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On Earth As It Is In Heaven: Reflections On Jesus' Parables Of The Kingdom And Emanuel Swedenborg's Heaven And Hell

by Lee Woofenden

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In eleven reflections, the author explores the question of how to make our life on earth more like heaven, drawing on Jesus' parables of the kingdom of heaven from the Gospel of Matthew, and Emanuel Swedenborg's spiritual classic Heaven and Hell.

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Reflections on Jesus' Parables of the Kingdom and Emanuel Swedenborg's Heaven and Hell

Heaven and Hell has always been Emanuel Swedenborg's most popular book--and for good reason. Yet here we all are, living on earth, not in heaven. What good is talking about heaven if it doesn't make a difference for our lives here on earth?

Jesus responds with: "On earth as it is in heaven." You can think of this book as a commentary on that one line from the Lord's Prayer. What does it mean for God's will to be done on earth as it is in heaven? What is God's will, anyway? And how do we do it here on earth? Another way of asking these questions is: How do we make earth more like heaven?

In eleven reflections originally preached as sermons in the fall of 2003 at the New Jerusalem Church in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, the Rev. Lee Woofenden explores this question, drawing on Jesus' Parables of the Kingdom from the Gospel of Matthew for inspiration, and using Swedenborg's spiritual classic Heaven and Hell as a guide.

About the Author
Lee Woofenden is pastor of the New Jerusalem Church in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, and editor of Our Daily Bread, a monthly magazine of sermons, readings, and meditations published by the Swedenborgian Church of North America. He enjoys taking deep and complex ideas from the Bible and the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and putting them into plain, practical language that spiritual seekers can understand and use on the journey of life. He is a husband and the father of three wonderful children. He also enjoys books new and old, computers, the Internet, and the great outdoors.

Excerpted from On Earth as It Is in Heaven by Lee Woofenden. Copyright © 2005. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
In these reflections we will unpack the Lord's parables of the kingdom of heaven, as found in the Gospel of Matthew, one at a time, using other Bible passages as well as Swedenborg's book Heaven and Hell to shed light on each one. Along the way, I hope we will discover some hidden treasures that will help us make life better both for ourselves and for the people around us. As we do this, we build a heaven within and around ourselves right here on earth. . . .

In the Garden of Eden story, God walked with Adam and Eve in the garden. Humanity soon fell away from that primeval closeness to God. Yet from time to time, there were still glimpses of that ancient relationship between heaven and earth. Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham, got such a glimpse during a time of great personal struggle, and it gave him the strength to continue on his journey toward becoming the father of a great nation. At the time of his famous dream of a ladder reaching from earth to heaven, Jacob was fleeing his home and family in fear for his life, after tricking his father and cheating his brother Esau out of the blessing that was due to the elder brother.

Just when Jacob's life seemed to have reached its low point, God gave him, in his dreams, a wonderful vision of angels ascending from earth to heaven, and descending from heaven to earth, with the Lord himself standing above it. Jacob knew then and there that his life here on earth had a higher meaning than anything he had conceived of before. God had put him on earth for a greater purpose--and his job was to follow God's will for his life by continually working toward that greater purpose. Heaven had been opened to him, and his life would never be the same again.

In the New Testament also, the Lord reminds us over and over again that we are not living for this earth only; that our life has meaning only when we are seeking the kingdom of heaven in our life here on earth. And he reminds us in the prayer used by so many Christians that we are to seek out God’s will as it is done in heaven, and carry it out on earth.

That is why each one of us was placed here: to be an angel-being, first ascending to heaven in our spirits to discover the true and deeper realities of eternal life, and then descending back to earth to put those higher lessons into practice in our everyday lives. "Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven." . . .

Please join me in these reflections as we search out and discover many more pearls of wisdom about the kingdom of heaven.



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