The Cathedral grounds and Pastors Office are now open. Masks are encouraged. Please practice social distancing and avoid gathering in groups.

Past Messages

Previous Messages from the Pastors

Thanksgiving For What Lasts

Thanksgiving For What Lasts

Written by on November 23, 2020

This has been an intense year involving more than the usual hardship, heartache, and conflict. I imagine that some are turning toward Thanksgiving and wondering what they have to be thankful for. It’s harder to be thankful when you are out of work and your benefits are about to run out, when you are dealing […]

Conscience in 1748

Conscience in 1748

Written by on November 16, 2020

This Sunday we turn our attention to Thanksgiving and begin thinking about the Christmas holidays coming up. But in 1748 Swedenborg was not thinking about Thanksgiving on November 22. To my knowledge, there was no similar celebration in Sweden then, nor is there now. On November 22, 1749 Swedenborg wrote the following. Some spirits that […]

Who’s In Charge?

Who’s In Charge?

Written by on November 9, 2020

The process of deciding who will lead us is fraught with uncertainty, anxiety, fear, zeal, passion, hope, and bitterness. It brings to a head the conflicting world views that shape our discordant lives. At times like this, we can identify with Winston Churchill’s perspective that “democracy is the worst form of government except for every […]

Trust and Politics

Trust and Politics

Written by on November 2, 2020

On the eve of an important national election, we might be asking just how far we can trust what present day politicians and their spokespeople are telling us in their mailings, speeches and other sundry channels. Without trust, we can struggle to know who to vote for. In a more ideal world perhaps more of […]

What Does Charity Look Like?

What Does Charity Look Like?

Written by on October 27, 2020

We know that we are supposed to love others and that the joy of life comes from being able to be useful to them. We’ve all experienced this at times and felt filled. At other times, we’ve felt empty and sad despite what feels like our best efforts. Sometimes it’s not clear what led to […]

Frank Rose

Frank Rose

Written by on October 20, 2020

In 1967, when I was a freshman at the Academy, I thought that I knew the whole Donald and Marjorie Rose family. But at chapel one morning, I learned that I did not know the two youngest brothers, Frank and Don, who were both serving in the UK at the time. Frank was 40 and […]

The Dangerous Idea that God is Angry at Bad People

The Dangerous Idea that God is Angry at Bad People

Written by on October 12, 2020

A false idea easily drawn from the literal sense of the Old Testament or from traditional Christian doctrine is that God is angry at people who do bad things and severely punishes them. In the teachings for the New Church, this idea is condemned in very strong language. There is no topic that fills more […]

“See That You Are Not Troubled”

“See That You Are Not Troubled”

Written by on October 5, 2020

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars…. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all […]

COVID-19 and Church Events

COVID-19 and Church Events

Written by on September 29, 2020

Many of us long for the day that we can return to the familiar patterns of life prior to last March. These hopes are somewhat dimmed by the rise in cases in settings where health precautions have been slackened or ignored. I know of a large company that has told its employees that they will […]

Resilience

Resilience

Written by on September 22, 2020

This week we begin our fall Journey series called “Resilience: Practices and Inspirations to Help in Hard Times.” This seems particularly relevant as we deal with COVID-19, financial challenges, racial tensions, and a particularly contentious election cycle, to say nothing of multiple hurricanes and forest fires and the like. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines resilience […]

Walking with God

Walking with God

Written by on September 14, 2020

“You have delivered my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.” Psalm 56:13 “’Walking with God’ is teaching and living according to the doctrine of faith, whereas ‘walking with Jehovah’ is leading a life of love. ‘Walking’ is a customary expression to mean living, as in the […]

Wearing Masks

Wearing Masks

Written by on September 8, 2020

I am old enough to remember when nobody wore seatbelts. In 1964, when I was eleven years old, seatbelts became standard equipment in new cars in the USA. In the 1980s, most states began requiring their use. Many people resisted this practice, arguing, for example, that they caused more accidents than they prevented. Many people […]

