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Sunday, July 16
There but for the Grace of God go I
The Reverend Doug Moss
Alright, we already know this so I guess there is no harm in saying it aloud: in spite of all our best efforts, right now this old world really is a mess. What are "they" trying to do? What are "they" thinking? What's wrong with "them"? And to be completely honest ... what's wrong with me? I know I am supposed to love "them", but quite candidly (this is only between you and me, now) I know deep in my heart that there are times when this "love" is little more than words. Dear Lord, am I really that much like "them"? How can this be? What hope is there?
Dear Members and Friends of the SF Swedenborgian Church,
In June, I took three weeks of vacation to visit my family in Korea. The previous visit happened about five years ago, so we were all excited and eager to fly out and spend time with the Lee and Moon families.
To make the visit even more special, my sister planned a very special trip to Jeju Island, which is a very popular vacation spot in Korea. We were a party of 12: my mother, my older brother and his family, my sister and her family, and my family. Last time we were all together was many years ago, but it felt like only a week or month had passed since we were last in each other's company. The three weeks passed like a dream, then in no time I was on the flight back to San Francisco. During that long, 12-hour flight, I was able to reflect on my visit and realize how good it felt to be with with my family again!
As far as family relationships are concerned, the 21st century has brought us a blessing and a curse at the same time. The blessing is that, if you are a person in a developed country, there is an abundance of resources to support and to enjoy your family in ways which were impossible in the past. However, there also are a number of problems for us modern, first-world people including the notion of capitalistic individualism, which provides a convincing argument that a single person can provide all of one's needs without any help from others. This becomes a curse because there is an illusion at its very core: the claim acknowledges only the materialistic side of a person without recognizing the importance of interdependent relationship with others. This notion is solely based on a humans as bio-organic beings without an inner self.
The truth is that a human being is much more than just a bio-organic creature that happens to have self-consciousness. This was true even to the ancient Greek philosophers who lived 2,800 year ago. They argued that what truly satisfies a human being is not of matter, but of psyche (mind/spirit). And, there is a great satisfaction and fulfillment from simply connecting to and being in the presence of family!
When I was among my family, I felt some deep sensation touching my heart in such a special way that it's difficult for me to accurately describe it in words. All I can say is at that moment, I felt like their being and presence was making me feel more alive! That was probably the reason that the early Christians called each other brother and sister and accepted each other as family. It seems that deep within our psyche (or mind/spirit) is a certain innate need that is only fulfilled by having an interdependent and mutually supportive relationship with those humans whom we love. When love is shared willingly and freely, God is more present. As a consequence, all things present become more vividly alive!
Reverend Junchol Lee
Sunday Worship Service
Our Sunday worship service starts at 11 AM, a traditional Christian service that usually lasts about one hour.
Join us for our coffee and fellowship hour in the Parish House following service.
Directions to church.
2 Samuel 11:26-12:9
When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him. When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord, and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, 'There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man's lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.' Then David's anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, 'As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.'
Nathan said to David, 'You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul; I gave you your master's house, and your master's wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more. Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight?
Romans 7:14-25 NIV
We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do-this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.
So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God's law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
From the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg
Secrets of Heaven §904
The Lord talks to every individual, because anything good or true that a person wills or thinks comes from the Lord. We each have at least two evil spirits and two angels with us. The evil spirits stir up our evils, but the angels inspire goodness and truth. Everything good or true that the angels inspire in us is the Lord's, so the Lord is constantly talking to us. He talks very differently, though, to one person than to another. With those who allow themselves to be swept up by evil spirits, the Lord speaks like one absent or far away, so that he can barely be said to speak at all. But with those whom he leads, the Lord speaks more directly. The fact that no one can ever think anything good or true except by the Lord's power makes this sufficiently clear.
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