Past Messages

Previous Messages from the Pastors

Finding Joy

Finding Joy

Written by on July 8, 2019

The theme for Laurel Camp this year is “Finding Joy.” The Lord wants all of us to get to experience joy, because that is who He is: “As God is love itself, He is also blessedness itself… and happiness itself.” (True Christianity 43.4) The Lord wants to share His joy with us forever, which is […]

Independence Day

Independence Day

Written by on July 2, 2019

The Lord said to Israel through Moses, “I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life.” (Deuteronomy 30:19) Moses said these words when the Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and through the wilderness to the edge of the promised land of Canaan. They had been freed […]

Bryn Athyn Regional Clergy Meetings

Bryn Athyn Regional Clergy Meetings

Written by on June 25, 2019

This past week, after the wonderful indoor pageant celebrating June 19th on a day that was too rainy for a picnic, Bryn Athyn Church hosted the regional clergy meetings. About 25 ministers attended, and there were eleven presentations. The following were the topics discussed: • New Bishop’s Session (Rt. Rev. Peter Buss, Jr.): Pete discussed […]

What Comes First?

What Comes First?

Written by on June 18, 2019

Often in life, we are faced with putting one thing ahead of another and what we choose to put first has a huge effect on all the other things. Is work the priority at this point or is it my family? Is being assertive or accommodating what needs to take the lead in this situation? […]

COMMENCEMENT

COMMENCEMENT

Written by on June 10, 2019

At this time of year many of us are thinking about the end of school and graduation. I’ve always thought it was interesting that graduation ceremonies are often called a “commencement” ceremony–a “beginning” ceremony. The “end” of school is the “beginning” of something new. I think that is an appropriate way to think about many […]

Education and Evangelization

Education and Evangelization

Written by on June 4, 2019

There is a close relationship between what makes for effective education and what makes for effective evangelization. In both, the Lord makes use of what we can do and say to teach and lead young children and teens to better lives, and what we do and say also helps young people and adults who are […]

Remembering

Remembering

Written by on May 29, 2019

We just celebrated Memorial Day, when we honor those who gave their lives in defense of their country. My grandfather died in World War II so this time means a lot to me. It reminds me strongly of my grandmother, of the hard times she experienced as a widow with three children under the age […]

The Expanse Between the Waters

The Expanse Between the Waters

Written by on May 21, 2019

On Day Two of Creation, God created a firmament or an expanse between the waters below and the waters above (see Genesis 1:6-8). “And God called the firmament (or expanse) Heaven.” (Genesis 1:8) The Writings tell us that this represents the way that the Lord creates “a distinction between the inner and the outer being….The […]

Fooled by Spectrum

Fooled by Spectrum

Written by on May 14, 2019

“Fooled by Spectrum” is the title of a talk aired last week by Seth Godin on his “Akimbo” podcast. He says that in 1950, only 9% of American households had a TV but by 1961, 90% of them did. According Godin this changed the world. Conversely, a similar change that has happened since the year […]

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day

Written by on May 7, 2019

Perhaps the first effort to establish a day for mothers was by Julia Ward Howe, a reader of the Writings who crusaded to end slavery, oppression of women, and war. Her “Battle Hymn of the Republic” was indeed a battle hymn, inspiring hundreds of thousands to join the fight against slavery. (Another popular war song […]

A Hallmark of Angelic Intelligence

A Hallmark of Angelic Intelligence

Written by on April 30, 2019

In the book Heaven and Hell the Lord makes what might seem like a surprising assertion about what constitutes the chief point of angelic intelligence (Heaven and Hell 59). This hallmark of intelligence is that all of the angels and of the communities of angels that make up heaven, when seen as a functional whole, […]

Making Easter Real

Making Easter Real

Written by on April 22, 2019

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter celebration this last weekend. In many ways, it is the most important event in the history of humanity. Because He perfected His humanity, the God of heaven and earth became present with us in a way that was not possible before that. He can touch our spirits […]

Glorified

Glorified

Written by on April 16, 2019

At Christmastime, we celebrate the new Light of the Lord coming into the world. The Lord’s Love enters our lives in the form of His Truth. This is a wonderful thing. We can’t really know Love itself unless it takes on a form, which is Truth. That’s when we begin to see the Light and […]

What is Lent?

What is Lent?

Written by on April 9, 2019

When Easter is approaching people sometimes wonder why Bryn Athyn Church does not mention or practice “Lent” and other Christian customs that are part of what is called the “liturgical year.” Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and covers a period of approximately six weeks, ending on Holy Thursday, often called Maundy Thursday. “Maundy” is the […]

Spring Forward

Spring Forward

Written by on April 2, 2019

Internet sources tell us that Daylight Saving Time was first instituted in Thunder Bay, Ontario in 1908. There have been many rationales offered for its adoption in places around the world. The most convincing appears to be the theory that it saves energy. Less lighting and heating are required (according to this contested theory) when […]

Help in Hard Times

Help in Hard Times

Written by on March 26, 2019

I find that the teachings for the New Church are amazingly helpful in all kinds of situations. One teaching has been about the spiritual temptations that are a part of the regenerative process. The literal meaning of the Word does not say very much about temptations. We know that the Lord went through temptations in […]

Finding Hope Event

Finding Hope Event

Written by on March 18, 2019

Saturday, April 6, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm Have you ever been knocked over with grief? Have you ever had that moment when something traumatic has happened to someone you love and you’ve been paralyzed–unsure of what to say or how to help? Have you ever felt isolated because of experiences around loss, addiction, abuse, […]

