What Role do Angels Play in Our Life?
What Role do Angels Play in our Life?


Zoom Video Call in at 5pm EST
Greetings!

Dear Friend
of the Holy City:

This is the endurance phase of the crisis. I hope you are each hanging in there. I know this pandemic is taking a toll on everyone.

I'm keeping my sanity by hanging more bird feeders. What's your secret?

Come out and support others going through a challenging time.

ZOOM CALL SUNDAY

We'll use Zoom again on Sunday. The online service had really helped us reach new people, which is awesome. It also means that each week we work through some online snafu.

Last week, a few people reported having a challenge calling in. I'm sorry about that. I hope you enjoy reading. You can also watch a recording on our Facebook page .

Last week we also experimented with broadcasting on Facebook. Thanks to our member Kateryna Pyatybratova who is a leader at George Washington University's Leadership and Excellence program who will helped make that possible.

Also, please take a second a like our Facebook page for the church. You can find it by clicking here.

HERE'S THE ZOOM LINK FOR SUNDAY

Here's the link to the Sunday service on 5/17. No registration required:

Of these two numbers would work:
(312) 626-6799 Meeting ID: 84861831914# 
(646) 876-9923 Meeting ID: 84861831914# 

Please download Zoom applications on your computer or phone, and join by video if you can. It makes a difference if we can see each other.


I will be online starting at 4:30 PM if want to work out any challenges getting on. If you aren't sure, get on early and meditate.


Social Hour is Discussion Hour
Discussion Hour is becoming one of my favorite times of the week where you can ask questions, share answers and think through challenging topics.

Last Week's Sermon
I’m posting last week’s sermon below and will continue posting previous week sermons in the newsletter.

Service Order
Please save this newsletter and use the service order on the right-hand side . If you’d like to do a reading you can request in advance or I’ll ask for volunteers live.

Please take a minute and send in an offering. We will soon be moving to a new online program that allows for automatic weekly giving.

You can also mail a check to
1611 16 th St NW WDC 20009

We need each other. Please consider joining our church. Let me know if you're interested.

Hang in there. I know these are challenging times. I’m glad we have each other and the Lord.


Physical Distancing

Social Outreach

Spiritual Connection


Your Pastor
Rev. Richard L. Tafel

richtafel@gmail.com


LAST WEEK'S SERMON
 



The Radically Inclusive Message of Jesus

Most people who know that I’m a Christian minister share with me a story or when they were excluded by the church. They got a divorce, came out of the closet, got pregnant, weren’t baptized or any number of horror stories where the church excluded them in the name of Jesus.
 
How did the radical message of inclusion of Jesus get so misunderstood?
 
I have a childhood memory that sticks with me. It was an argument between my third-grade classmates against two of our Jewish friends about whether you need to believe in Jesus to get into heaven. The childish debate ended up in a “Yes you do.” With them responding “No you don’t.” It’s embarrassing to think I contributed to making those boys feel more excluded.
 
That story reminds me that at an early age, we learn to be part of a tribe. We learn who is in and who is out. Somehow in our suburban Philadelphia community with the relatively large Jewish population, we learned in our church we were in and they were out.
 
It wasn’t just church. High School, I remember, was all about getting into tribes with the Greasers who worked on their cars, the “Hey mons” who spoked pot, the “School Goers” who got good grades, the “Teachers Pets” who were loved by the faculty, the “Jocks” who excelled in sports and the “Elite” who ran student government.
 
This need to seek to be included and exclude others is hard-wired in human beings. This childish need to pick a tribe doesn’t stop in adulthood.
 
Just look today, in America, at our obsession with labels and tribes that have been cleverly exploited in our political system with an underlying belief that my political party is true and your political party is evil. Social media has taken our desire to be in the right tribe and put it on steroids. If over the past few months you’ve wished illness on a political opponent you are under the powers of tribal exclusion.
 
Jesus message of inclusion is radical today.
 
It runs against this human desire to exclude. He teaches all of us have sinned. All of us need forgiveness and God loves all of us. In today’s gospel reading, Jesus describes a beautiful vision of diversity and inclusion when he compares heaven to a beautiful mansion with many rooms for the variety of God’s creation to feel safe and at home.
 
There’s a place for you. You belong.
 
Jesus message was a repudiation of the faith of his time. Local leaders, like Herod, aligned themselves with political leaders, like Cesar, to gain immense power and wealth. The religious establishment of his time, the Pharisees, defined their very existence by describing who was in and outside the faith.
 
The radically inclusive message of Jesus was that he came into the world for everyone of every faith and offered teachings that were universal. The religious establishment of his time worked with political leaders to kill him and his disciples for it. But Christianity, with its inclusive message, overcame oppression and flourished.
 
It had grown so much that, the powers that controlled most of the world in Rome decided if you can’t beat them join them. They made Christianity the state religion excluding others. Within no time, Christianity reverted into a similar exclusive religion to the one Jesus confronted.
 
Fused with earthly power, wars were fought in the name of Jesus. Those who didn’t convert were killed. Church leaders became monarchs operating their own kingdoms with their own military. People of other faiths, most notably Jews, were frequently discriminated against and even murdered. Holy wars against Muslims were justified as serving Christ. Slave trades were justified as saving the heathen.
 
Throughout all of this, there was always a small group of Christian mystics and prophets outside the power structure courageously reminding the church of the radically inclusive message of Jesus. They were imprisoned, charged with insanity or heresy and often executed.
 
This drive to create insiders and outsiders didn’t stop at non-Christians.
 
First, the Orthodox Church of Greece and the Catholic Church of Rome excluded each other in the name of Jesus.
 
