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Sermons and Spiritual Messages

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► Hear "What Makes Your Christmas Special?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, December 25, 2016
Scripture readings: Isaiah 9:2, 6-7, Matthew 1:18-25, Luke 2:1-7, John 1:1-5, 14

Merry Christmas! On this Sunday, which is Christmas Day, I invite you to join me in an informal worship to reflect upon the meaning of the birth of baby Jesus as the incarnation of divine love among us.

► Hear "Joyful Moments"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, December 11, 2016
Scripture readings: Luke 1:67-79, Isaiah 63:15-19

What moments have you experienced that are joyful? What are your sources of joy? In what moments are we truly alive and connected to our deeper, greater being? Today we explore how our desires and our experiences of joy since childhood change over time, and how our perspectives may shift through new realizations.

► Hear "Overthrowing Pharaoh"
Spiritual Message by Cory Bradford-Watts, December 4, 2016
Scripture readings: Isaiah 9:2-6, Exodus 14:9-14

This Sunday we look at what it means to truly "overthrow pharaoh" and find peace from a Swedenborgian perspective, while we also reflect on the advent of God's light and strength within us, and how the life of Jesus Christ enables this all.

Cory Bradford-Watts is a current Swedenborgian seminarian attending the Center for Swedenborgian Studies and the Pacific School of Religion. He originally hails from Missouri, growing up in a family with eclectic religious leanings where he was exposed to Swedenborgian thought in passing. He attended Washington University in St. Louis for his undergraduate studies in finance and economics, and after college he worked in financial research and programming for Edward Jones while obtaining his CFA. It was during this time that he embarked on his spiritual awakening and growth journey where he discovered his Swedenborgian faith, which is how he joins us today.

► Hear "Why am I here? What should I accomplish in this life?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, November 20, 2016
Scripture readings: Genesis 2:1-9, Luke 4:1-21

This week, Rev. Lee focuses on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, why are we here?

► Hear "Worship in Meditation"
Lead by The Reverend Junchol Lee, November 13, 2016
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 15:6-8, John 15:12-17

This service is Worship in Meditation. I invite you all to a worship that is intentionally and consciously entering into the acknowledgement and experience of the Divine presence in a meditative manner, which is keeping the mind calm and detached from all worldly matters.

► Hear "Following God's Lead"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, November 6, 2016
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 7:1-11, John 13:34-36

Does God punish us for our shortcomings? If God is truly love itself as Swedenborg insists, the concept of punishing anyone is incompatible with the very nature of divinity. Yet in the Bible, we read descriptions such as, "those who hate him he will repay to their face by destruction (Deuteronomy 7:10)." We explore a few spiritual ways to understand such phrases in the Bible, and further, how the Bible is compatible with God as love itself.

► Hear "Is there something special about my dreams?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, October 30, 2016
Scripture readings: Genesis 28:1-22, Matthew 1:19-21

This week, Rev. Lee focuses on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, do my dreams have special significance?

► Hear "Humility as The Foundation of Spiritual Cultivation"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, October 16, 2016
Scripture readings: Numbers 12:3, Deuteronomy 8:2, Matthew 11:28-30

Humility often seemed to be misunderstood as being meek or lacking self-confidence. But in the Bible, two very outstanding figures were described as being very humble: Moses (Numbers 12:3) and Jesus (Matthew 11:29). I explore the deeper meaning of what it means to be humble and to embrace humility as the foundation of one's spiritual cultivation.

► Hear "Worship in Meditation"
Lead by The Reverend Junchol Lee, October 8, 2016
Scripture readings: Numbers 21:4-9, John 3:11-16

This service is Worship in Meditation. I invite you all to a worship that is intentionally and consciously entering into the acknowledgement and experience of the Divine presence in a meditative manner, which is keeping the mind calm and detached from all worldly matters.

► Hear "The Waters of Meribah: The difficulty of spiritual temptation"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, October 1, 2016
Scripture readings: Numbers 20:1-13, Matthew 18:1-5

Water is by far the most necessary element for all living beings. Thus, it is quite common to find that in all religion, water often symbolizes truth. Consequently, lack of water could mean spiritual thirst. I reflect on the symbolism of water in the Bible, and how it relates to understanding our spiritual temptations.

