Posts Tagged ‘heaven’

Part in Heaven. Now and Always.

Friday, December 11th, 2015

Part of you.  Part of me.  That part is in heaven. Now and always.

Many days cloud that simple truth.  And many days, if even for a blessed moment, reveal it.

From the author Thomas Merton…

March 19, 1958: “In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness … I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate….”

Emanuel Swedenborg captured the big picture simply and well. “The spiritual world is right where we are, not distanced from us in the least…. as far as the deeper levels of our minds are concerned we are all in that world, surrounded by angels.”  (Divine Love and Wisdom, 92)

We may not often see it.  Often hidden in fog.  But at other times … there.


Talking with Angels?

Thursday, June 25th, 2015
Abraham Lincoln, with the Civil War looming, offered these words in his first innagural address…
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”.
One must love his phrase … “touched … by the better angels of our nature.”
Emanuel Swedenborg wrote about that “touching” by the better angels of our nature.  For him, he found that connectivity centered in three “standards” he wrote of in “Secrets of Heaven” 1680.
    1. Offering our best intentions towards others

    2. Thinking only good thoughts about others

    3. Doing good things for others whenever we can
He believed that these “standards” connected us with angels.  With heaven. Live that way right.  Live that way and we experience heaven on earth, and we talk with angels not with human words but a love born of care.

What are the three gifts of Opportunity Makers? Thoughts on one picture. Seven Words.

Friday, November 7th, 2014

In a recent TED talk by Kare Anderson, she noted that Opportunity Makers carry three traits…

  1. Opportunity-makers keep honing their top strength and they become pattern seekers.
  2. They get involved in different worlds than their worlds so they’re trusted and they can see those patterns
  3. They communicate to connect around sweet spots of shared interest.
A beautiful list.  And the list is more than a guarded skill set available solely to a narrow slice of humanity innately gifted with the right code, temperament, cognitive gifts and outlook to practice it.  There is something, frankly, angelic about it as corny as that sounds.  What else would angels or angels-among-us want to create than opportunities for others?  So heaven, maybe, is then this cosmic opportunity making matrix, out of which eternity springs along with the joy and passion of lives fully engaged.
And so thoughts on a picture, posted below. 8 of us.  Working at St. Francis Inn serving the homeless dinner.  Opportunity Makers.  Mary runs our small groups with Rob.  Bob and Kelly are thinking of how to run a summer retreat for teens to work repairing homes in Appalachia.  Lisa, art teacher, works with kids to see bigger worlds filled with beautiful expression. Walt created the whole opportunity … responsible us even being there.  The dude even drove!   Isaiah, in high school, a spark showing through as he talks about Cinema.   And Dave’s passion, sharing the church, supporting pastors who struggle and move and work in days blessed and broken.
And the 7 words?  ”I did not know any of them.”  With the exception of Dave, 5 years ago I did not know one single person in that picture.  Amazing what happens when you hang out with 7 Opportunity Makers!

Two Things Churches Must Give Up

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Life begins with paying attention first to what we need to stop doing.  That is the essence of repentance.  Churches do not live outside that dynamic.  So what are two things church might be called to give up?

Churches are called to give up the concepts that it is all about ….

  1. Who has the right ideas
  2. Who is worthy to belong

The battle over “rightness” whether in a marriage or in a church rapidly becomes a non-starter.  That does not belittle the power of truth, especially in terms of God’s Word.  However, it does press us towards a view of truth that remains both focused and open.  Solid.  With ductile edges.  Able to deeply honor the poignancy and privacy of each individual’s journey.  From that place we cease arguing who possesses the better, truer map.

Battles over worthiness likewise are the same non-starter.  Of course there are necessary boundaries and divisions from those with whom contact is toxic or dangerous.  And, if the assumption is ‘open until proven otherwise’ vs. ‘closed until proven otherwise’, we are aligned to Christ’s message.  As Nadia Bolz-Webber phrased it, “Anytime we draw a line, there is Christ on the other side of it.”

Emanuel Swedenborg wrote of a view of heaven aligned outside of “rightness” and “worthiness”, a heaven with places for many, an echo of Christ’s word in John, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?.”

What are the steps I need to take to find heaven?

Sunday, November 3rd, 2013

We love plans.  We love steps.  Take a look at the the Oprah magazine …. 5 steps to joy, happiness, better sex, your best life now.   Start a title with “5 Steps To …” and you have a winner!

Steps are important.  Process is more so.

Emanuel Swedenborg commented on how much people desire to know what they need to do and what they need to believe in order to get into heaven.  Such a line of very understandable questioning he posits actually grows more from a fear of hell more then a pull towards the promise of heaven.  Such a line of thought is also, I might add, centered on a conditional view of God’s love.

The answer Swedenborg heard many times from good souls was that people,  “… should do and believe whatever they like; but they should realize that in hell people do not do anything good or believe anything that is true, only in heaven.”  So what is we it should ask?  “Ask what is good and what is true, think about it, and do it if you can.”  (Divine Providence 179)   That is far more a process question than a list of steps.


Monday, August 27th, 2012

Where is heaven? It is where people who do “what is good for the sake of the neighbor or God” are. (Heavenly Secrets, 9210) In the New Church, we hold heaven then as a present/ future concept. Yes there is a heaven as in life after death. And yes there is heavenly life in this life. We can discover, at a soul level, here and now what we live then and there.