The Works of His Hands

The Works of His Hands

Written by on September 1, 2020

My favorite hobby is to do things with my hands. I like to use hand tools to fix things and do a lot of DIY stuff around the house. Part of this is because it was an economic necessity in raising a family on a tight budget. But I have also experienced great delight in […]

Courage

Courage

Written by on August 20, 2020

Bryn Athyn Church School’s theme for the 2020-21 school year is “Courage.” The quote for our theme is “Be of good Courage, and the Lord shall strengthen your heart.” (Psalm 31:24). This year in our chapel schedule, we’ll be looking at the books of Joshua and Judges, which include many stories about courage and bravery. […]

Eternal Happiness

Eternal Happiness

Written by on August 10, 2020

One of the things that the Lord would have us recognize is that happiness is not the result of attaining a goal or arriving at a destination and then our happiness will continue forever after. Many people have had false ideas of heavenly happiness that turn out to be extremely short term in their ability […]

Willing Submission

Willing Submission

Written by on August 4, 2020

We Americans value our independence, and we know it is vitally important for us to be able to make free choices about who governs us, what we choose to do with our lives, and what spiritual principles we make our own. So it’s not surprising that we react fiercely when someone else seems to be […]

Laurel Sunday

Laurel Sunday

Written by on July 28, 2020

Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, we had to cancel Laurel Camp this summer. However, we were able to create a little bit of the Laurel Camp feeling by producing a “Laurel Sunday” video for the July 19 Informal Service. Graham Bier recruited 37 musicians from around the world (Pennsylvania, Maine, Colorado, Arizona, California, and South […]

Columbus

Columbus

Written by on July 14, 2020

On July 8, the city of Trenton removed the statue of Christopher Columbus from its pedestal in Columbus Park, near the Trenton train station. In Pennsauken, crews removed the monument from Cooper River Park along North Park Drive on July 7. Christopher Columbus’ statue in Marconi Plaza in South Philadelphia, just north of the Schuylkill […]

Is Everything Beautiful?

Is Everything Beautiful?

Written by on July 6, 2020

There is a line in an old song that begins, “Everything is beautiful.” Do you believe that? Aren’t there some things that are just objectively gross and ugly. I needn’t mention some really ugly things but consider that this summer you might be renting a cabin in a very beautiful state park. Everything may seem […]

A Thousand Times Better

A Thousand Times Better

Written by on June 30, 2020

One of the hardest things about being a good person is that being bad feels so fun. We are faced with a very strong desire to do something that is immediately pleasurable, and we oppose that with a quieter inner sense that this act would be harmful or against the commandments. The strength of feeling […]

A World of Consequences

A World of Consequences

Written by on June 23, 2020

We live in a world in which our choices carry consequences. The infectious nature of Covid-19 has brought this reality to many people’s attention and yet for others they discount the importance of acting differently from what seems intuitive to them. Even apart from infectious diseases, the Lord wants us to see that our choices […]

250th Anniversary!

250th Anniversary!

Written by on June 15, 2020

This Friday, as noted elsewhere in this issue, we celebrate the 250th anniversary of the beginning of the New Church, remembering that sweetest of all days in June 1770. Even though this event is almost completely unrecognized in this world, its magnitude and importance can’t be overstated. It is literally the solution to every problem […]

When the Going Gets Tough…

When the Going Gets Tough…

Written by on June 8, 2020

When life seems crazy and many of the natural norms that guide our thinking gets shaken up, one norm never changes.  Our minds, at their core, are spiritual organs created by the Lord to constantly receive life-giving force from Him. The thoughts and feelings we experience are a direct effect of spiritual associations and influx […]

Violence and Peace

Violence and Peace

Written by on June 2, 2020

We cringe in horror and cry with grief when we see violence break out in our streets or homes. Our natural reaction is, Make it stop! When people steal, injure, and kill, they should be locked up. They should be made to suffer so much that they will never want to hurt people again. Is […]

A Taste of Heaven

A Taste of Heaven

Written by on May 29, 2020

Today I am thinking about the sincerity that comes in hard times. In my daily reading this morning, I came across a passage that describes people from another planet who speak with very expressive faces. We read, “The reason the speech of the spirits there was as described is that they are incapable of presence, […]

The Paradox of Thrift

The Paradox of Thrift

Written by on May 18, 2020

The Paradox of Thrift is the theory that increased savings in the short term can reduce savings, or rather the ability to save, in the long term. The theory originated with the famous economist John Maynard Keynes, who noted that saving money would reduce the amount of money that people spend and invest. The resulting […]

What Makes the Church Really Be a Church?

