The Advent of the Lord

Click Play to listen to the Audio Version

READINGS

Luke 1:68-75 & 78-79.

“Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, For He has visited and redeemed His people,  (69)  And has raised up a horn of salvation for us In the house of His servant David,  (70)  As He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, Who have been since the world began,  (71)  That we should be saved from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us,  (72)  To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant,  (73)  The oath which He swore to our father Abraham:  (74)  To grant us that we, Being delivered from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,  (75)  In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life…Luke 1:78-79  Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us;  (79)  To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Arcana Coelestia 4181

“Before the Lord came into the world the Divine itself flowed into the whole of heaven; and because heaven at that time consisted for the most part of those who were celestial, that is, who were governed by the good of love, that influx of God’s Almighty power furnished the light which shone in the heavens, and with that light wisdom and intelligence. But when the human race departed from the good of love and charity it was no longer possible for that light to be provided by way of heaven, nor consequently for the wisdom and intelligence to come through to the human race. For this reason, so that the human race might be saved, the Lord out of necessity came into the world and made Divine the Human within Himself in order that as to that Divine Human He might become Divine Light, and in so doing might bring light to the whole of heaven and to the whole world.”

SERMON

As we approach Christmas our focus naturally turns to what this season traditionally is all about.  The birth of God into the world in order to save the human race.  New church teaching provides the most comprehensive explanation available as to why God had to be born into the world and how, by His physical presence in the world, He was able to accomplish what was necessary to secure the salvation of the human race.

The spiritual life of the human race has from earliest times has moved through cycles of high and low levels of spiritual awareness.  Each time the level of spiritual life for a given epoch entered its lowest point, a point at which the spiritual life of humanity was at risk of total extinction, the Lord would provide humanity with a new revelation of Himself in a form that was able to be received by people in that low state and so create the opportunity for them to have their awareness lifted toward higher things once more.  While these times of heightened spiritual awareness might be depicted as upward spikes on the graph of human spiritual development the general direction of spiritual awareness, culminating in the Lord’s birth into the world, was largely a downward trend.  In short each revelation the Lord provided was only able to restore things temporarily before the decline set in once more.

At the point of the Lord’s birth into the world as a man the human race had reached the lowest state of life possible and we are told that without the Lord’s birth into the world the human race on this earth would have destroyed completely its ability to receive anything of spiritual life from the Him.  So in coming into the world as a man God made the most external revelation of Divine truth possible.  The manifestation of the Lord in the flesh was God revealing Himself to human consciousness in a form accommodated to the lowest states of human mental development as far as spiritual realities were concerned.

For people to have a spiritual life they need to have a way of connecting with heaven, or of receiving heaven into themselves consciously.  New church teaching highlights that this kind of connection, whereby higher states of being can exert a positive spiritual influence within the minds of human beings on earth, is related to the quality of teaching or doctrine that they have access to.  In simple terms, you first have to know that there is a God before you can seek to know Him.  Your understanding of God and how He operates will have a direct bearing on how you approach Him, worship Him and from that understanding live your life.

We can see this in the way in which the following tenant of the Christian religion is live out from it being understood naturally verses it being understood spiritually.  We are commanded to love Lord and to love our neighbour as ourselves.  From a natural understanding of Christianity the Lord in this case is largely understood to be a person just like us off in some heaven somewhere.  To love Him might be defined in terms of praying to Him, having feelings of devotion for Him, while worship might be defined in terms of coming to Church and participating in a service of worship much like this one.  Loving our neighbour in the case of a natural understanding of Christianity is focussed almost exclusively on other people and our treatment of them.  It is understood in terms of having to be kind, just and equitable in our dealing with others, of contributing to the good of society, giving to causes and charities who help others in need.  Now it’s not that any of this is not to be done, but it may come as a shock to some of us that doing these things doesn’t in anyway secure anyone a spot in heaven.  You can’t get saved by going to Church, or through devotion to prayers or through any other external religious practise or by giving to others.  Such things can certainly be part of a genuine religious life, but they are the outward effect or expression of a religious life, they are not what the life of religion is in its essence.

