The older I get, the less comfortable I feel with the change that’s happening in the world. But lately I’m beginning to wonder, is that because the world is changing, or because I’m getting older? I don’t think I’ve reached a clear conclusion just yet.
One of the curious things about New Church teaching is that we’ve always known this was going to happen. We’ve been taught about the end of an old Christian era, the increasing irrelevance of traditional forms, the abandoning of religion as it was known for almost two thousand years. But somehow we find ourselves caught out by it. Perhaps, in acknowledging the spiritual reordering that took place 250 years ago, we have forgotten that it must have continuing ramifications in our own world and time, as those events continue to filter down into the physical realm we inhabit. And perhaps, our wildest imaginings of this new world is not nearly wild enough.
As a church, we continue to face new challenges to our very existence. So, despite our teachings, it’s easy for us to bemoan the decline of religious sentiment, spiralling church attendance, and our failing influence upon the hearts and minds of the broader population. But there are two things I take from our teachings, as New Church Day comes and goes this year.
Firstly, the certain knowledge that the change we see about us does actually have to happen. As painful as these events are to live through, we know that humanity must endure them in order to live. If it were not for the Second Advent – and all its manifestations – we would destroy ourselves in a maelstrom of self-love and love of the world.
Secondly, we know that the Lord is in charge, although He seems to us to be asleep at the helm. We know the dawn will come, and that new day will be good. It reminds me of a midwife, all those years ago, describing childbirth: yes, it’s pain, but it’s pain with a purpose, and once the end result is reached, she assured us, you wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, the only question in my mind, is whether I am married to the very things which must pass away?