From The Pastors

Regularly one of our pastors will share a sermon, reflections on religion, or what’s going on around the community and the world. Our current message is below:

Worshiping a Visible God

From Rev. Eric Carswell, Head Pastor
June 20, 2017

The final chapter of the final book of the Heavenly doctrine states: “This New Church is the crown of all the churches that have hitherto existed on the earth, because it is to worship one visible God.” (True Christian Religion 787) Clearly something important is being conveyed by these words. What does worshiping a visible God mean? And specifically how is the Lord able to be “visible” to members of the New Church?

In one sense, visible does not mean that we will all see the Lord Himself with our natural eyes. But there are many ways that we are invited to “see” Him with our natural eyes.

The opportunity that New Church doctrine offers us is one of the ways that can help us see the Lord in this world. While a hundred years ago or more it was possible for people to mostly know others like themselves, we live in a world that reminds us of how different we can be in the religions we follow and the customs and beliefs that guide us. Traditional Christian doctrine taught that only a few could be welcomed into heaven. In the European world before the Protestant reformation, the assumption was that if you did not receive the sacraments of the church, heaven was closed to you. For some born-again Christians, unless you have accepted that Christ died on the cross for your sins, you cannot go to heaven. This of course would mean that many other Christians would be destined to hell. In sharp contrast to either of these two views the New Church is invited to recognize that the Lord welcomes good people from every religion into heaven. The key issue is that all human beings have the freedom and essential ideas that can lead them to live lives that acknowledge God (or perhaps even some authority higher than themselves) and try to live a good life.

Another opportunity that New Church doctrine offers us is the ability to see that the Old and New Testament are profound revelation of truth that can serve a young child through the highest angel. Think of the challenge that just the seven days of creation at the beginning of Genesis has been for many Christians. The Heavenly doctrine helps us to see that the fundamental purpose of the Old and New Testaments is not to teach science or history. Instead they are parables with an internal sense that talks about the Lord’s life in this world, our own spiritual development and the history of the Lord’s Churches in this world.

Even if we don’t think of ourselves as doctrinal students, an understanding of how the Lord is working with infinite love, wisdom, knowledge and power to lead all human beings from where they are to a better life can open our eyes to see His role in the maturation of people we love, in our own spiritual progress and even our challenges, in this world the Lord has created for us to live in and in flow of human history.

We are invited to recognize the Lord’s loving care in so many parts of life and rejoice in seeing it.