► Hear "The Rebellion of the People"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, September 25, 2016
Scripture readings: Numbers 14:1-25, Matthew 16:1-4

Being religious means to believe in something (or someone) other than oneself, who is often of the other world. This automatically creates two challenges: 1. the challenge of knowing, understanding, and accepting the other being as trustworthy; 2. the challenge of accepting the existence of the other reality as real or more real than one's residing reality. I explore deeper aspects of a simple questions: why do you believe in God?

► Hear "Can there be one true religion?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, September 18, 2016
Scripture readings: Isaiah 56:1-8, Revelation 22:14-16

This week, Rev. Lee focuses on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, can there be one true religion on Earth?

► Hear "What does jealousy do to us?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, September 4, 2016
Scripture readings: Numbers 12:1-16, Isaiah 11:12-14

Jealousy is such a strong feeling, it is often described as very negative. Yet in the Bible, we read a phrase like this, "for I the Lord your God am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:5). I briefly explore the meaning and implication of the term "jealous" along with Swedenborgian interpretation that could provide a new insight on this confusing term.

► Hear "Is there a meaning to life?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, August 28, 2016
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 6:10-25, Matthew 5:13-15

This week, Rev. Lee focused on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, is there a deeper meaning to human life?

► Hear "The Muslim Story of Jesus"
Spiritual Message by Maha Elgenaidi, July 31, 2016
Scripture readings: Matthew 5:1-12, Qur'an 3:42 and 3:45

Most non-Muslims are not aware of the important role that Jesus plays in Islam. Maha Elgenaidi, who has over 23 years of experience in teaching about Muslims and Islam, will discuss the significance of Jesus in the Qur'an and in Muslim tradition, including the Muslim account of his Virgin Birth and many miracles, and the reverence that Muslims feel for him as a prophet.

Maha Elgenaidi is the founder of ING. She is the author of training handbooks on outreach for American Muslims as well as training seminars for public institutions on developing cultural competency with the American Muslim community. A senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and recently named by the San Jose Business Journal as one of Silicon Valley's Women of Influence, Maha has been recognized with numerous civil rights awards, including the "Civil Rights Leadership Award" from the California Association of Human Relations Organizations and the "Citizen of the Year" award from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. She earned a master's degree in Religious Studies from Stanford University, and a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Economics from the American University in Cairo.

► Hear "What is the Bible?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, July 24, 2016
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 6:1-9, Luke 10:25-37

This week, Rev. Lee focuses on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, what is the Bible?

► Hear "Make Yourself Useful"
or read it here in PDF format
See also Usefulness by Wilson Van Dusen
Sermon by The Reverend Dr. Jim Lawrence, July 17, 2016
Scripture readings: Isaiah 1:12-17, Luke 10:38-42

In the past forty years, the "doctrine of use" has joined "correspondences" as perhaps the most beloved of spirituality concepts in Swedenborgianism. It was not always so. Wilson Van Dusen turned this idea found here and there in Swedenborg's writings into the most popular Swedenborgian pamphlet in modern times. The powerful ascent of this "way of spirituality" lies in its direct connection to goodness.

► Hear "The Laws of Nature and Nature's God"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, July 3, 2016
Scripture readings: Genesis 12:1-3, Luke 6:46-49

Curious, isn't it? The self-same Founding Fathers we are now told were not particularly religious men nevertheless chose to cite "Nature's God" in their Declaration of Independence. How did this invocation of the Divine inspire them in their day? How might it inspire us in ours?

► Hear "Moses Makes New Tablets"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, June 26, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 34:1-9, Mark 7:1-23

In the story of Adam and Eve, they chose to eat from the forbidden tree of knowledge despite the fact that there also was the tree of life, which was not forbidden. Instead of choosing eternal life in paradise, somehow humans chose the opposite. Now in the story of Moses, we read that people chose to make a golden calf instead of waiting for Moses to return from Mount Sinai with the divinely-made stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were written. On Sunday, I would like to explore our apparent attraction to what is not nurturing, and the necessity of spiritual cultivation from the bottom up.

► Hear "Why Do I Need To I Get Along With My Neighbors?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, Jun 19, 2016
Scripture readings: Ezekiel 11:14-21, Matthew 7:12-20

This week, Rev. Lee focused on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, why should I get along with my neighbors?

► Hear "Cultivating Awareness and Presence in Modern Day Society"
Spiritual Message by Aaron P. Kahlow, May 22, 2016
Scripture readings: Proverbs 16:16-22, Matthew 6:25-34

In modern day life, it's easy to forget the simple need for us to be present. One that full is in the hear and now and has greater perspective to handle all the adversity life throws at us. Aaron Kahlow will speak to the why, the what, and the how to cultivating more mindful presence.

