#SermonNotes from 3/1/20 #LentenLabyrinth

Rev. Dr. Sherrie Connelly

“Lenten Labyrinth: Sacrifice & Service”

New Church of Montgomery, in Glendale, OH

In early Genesis, the serpent tempts Eve in the Garden of Eden to eat of the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil.  Since she desired wisdom, to become like God, she ate the fruit and shared it with her husband, Adam.  Now, seeing their nakedness, they covered themselves in fig leaves.

Psalm 32 contrasts the happiness of the forgiven with the distress of the sinner.  Also how asking forgiveness, when given, the burden is lifted, how the Lord protects the faithful.  Who trust in God, almighty.

In Romans, many have died through their sins, yet through the gift of graces in Jesus Christ, many are saved and live.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we see Jesus tempted by the devil in the wilderness.

He fasted 30 days and 40 nights, resulting in great hunger.

The devil commanded proofs of his being the Son of God, but the Lord said, do not put the Lord your God to the test.

So, Satan left, and angels came to serve our Lord.

In Emanuel Swedenborg’ True Christian Religion, we are taught that the neighbor is to be loved as the highest kingdom, as the church and as the communion of saints.  Love of the kingdom is love of the neighbor. Seek ye first the kingdom of God. A And all will be given unto you.

With Ash Wednesday this past week, we have entered into the church season of Lent.

Traditionally, Lent has been a season of 30 days and 40 nights of penitence and fasting.

That means reviewing one’s sins and transgression against others and ourselves and asking of the Lord’s forgiveness.

Years ago, and sometimes even now, eating fish on Fridays has been a staple.  Giving up a favorite treat, like chocolate, has been common.

Forgoing a tendency to be critical, is a good Lenten practice, as is giving alms to the poor.

In more recent time, another Lenten practice has cropped up.

This is a practice of kindness and service.  Paying attention to the needs of others, and perhaps going beyond our customary habits, and rejoicing in being able to be generous.

This Lenten season, as the snow falls lessen, and the small tree buds of spring start to emerge, let us be more aware than ever of God’s many blessings given to us and be grateful.

The Lord i with us, bringing us from darkness into the light.  Let us raise our praise and a spirit of gladness.  Amen.

As we shared, after a time of quiet- reflection, we found our connections through stories of book lists about kindness for children, our wishes for others to have more free time, sleep and energy, and books like “Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives,” that discuss the need for rest from the world through honoring  reflection and mindfulness.

abstract architecture art berlin

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

#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



Come, His Arms Are Open Wide: Sunday’s Service

New Church of Montgomery Welcomes You!

Sunday, June 23, 2019, Kris Mangan, Laity Leader

Service Focus: Come! His Arms are Open Wide.


Lighting of the Four Candles

  • 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 individual paths which, together, make our one spiritual community.
  • We light the fourth candle to honor and provide an open and safe space for all who seek greater understanding and a life of deepening spirituality.


Scripture Readings: The Lord our teacher

“Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.  Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.”

Psalm 25:6 & 7 (NRSV)


“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28 (NRSV)


(Jesus describing the father’s embrace of the prodigal son)

“So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion: he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.”

Luke 15: 20  (NRSV)


Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg: The Lord extending love and teaching through His creation

“The universe is something to which God could extend His love and in which He could put His love into action and so find rest.  We read that after God had created heaven and earth He rested; and that He made the Sabbath day for that reason.”  

True Christianity 46

“Spiritual warmth and spiritual light flow into and affect not only angels but also us, precisely to the extent that we become receptive.  Our receptivity develops in proportion to our love for the Lord and our love for our neighbor.”

Divine Love and Wisdom 5


“All the things that have been created reflect the human in some respect.  There is evidence for this in every detail of the animal kingdom, in every detail of the plant kingdom, and in every detail of the mineral kingdom.”

Divine Love and Wisdom 61


Setting the Table


Kris the Dog Trainer – in training.   Teaching the dog to come.


Open sharing of experiences, thoughts and feelings:

What makes you feel weary?

What is it like to experience rest for your soul?

