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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.


Virginity and the Virgin Birth Part 1

This week Lawson paints a picture of what it must have been like to be Joseph learning about and then dealing with the reality that Mary was pregnant before they were married. In this two part article adapted from a sermon Lawson looks at the significance of marriage and virginity. -Editor.

Think how Joseph must have felt, when he first realized that Mary was expecting a baby. When the angel Gabriel came to Mary and announced to her that she would be blessed to be the mother of the Lord, she did not tell Joseph, but “arose in those days and went into the hill country with haste” (Luke 1:39), to share this wonderful news with Elizabeth, her cousin. Elizabeth was the one person in the world she could share such astonishing news with. Since she was to be the mother of John the Baptist, who would prepare the Lord’s way, she knew that the birth of the Lord Himself was imminent, and must have been wondering who would be so highly favored as to be His mother. Anyone else, probably including Joseph, Mary’s fiancé, could not have believed her. So Mary went straight to Elizabeth, and remained with her about three months, almost to the time when John was born.

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Meditate | Behold! The Key to Existence Hidden in Plain Sight

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. But why is meditation such a central spiritual practice, anyway? In a word: reflection. This month, Chelsea deviates from the normal structure of this column to share some reflections on the importance of reflection itself. As usual, we welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article. —Editor

There are several passages in Swedenborg’s works in which he writes of the importance of reflection: self-reflection, reflection from others, and reflection on our surroundings and our experiences. In fact, he writes that “without reflection, there is no life” (Spiritual Experiences 2228). Without self-reflection we have no way to witness our thoughts, no ability to reflect on what we are sensing in our lives beyond just feeling it. Actually, our spiritual development depends on reflection.

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Why Read the Word/Bible? 

Reading the Word can be confusing, but this week Helen offers a way of reading it to enjoy the mystery and the pieces to be puzzled over and put together in an effort to understand our loving creator. -Editor.

Many of us love mysteries and knowing something deeper is meant, then trying to ferret out what the meaning is. An example for those who are older is 'Rosebud' in the movie, Citizen Kane, or, for middle aged people, the symbolism and powers of the ‘Ark’ in Raiders of the Lost Ark. A movie fraught with symbolism is Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In it a man and woman are inexplicably lured to a volcano-like mountain in Wyoming. In its time this movie was spellbinding to the public, and when the meaning was finally revealed, it turned out that extra-terrestrial beings were trying to talk with people on earth.

It’s easy to place God into that story, because he is an extra-terrestrial being communicating with people here on the Earth, or at least trying to. He did for many thousands of years in pre-history, but failure in the lines of communication kept occurring and eventually they became fully blocked. Way back when, his wisdom showed that he needed to come here on the Earth and talk with people directly. But before he could do that, he symbolically represented that he was going to do it, which helped hold open the lines for the centuries between the Fall of Adam and his birth here on Earth.

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Snippets from the Life of a Hospice Chaplain 

Her interfaith training and background with the Writings of Swedenborg combine to provide Julie with an ability to reach out to and serve people of many denominations in her role as a hospice chaplain. Julie shares this week about some of the wonderful people she has met and the some of the reasons she feels blessed to be doing this work. -Editor.

I feel truly blessed to have spent more than 4 ½ years as a hospice chaplain. I am with people in some of the most difficult moments of their life, both for those on our service and those who love them. It’s a profession some people might find morbid. I am with people who are either very ill, very frail, or no longer able to communicate, either because of dementia or other illnesses, and who are not expected to live longer than six months. Yet it’s a profession to which I believe I’ve been led. Most of our people are in facilities, but a few are in their own homes, living with a friend or family member, or occasionally in hospital.

So why do I feel so blessed? Firstly I get to be with the best team of people I have ever worked with: physicians, nurses, aides, volunteers, social workers, my chaplain colleague and the admin team who keeps the business running. We have a simple goal: to support people, and their families, on hospice and give them comfort, dignity and quality of life for their last moments in this world, whether that’s literally a few moments or 2 ½ years.

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The Love to Change

People can and do change, but it't not so glamorous, romantic and spontaneous as movies and books often make it seem. It isn't easy and it isn't always pretty but, as Clark discusses in this week's article, Jesus provided us with many examples and many tools that we need in order to change and grow into our "authentic" selves. Even if that change is so slow it isn't completed in this world. -Editor.

The movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” was recently released. While it may seem to be an excellent study of human nature, I will not go see it because any message about positive human change will be quite obscured by the salacious content. The message will be completely missed by most viewers who only want to be titillated (yes that is a word. Go look it up!).

The Word is full of examples of how humans change. Sadly, we are not shown very many examples of it in the various forms of media these days. There are many movies that purport to show how a person learns a lesson about their humanity through experiencing their depravity. While such a book or movie may be an excellent study of human nature, any message about human change is hidden from most readers and viewers who only want to be voyeurs. There are a number of movies that more accurately and appropriately reveal the mechanism of change in human beings. They are not as viscerally exciting because they portray how change really happens: human change is a process that begins within the individual human spirit, when God’s love and wisdom are voluntarily brought to support an individual’s motivation, thought, speech and act.

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Meditate | Grumpy God?

Meditate is a monthly column in which insights gained from meditating on the Word are shared. We welcome your insights, too, in the form of comments or even your own article! Contact us if you'd like to write a submission for this column. -Editor

“And I will send My anger against you; I will judge you according to your ways…My eye will not spare you, nor will I have pity…Now upon you I will soon pour out My fury, and spend My anger upon you…My eye will not spare, Nor will I have pity; I will repay you according to your ways…The rod has blossomed, pride has budded. Violence has risen up into a rod of wickedness…They will throw their silver into the streets, and their gold will be like refuse; their silver and their gold will not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord; they will not satisfy their souls, nor fill their stomachs, because it became their stumbling block of iniquity…For the land is filled with crimes of blood, and the city is full of violence…I will cause the pomp of the strong to cease, and their holy places shall be defiled.

They have filled the land with violence; then they have returned to provoke Me to anger…Therefore I also will act in fury. My eye will not spare nor will I have pity”

Ezekiel 7: 3, 4, 8, 9, 10, 11, 19, 23, 24; 8: 17, 18.

I’ve been reading the Prophets while holding the question, “How is this a communication from a loving God?” in my mind. Let me tell you—that loving communication seems very well buried at first read in Ezekiel 7 and 8.

What irks me about these chapters most is how it seems like God has an anger problem. I’m put off by this because I have anger issues myself that I’ve been working on for years. Holding these passages in contemplation I realize I’m bitter because I am getting better at practicing self-control and here God looks like he’s got none whatsoever! What’s going on?

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