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Sermons and Spiritual Messages

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Hear "The End is the New Beginning"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, December 30, 2012
Scripture readings: Habakkuk 3:17-19, John 5:25-29

We use a calendar that has 12 months and 365 days in it. As it nears December 31st, we feel as though something is getting close to an end, and yet on January 1st it feels like a new beginning. Our life is composed of many endings and beginnings. We may live one life, but within this one life we have many different journeys.

Hear a Christmas Eve Sermon
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, December 24, 2012

Hear a Christmas Eve Message
Spiritual Message by Rodrigo Marcus, December 24, 2012

Hear "Love"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, December 23, 2012
Scripture readings: Joshua 1:1-9, Matthew 2:19-23

Baby Jesus travels from Bethlehem in Judea to Egypt and then to Nazareth in Galilee. According to Matthew, the reason that the family of Jesus moved to Nazareth was to fulfill the prophecy, "He will be called a Nazorean (Matthew 2:23)." What was so important about the small village Nazareth that Jesus the Messiah had to be raised in it?

Hear "Escape To Egypt"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, December 16, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 12:10-20, Matthew 2:13-15

The first time the name Egypt appears in the Bible, it is as a son of Ham, who was the cursed son of Noah. The next time that Egypt appears in the Bible, it is a nation where people go to escape famine. Abraham went down to Egypt to avoid the famine in the land. Later, Jacob took the whole household and went down to Egypt to avoid the famine, when his son Joseph was the prime minister of Egypt. Now, in Matthew, we read that the baby Jesus goes down to Egypt, escaping the danger caused by King Herod. There definitely is something special about Egypt in the Bible. But what?

Hear "The Birth of Jesus the Messiah"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, December 2, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 11:1-9, Matthew 1:18-25

On the one hand we do know the truth that God as the Creator has to exist beyond our comprehension. Yet on other hand, we are often very hesitant to believe anything that is truly beyond the comprehension of our intelligence. This tendency of ours faces its greatest challenge in the very first chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew where we read of the birth of Jesus Christ by a virgin!

Hear "The Genealogy of Jesus"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, November 25, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 12:1-3, Matthew 1:1-17

If we believe Jesus Christ to be the Incarnation of the Creator, it might sound absurd to talk about his genealogy. Yet, the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah is the very first thing that we find as we open the Gospel according to Matthew. However, among the four Gospels, this is the only one that mentions the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah. Why was it so important to Matthew to begin his version of the Good News with a long list of names: the Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah?

Hear "Living a Life of Thankfulness"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, November 18, 2012
Scripture readings: Numbers 14:26-35, Mark 8:1-9

A long time ago, my grandfather taught me that I should be thankful to the gods in heaven for food, shelter and everything else. At that time, I was not sure what he was saying because it was clear in my mind that he was the one who was working from dawn till dusk in the field to provide all that.

It took me a long time to realize that what my grandfather was intending to teach me was not about the fact that I should thank the gods in heaven, whose very existence itself was in question, but about the importance that I should have a thankful mind and attitude, because this is one of the secrets of having a happy and contented life!

Hear "Shall We Trust the Prince?"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, November 11, 2012
Scripture readings: Psalm 146, Mark 12:38-44

In reading the Psalm passage that says, "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help", I knew that I was being challenged to talk about these things here today. President Obama upon his re-election said, "The role of democracy does not end with your vote". What can be done by us through the hard and necessary work of self-government? What principals really do guide us? How do we know the path that our steps should take?

Hear "Feeding 4000"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, November 4, 2012
Scripture readings: Numbers 14:26-35, Mark 8:1-9

A few weeks ago, I talked about Jesus feeding 5,000. In today’s reading, it is about 4,000. What would be the true importance of telling stories about Jesus's capability for feeding such a large crowd? Throughout the Bible, there is definitely something important about God feeding us and us being fed by God. Jesus seems to especially emphasize our being fed by God and/or eating with God. How can we deny the truth that the act of being fed is one of the most essential acts of our life on earth! Thus, the act of eating spiritual food might be the most essential act for our spirits!

