A Hopeful Message

In the 1800s, there was a New Church minister named Chauncey Giles, who eventually became  one of the New Church leaders in America and who was well-loved by many people. He had  discovered the Writings as a young adult, and the whole course of his life was changed for the  better. He is probably my favorite New Church author, there is such affection and wisdom in his  writing, and he wrote about so many important things. He felt that when he wrote his sermons  and papers, he should make them as beautifully written as he possibly could, in honor of the  subject matter. Below I am going to share a quote from a sermon he wrote entitled “The  Ministry of Flowers.” I have returned to this sermon many times as a source of hope and  inspiration. And I like to remember the Lord’s message when I enjoy the beautiful flowers He  creates. This sermon is based on a text from Hosea 14 about the Lord descending like dew on  Israel and causing growth and blossoming, and on True Christian Religion 392:2 about natural and spiritual  flowering.  

The changes wrought within us by regeneration are so covered up and  concealed by the natural life and the material body that it is difficult to  gain a clear and adequate idea of their nature and importance. They  are to our spiritual faculties and to our life in the spiritual world as the  secret processes that go on in the seed while it is in the ground are to  the blossom. In our darkness, doubt, and difficulty of apprehension,  the Lord says to us, “I will show you what the effect of my truth upon  your spiritual nature will be when you return to me and receive my  words into your hearts and lives. Look at this root; see how coarse and  rough it is. There is no beauty in it; there is nothing you can discover  in it that gives promise or hope of any loveliness of form or purity of  color or delicacy of texture. And yet out of earth and rain and heat and  light I will create one of the most beautiful forms in nature.” 

You watch the progress of this creation; you see the germ bursting the  bulb; you see it push its way out of the ground; you admire the growth  of the stalk. If you had never seen a flower, you might mistake the leaf  for it. But no, the Lord says, this is only the preparation; there is  something coming far more beautiful than that. The bud swells, the  calyx begins to open its emerald doors, and you catch a glimpse of a  purer color and a more delicate texture than stalk or leaf. Gradually  the beautiful mystery opens before you. You see a form pure as the  unstained snow expanding in delicate curves, filling the air with  fragrance, and charming you with its loveliness.

“There,” the Lord says: “as the blossom is to the root, so are even the  first developments of a distinctly spiritual life to a merely natural life.  So are spiritual truths to natural truths. So are spiritual affections to  natural affections, except that the blossoms of heavenly wisdom  exceed these earthly blossoms in loveliness of form, in purity and  brilliance of color, and in sweetness of fragrance as much as mind  excels matter. But here is a hint of the work that I am carrying on in  every heart on which the dews of my truth descend, and which opens  to their reception.” 

In flowers we have a demonstration of what beautiful results the Lord  can effect by the simplest and the most apparently unpromising  means. Every flower is a miracle wrought before our eyes. And it is  wrought for the express purpose of teaching us something of the  higher miracle that the Lord is continually in the effort to work within  every human soul. 

Reflect a moment upon the materials out of which these beautiful  forms are organized. Suppose you had never seen an organized  vegetable form. Could you find the stalk, the leaf, and the blossom of  the lily in the black mould, in running stream or falling shower? Could  you discover any of its forms in the evening breeze, in morning light  and noonday heat? Put every force and substance in nature into the  crucible; decompose and analyze and recompose their elements;  scrutinize their primary forms with the microscope; apply to them  every possible test, and could you get a hint of the rose or the lily, or  even the blade of grass? No, not one. The wisest men with all their  wisdom could not conceive of such a form. They would declare its  creation to be impossible. 

But we see that the Lord does work this miracle. And it should teach  us to have faith that out of the unpromising materials of our natural  life, He will produce correspondingly grand results. He weaves the  delicate texture of the flowers, and distils their delicious aromas out of  crumbling stones and the black mould of decayed leaves; out of vernal showers and summer dews. He paints them in all the hues of light,  and quickens them into life with the breath of the sun’s heat. And then  He says to us, “You shall grow as the lily.” 

By these means He teaches us a great law of divine order, and  demonstrates to us the methods by which He accomplishes His  purposes. He is always in the effort to bring higher things out of lower.  Everything that does not resist His purpose steps up and not down;  unfolds into higher and lovelier forms; is commissioned to perform  more important uses; and receives larger rewards. In the growth of  the blossom He shows us how He is forming the spiritual mind. He  shows us how it blossoms. He reveals to us the meaning of labor and  the rough work of this life, and the use of our natural knowledge and  experience. He intends that the labor of the forge, the mill, the office,  and the household shall blossom into forms of heavenly wisdom. He  intends that the dry details of business and daily duty shall rise into  the consummate flower of lovely affections for wife, husband, and  child, for neighbor and friend. 

Our natural thoughts and affections are the ground, the carbon and  oxygen, the chemical constituents that become organized into the  glorious beauty of spiritual affections and thoughts. We cannot  describe in words or fully illustrate by natural forms how excellent  these will be. They cannot be revealed to the natural senses because  these senses are not sensitive enough to discern them. “Eye hath not  seen and ear hath not heard” (Isaiah 64:4, 1 Cor. 2:9). But the Lord  uses the most beautiful of earthly things to give us a hint of the  heavenly. He creates the pure, delicate, and lovely forms of flowers out  of the coarse and rough substances of the insensate earth, and then  tells us that our spiritual life will be as much more excellent than our  natural life in delicacy of fragrance, in glory of color, and in loveliness  of form, as the blossoms of the rose and lily surpass the coarse bulb  and unattractive root.

About Kim de Chazal

Kim spends her days being a wife, mom and homemaker, helping run the Oak Arbor Sunday school, substitute teaching in the Oak Arbor School, reading, writing, editing, collecting/reading/sharing New Church theological and collateral works, cooking, gardening, and despite the ups and downs of daily life, feeling lucky in the life that Providence is providing. Kim was raised in the New Church and consciously chose it as an adult. She looks forward to the chance to share ideas with other women who are working to use New Church concepts in daily life.

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