A minister died and was standing in line waiting to be judged and admitted to heaven.
While waiting he asked the man in front of him about himself. “I’m a taxi driver from Noo Yawk Cidy,” the fellow replied.
Suddenly an angel standing at the gate called out, “Next,” and the taxi driver stepped up. The angel handed him a golden staff and a cornucopia full of fruits, cheeses, and wine and let him pass. The taxi driver was quite pleased as he proceeded through the gates.
Next, the minister stepped up to the angel and the angel handed him a wooden staff and some bread and water. The minister was very perplexed, and he said to the angel, “That guy is a taxi driver and he gets a golden staff and a cornucopia! I spend my entire life as a minister and get almost nothing! How can that be?”
The angel replied, “Up here, we judge on results. All of your people sleep through your sermons. In his taxi, they pray.”
A man being treated by a female psychiatrist said to her, “I keep dreaming that you are my mother.” The psychiatrist replied, “Don’t worry about it; that’s transference. It happens all the time.”
As the man was leaving, the psychiatrist asked, “Where are your overshoes?”He replied, “I don’t have any.”
The psychiatrist said, “What’s wrong with you? Do you want to catch your death of cold?”
“It is impossible for that man to despair who remembers that his helper is omnipotent.” - Jeremy Taylor, 1613-1667
“Whatsoever we beg of God, let us also work for it.” - Ibid
“Revenge…is like a rolling stone, which, when a man hath forced [it] up a hill, will return upon him with a greater violence, and break those bones whose sinews gave it motion.” - Ibid
“There is no room for God in a person who is full of himself.” - Israel Baal Shem Tov, circa 1700-1760
“The call to humility is a call to serve God with sober minds and full awareness of our gifts and our limitations.” Gordon T. Smith, born 1953
“It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.” - Pope John XXIII
“Those whom God has joined together let no man put asunder.” - Book of Common Prayer
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.” - Theodore Hesburgh
“…here ‘gold’ denotes good; ‘frankincense,’ internal truth; and ‘myrrh,’ external truth; both of these from good….for they [the wise men] knew what gold signified, what frankincense, and what myrrh, because they were in the science of correspondences and representations.” - Emanuel Swedenborg Arcana Coelestia 10252
“While Mr. [Ariel] Gunther was still in [high] school, his English teacher, Mr. Donald Rose, had taken his class to see a panel of stained glass that Raymond had just acquired from the Henry C. Lawrence collection in New York. This panel is from the Cathedral of Soissons in France….
“This panel is considered to be the finest example of thirteenth century glass in America, and when the class of boys was taken to see it, Raymond explained to them that he had been anxious to get it, not only for its beauty, but that it might serve as an inspiration to the artists who were working on the glass in matching the colors for the church windows.
“Little did the young Ariel Gunther think at that time that it would be he who would successfully match these colors in the glass he made.”
From pages 155 and 56 of the same Biography of Raymond Pitcairn:
“Raymond’s father, John Pitcairn, had always been interested in providing a building dedicated entirely to worship….So he finally decided to have an architect draw up plans for a church building. Raymond was asked to attend the meeting when these plans were discussed.
“The next morning at breakfast, his father said: ‘You didn’t like the model of the church, did you?’ And Raymond replied emphatically: ‘No, I didn’t like it at all.’ Whereupon his father simply said; ‘Very well, I appoint you a committee of one to select an architect and to build the church.’”
Today, January 8th, 2016, I talked with my wife Dorothy about her having gone to church as a child and later as a teenager in Lansdowne, Pa. I have seen the church and it is quite a nice building being made of stone and having stained glass windows and a pipe organ.
What Dorothy remembers most about going to church is the pastor, Rev. Westphal. He always greeted parishioners either coming to or leaving after the service. Dorothy said that he listened to them and offered words of good cheer. Often he hugged parishioners as he offered his love to them. Dorothy added sweetly, “He loved all of us.”
After Dorothy and I were married in 1999 we attended services at our Cathedral in Bryn Athyn. But, unfortunately she never made a similar emotional connection with ministers at the Cathedral. So we stopped attending services there.
I recall that long ago at an evening service at the Cathedral I was standing at the south end of the Choir Hall. With me there was a couple of ushers and Bishop Elmo Acton. I suggested to the bishop that it might be a good idea to have a minister greet people as they entered or exited each door at the Cathedral on Sundays. Well, he looked very disgusted at the idea and he spat out an “aagh” and with a wave of his arm he walked away. I had a lot of respect for Mr. Acton but he appeared to me to be of the old school. Their thinking seemed to emphasize truth more than good. Yes, truth is needed to guide people into living heavenly lives and ministers are commissioned to teach truth. But let the Lord’s ministerial representatives also try to present His Love to all who worship at the Cathedral. Smile, for God’s sake.
