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250th Anniversary!

From Rev. Jeremy Simons, Cathedral Chaplain
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 that the world faces.
One of the ironies of this situation is that even though the Writings assert that the New Church really is the solution, it is seen by some as part of the problem, as is also the case with most churches. It is sometimes said that organized religion is the cause of all world strife. Surprisingly, this is an accusation that has merit, according to the Writings.
When there are serious issues in our world, such as our recurring, long-standing and seemingly hopeless struggle with racism and bigotry, we often forget or discount the teaching of the Writings that these things have a religious cause. The spiritual state of the people of our culture, our own spiritual state, is the source of these conflicts. The Writings tell us that Christianity has come to an end, and that the result of this fallen state is widespread, long term, pain and suffering. The “souls under the altar” in Revelation 6 are the victims of the bigotry and abuse that is prevalent in the culture of the fallen church.
The Writings even identify this tendency as a genetic condition: “The nature of a church is that it tends to dwindle and deteriorate and its initial integrity dissolves. The main reason is that hereditary evil increases, since all parents add new evil to what they inherited.” Secrets of Heaven 494
It is often said that the denial of racism is one of the strongest identifying markers of a racist. This is because when we are blind to our own prejudices and tendencies, we are all the more likely to perpetuate them. Our blindness to our cultural weaknesses prevents us from recognizing and dealing with their causes. We are all part of a fallen Christian culture and belonging to an organization that believes in something new and better, as is described in the Writings, does not change that.
The New Church is a new spiritual era that has come to this world, and which is beginning to spread. The beliefs, attitudes and behaviors, or the norms and mindsets, of this era will erase every one of humanity’s dilemmas one by one. While these healing norms, mindsets and practices may or may not truly characterize our organization, they are nevertheless what we aspire to, and why we love to think of ourselves as part of the New Church.
The recognition of our fallen nature, the awareness of our own faults and prejudices, and the understanding that without the Lord’s help there is no church in us at all, is key to the healing that the New Church brings. We may not think
that after 250 years the world has progressed very far towards the state described in the Heavenly Doctrine called “The New Church.” But the Lord is in charge of the world, not us, and we are not the judges of how things ought to be. The descriptions are there to give us hope, to help us understand and contextualize what we see happening around us, and to encourage us to make the New Church a reality in our own spiritual lives. It is a revolution that is happening one person at a time, and no power on earth can stop it.

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