Posts Tagged ‘Repentance’

How do we empower ourselves? A surprising answer….

Tuesday, March 13th, 2018
There is always this question about empowerment. How do we become empowered human beings?
I love Sam Wells’ surprising answer.
We empower ourselves when we come to see ourselves as “a sinner who can be forgiven, rather than a victim who can protest.”
What a surprise!
Follow the surprise …. In your most treasured relationship, how well does it work to see yourself as a victim limited to protest?  Versus the flip… in your most treasured relationship, how well does it work to see yourself as human being, warts and all, in need of forgiveness, in need of grace, in need of kindness?
I would argue, when we place ourselves in the role of flawed humanity … blessed and broken… we place ourselves closer to our true selves and closer to God.   We become, in a word, empowered.  The edges soften and the heart grows.
A stark choice maybe. A marriage of two individuals who each clutch tightly to playing the victim role has neither joy nor a future.  A marriage of two individuals who correctly see themselves as flawed human beings has embedded deeply within the relationship the lasting seeds of joy and of a future.

Consider Change

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

So many stories are so much the same.  Heard over and over.  And one plot goes something like this….  I am working way too much.  I never see her/ him/ them.  We are ships passing in the night. This can’t keep up.  And I can’t get off.

Under that narrative some basics assumptions…

  1. Life must trend ever upward in terms of success
  2. Life must trend ever upward in terms of salary and financial security
  3. There is no “getting off” the ride.
  4. There is only riding the ride harder, pushing through just a few more years of misery at which point the elusive “golden nugget” will be had.
Welcome to the life of many young adults.
And we do get to choose.  We do get to choose.  We are free.
Change is the point. It’s what we seek to do to the world around us.

Change, actual change, is hard work. And changing our own minds is the most difficult place to start.

It’s also the only place to start.

It’s hard to find the leverage to change the way you see the world, hard to pull on your thoughtstraps. But it’s urgent.

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices…” William James

Seth Godin

So my two cents…. consider change.  In the beauty of the Christian tradition … repentance.  ”Metanoia” in Greek.  ”Changing one’s mind” in English.  ”Repentance” in short hand.

For what does it profit someone to gain the whole world and forfeit their soul? What can someone give in return for their soul? (Mark 8:36)


A Bias Towards Fullness: Thoughts About Holy Supper/ Communion

Friday, November 8th, 2013

A bias towards fullness is the bias that comes from joyful commitment declared and lived. Such commitment is rare but, in it rareness, lies its beautify! That makes the entire concept of church profoundly counter-cultural.

And the fullness there … almost beyond words. When we welcome, embrace, hold on to others … in community …. not in a startled moment of accidental compassion but in the slow, enduring work of love, we will find fullness.

Holy Supper, an ancient Christian tradition dating back 1,000′s of years, offers, in taking a “meal” together of bread and wine, the picture of Christian communion. The names then of Holy Supper and Communion are interchangeable. We gather, in communion. We are served/ offered God’s love and wisdom, symbolized by bread and wine – a holy supper.

Such a sacrament reminds us of the need to carefully examine our lives and prayerfully ask for the willingness to repent of those areas where we have gone astray. Likewise it reminds us that this is an “open table”, a table without seating assignments, a table then open to all. And when we can see it thus, it right sizes us, brings gratitude for the diversity present, and stirs thirst and hunger for an ever wider communion.

Honesty. Simplicity. Generosity. Table open wide. Arms open wide. A bias towards fullness!

So we invite you to our first ever Holy Supper/ Communion service held at one of most beautiful churches in this part of the world, the Bryn Athyn Cathedral. Join us for this adult service on Wednesday, November 20th at 7:30 PM.

Put Down The Drink. Then Get Better

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

We remain aware, often painfully so, of our short comings.  And what are you, me, anyone doing about those shortcomings, today?  What is the thing you could point to that says “Here.  Here is one step I am taking this morning.”

So easy I think to see a problem as just “the problem.”  ”If I stop doing ‘x’ then all life is better.”  But that fails often.  One need look no further then the “Dry Drunk”, the alcoholic who while they may have stopped actually drinking, continues the same behaviors as before, behaviors born of a self-absorbed ego run wild.   The problem then, goes deeper than the problem.

As we work towards a practice of daily, spiritual discipline, towards the sacred “no” that opens us to God’s “yes”, those daily steps should include, figuratively, ways to put down the drink and importantly ways to get better.

Letting Go

Friday, August 31st, 2012

There are few more powerful spiritual tools than “repentance.”  Going back to the Greek word “metanoia”, it means essentially to turn around, to change one’s mind.  That turning entails a candid self appraisal – “rigorous honesty” as it is phrased in 12 Step Circles – that then opens to a humble willingness to turn over to God those things that keep us from His more immediate presence.

That “letting go” is cathartic.  It includes letting go of enthrallment with physical pleasure, as well as “emotions and factual knowledge.”  (Heavenly Secret, 1412)   Understand, we are not talking here of embracing an ascetic lifestyle, devoid of pleasure, emotions, and knowledge.  We are talking of an engaged lifestyle devoid of enslaving attachment to pleasure, emotions, and knowledge.  It is life placed in an open field.

Yesterday, a friend shared how tiresome her daughter’s attachment to drama had become.  That is exactly what the above is talking about!   Give up the binding attachment to the emotion of being “wounded”, give up the binding attachment to the  ”knowledge” of what motivated the supposed transgressor, and an “open field” appears.  But that is hard work. Who wants to give that up?  Before you know we will actually find ourselves forgiving others!

And the fact is we can’t give up those attachments through an act of heroic self will.  What we can do is prayerfully offer our best intention to God and let Him do His work.  And we will blessedly “turn.” Our mind will change as we let go.

Alive To The Word

Friday, July 6th, 2012

A blessed place to be in life is when we “are alive to the Word.”  What does that term mean?

To be alive to the Word means to be alive to the deeper poetry, the heart and soul within the words themselves.  It is when we move from listening to the music to losing ourselves to the music.  When we allow ourselves to see beyond the surface of things, we find God’s song.

The Bible often is pigeon holed as a do-gooder guide to sanctimonious, self righteous judgment.  But that is at best an unfortunate way to use the Word.  Being alive to the Word means being alive to the ebb and flow within the language and story, a story far from the pristine or perfect but more closely anchored in all the faults, doubts, and foibles of the human condition .  As one Catholic author noted, there are precious few biblical characters worthy of even remote consideration for sainthood…. thank goodness!

Again and again that aliveness calls us to a simple process of spiritual growth.  As Emanuel Swedenborg phrased it, “Actual repentance is examining oneself, recognizing and acknowledging one’s sins, praying to the Lord, and beginning a new life.” (True Christianity #528)  So we look “in” and the look “out.”  We clean up the engine and move forward. The Bible is there to help us with that very process.  New Church theology gives us another layer of clarity, another way of seeing into that every life, that internal sense, the poetry of God’s Word.  Place those two within the context of a church anchored in living that “new life”, and life moves in some refreshing and unanticipated directions.

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.