Past Messages

Previous Messages from the Pastors

Escape from the Deluge

Escape from the Deluge

Written by on 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 […]

Charter Day

Charter Day

Written by on October 8, 2018

This weekend is Charter Day weekend and people from all over will visit Bryn Athyn to mark the date. Last year we celebrated the 140th anniversary of the granting of the charter. In 1927, Randolph Childs wrote: Almost 50 years ago there was signed a decree incorporating the Academy of the New Church. The event […]

I’ll See It When I Believe It

I’ll See It When I Believe It

Written by on October 2, 2018

Yes, this title is the reverse of a familiar phrase. While we often think that visual observation of something will demonstrate its reality to us, when an issue is very important to us “seeing” what is real is far from easy. If seeing the truth of something threatens a person’s deeply held conviction, it will […]

Wicked Expectations

Wicked Expectations

Written by on September 25, 2018

Ann and I saw the Broadway musical “Wicked” last weekend. It was an amazing production, well worth seeing. One of its themes is that people are not who we expect them to be. I won’t offer any spoilers about the play, but the theme is an important one. We make so many judgments about people […]

Love over Ego

Love over Ego

Written by on September 18, 2018

Many of the characters in the Old Testament represent the Lord, even though they often did some bad things. A few stand out for not only their spiritual representation but also for their moral character, such as Joseph and Daniel. This year our Journey campaign considers the first six chapters of the book of Daniel, […]

Liquid Modernity

Liquid Modernity

Written by on September 10, 2018

With Bryn Athyn Church’s Semi-Annual Meeting coming up next week, as well as the launch of a new school year, I have naturally been thinking about modernism and postmodernism. I recently heard about a similar concept, called “liquid modernity.” Here is a quote from the Wikipedia article about it:  “Zygmunt Bauman, who introduced the idea […]

Changes Afoot at Young Children’s Church

Changes Afoot at Young Children’s Church

Written by on September 4, 2018

Clearly, change is inescapable. Each day may follow a pattern which involves routines, but still we can never relive a day of our lives even in our memories. A well-known teaching in the Writings says: In all things we find an infinite variety and also an infinite diversity. (Conjugial Love 324) In taking my son […]

Behold I Create All Things New

Behold I Create All Things New

Written by on August 27, 2018

The Lord said these words in Revelation 21, which is describing in its inner meaning the establishment of the New Church. “Newness” is built into the name of the church itself, and yet most of what we do as a church does not look that new compared to most Christian practice. We worship in similar […]

Justice and Hatred

Justice and Hatred

Written by on August 20, 2018

One of the responses that human beings can have to those who have different ideas and make different choices from what that person believes is good and right is to attack, criticize, or ridicule them in any way possible. It is too common that “ad hominem” attacks are made on an opponent’s character or personal […]

The Academy Movement and Long Beach Island

The Academy Movement and Long Beach Island

Written by on August 17, 2018

Many people from Bryn Athyn regularly visit Long Beach Island and this has been true from the earliest days of the church. Harold Pitcairn owned a home there and used to land his planes on the beach in the 1930s, but the history goes back farther than that. Before 1886 the only way to reach […]

The Lord’s Leading in Vacations

The Lord’s Leading in Vacations

Written by on August 6, 2018

When we think about taking vacations from a spiritual perspective, we likely think of it as what the Lord calls a recreation of charity. Vacations are useful because they allow us to unstring the bow, to divert our attention from our daily use, a use that “strains the mind and keeps it intent on its […]

The Spiritual Needs and Natural Needs

The Spiritual Needs and Natural Needs

Written by on July 30, 2018

The first volume of Arcana Caelestia was inscribed by Swedenborg at its beginning with the quotation: “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) A passage that speaks to the importance of spiritual things is the following: Truths and forms of good, together […]

The Big Question

The Big Question

Written by on July 23, 2018

An article titled “The Big Question” in last week’s New Yorker magazine reviewed six new books that discuss whether or not the world is getting better. Although the unambiguous conclusion is that by virtually any measure the world is getting better, there is irony in the fact that recent studies show that the majorities in […]

Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace

Written by on July 16, 2018

This well-known hymn was written by John Newton in 1772, the same year that Swedenborg passed away. Newton had been a slave trader who was known for his profanity and cruel language towards his shipmates. After nearly losing his life, he did some deep self-examination and repentance, and later became a preacher. “Newton’s preaching was […]

Healthy Trust

Healthy Trust

Written by on July 9, 2018

One of the well-known and loved passages about marriage is that one of its states includes the idea of “complete trust.” For nearly all of us living in this world this can be an inspiring goal to aspire to and it is a tricky one to live in this world when one’s spouse is still […]

Freedom of Speech

Freedom of Speech

Written by on July 3, 2018

The media and social media have been filled with comments and opinions about news, fake news, who is lying and who is telling the truth. People on both sides of the political spectrum have laid charges that the opposition is using fabricated information to support their positions. For many this is troubling. It is nice […]

New Pastors

New Pastors

Written by on June 26, 2018

This past year the Bryn Athyn Church School theme was “The Lord is my Shepherd.” (Psalm 23:1) Our chapel schedule for the year followed the life of the Lord in the New Testament. We talked about the imagery of “sheep” and “shepherds” and what they represent in the Word and in our lives. Ministers are […]

White Garments

White Garments

Written by on June 20, 2018

So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7.9 At this time of year, it is common for people to wear white clothes. Graduations, weddings, our June 19th pageant, and other events […]

A More International Church

A More International Church

Written by on June 12, 2018

When I graduated from Theological School nearly 40 years ago, the General Church of the New Jerusalem (GCNJ) was an international church. There were pastors serving congregations in: Australia Brazil Canada England South Africa Sweden USA In the decades since 1979, the GCNJ has responded to opportunities to train and support pastors serving new countries […]

The Intensity of the Book of Revelation

The Intensity of the Book of Revelation

Written by on June 5, 2018

When you picture the stories in the Book of Revelation do the colors in your mind’s eye look brighter than real life–like the technicolor brightness in early color movies like the Wizard of Oz? There’s not a lot of subtlety in the stories. In the rest of Scripture we find stories of people who are […]

Memorial Day

Memorial Day

Written by on May 29, 2018

Thank you to the many brave souls who have given their lives in defense of our country. “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15:13) “We are to love our country not merely as much as we love ourselves; we are to love it more. […]

The Future of the Church

The Future of the Church

Written by on May 22, 2018

In the teachings for the New Church we are told of Swedenborg’s conversations with angels about the future state of the New Church. These angels were quite clear that they didn’t know what was going to happen, because the Lord alone knows the future. But they did know that the nearly inescapable slavery and captivity […]

Finding Rest

Finding Rest

Written by on May 14, 2018

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) These […]

Perfection Through More Members Working Together

Perfection Through More Members Working Together

Written by on May 8, 2018

Sometimes people are inclined to say that numbers don’t matter to the Lord and that He is fundamentally interested in quality, not quantity. While it is true that we can be far more caught up with measuring things and judging their success by this means than the Lord remotely turns His mind to, the Lord […]

Spiritual Evenings

Spiritual Evenings

Written by on May 1, 2018

As spring arrives, and as the days are getting longer, I’m loving the chance to be out enjoying the beautiful weather in the evenings. Evenings are one of my favorite times of the day, with the beauty of the sunset and the chance to slow down, find recreation, and be with family. It’s like a […]

The Old Days in Bryn Athyn

The Old Days in Bryn Athyn

Written by on April 24, 2018

This week in Bryn Athyn, we have the Society Annual Meeting on Wednesday and also the Swedenborg Foundation Annual Meeting on Friday evening. We have also had quite a number of memorial services for beloved members of the society recently. Here are some excerpts from Muriel Rose Genzlinger’s memorial, about the old days in Bryn […]