The Christianity of the new church has a different understanding of the commandments, to love the Lord and love our neighbour, because the revelation for the new church mind provides a spiritual understanding of what is meant by “the Lord” and “the neighbour.”  These terms are not to be understood naturally but spiritually.  The problem with a natural understanding of Christianity is that it is focussed on a literal understanding of the Word which is a spiritual text and overlays it with a natural interpretation focussed on the external world and calls this spiritual.  It’s unfortunate but those whose understanding of the Christian message is natural largely have no idea what a spiritual focus is when it comes to understanding the Word.  And because of this they place all their focus on the external life rather than the inner life where the things of the Kingdom of God in fact are.  Jesus said the kingdom of God is within you (Lk 17:21) and that we are to seek first the kingdom of God…(Matt 6:33).

The new revelation for the new church surpasses all that has gone before because it expressly acknowledges that the Word is spiritual in its essence and so deals with the story of the Lord’s life as a representation of how the inflow of the Divine life as love and wisdom influences the internal world of the human mind.  The world of your mind is the spiritual world, and everything in the Word addresses this inner level of life.  So the words of which the sacred texts for the new church are composed have a dual meaning.  They carry the meaning of the words as understood in terms of the natural world but they also carry a deeper meaning, what is called the spiritual sense, which relates to the world of the spirit or our states of mind.  The new revelation for the new church provides us with an understanding of spiritual truths which when applied to the Words of Scripture enables them to be opened up as to their inner or spiritual meaning.  The term “spiritual,” in the new revelation is not vague or so esoteric its difficult to get a handle on.  Spiritual simply means “mental” and when it is said that the spiritual sense of the Word deals with spiritual realities it simply means that there is a level of meaning in the Word that deals with how to manage our shifting states of affection and thought in cooperation with what it is that the Lord seeks to achieve in us.

Coming back to the commandments of loving the Lord and loving our neighbour, we can see that a whole different dimension of meaning and application comes to the fore when we see that the words “Lord” and “neighbour” aren’t to be taken to refer to a God in an external heaven somewhere or to people in the external world but to inner realities that belong to the human mind.  Spiritually understood the word “Lord” means the Divine good, while the word “neighbour” means the Divine truth.  To love the Lord in the new church means to love what is good and to love the neighbour means to love what is true.  When this is seen we can then see that the commandment relates to an inner attitude we have towards goodness and truth.  The removal of ideas related to natural persons from our thinking about the Lord and the neighbour marks an important shift in our understanding as to what is meant by loving the Lord and the neighbour.  If our focus is dominated by the concept of persons then our love of the Lord and the neighbour will tend to fall into a kind of natural religious sentimentality.  Such an attitude is impossible when a spiritual understanding places the focus on loving what is good and true for their own sake.  For to love good is to do what is good and to love what is true is to do what truths teach.

We are left in no doubt what loving good and truth are for the new revelation for the new church mind states that to Love the Lord simply means to obey what the Word teaches, which is exhibited in a life of being willing to be led by it.  To love our neighbour is to do what truths teach; or to work with truths with a view to applying them to life, and by life nothing else is meant than the life of our very own minds.  Such work involves assessing the quality of our thoughts and affections in the light of our understanding of truths and shunning evils as sins against God.  Nothing else is meant spiritually by doing good.

So far, then, as a person detests sins, so far good affections enter…To do good is to shun evilsAE 803

All that we call external good is only good if we are being led by the Word in shunning the evils found active in our internal mental states of life.  If the internal realm of our life is not being attended to then our external actions can only be from self interest and so despite how they appear outwardly they can’t be good for nothing good can come from self interest this being directly opposed to the Lord who alone is good.

This illustrates for us how the Lord through a new revelation provides a new way of understanding of the things of the Word through which He can elevate the mind from out of the naturalism that it so easily falls into.  Every time the Lord provides a new revelation He makes His Advent, so that spiritually by Advent nothing else is understood than the Lord’s renewed presence through a new understanding of the Word in a form accommodated to the capacities of those to whom He is making His coming.