Why do you think that it was important that Jesus described himself as “gentle and humble in heart?”

Have you ever met anyone who was very much alive and also very much at rest?  

Can there be rest in action?  

Have you sensed moments where you were receptive to the Lord’s teaching?

What was that like?  

What kind of tangible effect might our love for our neighbor have on our spiritual, mental and physical heath and, subsequently, on the health of our local communities and the world at large?


Music:  Please Come by Nicole Nordeman

Oh, the days when I drew lines around my faith.

To keep you out; to keep me in; to keep it safe.

Oh, the sense of my own self-entitlement.

To say who’s wrong; or won’t belong; or cannot stay.

‘Cause somebody, somewhere, decided we’d be better off divided.

And somehow despite the damage done –

He says “Come.”  

There is room enough for all of us.

Please come; and the arms are open wide enough.

Please come; and our parts are never greater than the sum.

This is the heart of the One

who stands before an open door and bids us “Come.”

Oh, the times when I have failed to recognize how many chairs are

gathered there around the feast.  

To break the bread and break those boundaries that have kept us

from our only common ground.  

The invitation to sit down if we will come.

Come, from the best of humanity.  Come from the depths of depravity.  

Come now and see how we need every bead on this same string.



Prayer Requests

The Lord’s Prayer

 Our Father who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done; on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever.


Time to Come before the Lord and learn from Him.

Go now in peace.  Shalom!

Finding things in Common #FridayFeeling #ReligiousPlurality

from Swedenborg.com

Zen meant giving up the love and sense of a separate self and living passionately in the moment so as to leave one open to the influx of wisdom and enlightenment. Zen included the notion of work or service. This was at the very core of the Zen monk’s education known as the “Meditation Hall.”


two sitting man praying inside building

Photo by Anton Trava on Pexels.com

#MindfulMonday: Bend or Break?

Enjoy this video of bamboo swaying in the breeze. Think about it as a metaphor for going through life. We often think we need to be immovable in our thinking, or that we always need to be strong, for ourselves, for others.

“Our concept of strength is, it doesn’t move, it doesn’t break,” says Dan Smith, who owns Smith & Fong, the largest manufacturer of bamboo plywood in the United States. “The Chinese concept is, you’ve got to bend with things. If you don’t bend, you break. Bamboo’s strength is in its ability to bend, and that’s the miracle.” -Newsweek.com 4/12/08

Sway and bend.  Enjoy your #MindfulMonday and every day in between.

#ThursdayThoughts; Practice #Patience


long lines at the Big Tiny Bash

no-one can find a deep sense of patience in their own strength alone…we can endure the temporary trials of life with a more patient attitude when we have a deep trust in a higher providence: this is can be thought of as a reliance on a universal spiritual force that has the power and foresight to provide what we need; the priority of this divine providence is said to be to satisfy not so much our immediate needs which often are temporary ones but rather those spiritual needs that we will continue to have in the long term – needs for example for belonging, loving relationship, and meaningful role.”

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/2014/10/patience/ Copyright 2014 Stephen Russell-Lacy

The quote from poet John Donne comes to mind, “No man is an island.”


#MindfulMonday Gardening to Goodness

Pat Latta and Maggie Panyko were together in the Children’s Community garden planting flowers to accompany our seedlings, this morning. It was a great opportunity to get their hands dirty, share commonalities and enjoy the sunlight.  When they were done, they both commented that some days it is just nicer to work with someone else in the garden.  They were happy to have shared time together.

Here are some insights into achieving spiritual insight through the practice of gardening, provided by the Swedenborg Foundation’s “Off the Left Eye”.



Plan for an uplifting Sunday

Join us for some or all of this Sunday’s activities at the Glendale New Church.

9:30 AM Begins Study Group

11:00 AM Start of Worship (this is half hour after our normal start time)

12:00 PM Feast of Charity Luncheon

1:30-2:30 PM Workshop on “Mindful Communication Challenge” Journey Program

This is a joint effort between the New Church of Montgomery & The Glendale New Church’s spiritual groups. Come be a part of this special journey in self, and spiritual-study.