“One of the world’s greatest paintings is The Angelus by [Jean-Francois] Millet [1814-1875]. The word ‘angelus’ means a prayer and that picture is of two people praying in the field. On the horizon is the church steeple and we presume the bell is ringing a call to prayer. To understand the true significance of the picture, however, you must study where the rays of the afternoon sun fall. They are not on the bowed heads of the man and woman neither do the rays fall on the church steeple. They fall on the wheelbarrow and the common tools. It is the artist’s tribute to the dignity of work.” - Charles L. Allen
John Wesley once told of a dream in which he stood at the gates of hell. He asked the gatekeeper if there were Catholics there. “Many,” was the answer. “And Presbyterians?” “Many,” was again the answer. “And Methodists?” “Many” Later he stood before the gates of heaven, where he asked the same questions. “There are no Catholics, no Presbyterians, no Methodists here,” was the answer, “only Christians.” - William A. Sessions, Jr.
Many years ago Rev. S. Parkes Cadman said, in addressing a conference of ministers, “If you are trying to shut yourself behind your own denominational walls, I suggest that you climb up occasionally, and look over to see how many splendid people you have shut out.” - Roy L. Smith
On the grave stone of Agnes Howard, who died in 1857 at age 76 on Ocracoke Island, NC, there is this engraving: She was! – But words are wanting to say what – Think of what a wife should be – She was that.
Tom and I often played together as boys in Erie, Pa. And for many years now he has been teacher at Texas A&M University in Galveston, Texas. Here is some information that he sent to me last Christmas: “I made two research trips to Yucatan and one to Bermuda. I also led a tour group from Smithsonian Journeys on a two week trip to the South Island of New Zealand and Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In November I organized a scientific conference in Merida, Mexico with 50 people from 11 countries attending. In January, I worked with a BBC film crew to make a documentary on my cave diving research in the Dominican Republic that will be broadcast next year. Finally, I led student field trips to Mammoth Cave, KY for cave biology, to north Florida for Scientific Diving, and to the Caribbean coast of Yucatan for Tropical Marine Ecology….A National Geographic documentary film called ‘Drain the Bermuda Triangle’ covers some of my Bahamas diving…. In February 2016 I will attend a scientific workshop in Belgium and spend a few days in Istanbul on the way home.”
Tom, his wife and son write to me every Christmas. And he and his wife came to visit me several years ago. He wanted to take me out for diner but instead he came here and visited with me, Dorothy and my Burnham relatives. And to tell the truth, I do not have one ounce of the courage he has in exploring caves in the earth and under the water. Yet I have been profoundly challenged to live according to the truths of the New Revelation given through Emanuel Swedenborg. So Tom and I are both quite brave in our own ways, I believe. Although we have gone in different directions in life, we seem to be quite happy in our separate worlds. Maybe we will meet again in this world and share a few manly hugs and tell stories about our childhood adventures in Erie.
“He [Jesus] became what we are that he might make us what he is.”
(This quote by Athanasius of Alexandria, 296-373, points to a great truth, if we understand that the best that we can become is somewhat of an image and likeness of the Lord since we can never become what He is in Himself, that is, God. And we should understand that Jesus came into contact with all evils in and through sinful men but that He never appropriated any evils to Himself as men do. Or so is my Swedenborgian-based view of the words of Athanasius. RL)
“Be humble, that you may not be humbled.” - The Talmud
“The test of Christian character should be that a man is a joy-bearing agent to the world.” - Henry Ward Beecher
“Few sinners are saved after the first twenty minutes of a sermon.” - Mark Twain
(Note: It was during the 1920s and 1930s, I believe, that a member of the Bryn Athyn Church would sit in a pew near the front of the Cathedral. Then when a sermon began, he would hold up his pocket watch for all to see and make note of the time. Twenty minutes later he would again raise his watch for all to see, if the sermon had not finished. Unlike Mark Twain he believed that no one could be saved after twenty minutes. I wonder if he was saved after such disturbing, insane, arrogant acts during a service of worship of the Lord Jesus Christ.)
“The Dutch painter Hans Van Meegeren [1889-1947] made a fortune by signing his pictures with the names of such eminent masters as Vermeer and de Hooch. His forgeries fooled even experienced art dealers. One day, however, his pictures were hung in a gallery along with those of the masters. Then the forgeries became obvious. Those who halfheartedly profess Christianity may fool even their closest friends, but their inadequate witness will not prove adequate when compared with genuine Christian living.” - J. Calvert Cariss
On December 24th I saw a TV program about people who had won the lottery. The program revealed that after five years about one third of the winners were bankrupt. Mostly they had gone a bit crazy buying houses, cars and other material items. Also they invested foolishly.
Another problem they had was that their relatives, friends, strangers and acquaintances asked them for money. And when many of these people could not get any money from the lottery winners, they were angry, hateful and sought revenge, sometimes by mean gossip. One lady who won the lottery had to move from her home in a town in Oregon to another home in the same town to escape her tormentors. Finally she left her hometown to find peace in a city in another state.
I have sympathy for those wealthy people who carry this burden in human society. Certainly they cannot give money to everyone who asks for it or they would, sooner or later, be poor themselves.
My wife has told me that if we win the lottery we should not tell anyone and only give money anonymously.