Hear "Being Spiritual: Learning By Doing"
or read it here in PDF format
Sermon by The Reverend Ken Turley, October 28, 2012
Scripture readings: Psalm 19, Matthew 19:16-22

The Rev. Ken Turley is the son of the late Rev. Dr. Calvin E Turley and his wife Marilyn and brother of Rev. Susan Turley. He lived most of his early life on the West Coast mostly in Seattle, but some formative years right here in San Francisco. After receiving an undergraduate degree in music in 1977 and pursuing music in a variety of settings and a number of odd jobs from landscaping to recycling, he moved to Boston to pursue a career as a church musician and ended up becoming ordained in the Swedenborgian church in 1985. His first position was split between renewing the Blairhaven Center and Church Camp and pastoring the New Church in Elmwood, MA. In 1988 he accepted a call to the new Church in Portland, ME and served there for seven years. Then he and his family, (Laurie and their children Emily and Ethan) moved to Fryeburg, ME where he served as pastor for nearly fourteen years. As of our most recent annual convention, he served as president of the General Convention. He and his wife, Laurie, continue to compose and perform music and now live in Bridgton, ME.

Hear "Lessons from Observing Spirit"
Spritual Message by Bette McDonnell, October 21, 2012

Hear "Lessons from Observing Spirit"
Spritual Message by Jennifer Lindsay, October 21, 2012

Hear "Lessons from Observing Spirit"
Spritual Message by Johnscot Springwater, October 21, 2012

Hear "Feeding 5000"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, October 14, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 45:16-28, John 6:1-14

In the Gospels we read many amazing stories of Jesus. And in these stories, Jesus does things that are simply extraordinary as though they were something very natural. In John 6, we read a story in which Jesus fed a great crowd of people with five loves of barley bread and two fish, bread and fish that were offered by a boy! Mark writes that the numbers of people being fed were 5000 men, and Matthew emphasizes that 5000 is just the number of men without counting the women and children. As we read this story in the year 2012, what is its spiritual significance for us?

Hear "Jesus Cures a Deaf Man"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, October 7, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 29:18-21, Mark 7:31-37

In all the stories of Jesus’s miracles found in the Gospels, one thing that I notice over and over again is that he only heals those who either happen to be found on his way and cry out to him or those who have been brought before him by caring hands. In Mark 7, Jesus heals a man with deafness, a man who also struggles with a speech impairment due to his deafness. What is the significance of this story, why has it been included in the Gospels and read by humanity for many thousands of years?

Hear "The Faith of the Canaanite Woman"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, September 30, 2012
Scripture readings: Ruth 1:15-22, Matthew 15:22-28

The mother of child who was demon possessed came to Jesus for help, but Jesus said to her, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” She was described as a Canaanite woman! Yet, her faithfulness moved the heart of Jesus to the end that Jesus declares, “Woman, great is your faith!” What was at the heart of her faithfulness that was enough to move the heart of God?

Hear "The Zen of Welcoming the Vulnerable"
Sermon by The Reverend Megan Rohrer, September 23, 2012
Scripture readings: James 1:17-27, Mark 9:30-37

Jesus declares that true religion requires us to become unattached from the world and to care for those with the least. Taken literally, it means we should become homeless to help the homeless. If the cross has a no-vacancy sign, how can we live a more realistic, yet just as true faith?

Pastor Megan Rohrer is the Executive Director of Welcome. Megan recently moved to Rochester, MN to help Welcome become a nationwide program that helps congregations respond to local poverty and to welcome new born Graham Gilbert Flannigan-Rohrer into the world. Megan also lives with her partner Alisa, seven year old Ellak and kitty.

