Worship of a higher order

Once upon a time there lived a church minister named Marty who was faced with a critical problem of survival. Church attendance was way down. So all his helpful services in the community and pastoral care efforts were becoming financially threatened. He and his church were going broke. He needed to find a new way to bring people back to his church.

Marty had tried everything. He allowed various groups and organizations to use his facilities for their meetings. He had made himself well known throughout the community—to its leaders, law enforcement officials, rescue services, hospital and social workers. He promoted the arts and brought in local artists to display and sell their work, even dancers, musicians and actors to perform for the community.

All these efforts had produced short-lived results for his church-building efforts. He needed to get more “butts in pews.” But even Marty began to feel that his church service and liturgy had become static. How could he make Sunday worship more dynamic and penetrating to a world that was changing its focus?

Completely out of ideas, Marty began to pray to God for guidance.

Suddenly, an angel dressed in clothing of glowing light, appeared in the room. “Your prayers have been answered,” said the beautiful angel. “I am here to offer you ideas of how to take your worship service to a new level. The Lord God has permitted me to take you to heaven and show you how angels worship.”

Before Marty could react, the angel reached into his very spirit and escorted him through a spiraling pathway. Marty felt that he was somehow being taken through deeper levels of his brain and mind—levels that he was previously unaware of.

Marty and the angel came to a stop as a whole new world opened up to them. “This is heaven,” said the angel, “and over there is a special church were angels worship the Lord. Follow me.”

Marty’s spirit and the angel both went inside the heavenly church and took their seats. As the heavenly service started Marty recognized many aspects of their liturgy that were similar to his own on earth, but everything produced an entirely different effect on his heart and mind. He was able to distill deeper meaning from all the rituals. It was as though God’s Infinite Wisdom was being displayed through the sitting, kneeling, standing and singing. Amazingly, when the “angelic” minister who performed the service moved from the left side of the altar to the right, Marty perceived his own consciousness shift from his heart to his intellect. He felt that he was experiencing a new reality in the form of a divinely organic process. Somehow, the angelic worship service made him feel like he was experiencing the Creation Story in Genesis in a most intimate and personal way.

“Every part of the liturgy here is designed to instruct the worshipper about how we are to form a true relationship with the Lord God and how we are to proceed in obtaining spiritual growth and eternal happiness,” explained the angel. “When I return you back to the physical world you will know how to make your church more dynamic and infinitely more relevant. You must break away from the ecclesiastical crowd. Every part of your liturgy must now be designed in a way that instructs and elevates the mind of the worshipper. Every ritual must become a profound way for the worshipper to get a “visceral” grasp of deeper spiritual knowledge. Church growth must be tied to spiritual growth. This is how your church will grow and prosper and be more useful to the world.”

The angel then looked straight into Marty’s eyes. “Are you ready to make the attempt?”



About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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4 Responses to Worship of a higher order

  1. Kate says:

    Very interesting…..not sure really how to respond…..I think one of the biggest challenges within convention is education. There is also the factor that we are naturally a very diverse group of people. I think many of us have almost been forced to find our “own worship”. I find I am most “connected” when I am in nature-usually near a body of water…( our creek, a river, etc…..). I’m not sure we’ll ever really have a large “butt in pews” congregation….

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Kate,

    All legitimate religious ritual contains deeper spiritual knowledge (via correspondences). In other words, a church service can be designed to
    instruct at every phase of the worship. For instance, when a minister asks
    his congregation to “please stand” he can also add the correspondence by
    saying “let us stand and elevate our hearts and minds.”

    By the way, your dad was one of the few ministers I’ve experienced who would point out a correspondence during worship service. How else is the New Church going to distinguish itself from the crowd? (Actually, it is trying to join the crowd.)

    Spiritually yours,

  3. Sarah says:

    Your blog is super interesting. Your tactics for grabbing the reader really impress me.

    In reading I felt compelled to let you know about a film that is coming out soon (maybe you can even write a little note about it on your blog). I stumbled upon it and the filmmakers are incredibly responsive and nice.

    It’s called Mysteries of the Jesus Prayer.

    check it out! http://www.mysteriesofthejesusprayer.com.

    It seems to be coming at this from a spiritual angle, which I very much appreciate.

  4. thegodguy says:

    Dear Sarah,

    Thanks for the info! Religious topics need to be addressed in a more creative (and unexpected manner). God does not want to bore us into heaven. In the next decade you will see unique new books and films on theological topics. I hope to play a part in this new movement!

    Spiritually yours,

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