Next, Protestant reformers who rose up to bring the church back to the message of Jesus were routinely imprisoned or executed. As soon as their view came to power, they also sought to punish and even execute others and the reformation led to another series of wars where thousands were killed in the name of Jesus.
 
It’s around this time that Swedenborg, son of a Lutheran Bishop, has mystical visits to heaven and hell and reports back a shocking message. He states that people claiming to follow Jesus had lost sight of God’s message that the path to heaven is open to all who love God and that can only be real to the extent that they love others.
 
He challenged the church’s teaching that only Christians go to heaven saying,

“It is an insane heresy to believe that only those born in the church are saved. People born outside the church are just as human as people born within it. They come from the same heavenly source. They are equally living and immortal souls. They have religions as well, religions that enable them to believe that God exists and that they should lead good lives; and all of them who do believe in God and lead good lives become spiritual on their own level and are saved. (Divine Providence #330.5)
 
He pointed out that the excluders should be worried about their own salvation pointing to Jesus warning in Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 
 
What is the will of the Father that Jesus is speaking about? He explains in Matthew 25.
 
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
 
Sadly, most churches today use a passage from today’s gospel message to exclude people who don’t worship like them. They interpret the passage, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” to mean only my type of Christian goes to heaven.
 
When Jesus says no one comes to the Father but through him, he is teaching that the way to God is love.
 
The kingdom of heaven is open to everyone of every faith who lives a life of as Jesus taught us of loving others.
 
While God doesn’t exclude anyone, we can exclude ourselves. This exclusion is the path to hell. We choose exclusion to hell when we love only ourselves. Instead of inclusion, it is driven by a desire for exclusion. Instead of service, it is driven by a desire for power and dominion over others. Instead of loving our neighbor we hate and resent them. Instead of trust in the Lord, it is driven by trusting only in ourselves.
 
Jesus continues in the passage from Matthew with a warning to those who think they are righteous saying,
 
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
 
The message of Jesus' inclusion is still radical in our time.
 
Much of Christianity is stuck in that same childhood argument I had with my Jewish classmates seeking to exclude those who aren’t like them.
 
The good news of Jesus is that we are all loved whoever we are, whatever we do and whatever we believe. Our challenge is to live a life of love. There’s a room in the heavenly mansion for all of us.


Amen




 
Thanks to Elfa Halloway and Malcolm Peck for sending in their altars. Don't forget to get a candle at home and send me the photo of your altar.

Order of Worship

Prepare
Light your own candle.

Set up your Bible or holy book at home.

Opening the Word
Open your Bible at home.


Welcome from Rev. Tafel

Rev. Tafel will greet everyone and ask for readers of the texts.

Confession
Read at home.

All: Eternal God, in whom we live and move and have our being,
whose face is hidden from us by our sins,

and whose mercy we forget in the blindness of our hearts:
cleanse us from all our offenses,

and deliver us from proud thoughts and vain desires,

that with reverent and humble hearts we may draw near to you,

confessing our faults, confiding in your grace, and finding in you our refuge and strength;

Amen


Minister:
May almighty God have mercy on us,  forgive us our sins,  and bring us to everlasting life,  through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen


Readings

Psalm 8[ a ]

Lord, our Lord,
     how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
     in the heavens.
Through the praise of children and infants
     you have established a stronghold against your enemies,
     to silence the foe and the avenger.
When I consider your heavens,
     the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
     which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
     human beings that you care for them?[ c ]
You have made them[ d ] a little lower than the angels[ e ]
     and crowned them[ f ] with glory and honor.
You made them rulers over the works of your hands;
     you put everything under their[ g ] feet:
all flocks and herds,
     and the animals of the wild,
the birds in the sky,
     and the fish in the sea,
     all that swim the paths of the seas.
Lord, our Lord,
     how majestic is your name in all the earth!


Swedenborg Insight
Before we have decided to grow spiritually, we have with us evil spirits whose grip on us is so strong that the angels, though present, can achieve hardly any results.

Angels lead us away from rushing into the worst kind of evil and divert us toward some form of good. They even use our own appetites to lead us toward good, and the illusions of our senses to lead us toward truth.

In these times of challenge, we communicate with the world of spirits by means of the angels around us but not so much with heaven, since the evil spirits have such a powerful influence that the angels only deflect their influence.

However, when we are ask God to help us grow spiritually, the angels are in charge, inspiring us with all kinds of goodness and truth and instilling a fear of evil and falsity.  ( Secrets of Heaven  §50:2–3)


Luke 22: 39  According to His custom, He came out and went to the Mount of Olives. And His disciples followed Him.  40  When He came there, He said to them, “Pray that you may not fall into temptation.”  41  He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and prayed,  42  “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me. Nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”  43  An angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him.  44  And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly. And His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
45  When He rose from prayer and had come to His disciples, He found them sleeping from sorrow.  46  He said to them, “Why do you sleep? Rise and pray, lest you fall into temptation.”

John 14:15-21
Jesus said, ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

”I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”


Sermon

Discussion
We will save the discussion for after the service in our discussion hour.


Offering


Mail to: 1611 16th St NW WDC 20009


Community Prayers
Here you can simply say your intention with a word or phrase. There's no need to explain details. The Lord knows what's on your heart. All of us will respond together after a prayer is made by saying,
"Lord Hear Our Prayer."

Pastor Prayer
O  God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord
Lord's Prayer (in unison)
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10  Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11  Give us this day our daily bread.
12  And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.


Benediction


Discussion Time
Please stay as long as you like to update each other on how you are doing. Rev. Tafel will stay until the last person has shared. You can ask the minister anything!
This photos of the church taken this week by Elfa Halloway.

This quote from Thomas Merton sent in by Maria de los Angeles speaks what our culture values
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