Hear "A Lamp Under A Jar"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, September 16, 2012
Scripture readings: Exodus 25:31-40, Luke 8:16-18

Light is probably one of the most significant and important symbols in the Bible. Indeed, the very first action in the Bible is God saying, “Let there be light! (Genesis 1:3)” The teaching of Jesus in Luke 8:16-18 illustrates this obvious point: we do not hide a lamp after lighting it under a jar! We light a lamp to illuminate a place. The same lesson applies as we learn truth to illuminate our mind and thus follow a proper path! The question that Jesus asks is: are you actually living the truth that you have learned and come to understand?

Hear "Think No Evil"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, September 9, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 1:24-2:3, John 8:31-33, 39-47

The credentials on my wall tell me, without a doubt, that I am a minister of the Swedenborgian Church. This does not mean that I must resonate fully with every jot and tittle of his Writings. Some odd statements he makes, I know, are attributable to his socio-historical context – aristocratic gentry of the 18th Century. On some occasions his science is dated, but we know he would heartily embrace our modern knowledge. He seems (I can't help but notice) not terribly fond of dogs; was Swedenborg a cat person?

But one of the things that trouble me most is his oft-repeated assertion that humankind is naturally filled with inherited evil . I don't like to think this; my post-modern brain would rather say “Most people are basically good.” That attitude is bound to win me more friends (and listeners). But a summer spent sharing good times with good people - reasonable people, intelligent people - has often led to conversations that bog down the same way in the end. Probing the sorry state of our nation (in this highly politicized season) and of our world, the discussion so frequently boiled down to: “What is it with people? What has happened to our sense of community?”

To be candid, socially I try to refrain from statements that begin with “Well, Swedenborg says...”, but I wonder if I have missed some nuance in his stated opinion of humankind. This Sunday, I will explore this question.

Hear "Traditions of the Elders"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, September 2, 2012
Scripture readings: Judges 11:29-40, Mark 7:1-13

On the surface in Mark 7, it may appear as if Jesus is simply against human traditions. However, what Jesus is pointing out is not the invalidity of human tradition itself, but the purpose of certain traditions that were specifically designed only to support the worldly and selfish desires of certain humans. Actions are very important. But, what is more important is the intention behind the actions...

Hear "Things That Defile"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, August 26, 2012
Scripture readings: Leviticus 11:41-47, Matthew 15:10-20

To defile means to make something impure or dirty. To be made impure, it has to be pure, and to be made dirty, it has to be clean. In Matthew, Jesus emphasizes the things that defile us and explains from where they come. This teaching indirectly answers one of the most troubling questions: How did evil come into being in a good world created by a loving God?

Hear "Love of the Truth and the Good"
John Gwynn, Parishoner, August 19, 2012
Scripture reading: Isaiah 11:1-6

Also known as a reverential fear of the Lord, the development of “love of the truth and the good” has played and continues to play a crucial role in my spiritual development. In addressing this topic, I hope to explore and share the ways in which a reverential fear of the Lord can actually, if paradoxically, engender feelings of joy and hope.

Hear "My Love of Daughters Teaches my Heart & The Comfort of the Promise"
Susan Lucas, Parishoner, August 19, 2012
Scripture reading: John 14:18 & Luke 8:41-55

The thrilling, suspenseful story of Jesus' healing Jairus' daughter has universal appeal. For Jairus and for me, our immeasurable, indefatigable love for our daughters models the love and wisdom with which God would fill our hearts. The need for "comfort", for care and reassurance is a matter of degree. We all have need of some "existential" comfort, some assurance that awful, damaging, life-limiting things will not befall us nor our loved ones, and, if they do, that God will be merciful. What about our response to those to whom awful, damaging and life-limiting things happen on a regular basis? Hunger, armed conflict, dislocation, political and social oppression. Has Jesus in this text modeled our response, taught us what to do...? How shall we understand it?

Hear "Don't Worry. Go With The Flow. Be Happy!"
Fred Holborn, Parishoner, August 19, 2012
Scripture reading: Matthew 6:25-34

We all worry at times – some of us more than others. But Jesus tells us, don't worry about anything! Why? If we really want to be worry free, to be happier, and to enjoy true peace, what can we say when we talk to ourselves? And when we don't, what could we hear?