Naming the Animals

Naming the Animals

Written by on March 12, 2019

In Genesis chapter one, God created the animals, and then said that humanity should “have dominion” over them (Genesis 1:24-28). In Genesis chapter two, Adam gave names to all the animals. And then right after that is the story of the creation of Eve (see Genesis 2:18-24). The Writings say that animals represent our feelings […]

Our Plans and the Lord’s Plans

Our Plans and the Lord’s Plans

Written by on February 26, 2019

We need to plan for the future; we know that. We plan our finances, our vacations, and our fitness goals. We plan for Christmas, for how we raise our children, and for our careers. Bryn Athyn Church is also working on a strategic plan so we can achieve our goals better. But what are our […]

Strategic Planning Committee Survey Results

Strategic Planning Committee Survey Results

Written by on February 19, 2019

Last fall we invited people to fill out a survey giving input on some of the roles and activities that the staff and the board had identified as significant. Thank you to the nearly 250 people who made time to give both responses to how well they saw the roles and activities going, and also […]

Forever Love

Forever Love

Written by on February 12, 2019

Romantic songs often talk about a kind of love that can last forever, or a love that will never die. Sometimes in the struggles that we face in relationships and marriage, we can wonder if that kind of love is really possible. Part of what people love so much about the New Church concept of […]

The Boynton Beach Retreat

The Boynton Beach Retreat

Written by on February 5, 2019

Last week Allyn and I attended the Boynton Beach Retreat, which was held at the Duncan Center in Delray Beach, Florida, and hosted by Boynton Beach New Church. There were about 75 registrants, and we had a great time, with programs in the mornings and free time in the afternoons. The presenters were Rev. Eric […]

When the Going Gets Tough…

When the Going Gets Tough…

Written by on January 29, 2019

People sometimes refer to this time of the year as the “winter doldrums.” Spring is just too far ahead to inspire immediate hope for relief. The cold and the gray skies can send us into a downward spiral. It can be tough going just getting out of bed. So what can be done? There are […]

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)

Written by on January 23, 2019

Imagine you had something important to tell a good friend. As you talk with him about it, he isn’t paying much attention to what you are saying. He is caught up in so many personal issues on his mind that the inner conversation in his head drowns out your words. If your concern was important […]

Snow

Snow

Written by on January 14, 2019

It seems we often have a kind of love-hate relationship with snow. It’s very pretty and festive. It’s fun to play in. It sometimes allows for the joy of snow days. But on the other hand, it causes disruptions to us being able to do our jobs; it causes driving difficulties and accidents. And it […]

Lucky Breaks

Lucky Breaks

Written by on January 8, 2019

As long as I have been watching football I have seen coaches call timeouts just before field goal attempts in an effort to “ice the kicker.” The only time that I ever remember it working was at the end of Sunday’s Eagles-Bears Wild Card matchup. By the time we knew of the timeout, Cody Parkey’s […]

The Wisdom of Experience?

The Wisdom of Experience?

Written by on January 2, 2019

As we begin a new calendar year, many people look back on the previous year, reflecting on the changes that have occurred, and on the major and minor events of significance. Sometimes we can gratefully sense “Another year has passed and I believe that I am not only older, but I’m a wiser person.” A […]

Christmas Angels

Christmas Angels

Written by on December 17, 2018

The Lord’s birth was a time when angels drew near the earth with messages of hope, joy and peace. “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid…” (Matthew 1:20) “Arise, take the young Child and His mother…” (Matthew 2:13, 20) “Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for your prayer is heard…. And you will have joy […]

The Christmas Tree

The Christmas Tree

Written by on December 11, 2018

The Christmas tree began to be used in Medieval and Renaissance times in Europe. Though its use had some connection to pagan rituals, it has some wonderful connection to Christian symbolism as well. Many people decorate their Christmas trees with a star or an angel at the top. These symbolize the star of Bethlehem from […]

The Spirit of Christmas

The Spirit of Christmas

Written by on December 4, 2018

As much as we may love Christmas, it is only natural that feelings of anxiety also play their part in the season. This is true of most important events in our lives. The more meaningful these events are to us, the greater leverage the fears have. It is only natural to have the feeling that […]

Waiting for the Lord

Waiting for the Lord

Written by on November 26, 2018

The New Church asserts that the Lord’s birth and life in this world was a crucial event for each of us today. Although it hardly achieved any historical reference at the time, the results of Jesus’ life had huge and powerful consequences. The faith of the New Church in its universal form asserts the importance […]

New Church Thanksgiving

New Church Thanksgiving

Written by on November 20, 2018

This Thursday many of us will attend the largest regular New Church worship service (with the possible exception of our New Church Day Pageant). All our congregations will gather in one place. A thousand people will sing, pray and hear the Word, to give thanks to our Creator and Savior. In many ways at Thanksgiving […]

Veterans’ Day

Veterans’ Day

Written by on November 12, 2018

This week we honor veterans who have served in the defense of their country. Swedenborg describes charity in the case of soldiers: “If they look to the Lord and shun evils as sins, and if they act honestly, justly, and faithfully… they are doing the goods of use that are goods of charity. And because […]

The Lord’s Patient Leading

The Lord’s Patient Leading

Written by on October 30, 2018

As we get older we often have the uncomfortable experience of coming to realize that the motives that have driven our actions are not as good as we thought. It is painful when we see that pride or a desire to be noticed were much bigger parts of our lives than we had thought. When […]

The Possibility of Bells for the Cathedral

The Possibility of Bells for the Cathedral

Written by on October 23, 2018

Some time ago at a Society meeting, I mentioned the possibility of bells for the Cathedral. A donor has offered to pay the cost of this installation. Initially the envisioned project had some dauntingly complex elements, which have now been eliminated. When the Cathedral was originally being designed and built, the installation of bells was […]

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 […]

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