Happy Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July
Transcript of Last Sunday's Sermon below:
What's Your Burning Bush?
Happy Fourth of July!

No Service T his Sunday
We will not have our online service during July and August.

Take a few minutes to read this week's lessons and reflect on what they mean. Feel free to email me questions from the readings and I'll respond in the next newsletter.

In the absence of Sunday sermons, there are important member activities.

Faith-based Activism Discussion Group:
Just Mercy

Sunday, July 26, 2020 at 5 PM – 6:30 PM
Public · Hosted by  Annabel Park  and  Maria De Los Angeles

Join be connecting through Facebook here:

Summer Reading Group
Dr. Peck is setting up a Swedenborg reading group call in. Please contact him directly as they choose a time. ( aandmpeck@comcast.net )

Elfa Halloway Going Away Party June 19, 2020 5pm EST

Our church administrator, Elfa Halloway is leaving her position this July to return to Germany. Elfa has been in service to the church for over four decades. The church is now faced with the daunting challenge of trying to replace, which is is impossible.

On Sunday July 19th, we will hold an outdoor socially distanced reception at Dr. Peck's home in the garden. I will also set up a Zoom call for 5pm EST on that date. Please mark your calendars. If you can attend with me in person, please email me and I'll send the address. (richtafel@gmail.com)

I will send out a zoom invite as well.

Swedenborgian Convention Classes

The classes at the Swedenborgian Convention went well. I'll send you each one each week going forward throughout summer.

Pastoral Calls
I am available for pastoral calls throughout the summer. Just email me to set one up.

Physical Distancing

Social Outreach

Spiritual Connection

Your Pastor
Rev. Richard L. Tafel



What's Your Burning Bush?

