Sermon: Glory to God in the Highest

I preached this sermon on December 11, 2011, at the Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC.  The readings are Jeremiah 23:1-8, Luke 2:1-20, and Arcana Coelestia 468.

“And I will bring together the remnant of My flock out of all lands whither I have driven them, and will return them to their homes; and they shall be fruitful and multiply.” (Jeremiah 23:3)

The remnant will return, and be made fruitful.  The word “remnant” means those who remain.  It’s a promise at the heart of the Old Testament.  Every time the people is captured by an enemy and carried away from their homeland, the Lord promises that he will preserve those few who remain faithful.  He will take that remnant and return them to their land, and will rebuild His people from that small remnant.  Even before the time of Israel, we see the same thing play out in the story of Noah.  The entire world had become evil, and so the Lord sent a flood to destroy the world – but he preserved a few, those who had not completely shut off their interiors against Him.  A remnant was saved, and from them, the earth was repopulated.

The Writings for the New Church explain that in a deeper sense, these stories about remnants being protected and restored represents the way that even in the darkest times of a church, the Lord preserves a few who have not completely destroyed their faith and love in Him.  When the Lord raises up a New Church, it is raised up with that remnant of the old church, along with a people from outside of the church, who had not been able to twist the Lord’s Word because they had never heard it before.

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Sermon: Jacob’s Ladder

I preached this sermon on Sunday, November 13, 2011 at the Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC.

Readings: Genesis 28:11-22; John 1:35-51Arcana Coelestia 3701

Throughout the Lord’s Word we find stories of competing brothers: Cain and Abel, Isaac and Ishmael, and in the story for today, Esau and Jacob.  We did not read the earlier part of this story, but Esau and Jacob were twin brothers.  Esau was born first – but Jacob had sold him a pot of stew for his birthright, and tricked their father Isaac into blessing him rather than Esau.  When Jacob left for the land of Haran, he left for two reasons: to find a wife, and to flee from Esau, who had threatened to kill him.

Why are there all these stories of competing brothers in the Word?  For the Lord’s Word to truly be His Word, it has to be about spiritual things – even in those places that seem to simply be literal histories.  These competing brothers throughout the Word are a picture of two things that compete in our minds for priority: love and wisdom, charity and faith, good and truth.  Which is the most important?  In the earliest days of the Christian church, Christians knew the answer; the apostle Paul wrote, “And now abide faith, hope, love [or charity], these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:3).  The most important thing is love.  But it is not always as straightforward as this.  The goal is that all of us will act from love; but we are not born into acting from love – first, we have to learn truth, and live by it, and only gradually do we come to love doing that.

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Sermon: The Lesser Evil

I preached this sermon on October 30, 2011 at the Dawson Creek Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC.

Readings: Genesis 22:1-14; Matthew 19:3-12; Arcana Coelestia 1241

THE LESSER EVIL

A Sermon by Rev. Coleman S. Glenn

“Moses, because of your hard​heartedness, permitted you to send away your wives; but from the beginning it was not so.” (Matthew 19:8)

Does the Lord’s law ever change?  It can seem that the obvious answer would be no.  The Lord Himself said, “It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one little​ ​horn of the Law to fall” (Luke 16:17).  And yet, in some senses it seems like the law did change.  When the Lord came into the world, he abolished sacrifices.  He did away with the ceremonially laws of the Jewish faith.  And in the passage we read from the Gospels this morning, He did away with the Jewish laws that permitted a husband to divorce his wife for reasons other than her adultery.  He did change the law, it seems.

But the law that the Lord abolished at that time was not the true law.  It represented the true law, and it contained the true law within it.  That’s why Jesus could say that nothing would fall away from the law, that he did not come to do away with the law, but to fulfill it – even though He seemingly DID do away with the law.  He was not adding something new – He was revealing what had been inherent in the law all along.  That’s why He said, “From the beginning” it was not so that divorce was permitted – because from the beginning, the original law, was that “a man should leave His father and mother, and be joined to his wife, and the two should become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).

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Sermon: Leaving the Land of Our Birth

I preached this sermon on October 23, 2011, at the Dawson Creek Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC.

Readings: Genesis 12:1-10; Luke 9:57-62; Arcana Coelestia 5135

LEAVING THE LAND OF OUR BIRTH

A Sermon by Rev. Coleman S. Glenn

“Get thee out of thy land, and from thy birth, and from thy father’s house, to the land that I will cause thee to see.” (Genesis 12:1)

When Abram was seventy-five years old, he left his home.  He left his father and mother, his siblings and most of his family, and began a journey to a land where he had never been before.  He and his wife Sarai and his nephew Laban left the land of their youth to begin a new life.