Continued: Executive Bishop Nominating Process

Continued: Executive Bishop Nominating Process

Written by on April 17, 2018

 At the beginning of March, I wrote a column on the Executive Bishop nomination process. In it I reminded people that this coming June the members of the Council of the Clergy will be nominating a person to serve as the next Executive Bishop when our current Executive Bishop, Brian Keith, steps down at the […]

Laurel Camp Theme: Providence

Laurel Camp Theme: Providence

Written by on April 10, 2018

The theme for Laurel Camp this summer is “Providence.” “God will provide.” (Genesis 22:8) The Lord didn’t wind up the universe and just let it go. He is constantly taking care of us, and providing what we need to find eternal happiness. But the way that He does that is not always obvious, especially in […]

Seeing the Lord

Seeing the Lord

Written by on April 2, 2018

The disciples spent every day for three years with the Lord. They spoke with Him, and touched Him. And yet they did not truly see Him. They thought of Him as a prophet, as a teacher, as a future king, as their ticket to fame and glory, as just about anything but the one God […]

The Lord’s Rescue of the Bound

The Lord’s Rescue of the Bound

Written by on March 27, 2018

One of my favorite parts of the Book of Revelation story is the many-staged rescue of the suffering souls who we first see as the souls under the altar when the fifth seal is opened. They stand for good people who are oppressed by the majority because of their faith and life. No other image […]

His Face Toward Jerusalem

His Face Toward Jerusalem

Written by on March 20, 2018

In the Gospel of Luke, we read, “Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:51) The Lord knew that He was going to Jerusalem to His eventual death and yet He “steadfastly” headed in that […]

Update: Executive Bishop Nomination Process

Update: Executive Bishop Nomination Process

Written by on March 5, 2018

This coming June the members of the Council of the Clergy will be nominating a person to serve as the next Executive Bishop when our current Executive Bishop, Brian Keith, steps down at the end of June 2019. Each pastor has been asked to seek input from the people he serves as a background for […]

Unseen Companions Working for Us

Unseen Companions Working for Us

Written by on February 26, 2018

In the last few weeks two great champions in New Church education have moved on to the next world. Beth Johns was a pioneer in developing the arts curriculum and in championing the use of creativity in all aspects of classroom teaching. She studied the Word to help people be creative. Jane Williams-Hogan did an […]

Life After Death

Life After Death

Written by on February 20, 2018

A little less than a week from now will be one year since my mom passed away. It has been a year full of grieving all the “firsts;” the first Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthdays without my mom in this world. In traveling this journey of grief, I am reminded of how grateful I am for […]

Meeting the Needs of Hard Times

Meeting the Needs of Hard Times

Written by on February 14, 2018

Next Monday we celebrate President’s Day. Originally, this was a celebration of George Washington and has been associated with both Washington and Abraham Lincoln for decades. I think we do well to honor both these men who have served our country. Both willingly accepted crucial roles of leadership at incredibly trying times in our country. […]

The Super Bowl

The Super Bowl

Written by on February 5, 2018

Few things in life compare to resounding victories in life’s biggest moments. For example, the feelings of our parents and grandparents at the conclusion of WWII are surely unparalleled by anything this generation has experienced. When a contest that threatens our lives ends in a dramatic and conclusive victory, the feeling is like nothing else […]

Flying

Flying

Written by on January 30, 2018

Today marks Emanuel Swedenborg’s 330th birthday. Even though it is unlikely that he celebrates his “earth birthday” in the spiritual world the same way that we do here, I always wonder what he is doing right now when his birthday rolls around each year. Many people, when celebrating their birthdays, like to indulge in a […]

Perspectives on the Musical “Godspell”

Perspectives on the Musical “Godspell”

Written by on January 23, 2018

At the end of this month and the beginning of the next, Bryn Athyn College will be putting on the musical Godspell. Sometimes this musical is confused with Jesus Christ Superstar which is unfortunate because many see them as quite different. Quite a few of us are sensitive to the use of sacred words and […]

