An Extemporaneous Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper
Unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. MAT 18:3
I. The purpose of New Church Education is to prepare people for eternal life in heaven. This is accomplished in two ways: First, through teaching spiritual truths from the Word so that the person can know about God, heaven, and His plan for the human race. And secondly through teaching natural truths from the world so that the person can prepare for being a useful member of heaven by being useful in this world. Or, as Bishop Pendleton puts it so elegantly, New Church Education is education for use.
A. Secular education does not end when you leave school
1. Those of us who have been out of school for a while smile to ourselves when the graduates celebrate the end of school. They think that they know something now, and their learning has come to an end. But then why do we call it "commencement" unless it is the symbolic beginning of their lives?
2. In many ways, your education just begins then -- Job, marriage, family.....
B. New Church Education does not end when you leave the New Church School
1. It continues as long as you
a. Read the Word
b. Attend Church and Class
c. Think about the ethics of your work
d. Work to keep your marriage strong and your family healthy
Our world is confused and confusing. People are so concerned with how they appear to others that they are willing to sacrifice principle. We become hardened to the abuses and disorders. Everything becomes shades of gray, nothing is "right" or "wrong" anymore. We become cynical about the motives of others, jaded by what the world has to offer.
Not only are we tempted into this kind of negative sphere, when we get into such a state we are inclined to believe that everyone else thinks the same way, even our children. The more we fall into this, the more we think of ourselves as "realistic", "worldly wise" and "prudent."
At that time Jesus answered and said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. MAT 11:25
III. We think so much about the ideals and the doctrines. Are the children as cynical as we are? Or does creating a special sphere for their education have a beneficial effect on the way they think and act? Are we giving them a foundation of truth, and confidence in the Lord's Divine Providence that will help them get through the states of disorder and outright evil that they will face as adults?
A. Several years ago, the Durban Society was compelled by circumstances to open their Society School to children from the community. The community surrounding Kainon School is incredibly rich in cultural diversity. While every home was Christian, and supported the unique approach provided by Kainon School, and while all the children were fluent in English, there was a great variety of languages spoken at home: English, Afrikaans, and Zulu were the most common, but there were also several Indian dialects.
B. Language influences how we think. With all this variety of language, culture, and background, there was a legitimate concern among the parents and teachers about whether or not we were successfully reaching these diverse states with the message and real meaning of New Church Education.
C. So, without telling the children what we were doing, we asked the children to respond to several questions. The answers, in their clarity and sincerity are extremely moving.
IV. The question we asked was, "What is New Church Education?" Every child answered, whether or not they came from member families. The children came from a wide variety of cultures and backgrounds -- but you can't tell it from their answers.
1. It is that we are getting lots of information about the Lord's Word. It is teaching us not to be horrible and what will happen if you don't listen. Teaching us to think about others. (Nomfundo, Std. 4)
2. Kainon is a New Church School because it teaches you to be kind to other people and we learn a lot from the Word in worship.... (Angela, Std. 3)
3. Since we learn about the Lord and His commandments in our school, we can try to live our lives by doing the right thing all the time. (Lara, Class ii)
4. You are encouraged to love the Lord, follow His commandments, and read His Word. (Kish, Class i)
5. Through what you learn in school (reading), you can learn about the Lord because you can read His Word. Don't be selfish, be charitable and help others. (Zama, Std. 1)
1. You learn about the Lord and His Word and when you've done something wrong you can ask for forgiveness. (Jennifer, Class ii)
1. New Church Education is about what we must do and what we must not do. It also teaches us about the Lord and the Church and what the Word of the Lord means. It also teaches us what the Lord wants us to do. (Swazi, Std. 4)
2. You are taught to be friends with everyone, to forgive, to obey the commandments and to believe in the Lord. (Judy, Std. 5)
3. New Church Education is a church school that teaches you how to behave for the Lord -- that is, not telling lies, honesty, helpfulness, caring, and respect. (Liesl, Std. 5)
D. To speak openly of the Lord and His Kingdom
1. New Church Education is different to other schools because other schools tend to leave out the Lord too much when He is more important than any of the school subjects. (Gareth, Std. 5)
2. New Church Education tells us about Jesus Christ and we must worship Him. But there are also many children out there who don't believe Jesus is alive. (Nkululeko, Std. 4)
3. You get to go into church and learn about the Lord and your school is built around the church and if it wasn't for the church the school would not be here. (Zanie, Std. 4)
4. Learn to write, and can use that to write about the Lord. (Curt, class ii)
E. Learning about the Lord's kingdom
1. New Church Education is about learning about the Lord and heaven and new things about the Word. (Stuart, Std. 4)
2. You learn about the way to go to heaven, the Lord's prayer and you learn the ten commandments, good, and the laws that the Lord tells us to do. (Candice, Std. 2)
3. You learn about heaven and how to get there. (Denmar, class i)
F. Learning about the New Church
1. You learn a lot about the Lord in general, but you also learn specifically about the New Church. (Tenjiwe, Class ii)
G. Learn the Stories of the Word
1. You learn about His disciples. (David, Class i)
H. To learn to read the Word for yourself with understanding
1. You are encouraged to think and try to understand. Because you can do those two things you can study the Lord on your own. (Andrew, Std. 1)
V. If New Church Education can flourish under these diverse and difficult circumstances, how much better will it work where the conditions are favorable?
VI. We have them in our local Society school for no more than 11 years, and then they are out into the world where they have to face the questions of life on their own. None of these are answers that people can discover left on their own -- they need Revelation and doctrine to find their way.
A. For example, while everyone knows that parts of the Word are symbolic: "I am a door." The 144,000 who are saved, etc. Everyone knows some symbolism, but there's no way that people could discover the science of correspondences entirely on their own -- it had to be revealed from heaven.
B. Doctrine is formed by reading the Word from Doctrine.
1. At first a very primitive idea, but it is added to by parents, teacher, church, and their own reading.
a. That's why you see something new each time you read something from the Word.
C. Passages rightly collated -- lessons tied to an idea.
lessons from scripture (Joseph preparing
Egypt for the famine and the parable of the wise and foolish virgins)
together to illustrate the idea that if we do the best we can to
ourselves, even disasters can be overcome and lead to good, but if we
prepared, then misfortunes occur.
It's not just the internal sense that helps them tie these teachings together into a coherent, livable whole, but many passages, acquired through the habit of daily reading, that are associated by means of affections.
D. Faith and Charity together
1. New Church Education makes this possible by teaching a systematic approach to the Lord, and His Word, a "Unified Theory" of Religion, if you will.
a. The reward of useful work well done in this world.
b. Leads to a life of eternal usefulness.
us not be led astray by our own cynicism and "prudence." Instead let
us have the innocence of little children, let us see the Lord as
real, and with the whole world in His hands.
Let us look outward, to the
needs of others, and the Lord will doubly
bless us and fulfill our needs.
...Jesus ... said, "I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. MAT 11:25.