What Makes the Church Really Be a Church?

Written by on May 11, 2020

We know that a building and attractive grounds don’t fundamentally define the quality of a church. They’re useful, but by themselves they accomplish little. Having a knowledgeable and energetic staff also doesn’t make the church. Even having an energetic congregation doesn’t make a church truly be what a church should be. Doing lots isn’t enough. […]

Spring

Spring

Written by on May 5, 2020

I’ve been enjoying spending time outside recently in the beautiful spring weather. It is nice to feel the warmth of the sun after the cold of winter. I’ve been thinking lately about how wonderful the springtime feels, and why that is. The Writings say that Heaven is in a perpetual state of spring: “The sun […]

Smells

Smells

Written by on April 28, 2020

I’ve been taking advantage of the nicer weather and getting out into my garden a lot. I have tried to plant as many fragrant plants as possible because I love having beautiful smells around me. I spent some time smelling my viburnum, apple blossoms, and lilacs. But I also happened on a plant that was […]

Being Served and Serving

Being Served and Serving

Written by on April 21, 2020

Jesus made a powerful observation to His disciples when He stated that He “did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). A traditional view of a congregation is that the members of the congregation are served by the pastor or the pastoral staff, and this is appropriate and useful. It is however […]

Easter Miracle

Easter Miracle

Written by on April 14, 2020

As we do our social distancing, we are getting a steady stream of news, facts and reflections about our situation. Whether these are comparisons with the epidemic of 1918, or thoughts on why certain items are now so hard to buy, they are often useful and interesting. What would a New Church perspective add to […]

They Did Not Believe

They Did Not Believe

Written by on April 7, 2020

On Easter morning when the Lord appeared to the women who came to the tomb, they went and told the disciples that they had seen the Lord, alive. In the Gospel of Mark we read, “[Mary Magdalene] went and told those who had been with Him, as they mourned and wept. And when they heard […]

Healing Disease with Disease

Healing Disease with Disease

Written by on March 30, 2020

It is never the Lord’s will that people suffer from disease. The Lord’s only goal is our eternal happiness, and everything that comes from Him is good—all the time, to all people. “The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works.” (Psalm 145:9) The literal sense of the Word […]

The Lord’s Presence During This Crisis

The Lord’s Presence During This Crisis

Written by on March 23, 2020

I’m sure all of you have been spending a lot of time making sure that you are keeping yourself and your family safe, and that you are keeping others safe as well. Safety and surviving is such an all-consuming focus that it’s kind of inevitable that our minds are drawn into material concerns. How do […]

The Hand of Providence

The Hand of Providence

Written by on March 17, 2020

In 1918 Philadelphia was the epicenter of the greatest epidemic in world history in terms of the number of lives lost, with 16,000 dying in the city that year, and something like 50 million worldwide. It was the Spanish flu and it had a significant impact on Bryn Athyn, with many coming down with it, […]

The Water Works

The Water Works

Written by on March 2, 2020

Last weekend I got the chance to visit the Fairmount Water Works, which is behind the Philadelphia Art Museum, on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. It’s a wonderful place to visit, with beautiful parks and walkways by the river. And it also houses a museum in the spot where the Water Works used to supply […]

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday

Written by on February 25, 2020

This Wednesday, February 26, is Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent, the six-week period leading up to Easter. People all over will have a smudge of ash on their forehead, symbolizing the beginning of Lent with a day of prayer and fasting. In the General Church, we do not usually observe Ash Wednesday or Lent, […]