Why Worry; It’s Not Yours Anyway

Why Worry; It’s Not Yours Anyway

Written by on January 16, 2018

The earth is the Lord’s, and all its fullness. (Psalm 24:1) Money is an interesting thing because we tend to have so much anxiety around it. Most studies show that money is the number one thing couples argue about, and those that don’t have it first put it second. Yet the Lord says don’t worry: […]

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

Written by on January 8, 2018

This coming Monday we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a day that celebrates the efforts by many people to overcome racial prejudice and bigotry.  Of all the special days that we take note of during the year, this is one that we might see as especially important to the New Church. This […]

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

Dr. Martin Luther King Day

Written by on January 8, 2018

This coming Monday we mark the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., a day that celebrates the efforts by many people to overcome racial prejudice and bigotry. Of all the special days that we take note of during the year, this is one that we might see as especially important to the New Church. This […]

Spiritual Renewal

Spiritual Renewal

Written by on January 4, 2018

Happy New Year! I’ve often thought that the practice of making New Year’s resolutions is particularly suited to the New Church. “He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” (Revelation 21:5) Regeneration is about spiritual change and renewal: fighting hereditary inclinations to evil, and developing spiritual practices of charity and […]

What Do You See this Christmas Season?

What Do You See this Christmas Season?

Written by on December 11, 2017

In one of the movie versions of Dickens’ Christmas Carol as Scrooge wanders through the market on Christmas morning with the Ghost of Christmas Present, apparently his first Christmas out and about in many long years, he observes, “There’s a lot of buying, isn’t there” and the spirit replies, “Oh Ebenezer, is that all you […]

Innocence at Christmas

Innocence at Christmas

Written by on December 5, 2017

This is Tableaux week. For many the highlight is when we are able to walk up to the manger and to see the baby Lord lying there. How many have wanted to linger to appreciate that beautiful touch of heaven? I love watching the children in the tableaux. They may not hold their poses as […]

In One Hundred Years

In One Hundred Years

Written by on November 20, 2017

What are you and I going to be most grateful for in 100 years? Almost for sure, anyone reading this today will not be in this world a century from now. It is likely that I will have been in the next life for longer than I’ve now been alive in this world. Who I […]

Courteous Morality

Courteous Morality

Written by on November 14, 2017

We have recently had a distressing number of revelations about powerful men taking advantage of younger more vulnerable women and men. It is both ugly and frightening that people use their positions of authority and prestige to pressure people into doing things that they do not want. The #MeToo campaign on social media has led […]

The Headwinds/Tailwinds Asymmetry

The Headwinds/Tailwinds Asymmetry

Written by on November 6, 2017

With Thanksgiving approaching it might be worthwhile to draw your attention to the phenomenon known as the “headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry.” In a recent study, researchers Davidai and Gilovich, at the New School for Social Research and Cornell University, called it “an availability bias in assessments of barriers and blessings.” They explain that this is a “bias […]

Desirable Qualities in the Next Executive Bishop

Desirable Qualities in the Next Executive Bishop

Written by on October 31, 2017

As I wrote about two weeks ago, this coming June the International Council of the Clergy of the GCNJ will nominate a candidate for the position of Executive Bishop to take over that position from the current Executive Bishop Brian Keith when he steps down at the end of June 2019. In nominating a new […]

Standing Up for the Truth

Standing Up for the Truth

Written by on October 24, 2017

After the service on Sunday someone asked me about how to stand up for the truth in a loving way in her relationship with a friend who seems to be making a poor choice. We have seen a flood of people on social media standing up for the treatment women have received from men and […]

The Process for Selecting a New Executive Bishop

The Process for Selecting a New Executive Bishop

Written by on October 16, 2017

Bishop Brian Keith announced earlier this year that he will retire from his role as Executive Bishop of the General Church of the New Jerusalem (GCNJ) in June 2019. As part of this process I would welcome your thoughts about this role and the future of the GCNJ. The Episcopal office provides oversight for the […]

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