Developing Spiritual Resilience through Self Awareness

This Sunday: Developing Spiritual Resilience through Self Awareness

Dear Friends,

I want to welcome you back from summer as we continue in our faith community this fall.

I must admit, I’m entering Fall kicking and screaming. I had a chance to reconnect with friends and family these past few months. I hope you did as well. As I stare out of my pastor’s office window, I see the tree across the street with its leaves turning yellow.

I want to say a special thank you to Kateryna Pyatybratova for leading services and coordinating speakers this summer. It was wonderful hearing all the members of our community sharing their spiritual insights. I’m proud to say, I never missed a Sunday thanks to the blessing of technology.

What struck me about this summer’s messages has been the many beautiful spiritual paths each of us take to be a little more loving and kinder on our path to God.

This summer I spent some time on a book based off a sermon I did last year on Cultural Translators—people who seek to bridge the gap and bring us together.

The number one question I got from a young leader seeking to create community and bridge the divide is this: “How do I engage in the civic arena when things are so toxic?”

It’s a great question. We know building the beloved community is the answer, but we also aware that very toxic people are doing all they can to get their own way and repel people from engaging in community, politics, and the workplace.

Building Spiritual Resilience

The answer to this question is that we must build up our spiritual resilience to engage in community. There are people who thrive off of conflict and even make money off of it. We need to prepare ourselves as people of faith having been doing for generations going back to the first Christian community who taught:

11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand safe against all strategies and tricks of Satan. 12 For we are not fighting against people made of flesh and blood, but against persons without bodies—the evil rulers of the unseen world, those mighty satanic beings and great evil princes of darkness who rule this world; and against huge numbers of wicked spirits in the spirit world. Ephesians 6:11-12

This is an old way of saying we need to become spiritual resilient.

Over the next six Sundays I’m going to share six strategies for us to become spiritually resilient.

Here are the six strategies we cover over the next six Sundays.

1.    Self-Awareness

2.   Moral Courage

3.   Pure Motivation

4.   Forgiveness

5.   Humility

6.   Authenticity

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Readings for The Coming Sunday

John 8:3-8

The Message

3-6 The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

6-8 Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger in the dirt. They kept at him, badgering him. He straightened up and said, “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” Bending down again, he wrote some more in the dirt.

Matthew 7:3-5

3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

False Piety

Swedenborg Insight: Heaven and Hell

“After their death, there are other people in the who have lived outwardly spiritual lives on earth constantly going to church and at prayer. They have undermined their own spiritual growth though by constantly thinking about how great and spiritual they are. They see themselves as more important than others. They come to believe they will regarded as saints after their death. They are not in heaven in the next life because they have done all this with themselves first in mind. Since they have polluted divine truths by the self-love they immersed them in, some of them are so deranged that they think they are gods.”

Recap of Last Week:

A Look at the Mystical Prayer &

the 12 Steps' Practical Design for Living 

with Maria De Los Angeles

Last week we enjoyed hearing from Maria De Los Angeles, who shared her own story of recovery, and how praying the Lord's Prayer in its original language, Aramaic, has helped her to connect with God and check in with herself in her day-to-day journey.

We encourage everyone to watch powerful and poetic Maria's message, which can be viewed here.

Here is a copy of the musical selection from last Sunday, The Lord's Prayer in Aramaic, as spoken and translated by Neil Douglas-Klotz.

Thank you, Maria, for your vulnerability and strength!

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Rev. Tafel to Participate in the

White House's the United We Stand Summit 

On Thursday, September 15th, President Biden will host the United We Stand Summit at the White House to counter the corrosive effects of hate-fueled violence on our democracy and public safety, putting forward a shared, bipartisan vision for a more united America.

Click here to learn more about the Summit. 

In advance of this event, the White House is launching a series of virtual roundtables to obtain feedback on policy recommendations, as well as identify community-generated solutions to prevent and address hate-fueled violence.

The Pre-Summit Virtual Roundtables will be convened around the three pillar topics in the summit: PREVENTION of mobilization to violence, RESPONSE AND RECOVERY when hate-fueled violence does occur, and RENEWAL of our civic life to promote bridge building and foster national unity. 

Rev. Tafel has been invited to participate in the RENEWAL Roundtable discussion.

Our ASK: Please share with us your thoughts and recommendations on responses to the following questions, to be discussed at this Roundtable:


1. In this group, there are many different approaches to building bridges and encouraging people with different perspectives to come together in common purpose. What have you found to be the most effective approaches in terms of short-term impact? With a longer-term lens?

2. Is there an approach to pursuing this work that you picked up from someone else that you’ve found particularly valuable, and that you’d like to share with others here?