Cooperating with the Lord

Cooperating with the Lord

Written by on February 18, 2020

When things aren’t going as well as we would like, sometimes we say to ourselves, “I’ll just try harder!” This can be exactly what we need to do, but in other situations, it is a recipe for failure. When things aren’t going well in some area of our life, it can be an indicator that […]

Love One Another as I have Loved You

Love One Another as I have Loved You

Written by on February 11, 2020

This Friday is Valentine’s Day when we celebrate love, and romantic love in particular. Although many of the traditions surrounding this celebration can feel commercialized, the fact is it wouldn’t work if there wasn’t something in us wanting to belong and connect at a deep level. We read about married love: “There is no love […]

Angels Teaching and Leading to Heaven

Angels Teaching and Leading to Heaven

Written by on February 4, 2020

Last weekend I officiated the memorial service of my grandfather Jack Rose. In thinking about his love for teaching people about the New Church, I was reminded of this passage: “Angels really do love everyone. They want nothing more than to help people, to teach them, to lead them into heaven. This is their highest […]

Swedenborg and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Swedenborg and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by on January 28, 2020

Last week, we celebrated Swedenborg’s and Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthdays only one week apart, due to quirks of the calendar. I like this because it is an opportunity to highlight one of the similarities in their messages. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is a celebration of civil rights, of the equality of all people, […]

MARCH 18, 2020 SOCIETY MEETING ON  OUR POTENTIAL FACILITIES PROJECT

MARCH 18, 2020 SOCIETY MEETING ON OUR POTENTIAL FACILITIES PROJECT

Written by on January 21, 2020

As some of you are aware, the Bryn Athyn Church School, pastoral staff office and Society Building have been developed over many years. The first building was the primary classroom building completed in 1954. Since then five significant phases of construction have occurred averaging less than eight years apart, the most recent being the upper […]

All In

All In

Written by on January 13, 2020

We have been visiting family up in Toronto this weekend and I have been struck and touched yet again by how full-hearted children are. When we walk into the house, our grandchildren come running at us and throw themselves at us. We grow out of that whole-heartedness, and we know we need to. We have […]

New Year’s Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions

Written by on January 6, 2020

Happy New Year! The story of the Lord’s birth at Christmas time brings a wonderful hope for better things to come. When Jesus began His public ministry, He began to teach people how to reach for those better things. And it begins with the process of repentance: “Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of […]

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

Written by on December 31, 2019

Bryn Athyn has not usually made much of New Year celebrations in recent times. There are private parties but few community events. That wasn’t always the case. In the past there were community balls, dinners, church services at midnight and/or dawn, and even those who counted the New Year at June 19th. New Church Life […]

The Lord Drawing Near

The Lord Drawing Near

Written by on December 17, 2019

The Lord was born that He might draw near to all human beings. He was born that we might know Him as a Human God. He was born that He might give us the strength and the understanding to better follow Him. He was born into this world so that He might lead us freely […]

The Joy of Tableaux

The Joy of Tableaux

Written by on December 10, 2019

This is tableaux week, one of the best weeks of my year, even if it is very busy. It is such a joy to see 120+ people give up a lot of time to be part of depicting the Lord’s birth on earth. The wonderful thing is that many people who participate say this is […]

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

Written by on December 3, 2019

As the Christmas season begins, I’m looking forward to putting up Christmas lights. Christmas lights, almost without fail, can bring a smile to my face, and warmth to my heart, even as my fingers are freezing. I love the tradition of Christmas lights during the Christmas season. The Lord’s coming in the world is so […]

For He is Good

For He is Good

Written by on November 26, 2019

If we pay attention, we all have a lot of things to be thankful for. The people that we love and who love us would be at the top of our lists, but there are many other things on the list: the powerful and healing truths of the Word; the basic safety of food, shelter […]

The Charter Day Video 2019

The Charter Day Video 2019

Written by on November 19, 2019

Last week the Academy put up a new video on the Academy of the New Church Secondary Schools YouTube channel titled “Charter Day 2019.” The four-minute film shows scenes from this year’s Charter Day celebrations, accompanied by a voice-over of Rev. Mark Pendleton giving the Charter Day address at the Cathedral. Rev. Pendleton did an […]

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