Jeremiah 31:31-34 A
prophecy of the new covenant
Luke 22:7-20 The new covenant
Apocalypse Explained #433d.25 The meaning of the new covenant
cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.
morning, I would like to continue on last week's theme: our covenant
with the Lord. Last week we celebrated a contract--and a
covenant--between you as congregation and me as Pastor. This week,
in our Society meeting after church, we are taking up another
contract: the one we have negotiated with Sprint Spectrum to rebuild
our steeple in return for their use of it as an antenna site.
Perhaps next week we could come up with a contract to sign with Adam
Seward for his Field Education placement, and make it three in a
mentioned last week, a contract means a relationship. Everything we
do, both as individuals and as a church, bears on our relationships
with each other, with God, and with the different parts within
ourselves. Some relationships we formalize with written contracts.
Others have no such contract; they are written only on our minds and
reading from Jeremiah speaks of a contract--or to use the Biblical
word, a covenant--that is written on our minds and hearts. This, of
course, is our covenant with the Lord. But this covenant is not
one of the ones that is only written in our minds and hearts.
In fact, it has one of the longest written contracts ever--over a
thousand pages in most editions. That contract is the Bible.
our church, as in every Christian church, the Bible is the
centerpiece of our faith, second only to the Lord himself. Yes, our
church has the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg as well--and we draw
our theology largely from Swedenborg. But in our dedication to the
new revelation that the Lord gave to us through Swedenborg and his
religious writings, we should not lose sight of the primary subject
of those writings.
the thirty volumes in the Standard Edition of Swedenborg's
theological works, twelve are the Arcana Coelestia, which
explains the spiritual meaning of Genesis and Exodus. Six volumes
are Apocalypse Explained, which uses the book of Revelation
as a basis for spelling out the spiritual meaning of many passages
throughout the Bible in encyclopedic detail. And two are Apocalypse
Revealed, which covers the spiritual meaning of Revelation in a
more focused way. If we add these three works together, we get
twenty volumes--two-thirds of Swedenborg's theological writings, not
counting the Spiritual Diary, which is more like a set of
personal reflections and source notes than a book written for
publication. And what are these twenty volumes focused on? The
let's come at the covenant from a different angle. Our reading from
Jeremiah promises that the Lord will make a new covenant with the
houses of Israel and Judah, which, on the spiritual level, means a
covenant with our minds and our hearts. Our reading from Luke
identifies that new covenant: the bread and the cup that Jesus
shared with his disciples. When Jesus ate that last Passover meal
with his disciples, it ceased to be the Passover, and the religion
of the disciples ceased to be Judaism. As Swedenborg says, this new
covenant meant a new religion that the Lord was establishing among
people. It meant Christianity. So today, on Worldwide Communion
Sunday, when we celebrate communion along with millions of
Christians throughout the world, we are celebrating that new
covenant between the Lord and his people.
in our church we do not stop there. We are Christian. But we
also call ourselves by the name of the New Jerusalem--the Holy City
that John prophesied would descend from God out of heaven. As far as
I know, we are unique among Christians in believing that yet another
new covenant has been made between the Lord and his people; we
believe the Second Coming has already happened . . .
and is happening right now.
believe that the Lord has made a new covenant with his people on
earth by opening to us the deeper meaning of the Bible. At
the same time, the Lord has cleansed Christian theology of the human
corruption it had accumulated over the many centuries since Christ
lived on earth. By using Emanuel Swedenborg as a messenger, the Lord
has given us new enlightenment that we need in order to restore
Christianity . . . to begin a new Christianity
that can continue where the old Christianity left off.
this mean that we in the Swedenborgian Church are the new
religion that Swedenborg spoke of as the meaning of the new
covenant? I certainly hope not. Personally, I do not believe that
the Lord's new Christianity on this earth is limited to our small
numbers--or to the slightly larger but still miniscule numbers we
get if we combine all the Swedenborgian churches and denominations
believe the new covenant that the Lord is setting up on earth is
much bigger than any human organization that we could set up. I
believe it is nothing less than an entirely new religious era that
is worldwide in scope.
the time of Swedenborg, there have been tremendous changes in our
world. If we compare life in the seventeenth century to life in the
twentieth century, the differences are staggering. Much of what we
take for granted every day simply did not exist three hundred years
ago--and would be far more mind-boggling to people of that era than
the gadgets of our most futuristic science fiction would be to us.
the most important change is on a deeper level. Whereas three
hundred years ago most nations were focused on how to win the war,
millions of people today are focused on how to end war itself. Three
hundred years ago, people struggled with poverty, as people still do
today. But now we work seriously on ending poverty.
have a long way to go on these and other fronts. The deeper point is
that the spiritual law of understanding and concern for our fellow
human beings is making huge inroads on the collective consciousness
of our world. Our very discomfort with the trappings of a
materialistic society betray our striving for a more spiritually
based one. For us as Christians, the Bible continues to be our
physical, written contract with the Lord. But the Lord is also
busily at work writing a new contract--a new covenant--with the
people of our earth. It is a covenant that is being written on our
minds and on our hearts.
of My Soul
© 1999 Bruce DeBoer