The Christmas story is nothing else.  It has one meaning for those whose spiritual focus is pre Second Advent and natural, and another for those who possess a post Second Advent focus which is spiritual.  From the perspective of Spiritual Christianity the Christmas story illustrates spiritual realities that show how the Lord makes His presence known in the darkened understanding of the human mind when it has lost sight of what it means to live a genuine spiritual life due to it having become immersed in forms of self interest and the delights found in what is of the senses and the body to the exclusion of all else.  This is why the Advent took place in the depths of a Northern winter by which is represented a state of  mind in which the warmth of spiritual love and light had no way of making its presence felt by an inward way due to the fact that all true spiritual teachings had been falsified.  When the human mind becomes so entrenched in the delights associated with loves of self and the world an inner mental barrier of false thinking stands between the inflow of life from the Lord and dissipates it.  So thick was this darkness at the time of the Lord’s coming into the world that the light of Divine truth had, now, to be presented by an external way, in a form that could be perceived in the physical senses of human beings.  This was only possible by the Lord taking an external form in the world where He as a physical expression of divine love and wisdom could make its presence felt in the sense based perceptive world of human beings.  This external form had to be one that could communicate truths, not just in terms of ideas and concepts, but for it to be truly effective it needed to be given in a living example of a human life.  God would have to become Man on the lowest plane of conscious life into which the human mind had immersed itself and there become the living embodiment of the Sacred Scripture, the Word made flesh, if He was to effect the salvation of the human race.  This is the spiritual meaning of the teaching that the Lord was to be born into the world.

Of course the actual world the Lord needs to be born into in order that any single individual might be saved is the lower plane of that person’s mind.  It is due to the Lord’s Advent into the world and the fact that we have the Word that testifies to this that we too now have access to the Divine truth not as a person in the flesh but as the Word of divine revelation.  The Lord’s birth into the world is now able to be understood due to the fact that the new revelation for the new church is able to give us a richer and more importantly a spiritually understanding of the Christmas story.  The revealed teachings for the new church opens the possibility for people to see the Lord in the Word in a way that surpasses every revelation that has preceded it if people are willing to receive it by living from it. When the Lord is born into the world of our natural mind, which takes place only through our acknowledgement that the Word is divine and by looking to live from it, a plane is set up in the mind into which the Lord can flow via an inner way into the Word the sits within our understanding and through that enlighten our minds as to the true nature of the Word and His presence within it.

This is what was prefigured in the declaration in the Scriptures that the Lord would be found laid in a manger.  Natural Christianity can find nothing of true spiritual significance in this small detail.  But the teachings of Spiritual Christianity advise us that nothing is written in the Word that isn’t of the most critical importance for the spiritual well being of people.  The manger has a spiritual meaning, which once understood shows us where the Lord is to be found now, today, in this very moment.  Surely such teaching is of the utmost importance.  What could be more important than to know where the Lord, the one and only God, the one and only saviour and redeemer can be found?  A manger is a feed station, and because the Word deals with the things of the spirit or mind we ask what is it that contains true knowledge of the Lord for it is this that holds what is able to sustain or feed the spirit of a person?  That which holds the Lord within it, that holds the true knowledge of salvation and eternal life is Word when understood in the light of the spiritual doctrines given to the new church for all humanity.  The manger is the doctrine, the revealed teachings for the new church that we must go to, work with and live from if the true joy and peace the promise of Christmas points to is to be established in our hearts. May the Lord touch our hearts this Christmas that we might see Him who has made His coming in the crown of revelations that is the Heavenly Doctrine for the new church.

Amen.

About David Millar

My passion revolves around supporting people to engage with the Lord's Word, or Divine truths in the form of sacred texts, to cultivate an intentional spiritual practice. Through the works penned by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) we find that the Biblical texts contain a deeper meaning that, once understood, enables them to be applied in ways that open the human mind to the realisation of its spiritual potential. The goal of the Divine Life is to free each and every human being from the pain of self centred living and bring them into the experience of all that is heavenly through the promotion of what is genuinely good and true. The material shared here is offered in the pursuit of that aim.
This entry was posted in Luke, New Testament, Rev. D.W. Millar, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.