus took 5 loaves and two fish to feed the 5000, gathered at the Sea of Tiberius. Then, miraculously, He was seen walking on water.

From Emanuel Swedenborg, in Arcana Coelestia, n. 9294, we worship the Lord with thanksgiving, since truth has been planted in good. This is what sharing in the harvest feast is all about, planting good in the fields of our lives.

And so we come together on Sunday mornings, as a community, to worship the Lord, and to celebrate the riches of abundance we have been given. And at first to recognize this.

It is very good indeed, a blessing and a miracle.

The Feast, in scripture, multiplied abundantly so that a mere 5 loaves and two fish could feed 5000 people. A miracle indeed.

What are we to learn from this?

(1) We are always given more than enough, even though we may not recognize it at first.

(2) When we give generously to others, it grows to even more, through a multiplier effect, miracle upon miracle.

(3) Giving more than we think we can afford stretches us and gives us more back in doing so.

(4) Generosity multiplies the generosity of others.

(5) Feasting reminds us of the words festive, festival, and festivity.

All in all, there is plenty to celebrate. So let us rejoice.

(6) Our lives have feasts in communities, in congregations, in groups, in families, and as individuals. A set of nested celebrations.

May we reach out and touch each other.

(7) It is time for the Feast.

May each day bring love and joy into our hearts and into our lives.

May we recognize these Holy gifts and feel gratitude in abundance.


#ThursdayTheology: Sunday’s Transcript “Friends”


New Church of Montgomery, July 22, 2018, Maggie Panyko presenting.

Intro Song: “Gift of a Friend”, from the movie Tinkerbell, sung by Demi Lovato

Proverbs 13:20: Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.

Candle Lighting

  • We light the first candle to honor the good and truth to be found in all spiritual traditions, including our own.
  • We light the second candle to honor the earth, and all of life, as the creation of the Divine the one Lord and God of us all.
  • We light the third candle to honor and support the variety of our individual paths, which together make our one spiritual community.
  • And we light the fourth candle to honor and provide an open and safe place for all who seek greater understanding and a life of deepening spirituality.

Swedenborg, from Heaven and Hell: Kindred souls gravitate toward each other spontaneously, as it were, for with each other they feel as though they are with their own family, at home, while with others they feel like foreigners, as though they were abroad. When they are with kindred souls, they enjoy the fullest freedom and find life totally delightful.

Opening prayer: From Sonia Choquette ‘s Uplifting Prayers to Light Your Way:
Holy Mother-Father God, Divine Loving Light and Heart of the Universe,
I deeply thank you for your most generous blessing of all: loving people who make my life so wonderful and leaving me feeling so supported. I am deeply grateful for the ways in which they encourage me, love me and keep me close when I feel afraid and alone. Thank you for enriching my life with their gifts, their contributions, their perspectives, their comfort, and their companionship. I am so grateful for their generous blessings, and I thank you with my whole heart and soul for their presence in my life. Amen and with infinite gratitude.

Thank you for coming today to celebrate friends.

Friends may be our spouses, as Friedrich Nietzsche once said,

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship that makes unhappy marriages”

or family members, as writer Christina Rossetti writes in “Goblin Market”:

“For there is no friend like a sister
In calm or stormy weather;
To cheer one on the tedious way,
To fetch one if one goes astray,
To lift one if one totters down,
To strengthen whilst one stands”

but often we think of friends as the dear faces of those with whom we share a most special bond; people outside our families who have walked with us through the hardest times, laughed with us until we cried and shared meals, stories and understanding looks. Without friends we can feel lonely in this big world. We know a good friend when we see them after a long time and feel that no time has passed at all. Today we remember our friends, we bless their names, and feel them deep in our hearts and here with us.

Let us say aloud, in memory and appreciation, the name of some of our dearest friends.

Today’s Readings

1st Reading: Job 2:11-13 -“Now when Job’s three friends heard of all this adversity that had come upon him, each one came from his own place—Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite. For they had made an appointment together to come and mourn with him, and to comfort him. And when they raised their eyes from afar, and did not recognize him, they lifted their voices and wept; and each one tore his robe and sprinkled dust on his head toward heaven. So they sat down with him on the ground seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his grief was very great.”

2nd Reading: John 15:15 New International Version (NIV)

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.

3rd Reading: Emanuel Swedenborg, Heaven and Hell 494

After our life in the world, our friends and people we had known in the world…recognize us. Spirits perceive who we are not only from our faces and voices but also from the aura of our life when they come near. In the other life, whenever we think about someone, we call to us that individual’s face in our thought along with any details about her or his life; and when we do this, the other is called to us. Things like this happen in the spiritual world because thoughts are shared there and because space is not what it is in the natural world. This is why as soon as we arrive in the other life, we are all recognized by our friends and relatives and by people we have known in one way or another. Further, we talk with each other and continue to see each other in keeping with our friendship in the world. I have heard many people who had just come from the world overjoyed to see their friends again, and their friends overjoyed that they had arrived.

Message: We go through our lives surrounded by people. Sometimes you are drawn to people, sometimes you are repelled by them. Sometimes you form a connection with someone you never would have expected. Sometimes connections are broken with someone you truly loved. Jesus asks us to love thy neighbor as thyself. Our fellow human beings are our neighbors; our friends. When we have that special connection to someone else, we feel blessed. We feel like angels are walking among us, as if God has lined up a special helper to just be there for when times get hard, and when things are going great. I not only feel this strength in friendships, but I also see those who suffer alone: the people who cannot make connections with others, those who describe themselves as loners, introverts or “not a people person.” While Introversion can be a valuable attribute, introverts too, value friendship. And the people who seem strongest, and often alone, are many times hurting. It is good to remember that God put us to here to be angels for others also.

Interlude: “The Friendship Song” from the movie, Beaches

Discussion: Let us share some of the times in our lives where we have been good friends to others, or others have been good friends to us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Closing Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for inviting us to appreciate the gifts you give us through the people of the earth. Let us retain our connection to those who help us grow spiritually and let us be examples of spiritual inspiration to others: friends, spouses, brothers; all our neighbors.

Closing Song: “You’ve got a friend in me“, by Randy Newman