Leveraging 15 years of building community and building education-based organizations, Aaron is paving the way toward living with greater presence, purpose, and compassion (e.g. happiness) through a modern-day mindfulness practice.

As a syndicated columnist, passionate motivator and globally renowned speaker, Aaron is one of the most dynamic emerging figures in the massive shift toward Mindful Living. The combination of his Zen practice, entrepreneurial success and real world approach to mindfulness is not only inspirational, but also highly practical for all those trying to manage the chaos of living in today's busy connected world.

Since 2001, Aaron has been dedicated to the mission of education through creating three successful companies that built industry first educational events; break through eLearning models and online marketplaces for those making the world a better place. During this time he was introduced to the Zen Buddhist practice that he has cultivated into more modern approach of Mindful Living.

Drawing on 15+ years of leadership and entrepreneur experience, Kahlow set out to take the concept of mindfulness and turn it into a way of life in his latest venture the Mindful Order of Being. MOB is built for all those that seek purpose, meaning, clarity and greater joy in their life. Especially those that need it most like his fellow entrepreneurs, leaders, and all beings seeking more a better way to live.

► Hear "What's In Heaven"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, May 15, 2016
Scripture readings: Isaiah 66:22-23, Revelation 21:22-29

This week, Rev. Lee focused on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, "What's in heaven?"

► Hear "The Curtain in The Tabernacle"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, May 1, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 26:31-37, Hebrews 9:1-10

Why did God order Moses to keep those stone tablets away from all humans? In a way, it makes sense because they were touched by the hand of God. Yet at the same time, what would be the purpose of giving the commandments in such a special way if they were to be kept away from all humans? What we read in the later history of the Israelites in the Old Testament is that no one after Moses dared to even open the Ark of the Covenant. Consequent of this or not, no one after Joshua even recited the Ten Commandments to the Israelites. This reminds me of the phrase, "out of sight, out of mind."

► Hear "Creation vs. Evolution -- Can they co-exist?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, April 24, 2016
Scripture readings: Genesis 1:1-31, Isaiah 65:17-25

This week, Rev. Lee focused on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, can creation and evolution coexist?

► Hear "Some Things Are True When Whispered"
Spiritual Message by Rebecca Esterson, April 17, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 20:1-19, Matthew 22:34-40

Søren Kierkegaard wrote that "Some things are true when whispered but not when shouted." This Sunday we will consider the Ten Commandments as an example of part of the biblical tradition that can take on very different meanings depending on the tone with which it is read. We will consider the possibility of interpreting them inwardly, of considering their internal sense as internal to us, as a means for looking at our own need for regeneration, for personal spiritual renewal, rather than for looking at the sins of other people.

Rebecca Esterson is Scholar in Training at the Center for Swedenborgian Studies. She is a Ph.D candidate at the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University working in the Texts and Traditions track and will join the CSS faculty upon completion of her degree. She earned her Masters of Theological Studies in 2002 from Harvard Divinity School with a focus in world religions, and also studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem as a visiting graduate student in 2000-01. After receiving her masters degree, she worked at Harvard's Center for the Study of World Religions for 9 years where she was able to further develop her interest in comparative studies and interfaith learning.

Her research interests include: the history of biblical interpretation, hermeneutics, Jewish and Christian mysticism, Jewish-Christian relations, eighteenth century intellectual culture, Christian Hebraism, comparative religious studies. Her dissertation demonstrates, via the example of Emanuel Swedenborg, the persistence of biblical allegory in eighteenth century Christian thought, and its entanglement with both the developments of the scientific revolution and the figured discourse of Jewish and Christian religious identity.

► Hear "Worship in Meditation"
Lead by The Reverend Junchol Lee, April 10, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 25:10-22, Acts 3:11-26

This service is Worship in Meditation. I invite you all to a worship that is intentionally and consciously entering into the acknowledgement and experience of the Divine presence in a meditative manner, which is keeping the mind calm and detached from all worldly matters.

► Hear "Long Live The King"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, April 3, 2016
Scripture readings: Judges 6:11-16, 36-40, John 20:19-31

Not one of us can imagine the state of mind of Jesus's closest disciples in the days immediately after the miracles they had witnessed, which we recalled last Sunday on Easter. One of these disciples has been singled out for some small degree of criticism -- "Doubting Thomas". Does Thomas deserve his negative image? We church folk all work religiously to strengthen our faith. What about our doubts? Should we hide them? Does doubt have any role in our faith process?