In addition to my work at the church, you may know that I do personal coaching. During this pandemic period, the number of people coming to me for has skyrocketed. Locked at home with time on their hands, people had a chance to stop the hurrying world and reflect on their lives.
I began to notice a pattern. Upon reflection, a number of people came to share their frustration that their life lacked any meaning or purpose beyond making money and achieving prestige among their peers. Here’s a good example of how they described their life pre-pandemic:
“I get up and I’m afraid I slept too late. Will I be late for work? Will that look bad? Will I eat food that makes me fat for breakfast? When I show up at work will I be able to find new clients? Will my current clients be satisfied? Will I bill enough hours today? Will my boss see me working? Will any of the clients I work with being at all interesting to me? Will I work long enough to show I care? When I get home, I wonder if I have time to get the work done that I didn’t at the office? Will I have time to maintain any ties to the people I care about? I promise to call them next week. Will I have any time for fun? What’s fun? Who are these people dining out on the street or laughing on the balconies as I walk home? What if they fire me at work? I love where I live but I know Bank of America owns it? Will I have to give it back? Do others see me and respect me? Do they hear my title and know my office and admire me? It’s getting close to time to go to bed. Will I go another night without much sleep? Oh God, I’m already worried about tomorrow. Maybe an Ambien, joint, heavy blankets, ambient noise machine, or cocktail will do the trick. Oh God, will I show up tomorrow sleepy?
Tomorrow’s another day.”
I noticed in these stories that each part of the day is driven by fear.
There is no spirit, no time to love the neighbor, and no time to get outside yourself. It’s all-consuming.
The fact that so many are sharing the same story made me recognize that the pandemic has been a “burning bush” moment for all of us. Like Moses, we are going about our business. He was a shepherd who had escaped from Egypt when he noticed a bush burning that wasn’t consumed. This dramatic sign of God’s presence in our lives is the Lord calling us away from the worldly and mundane and, too often, meaningless, to follow God’s call to our purpose.
The story of Moses and the burning bush offers us insights on how we might react to the Lord’s calling in our life right now.
Why a bush and not a tree or grass? In the inner meaning, a bush represents a small idea not fully formed. The Lord comes to us with a flicker of insight. We don’t get to see the whole plan just enough to gain our attention and get us back on the path of our purpose.
Moses is told to take off his sandals, this represents God asking us to put aside for the moment the worldly demands that keep us grounded in the day-to-day.
The moment that Moses encounters this bush is at a time in the history of the world, that the descendants of Abraham have lost the memory of their God.
You might remember that God called Abraham to be the leader of a new faith in one God. Years later, his descendant Joseph becomes the chief advisor to the Pharaoh in Egypt. His family is welcomed in Egypt during a famine, but instead of returning to their purpose and place they get fat and happy and stay in Egypt. Eventually, they end up slaves. They no longer remember who their God is.
We are in a similar moment in our culture. Thanks to advances in science and business, we as a society has come to believe that God is not central and something for the weak and poorly educated. To be sophisticated is to be secular. Our churches have lost their connection to God having been caught up in judgment, power, and money. And worse, horrible scandals.
But there are still moments when we pick up our heads for a moment and see that burning bush over there.
Like Moses, we see signs from God and ask, “What is this? What do I call you?”
God says, then and now, “I am who I am.” A phrase that letter spells out the word “Jehovah.” God doesn’t respond with a noun, but with a verb. God is the activity of love calling us to be that activity of love in the world.
Today, this pandemic is allowing God to appear to us have each with different burning bushes that relate to our diversity.
Yet, already I feel people have stopped staring at the bush and decided to get back into their shoes and go back to shepherding our flock of their daily lives. We keep doing what we were doing. Slowly we forget the bush and wonder if it ever happened as we quickly fill our day with activities that keep us busy.
How about you? Is there a burning bush in your life calling you to change something? Calling you to stop something? Calling you to reach out to someone? Calling you to forgive someone? Calling you to serve some people?
What excuses are you using? One person once told me after a sermon, that’s interesting but I’m too old to really think about doing anything new now. I thought of that when I calculated Moses' age. It appears he lived 40 years in Egpyt and 40 years in the Wildnerness. That puts him at 80 in this story.
Another response is I’m too busy now. I’m in my prime earning years. I’m busy with that, so let me just get through this period, and then I can focus on my spiritual life later. We remember Jesus and the disciples were active on their purpose in their prime earning years. Do we trust God to take care of our needs for a simple life?
I’ve head, I don’t do public speaking, or I don’t understand theology enough? Sounds like Moses.
He was no different. In the next chapter, he offers various excuses and literally says to the God, send someone else, please. He argues no one will believe him and God says I’ll give you the power and signs you’ll need. Moses says I don’t speak well and God says you’ll partner your brother Aaron who can speak for you. Moses says, I’d rather just stay out of conflict and God says that he has been called for a purpose and this is it.
You probably know the rest of Moses versus Pharaoh's story or watched the movie. Moses accepts the call and goes on to become one of the greatest leaders in the history of the Bible and the world. When Jesus has his own transfiguration experience, he has it with Moses and Elijah his two spiritual advisors. That’s living your purpose.
We all have reasons why we get back in our shoes and leave the burning bush. What can we do to, like Moses, see the bush?
First, we can simply pray to God for this awareness. It will happen.

Second, we find our team. We can find a coach, therapist, pastor or good friend to be our Aaron and help us see the bush and listen and speak.
Third, we can spend more time away from chaos in nature. It’s not accident Moses was outside the city by himself in a field when he could see the bush.
Fourth, we can more fully engage as a community in the church. Our church has teachings and a location and resources that can truly meet unique needs. What do we need to do to get out of the “shoes” of the daily business activities that keep us afloat and be open to the action God is calling us toward? The path forward will not be that path we’ve been on.
I began by speaking about a life motivated by fear. Imagine a day in the life in service to the Lord.
Imagine getting up with a prayer of thanksgiving for the new day and the weather, for the air and sun. Imagine taking time to reflect and listen to God’s guidance. Imagine going to work in service, paid or unpaid, to others without concern for public credit or large salaries. Imagine the energy you receive each day and in each encounter. Imagine addressing that bad habit, temptation or project you have put off? Imagine getting together with loved ones in person or online to celebrate each other’s life. Imagine laughing and having fun. Imagine prayers of thanksgiving over meals and conversations. Imagine ending the day in gratitude for the life God has given you, ready to go to bed for deep sleep, and maybe even getting new insights in your dreams.
Imagine God wants a life for you that is peaceful, abundant and full of happiness.
We are in a burning bush moment. Most will seek to ignore it, and many will pretend it is not happening. But many others are feeling a shift in their spirit. As we go through our own shift, we can ask God for the courage to get out of our shoes and listen to the voice of love in action saying, I am who I am and recognize that this is the true source of all life.