Hear "The Parable of the Sower"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, August 12, 2012
Scripture readings: Joshua 24:14-28, Luke 8:4-15

The parable of the Sower is definitely one of the most well-known stories from the Bible. In this famous story lies one of the most essential and fundamental teachings of Jesus: the truth is from God, not from us! Even when we believe this truth, we cannot help but ask the question, “What is it about the truth that requires it to be delivered to us by God?”

Hear "True Worship"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, August 5, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 29:13-24, Matthew 15:1-20

It has become a tradition of almost all Christians that we worship God on Sundays. Does this mean that we can only worship God on Sundays, that the act of worship is a ritual that only has any meaning as a Sunday group activity? A more important question to ask could be: why do we still worship God?

Hear "In God's Time"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, July 29, 2012
Scripture readings: Ezekiel 30:1-9, John 7:1-9

It is generally accepted that using time effectively is considered as living wisely. An apparent truth that we all agree upon is that we all have limited time. Yet what we call time is measured and calculated in accordance with the movement of the earth by itself and around the sun. The force that is creating what we call time is gravity. We are bound to it because our living happens on earth. But, when God uses the concept of time, what does God really mean by it?

Hear "The Kingdom of Heaven"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, July 15, 2012
Scripture readings: Ezekiel 17:22-24, Mark 4:30-32

Jesus describes the kingdom of heaven in a variety of ways. In Mark, he takes a mustard seed and compares it to the kingdom of heaven. As a small mustard seed, the kingdom of heaven is something that is sown in us with the potential to grow big and to be useful. Yet, again, in this simple and short parable, Jesus explains all the depth of our spiritual journey!

Hear "Shake Off The Dust"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, July 8, 2012
Scripture readings: Ezekiel 2:1-5, Mark 6:1-13

We find our faith challenged all the time. It happens when the events of life, personal or global, seem contrary to any indication that God is in control - when bad things happen to good people. Our church teaches that God is always present and at work, even though we seldom sense or feel it (DLW §175). This is part of our faith.

But sometimes the challenge comes from other people, whose faith and beliefs radically differ from ours... or they profess no faith at all (denying that to be faith in something other...). What should our response then be? Over the centuries, Christianity has shown itself to be remarkably adaptable to differing manners of expression, melding to an endless variety of cultures... and the New Church prides itself at being particularly nimble in this. But are all contrary beliefs compatible? Can we conform to uncompromising atheism?

In the increasingly small world in which we live, ignoring these questions is no longer a luxury we can afford; peace itself is in the balance. How have the Lord and His Word instructed us in these matters?

Rev. Doug Moss is an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church and has been both a member of this congregation and a Sunday school teacher here. He has served as pastor of our sister church in El Cerrito, Hillside Community Church. These days he serves the SF Swedenborgian Church by both regular preaching and the performance of our Rites & Sacraments Ministry, officiating over a large part of the weddings, baptisms, and memorials held in our sanctuary. He lives with his wife Melissa and two daughters, Lizzie and Hannah, in Pacifica.

Hear "True Repentance"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, July 1, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 2:1-11, Matthew 13:24-30

The kingdom of heaven is central and essential to the messages of Jesus Christ. Often, people assume that the kingdom of heaven is a place where we go when our life in this world ends. Yet, many times in the Gospels, Jesus emphasizes that the kingdom of heaven is a state of being formed by the means of the quality of life that we choose, right here and right now.

Read "A Constant Presence"
Poems by Roxane Beth Johnson, June 24, 2012
Scripture readings: 2 Samuel 22:4-20, Matthew 11:25-30

Roxane Beth Johnson is the author of two books of poetry, Jubilee (Anhinga Press, 2006) and Black Crow Dress (Alice James Books, forthcoming 2012). Her poems have won many awards and have been published in literary journals nationwide, such as: The Georgia Review, Poetry Daily, Prairie Schooner, ZYZZYVA and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She works as a freelance writer and editor.