The literal sense of this story, when we take the time to reflect on it, has some deep emotions in it.  It would not have been easy for Abram to leave everything he knew – but the story does not focus on that.  It rather focuses on Abram’s total faith – the Lord says to go, and Abram goes.

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Sermon: The Fall of Man

I preached this sermon on September 25, 2011, at the Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC.

Lessons: Genesis 3:1-19; Revelation 20:1-3, 7-10; Arcana Coelestia 206

“And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden eating thou may eat. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eat of it, dying thou shalt die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17)

            We live in a fallen world.  When we look around at the violence and poverty, the cruelty that one person inflicts on another, we acknowledge this.  We live in a broken world.  And we are part of that broken world.  We see the same tendencies in ourselves that appal us in others – greed, selfishness, vengeance.  We know that our world is broken, and there are two questions that we ask: how can something God created be so full of pain and suffering?  And can the world be redeemed?

These questions have been at the heart of many religions for thousands of years.  And for thousands of years, Jews and Christians have turned to the story of Adam and Eve for answers.  In its basic outlines, the story is clear: in the beginning, God created everything, and it was good.  The world was in a state of harmony and peace, and everything was provided for man freely.  There was only one law: they were not to eat of the tree of knowledge of good and evil.  But they broke this law – and this first sin spelled the downfall from that state of Eden.

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Sermon: Lord, Teach Us to Pray

On Sunday, September 11 I preached on the topic of prayer at the Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC.  I spoke from notes and I didn’t have a manuscript; the following is a rough draft of some of the things we talked about.  So, it may be a little rough around the edges, but hopefully it gets across the main ideas. (Note for those unfamiliar with New Church terminology: “the Writings” refers to the divinely-inspired theological works written by Emanuel Swedenborg).

Readings: Matthew 6:7-13; Matthew 26:36-44; Arcana Coelestia 2535

LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY

Throughout the world, probably throughout the entirety of human history, people have been praying.  Even with all the diversity among religions in the world, almost every religion has some kind of prayer – an attempt to communicate with something greater, and to ask something of that higher power.

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Sermon: Ezekiel and the Dry Bones

I preached this sermon at the Dawson Creek Church of the New Jerusalem in Dawson Creek, BC on August 28, 2011.

Lessons: Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 3:1-12Arcana Coelestia 154

EZEKIEL AND THE DRY BONES

“And I prophesied as He commanded me, and the spirit came into them, and they lived, a very great army.” (Ezekiel 37:10)

In the children’s talk this morning, we talked about the story of Ezekiel and the valley of the dry bones.  We heard some of the context there – the people of Judah were in captivity in Babylon, and they were crying out to the Lord that their bones were dried up, they had been cut off – they were alive but they felt dead.  And so the Lord took Ezekiel to this valley of dry bones.

Before we begin to look at the internal sense it would be useful to look a little more at the concept of spirit, since it plays such an important role in this story.  In Hebrew, as well as Greek and Latin, the word for “spirit” is the same as the word for “breath” and the word for “wind.”  The concept of “the spirit” was more than just the concept of natural wind or natural breath – there was a concept that the entire world was maintained by the breath or spirit of God.  And so when a person breathed that was the spirit breathing in them.

With that in mind, let’s dig a little deeper into the internal sense of this story.

The story begins with the prophet Ezekiel being taken by the hand of the Lord to a valley – a low place, a dark place.  It’s a valley where a great host of people has been killed, and their bones lie scattered.  They’ve been there for ages – the flesh has gone from off of them, and the bones have been dried out in the sun.  The Lord asked Ezekiel, “Son of man, can these bones live?”  Ezekiel is humble enough to simply say, “O Lord Jehovih, you know” – but the answer clearly seems to be “no,” they cannot.

We are those bones.  When we begin our spiritual lives, we are dead.  In the children’s talk, we talked about times when we feel dead.  And this story is about those times – but it’s also about times when we are spiritually dead without even realizing it.  Because before we are born again, we are spiritually dead.  The people in the earliest days of the Christian church knew this well.  For example, in his letter to the Ephesians the Apostle Paul wrote, “You who were dead in trespasses and sins He made alive” (Ephesians 2:1).

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