This all changed, especially the school part, when I grew up—and came upon the unique theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg. Swedenborg claimed that God’s Holy Word, including the Christmas story (Lord’s Advent) contained levels of meaning that transcended a mere literal grasp of its narratives. Without the knowledge of these higher meanings, spiritual topics were looked at from a mere worldly perspective. But the biblical stories also were designed for those who could look at worldly events from a spiritual perspective—like angels do.
Humans, who are potential angels, have the capacity to learn these higher spiritual perspectives.
So I found, as a young man, that I had to “go back to school” to learn about the special spiritual meanings contained in God’s Holy Word, including the Christmas story.
Let me explain. When an angel hears the Christmas story, he or she does not have the worldly view of Jesus being born in a lowly stable. Instead, angels see the story of the Lord’s Advent as representing the spiritual process of Jesus being born into the hearts and minds of men and women on earth who are willing to learn about the requirements of living a sincere spiritual life.
Such a blessed event (of a higher order) cannot take place during the hectic rush of worldly life and its terrestrial concerns. That very message was symbolized in Scripture by there being no room in the Inn in the city for Mary to give birth.
Rather, the baby Jesus was born in a stable and laid in manger among livestock. Again, angels interpret this situation from its higher symbolic message. Animals symbolize various qualities of love in the human psyche and spirit. Since a manger (or stable) is a place where animals are fed and cared for, it represents a place where the human heart and mind is fed, protected and cared for.
Spiritually speaking, a manger represents a spiritual classroom or place of instruction. It is only in such a psycho-spiritual school that the Lord can be born within us, grow up and become the new focus of our lives.
The future of religion will require that increasing numbers of men and women on earth be educated to elevate their hearts and minds to reach angelic and heavenly levels.