That discovery carries necessary creative tensions … risks … a promise and a price.   There is breath, in and out. Working on the inside. Working on the outside. Building a core integrity as best we can.  Serving those outside ourselves.  Quiet moments of introspection.  Anxious moments of reaching.  Reading.  Speaking.  Prayer.  Dialogue. A willingness to pull right alongside suffering as well as the opportunity to celebrate blessing with joy.

We often mistakenly think that this path is a nailed down/ locked down thing.  It is not.  There is a fluidity to it.  I love Rohr’s words, “I don’t think the important thing is to be certain about answers nearly as much as being serious about the questions.”

It is all largely a big question.  I don’t see that per se as an existential crisis.  Hopefully we can move beyond that to where I believe Christ’s wants us, asking “How can we serve?” “How can we grow?”  ”How can I let go and allow God to do His work?”  ”Who is in my life that needs help, today?”

This takes courage, the courage of the conviction that you have been entrusted with something important that will be graced with God’s quiet voice calling you to be bold about what you do.  That “something important” is your life.

I love what one volunteer said.  He believes God’s first, smiling question as we wake to our new life will be “So tell me, what did you learn?” Such is the life of an adventurer!

Joyful Joyful on Dependence Day

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

The word “utopia: comes from the Greek literally meaning “No Place.” Utopia is no place.  And we spend much time vainly striving for that very “no place.”

And yet heaven and joy are actually some place. To the extent that we accept heaven, even in this life with all its limitations we too can be “receptacles” as it were of heaven.  Heaven then is not far off.  Far from a utopian “no place,”  it is instead some place.

And how do we know we are there?  Joy.

That joy is not a “I have” but a “We share.”  It grows more from a sense of dependence than from an outsized sense of independence.   Our job is to place ourselves in those very places, pulling our vision down from a never-attained utopia into the very blessedness of the here-and-now we share.

This week filled with those “sharings.”  They included trips to the Ronald McDonald House where a 13 year old proudly asked me to feel the seem of a plate in her cranium from brain cancer surgery, to Wyeth’s baptism and his parents tearful desire to raise there son into a life of deep integrity; from smiling emails from a group in the Catskills who organized a retreat on Joy,a  retreat that included a rope swing and cold water, to a picnic lovingly filled far beyond what we anticipated in temperatures far greater than we would have liked but did not matter, to a wedding in which the wave of joy of Ivan and Amy rode through town in a joyous tsunami of sorts picked up and carried many of us along for an evening.   We shared!

All of the above are clear reminders and calls to the joy that is before us, not a joy born of independent adventure but of dependence, one to another, in God’s creation.  Joyful, joyful.


God doesn’t always use rules to get God’s plans accomplished.

Thursday, March 1st, 2012

God is more than rules.  Rules are helpful, functioning as guard rails as it were.  And God uses more than just guard rails to move us forward our journey Home.

He uses people.  That has been an epiphany of sorts for me, one coming clearer and clearer as an increasingly percentage of work here at NCL is done by others. Our ideas, many of which come from others, are rarely the sole possession of the Pastor.  Starting with Shada, an amazing volunteer, and filtering down’/ out/ around – that is how we build stuff.  Glenn with systems.  Dean with Marketing.  Jessica with Stewardship. Ruth with Leadership – the list goes on and on creating a self perpetuating momentum that is palpable when the Pastor no longer is the “choke point,”  limiting the congregation to just a few paltry “puffs” of work.

It is odd sometimes to observe because when I watch, at times, I realize I am NOT needed, and even may slow the work down!  And laity driven vs. pastor driven teams are how NewChurch LIVE will grow in service.  That is in God’s plan.  If we are to truly “step to plate” it will take team driven, volunteer centered, and impassioned engagement of all us bringing our gifts to the table. Like heaven, the more people the greater the perfection.

A New Church View of Leadership

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

What kind of leadership should we exercise?

From a Christian New Church perspective it begins with a first-things-first approach.  That means a focus on service, plain and simple.  Leadership is not about self engradizement, self esteem, self discovery.  It instead centers on serving God through serving others.

As we step out in service and step into leadership roles as a way to accomplish that end what will we find over time?  Simply put – joy.  As the New Church theologian Emanuel Swedenborg phrased it, that joy grows from “shared experiences with others.”  As we serve into those service oriented “activities we love, our love for them grows, and along with that love comes wisdom about how to involve others.” (True Christianity pg. 192)  A little taste of heaven!

To High School Seniors in the Class of 2011

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Dear Seniors,

I wanted to take this opportunity to just share a few thoughts as well as wish you all the best moving forward.  I want to start with what you already know – these are uncertain times.  A recent survey noted the following.

In the survey, “The American Freshman: National Norms Fall 2010,” involving more than 200,000 incoming full-time students at four-year colleges: The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.

So what is one to do?  The answer is relatively simple – “figure it out.”  We just will figure it out.  To figure it out takes passion, creativity, forethought, curiosity.  I believe it will also take us engaging spiritual resources in a new way.

The concept of “quality of life” as an economic term is ending.  “Quality of life” will be increasingly determined by other factors.  Enter God.  His Kingdom seeks to be born on this earth.  New Church Christianity is not an “evacuation” strategy for leaving this earth and its worries behind.  It is a strategy for engaging this earth, allowing His Kingdom to descend into life – “As in heaven, so upon the earth.”  There is your job!

He put you on this planet at this time simply because you are part of the answer.  Maybe, just maybe you are here to be part of a new generation that will figure it out.   With a big smile, I can say quite honestly, I think you are just that!

When you run low on fuel, NewChurch LIVE is here to support you.  Watch online. Listen to a podcast.  Stay in touch.  We wish you all the best, we wish you a blessed future.