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
Woah, am I really going to broach this subject? Yes, I am.
“When the souls and minds of partners are united – and it is love truly conjugial that unites them – it follows that this loving union flows into their breasts and through these into their bodies and causes a striving to conjunction.” Conjugial Love 179
The image of marriage union in the book Conjugial Love is a beautiful one, one for which we can all strive. Sometimes, in this natural world that we live in, though, we have questions, doubts and concerns about sex and don’t always know where to turn. We can turn to the Lord in prayer, however answers are not always (or usually, for me), obvious. We can turn to the Lord’s threefold Word, but precious little is said about sex, and what is is often stated in veiled terms. (Case in point: finding suitable passages to accompany this article was no easy feat!) We can turn to secular books and the internet, but sometimes what we find is very crass, or speaks from a very physical, psychological or societal perspective and doesn’t take the Lord and the holy union of one man and one woman into consideration. (–Not to mention the accompanying paranoia of being discovered and thought to have a perverted mind!) We can turn to friends, but that can be really difficult and unnerving, too, and after all, we’re all pretty much in the same boat, having only the limited aforementioned resources at our disposal. I tried to figure things out on my own, within my own head with my own faulty reasoning, often coming to wrong conclusions and deciding that it must just be me, it must just be my problem, that I needed to just suck it up and deal with it.
Continue reading The Christian Marriage Bed
We aren’t a dog family. Rather, we weren’t a dog family – my husband has been clear that he is not fond of dogs, so that pretty much ruled it out for a long time. Twenty or so years into our marriage, our son – an only child of about 13 at the time – declared that he wanted a dog. My husband very logically told him, “If you’re willing to feed it, walk it, pick up after it, bathe it (etc etc), we can consider getting a dog.” This shut our son up right quick! He wanted a dog, but clearly not that badly.
I’d begged my own parents for a dog when I was 10, and we got one: she was wonderful, great, the most perfect dog ever! I’ve always had a soft spot for dogs, but with my husband not being so keen, I shelved that desire a long time ago. When our son started mentioning his interest, however, I started entertaining the idea…. realising full well that, if we did get a dog, I would be doing the lion’s share of the work; I had to be fully committed, if ‘we’ were going to get a dog.
As our son grew more and more attached to his computer and video game console, my husband and I tried to come up with ideas of non-screen activities that might draw him away from their siren-call. Even my non-dog-loving husband conceded that a dog might just be the companion that our boy needed. I’d go through cycles of allowing myself to get (inwardly) excited at the prospect, then talking myself down; getting excited, then talking myself down. Eventually I convinced myself, and my husband, that a dog was indeed the answer! I don’t think he believed that I’d actually follow through with it, but, short story long, here we are, a dog family of five months. Alfie is a mature six-year-old black Australian Kelpie Lab mix, rescued from a farm where his aging human wasn’t able to care properly for him, and he hasn’t got a mean bone in his strong, furry body. Even my husband concedes that he’s enjoying having him around more than he’d thought he would.
Continue reading Of Dog and Son