Since mid-2019, New Churchwomen in Australia have taken to gathering for women’s weekends twice a year, in person when feasible and virtually when not. This is adapted from a session I presented at our April ‘22 weekend, just as applicable to this audience as to that.
When I think about our women’s weekends, I think about our group of ladies coming together, from various corners of the country (or world!), from various generations and various walks of life, and I think about the bonds we form, a sort of sisterhood, despite the lack of any blood ties.
Thinking about sisters in the Word, not many sister-sister relations come to mind. There are a number of sisters of men mentioned – Moses and Aaron’s sister Miriam, Absalom & Amnon’s sister Tamar, Laban’s sister Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) and King Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba are the prominent ones. The only two sister-sister relationships that I thought of are Mary & Martha, Lazarus’ sisters, and Rachel & Leah, Jacob’s wives.
Mary & Martha are most well known for their interaction with Jesus when He visited them in their home: Martha spent time getting things ready for the Lord, while Mary didn’t seem to do anything except sit down at the Lord’s feet and listen to Him. Martha complained and Jesus chided her, saying that what Mary was doing was very important and that she must be left alone to do it. (Luke 10 / John 12)
Continue reading Sisterhood
“Give a hoot – don’t pollute!” You may recognise this as the cry of Woodsy the Owl in public service announcements for the U.S. Forest Service in the 1970s. Woodsy had a great point: don’t litter! Don’t be callous! Take care of the environment around you! This article isn’t an environmentalist plea, however; at least, mostly not. It goes deeper than that, and feels like a good way to start off a new year.
In a discussion with friends after church a while back, it occurred to me that Woodsy’s is a great all-around motto. “Give a hoot, don’t pollute __” – you can fill in the blank with just about anything, and it works. Don’t pollute your physical environment with litter or garbage. Don’t pollute your head-space with selfish or lustful thoughts. Don’t pollute your relationships with accusations or anger. Don’t pollute the air waves around you with foul or hurtful language. Don’t pollute any environment with any kind of garbage.
To think of it another way, ‘put the needs of others before your selfish wants’. The Heavenly Doctrines offer valuable spiritual perspective on this concept. ‘Pollution’, in the Writings, is held in contrast to ‘purification’ and is used in reference to a person’s regeneration – which is useful but doesn’t really address our effecting of pollution. If we consider that not polluting implies being kind and not selfish, we might find more to substantiate this notion:
Continue reading Give A Hoot
Last year Jenn shared with you an article about Rebekah which had been presented at one of her Australian New Church Women’s Weekends. This November, in preparation for Christmas, they looked at Mary, Jesus’ mother. Below is a condensation of what was presented; it’s still long, but hopefully informative and enjoyable. It might be helpful to read the gospels to familiarise yourself with the different parts of the story as it is presented in the Bible.
Mary is a well-known character from the Bible, because she was the earthly mother of our Lord, Jesus Christ – the cornerstone of our entire religion. Although she’s referred to earlier, in the prophecies about the virgin birth, she is named for the first time in the genealogy of Jesus in the gospel of Matthew where we read that “Jacob was the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Mary gave birth to Jesus, who is called the Messiah”. All we really learn about Mary from the Bible pertains to the conception and life of Jesus, in which she is mostly on the periphery – except for in the Annunciation, when the angel tells her and she accepts that she will bear a son. Little known to people in the New Church, however, there are books that deal more with the pre-Jesus Mary and tell more about her life during His, and afterward. These are the apocrypha, biblical books received by the early church as part of the Greek version of the Old Testament, but which were not included in the Hebrew Bible that we use. They are not considered divinely inspired but are regarded by some as worthy of study by the faithful as ‘useful for instruction’ – although by others as ‘quite unreliable, sometimes childish and fantastic’.
In these writings we learn about Mary’s parents and her own immaculate conception (meaning that she was conceived in the usual way but without any sin whatsoever; in fact, many believe that she was perpetually a virgin and completely without sin, throughout her life), about the fourteen steps she took at the age of only six months, her presentation at the temple as a young girl, her betrothal to Joseph as a young woman, additional details about the Annunciation and the birth of Jesus in a cave (at which midwives confirmed her virginity), and intriguing particulars about her reactions to each of these extraordinary events in her life – plus more, about her years after Jesus’ death and her assumption into heaven.
Continue reading Being Mary
“Control-Alt-Delete (often abbreviated to Ctrl+Alt+Del, also known as the “three-finger salute” or “Security Keys”) is a computer keyboard command on IBM PC compatible computers, invoked by pressing the Delete key while holding the Control and Alt keys: Ctrl+Alt+Delete. The function of the key combination differs depending on the context but it generally interrupts or facilitates interrupting a function.” (Wikipedia, emphasis added)
The hells run pretty rampant in my mind, sometimes – do they for you, too? Sometimes I feel like I’ve got a pretty good handle on them, but other times they’re on a roll, they catch me at every corner! They are incredibly cunning. They know where my weaknesses are, which is no surprise considering that’s their job – no, their passion. This is all part of regeneration, of course: gotta face those temptations over and over and over again, in finer and finer detail, until eventually we overcome them! And then we get to move on to another….
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could stop the hells short, halt them mid-temptation and just be done with that trial? Oooh, to have a Ctrl+Alt+Del on those hells…. I’d like to interrupt their function, that’s for sure.
Continue reading Ctrl+Alt+Del