Posts Tagged ‘Regeneration’

Silences That Are Hard to Break

Sunday, April 29th, 2012

All faiths speak in some form or another of transformation.  The language of course varies – enlightenment, rebirth, conversion, regeneration.  That being said, the concept remains the same and that is of a faith that presents itself as a way to give birth to something new.

And that transformation is hard; not something we slide into but more something that we are dragged through some days willingly, other days not.  God’s Word as it speaks to us in its various forms often then comes from a prophetic place, a place as Walter Breugamann phrased of “fearless truth telling and fierce hope.”   And it needs to have that fearless and fierce voice because silences are hard to break.

I have struggled all week with preaching this Sunday.  The issue is over one simple event.  Several months ago I read of the USS New York’s return to New York City and it’s cruise past the cite of the World Trade Centers.  The USS New York was cast with 75 tons of steel from the fallen towers in its bow.   Personally that is a hard silence to break.  For a reader, that statement may make no sense – “So What.”  But for me there is something deeply disturbing about taking a catastrophic event and memorializing it in the form of a warship.  My understanding of God has a hard time justifying it.  That is not to say I am right and those who differ are wrong.  The opposite may well be true.  It is to admit that speaking to that topic is a silence that is hard to break for me, preferring to leave the topic unaddressed rather than risk offense.  And there are many such topics.

That silence stems no doubt from my self centered concern to be safe and liked and comfortable.   That concern in turn feeds the very numbness I am so adamant about preaching against.  And the goal is NOT to speak in such a way that preaching becomes a political soapbox but to preach in such a way that the conversation is had, that the numbness is addressed.

God can only enter a humble heart.  And He can only enter a heart that is fearless and fierce, one in which numbness has been pierced through.   We all need to get there, transformed, a place beyond “agenda” and a place where God’s words in Isaiah ring true in their prophetic fullness, “Come let us reason together.”

What does “regeneration” mean?

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

Dear Pastor Chuck,

I’m new to the New Church and have heard the term regeneration mentioned in a number of services.  Can you explain what that means in relation to New Church theology?

“Regeneration” means “recreation.”  We believe spiritual growth follows three steps. “Regeneration” is the third.  The first step is “repentance”, a word meaning to “change one’s mind.”  We look to look at our lives and rethink, reconsider, asking God to help us formulate a “not to do” list to get our own blocks born of selfishness out of the way as well as a “to do” list that helps us to reach out to others.

Then Step Two kicks in – reformation.  Reformation means to “restructure.”  If we stay in our head, we will miss it.  We need to bring head, heart, and hands together.  We do that as we re-form our lives, a.k.a. reformation.  The alcoholic needs to stop going to bars.  The porn addict needs to stop looking at porn. The angry parent needs to stop getting mad. Of course we will fail often in this endeavor.  Our job is to keep picking ourselves up, asking God’s help, and moving on.  This where New Church influenced like 12 step programs can be particularly helpful.

And then we arrive at the final step – “Regeneration.”  This is where God re-creates us, giving us a new heart of “flesh” instead of “stone” as the Old Testament puts it. We awake to the wonder of life.  We awake to love and service in a new way.  We know heaven, a knowledge we can have in this life.

Falling Through Your Life Situation to Your Life

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

The false self – the ego, the proprium – is the tiny, petty, unconnected self.  And yet for most of us, we identify that as our true self.

The true self is far deeper.  It is our inmost, the place where God stores much of that Divine Spark that is His gift to us.

The journey to that place I read of many times growing up in the New Church.  It was a journey encapsulated in the admittedly awkward wording from Emanuel Swedenborg’s theological works – good from truth, then truth from good.  Later, the great wisdom in what is almost undecipherable words became apparent.

When young, we live largely in that false self.  We learn “stuff” and that “stuff” teaches us to care.  But do we actually “care”?  Usually not.  Usually here it remains at the pure theoretical.  When we do care, that care is very much driven by the false self for its own purposes.  Not that that is bad – it is a start.

But time wears on and God, in ways largely hidden from our view slowly flips the perspective.  Eventually our locus of control moves from our head to our heart.  At that point – truth from good – caring, loving kindness move our conscious mind, not vice versa. We move from knowing to care to caring and the knowing that comes from it. (Note, it is “knowing” that is far more intuitive, perceptive, far more even maybe mystical than what we previously experienced.)

That is where we fall through our life situation to our life to borrow the words of Eckhart Tolle.  The life situation holding the false self becomes just that.  We fall through the drama and frenentic pace of the false self attached to our life situation and fall into the solid ground of the true self – a place where God’s truth gives us the solid ground to stand upon regardless of external circumstances.  Here, no boundary needs “defended not abdicated.”

Facing What You Simply Cannot Overcome II

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Evil progresses in three stages.

  1. Ideation: A spark, an idea, happens somewhere, often unrelated to the actual problem. Ideation begets rationalization.
  2. Consideration: Now we enter a trouble zone where we begin to muse about what the evil is like/ feels like
  3. Action: Sunk here.  We simply give in.

By the time we reach #3 we are goners.  There is nothing more to be done here.  So where is the leverage?

The leverage is with stage #1.  This is where our spiritual work lies.  Can we look at the evil, the sin, the wrong and trace it back to its roots?  Can we see what gave rise to it?  Those apparently harmless thoughts can if entertained, flower in ways we would prefer they not.

Our mistakes run by rather well-rehearsed scripts.  Regeneration is about inviting God in as well as trusted others to actually interfere with those scripts, to interupt them.  We need to ask “script” questions.  What is the narrative that tends to start the story?  What is the scene we need for it to occur in?    What supporting role do others play?  Are we the lead actor? actress?

Trace it back.  Write a new script.