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:

Escape from the Deluge

From Rev. Phil Schnarr, Assistant to the Pastor
October 16, 2018

News of devastating storms and consequent flooding on planet Earth keep hitting the headlines. Many of us in the Bryn Athyn area have experienced surging gutters and steady flows of water into our basements. Is it coincidence that the Genesis account of the Great Flood has been a subject for recent chapel services at Bryn Athyn Church School?
Sure, it’s a coincidence, but it’s also a good time to reflect on how our internal world can be subject to flooding as well:

Experience has enabled me [Swedenborg] to learn what is implied in the spiritual sense by a deluge or flood. Understood in this spiritual sense a deluge is two-sided, being on the one hand a deluge of evil desires, on the other a deluge of falsities … When those who have led a good life are taken back into their own selfhood [proprium], and so into the sphere that emanates from the life properly their own, it seems like a deluge. Caught in this deluge we are annoyed and angry, have un-peaceful thoughts and wildly evil desires. (Arcana Caelestia 5725)

Feeling swamped by such troublesome thoughts and feelings is no fun and would seem to be a sign of serious spiritual disaster. But notice that this state is to be expected for those, “who have led a good life!” So rather than losing heart when immersed in this kind of turmoil, there is actual reason for hope.

But when a person is kept within the sphere emanating from the life they have received through regeneration from the Lord they are completely outside such a deluge. They are so to speak in a calm and sunny, cheerful and happy place, and so are far removed from annoyance, anger, un-peacefulness, evil desires, and the like. The latter state is a morning or spring state for spirits. The former state is their evening or autumn. I was led to perceive myself outside such a deluge; this lasted quite a long time, during which I saw other spirits caught in it. But after that I too become submerged in it, when I experienced what felt like a deluge. This is the kind in which people undergoing temptations are caught. From this I learned what is meant in the Word by the Flood. (Arcana Caelestia 5725:2)

Floods are devastating natural events which bring hardship to many. So it is with the floods that inundate our spirits. But stay hopeful. A “calm and sunny, cheerful and happy place” awaits those who seek the higher ground to which we are all invited.