“Union with the Lord and regeneration are the same thing…
…If one person loves another and is not loved in return, then as the one draws near the other backs off; while if there is love in response, as the one draws near so does the other, and this brings about union. Love wants to be loved. This is its inner instinct. To the extent that it is loved in return, it is filled with pleasure.”
Divine Providence n.92 – Emanuel Swedenborg
Why do we exist as a church?
Why do we exist as a church? Because in everything we do, there is an opportunity for the regeneration, or transformation, of the human mind. Regeneration is the movement toward the Lord and others. So, the question for each of us is: How am I going to move towards others in the things that I do? How am I going to move toward others when I come to church on Sunday, attend a class or get involved in an event?
Existence requires effort
Initially, moving towards someone takes effort. It involves looking past the differences and looking for the good. It’s supporting someone’s talents or creativity, even if it is not your preference. It’s giving your time and attention in conversation, even if challenging. It’s in the awareness of and sensitivity to the fears and needs of others, even if it’s uncomfortable for you. Regeneration does not happen without pushing through the discomforts and challenges of life to reach out to others. Our proprium (our sense of self or ego) would gladly stay “safely” behind our insecurities and the status quo.
Regeneration calls us out of our comfort zone, and to step out and push through the barriers within us that would prefer to judge and criticize, to sit on the edge and throw stones, to stay safely in what we know, and to remain separate from others. Regeneration calls us to get involved and contribute to the whole.
Regeneration is a willingness to see another’s perspective, contribution or creativity as a gift that is unique from one’s own. It’s being willing to create a safe place for people to engage and contribute of their life to the church. Regeneration is valuing other people for who they are and not what you want them to be.
On the chancel this Christmas season is a star. It’s an expression of my creativity as a gift to the sphere of the church. The deco-team has beautifully decorated the rest of the chancel and the pews as gifts of creativity and service. A beautiful Christmas stole has been designed and made as a gift. Special music will be played closer to Christmas as a gift. Ushers serve at the door as a gift. Greeters are present in the foyer as a gift… Everyone has something he or she can give to the life of others in the church. Regeneration is coming to value people and not things and to value each unique contribution as an expression of someone’s life and love for the church.
In what ways are you contributing? Do you see those ways as a gift you are giving? Do you know that you are valuable and that your gift is appreciated? Your presence in the sanctuary is a gift. Your smile and conversation are gifts. What other gifts do you have to bring? I want to support you in the giving of who you are to the life of the church.
Heaven is the perfect example to us, where all are giving according to their gifts. It is a kingdom of uses. I want to support you in pushing through the challenges that arise from within that want you to hold back on giving or getting involved. I want to support you in your uses, in giving your best to move forward toward others who are not like you, in engaging in the life of the church, and in finding a place where you belong. This is the journey of regeneration that is the core of why we exist.
Ways you can step forward toward others
• Regularly attend church – your presence matters to others
• Sign-up at the notice board to volunteer – your contribution is valued and appreciated
• Join one or more of the several study classes on offer for you
• Attend events where you can challenge yourself and engage in conversation with someone new
• Speak to me – I welcome new ideas for how you can be useful in serving others
Regeneration does not happen in the Status Quo of your life. Regeneration is in the effort of engaging with others in new ways in the light of principles from the Word. We exist as a church because in everything we do is the opportunity for the regeneration of the human mind.
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