► Hear "Easter Sunday"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, March 27, 2016
Scripture readings: John 21:1-14, Romans 6:1-14

Easter means the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since the very beginning, Easter has been and still is the most significant celebration for Christians. Jesus died and came back to life. In this simple story lies the depth of God's love toward humanity and the truth regarding human salvation.

► Hear "What is the relationship between Christianity and Jesus Christ?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, March 20, 2016
Scripture readings: Matthew 21:12-17, I Kings 8:28-30

These talks dive a little deeper into the Swedenborgian view of the nature of God and humanity with emphasis on the synergy between our rational and spiritual selves. This week, Rev. Lee focuses on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, "What is the relationship between Christianity and Jesus Christ?"

¶ Read "What Matters the Most - Is God Real?"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, February 28, 2016
Scripture readings: Genesis 1:1-2 & 15:17, John 1:1-4

Rev. Lee focuses on the Swedenborgian perspective and belief in God the creator with the question, "Is God real?" This talk dives a little deeper into the Swedenborgian view of the nature of God and humanity with its emphasis on the synergy between our rational and spiritual selves.

► Hear "Giving Up Lying for Lent"
Sermon by The Reverend Dr. Jim Lawrence, February 21, 2016
Scripture readings: Deuteronomy 5:1-7, 20, 22, John 17:11-19

Lent is a special time for self-examination in preparation for the joy of Easter.

Why not aim for the fences?


► Hear "Worship in Meditation"
Lead by The Reverend Junchol Lee, February 14, 2016
Scripture readings: Matthew 6:25-34, Exodus 23:20-33

This service is Worship in Meditation. I invite you all to a worship that is intentionally and consciously entering into the acknowledgement and experience of the Divine presence in a meditative manner, which is keeping the mind calm and detached from all worldly matters.

► Hear "Ten Commandments"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, February 7, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 20:1-21, Matthew 5:17-20

The very first thing that happened to the people of Israel after leaving Egypt was that God gave them the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai. Essentially, rules are the instrument with which we humans define ourselves and our actions. The Ten Commandments are the God-given rules. I explore how these ancient rules are meaningful to us.

► Hear "Making Choices as Angels in Training"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, January 31, 2016
Scripture readings: Revelation 1:9-20, Ezekiel 8:2-4

Rev. Lee provides a short talk on Emanuel Swedenborg in light of his 328th birthday. If you study the history of angels, when did they come into being? What is an angel? We are designed and created to receive what is of divine and to be reunited into what is divine. What does it mean for us today to be angels in training, if we chose that path?

► Hear "By Any Other Name"
Sermon by The Reverend Doug Moss, January 24, 2016
Scripture readings: Genesis 11:1-9, Matthew 5:1-12

A respected Christian college outside of Chicago is considering removal of a tenured professor for making statements sympathetic to Islam. Is this what God wants? Are we doomed, since the Tower of Babel, to be "scattered over the face of the earth", to "not understand one another's speech"?

► Hear "Entering into The Mountain of God"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, January 17, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 19:9-25, John 6:60-65

This is mentioned very briefly, but with two very significant figures in the Bible: both Moses and Elijah acknowledged a certain mountain as the mountain of God. In Exodus this mountain is named Mt. Sinai and in 1 Kings, it is named as Mt. Horeb. Moses spent 40 days and nights on the mountain, and Elijah spent 40 days and nights to reach the mountain. In Gospels, especially during the transfiguration of Jesus, both Moses and Elijah appeared at his side, representing the Law and the Prophets. We explore the significance of this particular mountain, and spiritual implication of what it means to enter into the mountain of God.

► Hear "Worship and Meditation"
Lead by The Reverend Junchol Lee, January 10, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 17:1-7, John 4:1-15

I invite you all to a worship that is intentionally and consciously entering into the acknowledgement and experience of the Divine presence in a meditative manner, which is keeping the mind calm and detached from all worldly matters.

► Hear "Bread From Heaven"
Sermon by The Reverend Junchol Lee, January 3, 2016
Scripture readings: Exodus 16:1-21, John 6:41-51

According to the stories in Exodus, the Israelites were fed by God with food called "manna." In the Gospel of John, Jesus strongly emphasizes that he is the bread from heaven. One was given for the nourishment of the physical body, while the other was clearly given for the nourishment of the spiritual body. I explore the similarity and difference of the bread in Exodus and in John.