Hear "Faith of The New Church"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, June 17, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 65:17-25, Revelation 21:1-8

Faith can be defined in a variety of ways. What faith could mean almost depends on who is defining it. Even among religious people what it means to have faith can be different from one religion to another. However, there can be two general categories by means of which defining faith may be narrowed: as a personal conviction of the Divine Being or a system of beliefs and living. If there is such a thing as the faith of the New Church, what would this be?

Hear "The Kindred of Jesus"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, June 10, 2012
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 9:1-7, Mark 3:31-35

There is a saying that “no man is an island.” My interpretation of this is that no one can be completely independent and autonomous. Biologically, mentally and spiritually, we are all living organisms whose well-being is fully dependent upon the well-being of each other. In this Sunday’s message, we explore how this is explained and emphasized by Jesus saying, “Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother (Mark 3:35).”

Hear "Jesus Raises the Widow’s Son at Nain"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, June 3, 2012
Scripture readings: I Kings 17:8-24, Luke 7:11-17

The story in Luke 7 is very intense with a number of possible ways to understand its meaning. It is not too hard for us to imagine what it might have meant to a widow to lose her only son! The funeral was already in procession when Jesus happened to encounter them.

We describe our relationship with God in a variety of ways, including those who have a real difficulty even contemplating relationship with God. Yet, there is something profound about experiencing God’s presence in our lives...

Hear "Come Gorgeous Spirit"
or read it here in PDF format
Spiritual Message by Christine Rogers - Poet, May 27, 2012
Scripture readings: Acts 2:1-11, John 20:19-23

How do we invite the Holy Spirit more fully into our lives? How do we embody the great feast of Pentecost every day? Christine Rodgers ponders these themes using scripture, poetry and shared life experiences.

Hear "Faith of the Roman Centurion"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, May 20, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 38:9-20, Luke 7:1-10

“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith (Luke 7:9).” This is what Jesus told the Jews when he was amazed by the faith of the Roman centurion. Often, we hear and say that we believe in Jesus Christ, or that our faith in God is very firm, or that we trust God completely. In a way, having faith in God seems to be as easy as simply joining a church community and saying a few words in public. Yet at the same time, having faith in God may feel, from time to time, as hard as a moving a mountain! So, what does it meant by “having faith in God?”

Hear "The Sermon of All Mothers"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, May 13, 2012
Scripture readings: 1 John 5:1-6, John 15:9-17

Somewhere behind the come-ons and hype of Mother's Day ("Call 1-800-Flowers!", "Give Mom a gift she'll remember; our diamond necklaces...") lies a well-intentioned sentiment to honor and appreciate she who delivered us into this world. We widely celebrate Mother Love as limitless and unconditional... but it may not always quite live up to its reputation.

External distractions - real or imagined - divert us from the inner sanctum of peace and higher love which abides for and in us all. What we expect and hope from Mother Love is what we have seen modeled in the example of the living Christ. This will be a somewhat different Mother's Day message.

Rev. Doug Moss is an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church and has been both a member of this congregation and a Sunday school teacher here. He has served as pastor of our sister church in El Cerrito, Hillside Community Church. These days he serves the SF Swedenborgian Church by both regular preaching and the performance of our Rites & Sacraments Ministry, officiating over a large part of the weddings, baptisms, and memorials held in our sanctuary. He lives with his wife Melissa and two daughters, Lizzie and Hannah, in Pacifica.

Hear "A Father’s Journey"
or read it here in PDF format
Spiritual Message by John L. Titus, May 6, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 2:18-25, and Matthew 5:1-9

When tragedy strikes, the tenuous balance of life is shattered; suddenly life becomes unbearable and incomprehensible. We are made to feel emotions that are completely overwhelming and much too painful. Our daily existence becomes excruciating as we experience the dark night of the human soul.

