My name is Solomon Keal. I am a minister for the General Church of the New Jerusalem, which is a Swedenborgian Christian denomination. These are some of my thoughts about the Lord, the symbolic meanings in the Bible, life after death, faith, charity, usefulness, loving the Lord and one's neighbor, the 2nd Coming, Swedenborg's Writings, and other theological stuff.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"Love Your Enemies"

Earlier this month I had the opportunity to travel to Boulder Colorado and preach in the New Church of Boulder Valley.  I preached on the story of David, Nabal and Abigail in 1st Samuel chapter 25.  The sermon is called "Love Your Enemies."  It could also be called "Listening to Abigail."   It's about those times when we may feel like treating other people the way they treated us, rather than following the Golden Rule and treating other people the way we would like to be treated.   It's about not being cruel to others or to ourselves as we attempt to stand for both the truth and love.   You can watch the video here

The "Perfect" Date Night

My wife and I have found that date nights are really important for the health of our marriage.  If you are married, I highly recommend fitting regular date nights into your schedule and budget.   We have found that it is more than worth the time and money. 

Sometimes we might have expectations about how a date night will go or should go.  I occasionally wonder what the elements are that make up a good date night.  The following is a little reflection on a story from the beginning of Emanuel Swedenborg’s book called Conjugial Love, and how it could apply to achieving the “perfect” date night.  

Sometimes we think that a date night will only be good if we can just get out of the house. Sometimes we think that a date night will only be good if we can just get to a certain favorite location.  Sometimes we think that a date night will only be good if we have an amazing conversation.  Sometimes we think that a date night will only be good if we have a fancy dinner and go to a movie or concert.   Sometimes we think that a date night will only be good if we get out for a walk in nature, or watch a beautiful sunset.  Sometimes we think that a date night will only be good if we spend a lot of money, somewhere expensive where we are waited on hand and foot, and everything goes exactly as we want it to go.   Sometimes I think that a date night will only be good if it goes exactly how I want it to go.   Sometimes we think that a date night will only be good if we include some sort of spiritual practice like reading the Word or praying.   
And yes, all of those things can certainly be factors in a good date night.  But I think a good date night doesn’t actually depend on any one of those external things. . . I think it depends more on whether as a couple we are expressing love and being useful to each other in some way.   When we mutually show each other that we genuinely care about each other, then it doesn't matter what we're actually doing, it turns out to be a great date night.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

"Spring" Break?

Ice.  Snow.  Spring?  Last week the church school where I work took its “Spring” Break.  Spring Break actually came early, due to two snow days at the end of the week before.  Spring technically begins on March 20th, at the end of this week.  When I was growing up we would  sometimes refer to Spring Break as “Dreary-Weather Break,” because it never seemed to quite line up with what we think of as the bright, warm feeling of Spring.   And even once Spring has technically begun, the warmth often seems to take its time about coming.   One year when I was in college, we were all "fooled" into thinking Spring had arrived, when we woke up on April 1st to one of the largest snowfalls of the winter.   

I was recently reminded of something said in the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and that is that the rational (higher) part of our mind is regenerated before the natural (lower) part of our mind (see Secrets of Heaven 3493).  Spring comes to our rational mind before it comes to our natural mind, just like Spring technically arrives before it often feels like Spring.    In other words, we might sometimes feel frustrated that even though we’ve learned something about how to live our life better, and rationally committed ourselves to being a more useful, loving person. . . we can still feel stuck in our natural bad habits, like being stuck in the snow and ice during Spring Break.     It doesn’t feel fair or right.  And yet stepping back and looking at the big seasonal picture reminds us that we have made enormous progress since the middle of Winter.  Spring is coming in our minds, even with snow and ice on the ground of our lives.  

This is one of the reasons why practicing mindfulness can bring us into a state of peace.  Mindfulness gives us the bigger picture, and allows us to experience hope in the present as we trust in the Lord’s guidance amidst the confusing seasonal changes of our minds.   Spring is coming.