Beginnings of Inner Life
As we enter the beginning of a new year, we are reminded of the cycle of the Lord’s creation, day & night, summer & winter. We see the cycles of this natural world, and we understand clearly the need and importance of these regular cycles. We recognize that in Divine Providence, everything in nature has been given in a way that can represent spiritual principles. Simply put, the beginnings of inner life, or spiritual principles, relate to our thoughts and affections in our minds. The cycles of nature can therefore be reminders of the inner cycles of the spiritual states within us, where one state must end for a new state to begin.
Reading Scripture with affection
Looking now at the beginning of a new year, we can see it anew, as a useful reminder and guide to point us back to where the beginnings of inner life rest, our spiritual practices. Spiritual practices are an opportunity to take us back to the Lord’s Word. Not reading for pure information, but reading scripture with affection, or desire, to apply what we are learning to the life of our minds. When we seek to apply truths more inwardly to our minds, it reduces our tendency to project the cause for how we feel onto situations, circumstances and/or people in the world around us. This is a healing the Lord desires for us.
Actual State of our inner life
When we notice troubles in our relationship with others, our tendency is to focus on resolving the issues with that person. We see this as the work needed when the Lord asks us to love our neighbour. The focus, however, must shift away from the other person in the relationship to the actual state of our inner life and mental landscape. This is where the healing of relationships must first begin.
Awaken to inner life
I invite you to see the beginning of a new year as a good reminder and opportunity to re-commit yourself to return to the externals of religion, like attending church, joining a study or reading group, and participating in the life of the church community. All these externals of religion provide an opportunity for you to awaken to the thoughts and affections of your inner life, to work on your response to what is coming into your life, and to find inner healing from negative and critical habits of thinking. It is from this inner life that true worship exists of love for our neighbour and the Lord.
What makes the New Church NEW
What makes the New Church NEW is that our faith is not about obedience to external rules and rituals, but instead seeks to open the awareness that within everything we do, in every relationship we encounter, is the opportunity to awaken to the inner healing offered by the Lord through personal spiritual work. At Carmel, we strive to provide opportunities to gather and interact with others who are different from ourselves because it serves as the ground within which the inner work and true worship might grow.