My beautiful daughter, Alicia, was violently murdered on September 11th, 2001 as terrorist hijackers commandeered the UAL flight 175 and flew it into the South Tower of the World Trade Center; my whole life closed in around me and my world fell apart. My understanding of reality came into question: my faith, my concept of God, fate, destiny, good, evil, hope, joy, love and hate, relationships… and life itself. I had to find my way through this mire and confusion. Yet, throughout my personal tragedy and subsequent journey of grief, even in the midst of the pain, the sadness, the hopelessness and desolation; the eternal presence of God’s love and wisdom was made manifest.

Out of the shattered ruins of a once vibrant life now reduced to ashes came the phoenix rising and soaring to new heights. My faith sustained me and I realized that hope does run eternal! God’s love soothed my aching soul and opened my heart to greater love and joy. By the grace of God, I found inner peace in the midst of tragedy!

Hear "You Will Be Known By Your Fruit!"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, April 29, 2012
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 7:12-26, Matthew 7:15-20

Sometimes a single action can express a message more strongly than a thousand well thought out words. The message of Jesus is powerful, not just because of its rationality and logic, but because it was manifested by Jesus in loving actions. What is in our heart and mind only becomes complete and real in an action. Yet, there is so much more to learn in “Thus you will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:20)

Hear "An Alternative Greening of Power"
or read it here in PDF format
Sermon by The Rev. James Lawrence, Ph.D., April 22, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 1:26, Genesis 1:15, and Revelation 21:1-6

In the Genesis stories of creation the human is created with a command to multiply and to have dominion over the created world and then is put in the Garden of Eden to “till it and keep it.” How are we doing with this? And what role does our relationship to the creation play in our spiritual lives anyway? On this Earth Day themed Sunday, we will engage these questions and suggest a Swedenborgian approach to a “creation spirituality” for our everyday living.

The Reverend James Lawrence, Ph.D., is the former co-pastor of our church and now serves as the Dean of the Swedenborgian House of Studies in Berkeley. He was ordained in 1984 and has served churches in St. Louis, Missouri and Fryeburg, Maine, as well as San Francisco. He is the editor of numerous books on Swedenborgianism.

Hear "The Narrow Gate"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, April 15, 2012
Scripture readings: Hosea 12:2-14, Matthew 7:13-14

Jesus mentions life and destruction in Matthew 17. In this message, I would like to explore a few questions: How are they different? Can we distinguish the difference between life and destruction in our daily lives? Why does the way to life need to be difficult and more challenging?

Hear "When Will You Believe?"
Easter sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, April 8, 2012

Hear "Divine Substance"
Easter sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, April 8, 2012

Scripture readings: Psalm 16, Mark 16:1-13

Hear "Bearing Christ"
Spritual Message by Darleen Pryds, March 25, 2012
Scripture readings: Psalm 24:1-5, Luke 1:26-38

We look at images from within our sanctuary, namely Mary and St. Christopher, to explore how we bear Christ in our lives.

Dr. Darleen Pryds is Associate Professor of Christian Spirituality and Medieval History at the Franciscan School of Theology of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. She specializes in lay spirituality and has published widely on the historical foundations of lay preaching in the Christian tradition. She has an interest in Swedenborg's spirituality thanks to Jim Lawrence and was a member of his successful doctoral dissertation committee.

Hear "Ask, Seek, Knock"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, March 18, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 51:1-5, Matthew 7:7-11
Life can be defined in various ways. One of them could be as the sum of all our actions. In living, what matters the most at times is what we choose to eventually do, not the thinking, planning, and contemplating prior to the doing. When we have a question, we are better off asking the question instead of speculating or assuming. When we are looking for something, we are better off searching instead of waiting with a wish that someone else might find it for us. And when we stumble upon a door in our life, we are better off knocking on it instead of indefinitely waiting before it, hoping that someone else may open it for us!

Hear "Official Rulebook"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, March 11, 2012
Scripture readings: Exodus 20:1-17, Luke 9:18-27

We are creatures uniquely gifted with rationality and free will. Does this mean that anything we freely choose to do is acceptable as long as we can rationalize it? Are there restrictions, or do we have clear-set goals? Where can we turn for guidance?

