You are warmly invited to a simple portrayal of the Christmas stories on Sunday evening, December 18th, at 4:30 or 6:00 p.m. at the church on Hawk Mountain Road. There will be readings from the Gospels while people in costume present the stories. It lasts about 35 minutes.
The Lord came into this world to re-open the way to heaven. The angel told Joseph, “And she [Mary] shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name Jesus; and He shall save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21) To be saved from our sins is to be set free from our bad habits and attitudes. Then we can enter joyfully into the life of heaven, a life of unselfish service to the Lord and to our neighbors. So the very first words the Lord spoke when He began His ministry were these: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is near. Repent, and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)
Since the Lord was reopening the way to heaven, He sent angels from heaven to prepare people and help them understand that He Himself was now coming. Angels appeared to Mary, to Joseph, to the shepherds, and to others. The angels said to the shepherds, “For unto you is born this day… a Savior, who is Christ, the Lord… And suddenly, there was with angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men.” (Luke 2:11, 13-14) The angels were proclaiming that because our God and Savior had come, the peace and goodwill of heaven could come down to us on earth, and that we can come to Him.
Barbara Walters will be speaking about heaven in a special on December 22nd. Reader’s Digest has an article about her year-long survey of people of many religions. She found that a vast majority of the world’s population believes that heaven is real.
In the New Church, we believe that the Lord has revealed many new things about what it is like when we die and the Lord raises us up into eternal life. We learn how we complete our preparation for heaven (or for hell, if we insist), and what the life of heaven is like. Heaven is an active, useful life, in which people who have now become angels find satisfaction and happiness in their daily occupations. Have a look at Heaven and Hell, by Emanuel Swedenborg. You can read excerpts at www.kemptonnewchurch.org, or order the book from Amazon.
May this Christmas be a time for renewing your trust in the Lord and His gospel: “the kingdom of God is near.” We can repent and believe in this gospel, because our Lord has come to save us from our sins.
Rev. Lawson M. Smith