3. Many of you are doing phenomenal work and have developed effective strategies or taken effective action to foster connection. What’s the best way to scale this work, and ensure that it can be leveraged most effectively and efficiently by others?

4. Just as important, what doesn’t work? We can see some counterintuitive results as the research develops in the growing field.

5. How do you best get a sense of whether what you’re doing is working, and how do you best get a sense of whether what you’re doing is working better than an alternative?

6. Are there interventions that you think are particularly promising but only work well at a very localized scale? Are there interventions that you think are particularly promising but only work well at a much larger scale?

7. In pursuing your work, are there distinct blockers that you managed to overcome that you wished you’d figured out earlier?

8. I know there were and are likely allies that you’ve encountered in this work: everyone needs help from friends, inside or outside of the community. Were there allies in this work who were particularly unexpected sources of support? Are there ways that you have engaged allies in this work that you found to be particularly effective?

9. One of the challenges we face is how to mobilize the silent majority that’s sitting on the sidelines to engage in their communities, to become social catalysts. How do we deal with the bystander problem?

10. We often talk about bridging across divides, but how can we work within our own peer groups and circles to help others be more tolerant or more willing to engage with those from different backgrounds or perspectives?

11. Much of this work needs to happen at the community level, from the ground up, what additional supports could the federal government provide to foster this important work? Where is there room for collaboration?

Trump Should Fill Christians With Rage.

How Come He Doesn’t? 

By: Michael Gerson

Date: September 1, 2022

In many American places on a pleasant Sunday afternoon it is possible, as I recently did, to have coffee in the city at a bohemian cafe draped with rainbow banners, then to drive 30 or 45 minutes into the country to find small towns where Confederate and Trump flags are flown. The United States sometimes feels like two nations, divided by adornments defiantly affirming their political and cultural affinities.

Much of cosmopolitan America holds to a progressive framework of bodily autonomy, boundless tolerance and group rights — a largely post-religious morality applied with near-religious intensity. But as a religious person (on my better days), what concerns me are the perverse and dangerous liberties many believers have taken with their own faith. Much of what considers itself Christian America has assumed the symbols and identity of white authoritarian populism — an alliance that is a serious, unfolding threat to liberal democracy.

From one perspective, the Christian embrace of populist politics is understandable. The disorienting flux of American ethical norms and the condescension of progressive elites have incited a defensive reaction among many conservative religious people — a belief that they are outsiders in their own land. They feel reviled for opposing gender ideology that seems to have arrived just yesterday, or for stating views on marriage that Barack Obama once held. They fear their values are under assault by an inexorable modernity, in the form of government, big business, media and academia.

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Overheard on the Grapevine:

Community Updates at CHC

Here are the latest updates from our Church of the Holy City community:


Wrapping Your Mind around Swedenborgianism

We wanted to share this wonderful recommendation from Dr. Malcolm Peck, which we also plan to incorporate into our new Church of the Holy City website (more details to come!) Dr. Peck's reading suggestions might be interesting to all those who are looking for good explanatory overviews of Swedenborg and his writings.

"When people become acquainted with us and are interested in learning something about Swedenborgian ideas, they can be easily intimidated by the challenge of comprehending Swedenborg’s writings," says Dr. Peck.

He continues, "I myself find reading S. in the original to be rather heavy intellectual lifting. Moreover, his style, at least in my opinion is rather turgid and he repeats himself with annoying frequency. Thus, I find it best to take an approach that comprises easily understood, but serious, books about Swedenborg and his principal ideas and, especially, his interpretation of scripture.

The reading group has just finished “A Scientist Explores Spirit,” by George Dole and Robert Kirven, two of the preeminent Swedenborg scholars of the past decades. In just under a hundred pages it provides a superb overview. Kirven’s “Angels in Action” is another excellent book, also concise and brief, which illuminates an important aspect of Swedenborgian belief. “Finding Purpose: Lessons form Emanuel Swedenborg” is a brief, practical guide to Swedenborgian concepts.

Other titles might be added. My point is that it might be useful to cite these and a handful of other works on the website to offer inquisitive individuals a non-intimidating but effective introduction to Swedenborg."

Heart-Centered Living: Curated News and Stories to Nurture the Living Heart

We are also proud to share with you something that Maria de Los Angeles has been working on, - 

Heart-Centered Living News is a curated collection of news, stories, resources and delightful curiosities that inspire action and contemplation. Centering topics range from spirituality to social justice, to arts and education, caregiving and recovery. Based in Washington, D.C. this bi-monthly newsletter for the "practical mystic" is international in scope and published by award-winning writer, teacher and CHC member Maria de los Angeles!

Please subscribe for the newsletter, launching in mid-September, below.

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Food for Thought for the Week Ahead:

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