Rev. Doug Moss is an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church and has been both a member of this congregation and a Sunday school teacher here. He has served as pastor of our sister church in El Cerrito, Hillside Community Church. These days he serves the SF Swedenborgian Church by both regular preaching and the performance of our Rites & Sacraments Ministry, officiating over a large part of the weddings, baptisms, and memorials held in our sanctuary. He lives with his wife Melissa and two daughters, Lizzie and Hannah, in Pacifica.

Hear "Do Not Worry"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, March 4, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 2:18-25, Matthew 6:25-34

“To think about problems or unpleasant things that make you anxious or to make someone feel anxious.” This is how Cambridge Dictionaries Online defines the word, “worry.” The key word here is not about to think about problems and unpleasant things, but about to feel anxious. We certainly cannot avoid, or more likely should not avoid thinking about problems and unpleasant things, because it is an important part of our spiritual cultivation that we process our problems and unpleasant things properly and appropriately. Yet, as Jesus emphasizes, we should do it without being anxious.

Hear "Kindness"
Spiritual Message by Zenkei Blanche Hartman, February 26, 2012
Scripture readings: Dhammapada, verses 1-6 and Kindness, by Naomi Shihab Nye

Zenkei Blanche Hartman began sitting in 1969 at the Berkeley Zen Center with Sojun Mel Weitsman and in San Francisco with Suzuki Roshi. She was priest ordained in 1977 by Zentatsu Baker and received dharma transmission with Sojun in 1988. Zenkei was the first woman Abbot of San Francisco Zen Center, serving in that position from 1996-2003.

Zenkei has lived and trained at all three of SFZC’s practice centers. She has led retreats for women at both SFZC and in Japan, and is an expert in the ritual of sewing the priest’s robe (kesa) and the lay precept-holder’s garment (rakusu). She is a member of the American Zen Teachers Association (AZTA) and sits on the Board of World Religious Leaders for the Elijah Interfaith Institute. She currently resides at City Center, where she serves as a Senior Dharma Teacher.

Before coming to Zen practice, she studied chemistry at the University of California and worked as a chemist for the State of California. She married her late husband Shuun Lou Hartman in 1947 and together they had four children, eight grandchildren, and a growing number of great-grandchildren.

Hear "Why Give?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, February 19, 2012
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 14:22-29, Luke 12:22-34

It may be a unique and vivid characteristic of humans that we value things and matters that are not directly connected to our survival in this very competitive human world. Sometime we value things and matters enough to be willing to sacrifice our very lives for them! Yet, if we were asked to identify “our treasures,” we might find the task very challenging. In a way, this is exactly what Socrates was asking 2500 years ago: know yourself! Knowing what we treasure, according to Jesus, is the key to understanding where our heart is, meaning it may lead us to really know who I truly am.

Hear "Cultivating Your Effective Freedom"
Sermon by The Reverend Dr. Jonathan Mitchell, February 12, 2012
Scripture readings: Exodus 3:1-14, 5:1-2, Mark 1:21-28

Freedom is a core value of Swedenborg's teaching. No belief is truly your own, unless you have come to it freely in your own time and in your own way. And no good deed is truly good or truly your own doing unless self-consciously chosen. The Lord always respects and preserves our freedom. But free to do what? What do we have the power and the insight to actually accomplish? How does our effective freedom become a force for good in our world? This Sunday I will explore "cultivating your effective freedom" as another way of describing the process of regeneration.

Rev. Dr. Jonathan Mitchell grew up in Plymouth County, Massachusetts, amid the dairy farms and cranberry bogs. Before entering the ministry, he earned a Ph.D. in linguistics at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. After ordination in 1997, he served the National Swedenborgian Church in Washington D.C. for five years. Since 2003 he has served as Chapel Minister at The Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. In his spare time Jonathan enjoys language study, hiking, and exploring the natural history of California.