Readings this Week

Light your own candle.

Use these reading for your personal meditations

Readings July 5 2020

Psalm 145:8-15
Exaltabo te, Deus
8 The Lord is gracious and full of compassion, *
slow to anger and of great kindness.
9 The Lord is loving to everyone *
and his compassion is over all his works.
10 All your works praise you, O Lord, *
and your faithful servants bless you.
11 They make known the glory of your kingdom *
and speak of your power;
12 That the peoples may know of your power *
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom; *
your dominion endures throughout all ages.
14 The Lord is faithful in all his words *
and merciful in all his deeds.
15 The Lord upholds all those who fall; *
he lifts up those who are bowed down.

Matthew 11:16-19, 25-30
Jesus said to the crowd, “To what will I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling to one another,
‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance;
we wailed, and you did not mourn.’
For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds.”
At that time Jesus said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Swedenborg Insights

A great deal of my experience has testified to the fact that we are our love or intention after death. All heaven is differentiated into communities on the basis of differences in the quality of love, and every spirit who is raised up into heaven and becomes an angel is taken to the community where her or his love is. When we arrive there we feel as though we are in our own element, at home, back to our birthplace, so to speak. Angels sense this and associate there with kindred spirits. When they leave and go somewhere else, they feel a constant pull, a longing to go back to their kindred and therefore to their dominant love. This is how people gather together in heaven. The same applies in hell. . . . We may also gather that we are our love after death from the fact that anything that does not agree with our dominant love is then removed and apparently taken away from us. For good people, what is removed and apparently taken away is everything that disagrees and conflicts, with the result that they are admitted to their love. It is much the same for evil people. . . . Once this has happened, we constantly turn our faces toward our love and have it constantly before our eyes no matter which way we face. ( Heaven and Hell  §479:1–2)

Mail to checks to: 1611 16th St NW WDC 20009
Louis Tafel Joins
Church of the Holy City

Last Sunday it was announced that Louis Tafel of Churchville, Pennsylvania requested membership in the church.

Rev. Tafel had the good fortune of announcing his father's interest on Father's Day. The church board ratified his membership in their meeting last week.

About Louis Tafel
Louis was born and raised in Philadelphia the son, grandson, and great-grandson of Swedenborgian ministers. In his senior year of high school, he was drafted to serve in World War II. At a military base in Texas, he heard the good news of the surrender of the Japanese and the end of the war. He continued his military service patrolling the Panama Canal. When he returned from service he attended Temple University and Susquehanna University.

Louis married his wife Mary Robb and they eventually settled in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Together they raised six children. His family has been the great joy of his life. Today, he is also father-in-law to four, grandfather to fourteen and has eight great-grandchildren. His wife Mary transitioned to the spiritual world in December 2018. Louis loves spending quality time with his family..

Louis found his business acumen matched the sales industry and spent his career in numerous positions traveling the country and the world. He became an executive in the healthcare field with his greatest expertise was in the design and sale of nursing home and hospital beds, furniture and equipment

A devoted student of Swedenborg, he mentored Rev. Rich Tafel on Sundays after church often driving him to his various soccer games. These conversations led to longer, deeper conversations that inspired Rich into the path of ministry.

One of the great silver linings of the pandemic is that through technology Louis is able to fully participate in the life of Church of the Holy City and is happy to join the church.

The photo of below is Louis with two of his latest great-grandchildren Evie Stana and Desi Tafel.
We are planning our going away party for Elfa Halloway on Sunday June 19th at 5pm at Dr. Peck's garden in Arlington VA.

Flashback Basement Renovation Below

   You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of every email