It’s Christmas season here at Bryn Athyn College. You can feel the spirit growing with the students as we approach Christmas day. Our chapel offering have been building up to the day of the Lord’s birth with special messages in our services, candle lighting, singing, and offering the deeper meaning of the Christmas story as it applies directly to our individual lives.
One of these deeper meanings is about the angels telling the shepherds that they would find the child, “wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger” (Luke 2:12). New Church teachings tell us that, on a personal level, a “manger” represents instruction, and that “swaddling clothes” symbolize “first truths.” (See Apocalypse Explained, paragraph #706.) A person is led to see the Lord in his or her life by learning of him, through instruction of the first truths, which are the basic doctrines about the Lord, love to the neighbor, and useful service. The Lord is born into our hearts in this way, as we behold the Savior of the world.
Instruction in the spiritual teachings of the New Church gives each student an opportunity to come to Bethlehem, so to speak, and to behold him. To sense the presence of the divine providence working in their lives, to turn toward the neighbor with love and kindness, and to learn in all instruction at Bryn Athyn College to find meaningful useful service in this world, is all part of this. As ministers at the college, our interaction with students begins here, with these first truths from which to build upon, leading to deeper truths as students continue their progress through the terms and through the years. Our calling is to invite all to come to a place where they can connect with their God, and grow in a relationship with him and with one another that brings good into the world. Our Christmas hope is that many will, as did the shepherds on that Christmas night, “return, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen” (Luke 2:20).
-Rev. Grant Schnarr, Chaplain