Hear "What Do You Treasure?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, February 5, 2012
Scripture readings: Proverbs 13:1-9, Matthew 6:19-21

It may be a unique and vivid characteristic of humans that we value things and matters that are not directly connected to our survival in this very competitive human world. Sometime we value things and matters enough to be willing to sacrifice our very lives for them! Yet, if we were asked to identify “our treasures,” we might find the task very challenging. In a way, this is exactly what Socrates was asking 2500 years ago: know yourself! Knowing what we treasure, according to Jesus, is the key to understanding where our heart is, meaning it may lead us to really know who I truly am.

Hear "The Calling Of A Servant"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, January 29, 2012
Scripture readings: Isaiah 6:1-13, Revelation 1:9-20

The San Francisco Swedenborgian Church is the name of our church. As the name itself indicates, the way we believe God and cultivate ourselves spiritually is based on the revelatory writings of Emmanuel Swedenborg. It would be a meaningful task to review how he became a servant of God and published many volumes of revelatory writings regarding the nature of God, salvation, heaven & hell and the process of our spiritual growth, especially on his birthday, which is Jan. 29, 1688.

Hear "The Life Without Diseases"
or read it here in PDF format
Sermon by Kyungho Cho, January 22, 2012
Scripture readings: 2 Kings 20:1-7, 2 Chronicles 16:12-13

  1. Let us pray even for the smallest disease.
  2. Let our exterior yield submission to our interior.
  3. Let us live ἐν the name of Jesus. (ἐν = in)

Kyungho Cho is a seminarian in the ordination track of the General Convention. He is a 5th generation Christian from Korea, and a scientist, scholar and life-long seeker of truth. In Korea, he worked at Korea Electric Power Corp as Senior Reactor Operator and taught international trade law and management at Sunchon National University as an adjunct professor. He has degrees in Nuclear Engineering, Computer Science, and International trade. Additionally, he almost completed a Ph.D. in International Business Administration at the Sunchon National University. In the US, he has studied at Henderson University, Gorden-Conwell Theological Seminary, and Bryn Athyn College. Currently, he is enrolled in Five Branches University taking classes for Master of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Swedenborgian House of Studies taking classes on Swedenborgian theology. He lives in Santa Clara with his wife and daughter.

Hear "How To Pray"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, January 15, 2012
Scripture readings: 1 Chronicles 29:10-19, Matthew 6:5-15

Prayer is one of the most essential elements of the religious practices for all three Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. According to Jesus, prayer is the essential act of connecting to God personally and intimately.

Hear "A Monday Kind of Sermon"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, January 8, 2012
Scripture readings: Genesis 1:1-5, Mark 1:4-11

"Behold, I make all things new" said the Lord [Rev. 21:5], and here we find ourselves in a new year, with new resolutions... a time of new beginnings. Yes, we want more time with family, to stick to our fitness plans, to tame the bulge (the top three New Year resolutions), but our spiritual life is constantly renewing also. What image shall we pursue? How shall we be guided? We need to shed a little light on these questions.

Rev. Doug Moss is an ordained minister in the Swedenborgian Church and has been both a member of this congregation and a Sunday school teacher here. He has served as pastor of our sister church in El Cerrito, Hillside Community Church. These days he serves the SF Swedenborgian Church by both regular preaching and the performance of our Rites & Sacraments Ministry, officiating over a large part of the weddings, baptisms, and memorials held in our sanctuary. He lives with his wife Melissa and two daughters, Lizzie and Hannah, in Pacifica.

Hear "Stepping Out of the Boat"
or read it here in PDF format
Sermon by The Reverend Kim Hinrichs, January 1, 2012
Scripture readings: Ecclesiastes 3:1-13, Matthew 14:25-33

"With Christmas still fresh in our minds, it is good to contemplate the mystery of the incarnation. And as a new year dawns, the story of Peter stepping out of the boat to follow Jesus walking on water takes on new significance. What faith do you need to "step out of the boat" this year? How is God calling you forward on your path toward regeneration?"

Rev. Kim Hinrichs serves as Associate Pastor at First-Plymouth United Church of Christ in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she lives with her husband and daughters. She is ordained in the Swedenborgian Church and is a long-time member of this congregation.